Thursday, March 2, 2017

Adieu Vasu!

It's a sad day. My classmate, NDA course mate and a lovable friend, Wing Commander Vinod Kumar Vasudev(Roll No. 415 at school) has passed into the mist of time.

The morning had begun with the deliberations on the'National Mission for Reading' at the smaller hall of the Kanakakkunnu Palace and it had gone on till lunch time. There were guests who'd to be received and seen off, after their contribution towards the venture, in terms of suggestions and ideas from their vast reserves of experience and it was a busy forenoon session. 

It was then that I got to see the message in our What'sApp group regarding Vasu's travails. He'd an asthma like attack, following which he was taken to a hospital at Palakkad. On being administered fresh oxygen, his condition had improved and both he and Sujatha, his wife were contemplating to return home for lunch when he suffered a massive cardiac arrest and had, consequently, gone away from our midst. Initially, the news wasn't registering and I was expecting a correction for the faux pas but it didn't and the harsh truth had to be accepted. The happy-go-lucky Vasu wasn't gonna be there to regale us with his quips and jokes ever again.

He'd joined a year earlier than me in school and since we were in different sections, we interacted on occasions when the entire class was together. At the Academy, he was in the Golf Squadron while I was in the neighbouring Hunter and we used to bump into each other more often and exchange notes. In the service examinations prior to the passing out, I was sure that he'd be the first in 'Navigation' as the trophy was in the name of his late father, Squadron Leader Vasudev and it would have been a great occasion if the son got the award that commemorated his dad! But things don't happen the way we want them to, many a time.

After passing out as Air Force cadets, we got into a close knit group at the Elementary Flying School at Mohammedabad Bidar. It was here that we got together in a skit in one of the entertainment programmes put up by the course. It was all about the shooting of a movie and a director, who makes us go through three takes and ultimately fires us, unsatisfied with our performance because the first sequence was 'too' fast, the second was 'too' slow and the last had 'too much of humour'. With the call of 'Action', the shot begins with me showing a lot of discomfort and a doctor - Vasu enacted the part - is summoned who comes in asking, "What's the Prablam" - an accent that he'd brought in to bring authenticity to the character -  examines me, checks the pulse and shaking his head says that the undertaker had to be called for. The undertaker comes in, takes my 'measurements' for the coffin and the 'Cut' is called, marking the end of the skit. The Kodak moment of the skit was in the third take that was supposed to be 'full of humour' when, Vasu went berserk laughing his guts out while holding my pulse, shaking his head and asked for the undertaker! I remember having a tough time to lay still and suppress my chuckle, being a corpse, because Vasu was 'living' his role........ How I wish that the roles could be reversed today?..........

Vasu went on to become a Canberra pilot in the IAF while I'd gone back to the NDA to become a navyman but we used to keep in touch during class get togethers and other occasions. He, then, graduated into the Hunters and then, the Jaguars and was known in the service for his exceptional flying skills! Certain medical problems forced him to quit the IAF and he'd taken up a second career with no cribs, no heartaches. That was Vasu and boy, wasn't he a chain smoker?

We met the both of them at the course get together at the NDA, two years back and were thrilled about being allotted adjacent cabins but the happiness was short lived and they had to shift elsewhere as their bed had bugs because of which they couldn't sleep the whole night. That meeting was close on the heels of our interaction at the Waterscapes, in Kumarakom, to celebrate our GTG@60 in '15. Never knew that it would turn out to be our last meeting!

And oh yes, we're at Yedu's daughter's wedding at Kozhikode last year on 15/16 May. It was again a short and sweet tryst!

RIP Vasu! My tears, prayers and salute to a worthy friend and a thorough gentleman. Here's wishing that god gives Sujatha, Raghunath and Sree Parvathi the strength to tide over their irreparable loss!


Tailpiece.

1. Returned by the Thiruvananthapuram-Guruvayur Intercity and was back at 'The Quarterdeck' quite late at night. Lekha had returned, earlier in the day, from Palakkad.
2. In the morning, before 7, Maman and I'd gone to look up Annasahibji as he was preparing to go to the airport. We could show him the 'Mobile Science Exploratory' that he'd missed out yesterday. I clicked quite a few snaps on my mobile phone but to no avail as the frames turned out to be hazy.....much to my angst! He left soon after!

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