Sunday 19 April 2009


(for Udai, Rahul, Mira and John)

I felt an angel
Tread gently on my heart
And perceiving numerous ripples
Withdraw the tender touch

I heard an angel
Whisper gently in my ear
And beholding my disbelief
Feed silence to my fear

The angel saw me cry
And smiled despite my grief
For the angel saw diamonds
Falling from my cheeks

When we were children growing up on Westfield Estate, in the heart of Bombay, my brothers and I were fortunate enough to be part of a great big gang. Evenings were for playtime and birthday parties were the best fun - and once when someone had conjunctivitis, all of us were wrestled on to the bed and forced to endure eyedrops by my strict and careful mother. Oh how those eyedrops stung!
One member of our gang was Udai - the most vibrant, funny and naughty one and naughtier still when teemed with my little brother. One day he came running into the house and shouted to my father, "Uncle! Irfan fell out of the tree! Uncle! Bone is sticking out!!" The household jumped into action - my brother was tenderly carried in and laid on his bed. My father, the anxious doctor, carefully examined the precious limb, while my brother whipped into a frenzy by Udai, moaned and thrashed around. Of course there was no bone sticking out, and the boys were soon back in the garden playing hard. But the story has stuck forever.
Udai passed away six years ago today. I think of him and draw strength from his spirit, wherever he is. And all of us can still hear his laughter ringing in our ears. Bright merry boy, we miss you.
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