Some people touch your lives and it just changes. Some people are always around and they mould you with every touch. And then they go away and you realize that they’ll never be gone. They live within you, with the values they gave you and the stories they created with you. It’s Vivek Kaka’s birthday today. Had cancer not taken him away from us 5 years ago, he’d be a jolly 54 year old today.
I can’t put into words what the guy meant to me. He was my Dad’s best friend, and over time he shared a unique relationship with each person in my family. Be it his love for food, or his passion for books or his taste in music and the list goes on. He was like a hero for us kids. He showed us our first cameras, I tasted my first piece of chicken with him, he came home specially to show me a contraption he knew I’d be excited by-the ipod. This was when iPods were unheard of even in the US. He told me about Wikipedia before it became a reference point for the rest of the world. He gave me issues of the Rolling Stone Magazine from the 80s (the best treasure he’s shared, I still have them). He was my hero.
One day I insisted on playing my cassette in the car and sang along to ‘Time They’re Changin’ in the back of the car. Dad and Vivek Kaka turned around from the front seat and smiled. “Shakti, you’re into Dylan?” Dad asked with a proud smile. “Welcome to the club,” Vivek kaka said and smiled at Dad. The kinda smile that I hold on to dearly and one of the proud moments of my life. Many discussions about music and Dylan followed.
He was ahead of his times, all the time. You never saw him angry. He heard everything out patiently. He got excited by silly things that excited me. One fine evening, I decided to narrate the plot of my novel to him. Very few people took my plot as seriously as he did. ‘Register it and write it, don’t give up on it. And don’t tell everyone about your plot. It should be our secret.’ I can’t forget that smile. He believed in my dream even before I knew it was my dream. I finished my novel and it is dedicated to him. I believe it will get published soon too, because he’s up there feeling proud of me. I know he is.
This is just my thank you note, Vivek kaka, Baba would probably write a book about you, Mama would tell endless stories and Nani would go on smiling talking about the things you told her. Papa still has the box of Tea Rose you bought him and Manuaai still cherishes the way you appreciated her cooking.
And there are hundreds of people who fondly remember you and treasure your memories.
Here’s to you Vivek kaka… I’ll always celebrate you. You live on in OUR songs, you live on in the conversations we have, we think about you when we cook and we think about you when we look at new gadgets. Thank you for loving us. Thank you…