I first met him through another common friend. His face always displayed the confidence of a “Scholar-to-be”. His dressing style was always unique. Always with a neatly pressed shirt, well polished shoes. Somewhere a connection was established and we soon started meeting each other at common friends’ house, get-togethers, outings, etc. After my graduation, I went on to do my Masters in Computer Applications from BU. The time had finally arrived. He would be my classmate soon. Knowing his amazing learning abilities, I was excited at the prospect of discussing subjects with him.
Our friendship blossomed like a beautiful flower. I would visit his house often and be the cynosure of his parents and sister. I was always treated like a king when I went there. On the other hand, my parents were glad that I got him for company, which meant that I would finally take my studies seriously. We had our fights, but made up with each other quickly. He was a born perfectionist. Punctuality was in-built in him. If I were to be 5 minutes late for an appointment, he would be upset.
He had the ability to solve a tough mathematical equation with a snap of the finger. He could multiply large numbers in his mind and leave the whole class stunned. He would borrow a book on Computers and get it back the very next day. On prodding him, he would say “I couldnt sleep well last night. So I completed this book. There is nothing much in it”. He would always leave me perplexed by his actions. I was always an average student. But he pushed me hard and challenged me to perform better.
He had pretty much become a part of our household. Friends and family would often ask me about his well being. Somewhere during the final year of our post-graduation we decided to work on a project together. We did a lot of home work for the project. We visited the airport together to understand the flight’s landing and take offs pattern, the way the ATC works, etc. My very own influential uncle, Mr KKB setup our meeting with a senior official at the Airport Authority of India. We were putting together a lot of material for this project, when he suddenly caught ill. He was not attending classes for more than a week when I went over to visit him on a Friday evening. He was down, but the enthusiasm was as always there. He convinced me that he would be back in a week’s time.
Sunday morning, 18th Jan 1998, once the special classes got over I returned home. Our classmate PV, called up to inform me that Umesh was no more. He had died of Brain Haemorrhage early that morning. It was a bolt from the blue. On Saturday his sister had informed me that the family physician had certified that he was fine. But just a day later, he had developed severe complications and before he could be operated, he had decided to move on. The irony was that a few years ago, his elder brother too had died of the same condition as a result of a head injury.
It was difficult to fathom his absence at first and took me a long time to come to terms. I still keep wondering he much he would have achieved by now, had his life not been cut short.