My Guru, Capt Rowe, you will live forever in my heart!
Dear Capt Rowe,
“I was shocked when I heard you were no more. On the threshold of my birthday, you had gone away quietly, leaving tears in my eyes, without letting a soul know what you were feeling. Probably, you knew it was time ...do we all know when 'the' time comes?! I often wonder.
Honestly, in the last 15 years that I knew you, I had always felt a little scared whenever I came visiting you or called you. You were 75 when I met you and I remember how you kept avoiding a young girl like me for pestering you to teach me 'copywriting'. For three months I followed you like a puppy would a master and then finally you gave in, more out of helplessness than anything else.
Our copywriting sessions were great fun, wish they made more teachers like you, just a table, 2 chairs and the gift of the gab - humour and satire peppered with life's wonderful anecdotes. No boring lectures, no fancy ppts, no assignments, no exams, only a firm belief that i was there to learn and you were there to share.
Just sitting there listening to you was enough to inspire a young mother (yes, I entered copywriting when I was 29 and a mother of a three year old baby) to 'become the best copywriter in the world' (after you of course, because in this case too, there could be only No.2, like Avis. No.1 was reserved for you and in my eyes, that position could be taken by no one but you.
I used to often wonder how you lived alone all your life, with friends and friends like family, but not even a handful to call your own. I used to often think whether you felt lonely. The way you spoke, the way you wrote, the way you painted, it was all worth worship. And i did. I worshipped you, still do.
I had got my son to meet you, he used to wonder who this old man was, who evoked so much respect in his fiercely independent mother. He, i remember was first terrified of your head full of thick white curly hair not one in its place. My mother used to wonder who this old man was who never took a single paisa as fees for teaching her daughter to be one of the better known copywriters of her world. My husband just knew that it took a lot for someone to make his wife practically salute that one. And I know that there cannot be anyone like you.
Oh during the last 15 years, there are umpteen times when work or laziness conquered my wish to come and meet you. And i will curse myself for it for life. Especially because I had called you and said I will visit you on Guru Pournima, but couldn't. I have nothing to say in defense; we often take life for granted and feel that 'I can do it tomorrow', but tomorrow never comes.
And I am experiencing it now. I know that there will be no tomorrow so that I can visit you. That bag with a thread going down from your terrace will not be there anymore. The birds you fed so lovingly will never come again. The house you lived in as a tenant will be rented by someone else. The paintings...i don't know what will happen to those.
No. There will be no tomorrow.
But I still have yesterday. Your teachings still lie in a small notebook with me. The huge water painting you painted still adorns my wall, your twinkling eyes and smiling face still talks to me from my cellphone memory.
You will live in my heart, dear Captain and in my learnings and my writings. Forever.
Let anyone say whatever, but right now, 'yesterday' looks brighter to me than 'tomorrow'.”
Your student - Sonali