Two people in this picture are now no more. Ba's death in 2016 is something that we, and especially I, have found very hard to cope with and yesterday, suddenly, we lost Papa, Nitin Mankad . One minute I heard him, the next, he was gone. Just like that! No, it wasn't Covid. It was a silent killer: Coronary Thrombosis.
Yes, people die, life is so fickle. But no matter what you tell yourself, a part of you dies when you lose someone you love. Unlike Ba and me, Papa and my relationship was more formal through these 13 years, because I chose to keep it that way. As personalities we were diametrically opposite: He, an extrovert, a huge fan of celebrations and extremely fond of society. I, as those who know me very well, hide behind a smile and am a very private person. Papa showed his emotions to the world. I hardly share them with myself. The number of people from all walks of life who came to attend Papa's funeral in spite of a pandemic was just an indicator to what he has done for Vadodara and Gujarat, for industry, institutions, friends and relatives. He had friends across political lines, from Narendra Modi to Ahmed Patel, they all know him as Nitinbhai, his first name. I thank you all for your condolences and messages.
He gave me a lot of lessons on life through his long monologues about his experiences in travel and industry. He and his wife had backpacked through Europe in 1989 for two and a half months. Then there was this farm in New Zealand where he had seen a hundred dogs. The picture accompanying this post was taken in Switzerland. I have lost count of how many countries he might have visited. He wanted to see the Aurora Borealis in Norway. That was his plan for 2020, till Covid struck, and my father-in-law took charge of kitchen duties during the lockdown. He surprised us with his cooking skills, more my mother-in-law, Minakshi Mankad than anybody else. Ba, his mother, would have chuckled.
A day after his departure to another world, my almost three-year-old was looking for his Dada (grandfather) for his 9.30AM drive around the city. Both of them looked forward to it. I sat with my toddler in the car and felt I was not enough. That's how we all will be for a while. Not enough, incomplete.