“I wish to be a torchbearer of your values”

Mrinalini Bondyopadhyay

(Daughter of Srikumar Bondyopadhyay, the financial journalist, who is no more to hold her hand, writes he may not have prepared her for his early departure, but he has been an experience sharing dad — an invaluable beacon for life)

Wikihow should really have a tutorial on how to start writing about the person, who meant the whole world to you.

Clueless, let me begin simply with his name. Srikumar Bondyopadhyay. He was everything to me. My  beloved Baba, of course, but also my best friend and my greatest teacher. The person, who would constantly push me to think in different ways, to write more. The person, who would gently explain all the mysteries of life on long walks along a mountain road. The person who had the greatest listening ear, the best taste in music and the brightest laughter.

Whenever the question comes up, ‘who’s your role model’ my answer is always Srikumar Bondyopadhyay. He pretty much shaped the person I am today, and contoured the person I want to be. Somewhere along the line, his childhood dream of becoming an economist became my ambition. The music he loved became the music I am obsessed with (both 60’s-70’s folk rock/country music junkies). His interest in Sanskrit and maths became my interests too (also I did transmit my obsession with history to him). He had his caffeine addiction and I proudly inherited that.

Srikumar Bondyopadhyay

The way he endeared himself to everyone he came across in life became the way I aspire to be. I am generally a person who is very eager to please. But even the praises from the biggest of people means very little next to the smile that Baba would give me whenever I came home with the smallest of achievements.  I don’t know what I will do without that; with my best friend gone. I don’t know who I’ll share my nerdy jokes with, who I’ll send all the interesting stuff I’ve read on the internet to, who I’ll do ‘people-watching’ with at parties. We used to joke that we had a telepathic connection (not as strong as the one he had with Ma though)- maybe it’s time to bring it to action.

It hasn’t really hit me; what Baba’s absence truly means. His presence was so huge, so bright and warm like the sun, that it’s quite impossible to miss him even when he isn’t there in front of my eyes. It will come crashing down soon enough, I suppose (I just hope there’ll be a bed or something when I inevitably crumple into mush). 

Till then, I’ll think of all the big and small moments that we shared together. How warm his cuddles were, the way he could laugh big and clear at every little thing, how he could turn into a literal 5-year-old on a sugar rush when playing with kids. He would read to me everything he wrote as if I could give him any feedback at all.

He used to start long-winded, elaborate analyses of share markets or China’s economy when he got slightly tipsy. He loved clicking photos so much that it was rather a Herculean task for me to find a single good photo of him. He never did anything without at least a week of intensive research — even when buying plants for his new-found hobby of gardening. 

So far what I wrote mean nothing really. There’s tons and tons more that I could say and I am pretty sure I’ve missed moments and memories that will pop up in my mind and hit me with the force of a fire truck later. Can’t stop for too long at all, for there’s so much that needs to be done. Now, Baba did not prepare me for any of this (very un-Srikumar Bondyopadhyay like). But, no complaints because he did give me the gift of his knowledge and experience and I’m the luckiest person in the world to have that. I’ll become the badass economist he wanted me to be, I’ll hug Ma and my sis tightly for him and I’ll take the best care of his camera and his plant babies. Hopefully, the telepathic connection will work at lightning speed and I’ll get to see that smile of his in HD.

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