Shyam, Your Life, Is Sundarful

Ranjan Yumnam *

I won't say the mundane words in your demise. That we love you; that we miss you; that we cry when you are gone; that we feel a loss – these are words reserved for ordinary mortals, not meant for you. These are words supposed to be said by living mortals like us for an ordinary mortal. You don't deserve this grotesque word RIP. Your valuable life cannot be abbreviated with a three-letter contraction - RIP. RIP makes me want to rip my heart apart for its sheer insensitivity. And how I hoped you would have been an immortal.

Let me tell you a thing. You are a rock star—a different kind of a rock star. You are nothing hard like a rock. You are the most down-to-earth person with a perpetual smiling face donning you. Star, you are not—for you are brighter than the 1000000000 lumens that I ever see a human being emit. To compare you to a rock star is demeaning the memory of Shyamsundar. You are a rocker of people's hearts; a star in the darkest hours we face.

What makes you click is this: you don't try hard enough to ingratiate to people deliberately. You genuinely love people---their pangs, angsts and pain. You are a diplomatic person combined with the shrewdness of a lawyer. Your uncanny ability to adjust and make friends with anyone is a foregone matter of folklore.

You win with your soft arguments and capture a person's heart by your kindness. If I were to introduce you to the meanest greenest monster, it will take no time for you to tame her and make her your favourite pawn at your command.

Every time, I feel depressed or my boss misunderstands me, I know whom to call. The serene voice at the other side of the phone just makes my woes perish in a moment. Your empathy and your camaraderie are cathartic—make me feel alive again as a human being with some self esteem regained. That self-esteem is what you confer to people you meet.

You have an eye for bogus people too. You hate them like you hate your toothache. I have seen you, my friend, the SERENE ONE, barking at people and throwing your tantrums. How uncharacteristic of you, I felt.

When I enquired about your outburst, I feel validated by your humane response. Alas, you are also a person with all the little human foibles. When your patience is tested, you show the world that Shyamsundar is also a person afflicted with all the neuroticism of any normal man. I don't want to drive home this point further.

Why I am mentioning this is because Shyamsundar was far more of a magnanimous person than the second avatar, which is conspicuous by its rarity.

Shyamsundar is an Administrator par excellence. He is an IAS officer –I Am Superb type. He treats his works like he treats his wife—with love, care, detail and affection. He doesn't distinguish between work and personal life. You will find his wife in his staff room; he will work from his bedroom. He is at ease with everything. Work, relationships and fun are neatly kept packed together in his heart and place—no compartments allowed.

That Shyamsundar has a big heart is an understatement. He has so much love to give and he gives it indiscriminately to the extent of crossing the society's limit.

It's an open secret that he has two wives and he is one lucky fellow to be the recipient of love of two wonderful ladies. His children are a gem; everytime, I see them, it makes me wonder whether their father is a bad one or a good one. To them, their father could be only one person; Shyamsundar is their God despite our gossip laden moralising. Please let's not be judgemental. Every body has a little bit of Shyamsundar inside us.

I am truly saddened by the hopeless optimism of Shyamsundar. Weeks before he was about to breathe his last breath, he told me he would live upto 65 years of age. I would have been happy if he had said 56 years and live up to it.

As they say, life is not counted by the years we live; life is defined by what we have left behind as legacy. Within a very short time of his career, Shyamsundar contributed a lot to the State Government.

I still remember the inaugural year of Sangai Festival when he was serving as the Deputy Director of Tourism. In the field posting at Kamjong as SDO, I heard a senior officer describing him as an institution, not an officer. He created new corners, cut them again, then delivered—that is what is most important in service. Bend rules, turn a blind eye to some of them, but deliver.

Something is to be said about the parents of Shyamsundar. Without them, Shymsundar will not be the Shyamsundar we know. Her mother is a cool and elegant lady incarnate. His father is a man of the world. Shyamsundar embodies their qualities perfectly—the velvet softness of his mother and the street smartness of his father.

Shyamsundar lived life to the fullest. He loves the good things of life. His another name could be Hedonist. His taste in all aspects of life is mind-boggling. His sense of humour is boundless and he uses it as a bait to win people over—especially ladies find them irresistible with his pumpkin face. So much so that some Puny girls go gaga over his warm nature; while some Ran after his kindness.

Now I want to come back to a very creepy theory. Is our 2007 MCS batch a jinxed one? One of my closest MCS officers, senior to me by age, had died to then brutality of an underground organisation. Mr Thingnam Kishan was a model officer, an intellectual person and a quintessential academic person. Perhaps his academic idealism was one reason why the semi-literate underground people didn't like while he was posted at Kasom Khullen. At the time of his death, his face was mutilated beyond recognition. I could be that person.

Then, Rachel. The second victim. She was a healthy lady officer and a very pretty woman—in fact, a heart stopper. Without rhyme and reason, she died during a very routine delivery process. The doctor who attended to her, I am told, died of Covid.

Shyamsundar is the God ordained third victim. He was the most life loving person that life had defied. He was the life of the party. His sarcasm is classic that I still learn in hindsight. He died of Cancer. Why not me ?

My liver is not so good. All other parts are fine—virile, healthy and feel like a tigress in her heat. I inherited some vibes of Shyamsundar—that is to enjoy life.

When you enjoy life, liquor is a prop. And liver should be strong. I am beseeching my liver to stay strong and be forgiving of my excesses. If not, I could be very much the fourth person in line.

I am asking God, skip the 4th person, lay your long hands onto the fifth person.

Better still, dear God stop this DEATH business. Call it a day.

To paraphrase the life of Shyamsundar: He lived a short life to give us a long memory. Shyamsundar had two wives, indulged excessively and led an American life in Manipur soil. He was right. Some people think out of the box. He lived a life out of the windows.

I am not being judgemental. Some things are just not possible despite how much we try. I love you Shyamsundar for your bold experiment. Will remember you throughout my life and through coffin.

And to his sons and daughters, let me say this: your father was an extraordinary man. Be proud, never apologise for your father. He was a trendsetter.

To Puny and Ranjita: Let peace prevail for the sake of your daughters and sons.

Dear Shyamsundar, I curse you to infiltrate in their dreams to tell them how much you love them and take great care of your children. Nobody can snatch away your blood. Cancer included.

When I was in the Ambulance carrying your body, you are bandaged and cello taped all around. I tried to peek into your face. Pumpkin Face. I wanted to rip the coffin apart and kiss your face, already darkened by the numerous chemotherapy sessions. You lay there lifeless and I don't mingle with bodies.

Anyway, you wouldn't reciprocate my kiss. You fucking friend.

Bhai, when you go to the heaven, tell me one thing. What should I do in life that I won't regret on earth and in heaven alike ?

Rachael, I thought you had a say in Destiny. You didn't. You died though you didn't want. It's DEATH that deadens me. Life doesn't liven me. Life only causes me anxiety. Axing the Anxiety is the Ace psychiatric dilemma nowadays. Kishan, I enjoyed with you so many drinks. You never told me how we could live well. PLEASE TELL ME HOW TO LIVE.

Rachel, Kishan, Shyamsundar, tell me how to live.

Like a king, like a princess, like my Ranej, like my Nejirin, innocent creations of God.

Puny, the frail one; Ranjita, the go-getter, your Shyam is Sundar. Love him.

Forgive him. It's destiny. Make peace. These are words Shyamsundar told me. Respect him. God bless you.

* Ranjan Yumnam wrote this article for The Sangai Express.
This article was posted on October 20, 2020.

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