Tribute: The last letter he wrote…

My youngest friend Prof. Bhatia is no more. And I am going to miss him.

Here’s what I received from one of his friends the other day: “It is with regret that I convey Prof. Bhatia’s demise Monday morning (Nov.1). Prof. Bhatia would make me open Greater Voice often and ask me to write something there but I always used to promise myself that I’d write a few words. Alas! Little did I realize that my procrastination would result in my post here being of such nature.”

Another would write: “Feel so sad that we have to live in a world where there is no more Prof. Bhatia. A few drops of tears, from the bottom of the heart with a wish that let his soul rest in peace. I’m sure he must be watching all of us from a distance and of course with that typical smile.”

These poignant words came from persons who, like me, were addicted to Prof. Bhatia, a regular at the Press Club of India.

Prof. Bhatia was not keeping well for months and had to be hospitalised on number of occasions in the recent times. But. Even from the hospital bed he would call me to say, “Neeraj, I’ve so many things to do.” And the last time when he called, he was authoritative: “Hope I am not disturbing you and even if I am disturbing you, I have a right to disturb you.”

Yes. His heart was young, even younger than many of us; though his body left him, may be too early. He was just 87, and so dear a guide.

Unarguably, he lived his life, perhaps to the fullest. Romantic that he was, Prof. Bhatia would often take me to a pure world full of his poetry and nicest Persian literature.

As my tribute I take his permission to post one of his love letters that, perhaps, was never delivered. Here it is:

8 comments

  1. Dear Neeraj,
    My husband and I just lost a dear friend, teacher and mentor on the Sunday before I read and responded to this, too. You paid tribute to your beloved professor beautifully here, and I can see from reading the post that you had something very like the loving respect and admiration we had for our dear one. It’s one of the reasons I very much hope that somewhere, sometime we will all meet with our great friends and teachers again, in another life if need be; I hope, too, that we will all be wise and patient and big-hearted enough to share the same kinds of loving inspiration and care with those still sharing our lives so that they too will be touched with such blessings.
    Now, of course, I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts!
    Peace be to you! Namaste,
    Kathryn

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  2. Dear Neeraj,

    When I remember Prof. Bhatia now, I am reminded of Elton John’s famous lines… “And it seems to me you lived your life / Like a candle in the wind / Never fading with the sunset / When the rain set in / And your footsteps will always fall here / Along Press Club’s sills (I had to change this line) / Your candle’s burned out long before / Your legend ever will…

    What more can one say ?

    Regards.

    Jayanta

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  3. The Press Club of India and its regular visitors will certainly miss the absence of Professor Bhatia. He had added charm to the club’s life. I too was one of those regulars who enjoyed conversation with him as had vast knowledge on varied subjects. May his soul rest in peace in heaven which he richly deserved.

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  4. Neeraj Bhai,
    Prof. Bhatia was dear to me too. He had an endearing personality. He was bold enough to be honest which is what I liked in him most.
    I have been privileged to listen to dozens of his poems in Hindi, Urdu, English and translations from other languages in the sports room of the Press Club.
    He was as fond of my writing as I was of his. He would always ask me: Have you written anything new. He would pick up copies of my writing and the next time I met him he always had something to say about it which made me feel good because it proved that he read everything very carefully.
    As you said, he lived his life to the fullest in gay abandon. He never bothered about what the next moment held for him. He lived every moment…moment by moment and enjoyed each moment even in adversity. That was a mark of greatness.
    May his soul rest in peace on earth and spread happiness and good cheer in his new heavenly abode.

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  5. Neeraj,

    You have done a wonderful job by publishing the letter as a tribute to our Prof. Bhatia. Probably the fittest tribute you could ever think of. What I liked most in Bhatia Saab was his transparency, he was like a thin plastic sheet where one can see the other side through him…….. He was always upto the point and never hesitated to tell in open whatever he felt at that particular point of time. That attracted me more towards him. The photograph you have published with that oval shape around looks like he is watching all of us…… and it’s a bit haunting too……. Good Neeraj, keep up the good work, even though physically Bhatia Saab is not around us, he will always be there….. probably the best we can give back to such a wonderful human being………

    Satheesh KG

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