We lost a dear colleague and close friend in Ameet Oberoi [1971-2015] when he passed away on 24 August 2015. He will be sorely missed and is deeply mourned. It is difficult to express the sorrow one feels at such times, but even the process of sharing some memories helps as much to heal as it does to celebrate a friendship. SUBASH RAI musters the courage to say good bye...
I made several calls but no one could confirm what exactly had happened to him. Around 10.30 a.m. when I reached the office, Uttam [an office colleague] was waiting for me and Boss was in his office as well having already been to the hospital. He informed us that Ameet’s condition was very critical.
I along with Uttam rushed to CRH. Ameet had already been taken to the MICU by then. Because of several experiences of the past, I suggested Uttam not to go inside. We met Ameet’s wife who was weeping outside the MICU carrying their three-month-old child. I couldn’t utter a word to her, but somehow gathered the courage to enquire with some of the medical staff there about Ameet’s condition. Some said his lungs were infected and some said it was multiple organ failure.
After staying for some time in the Hospital, we returned to the office. Shortly after, at around 5 in the evening, Pema received a call informing that Ameet was no more. The news not only stunned us at the office but came as a rude shock to everyone who knew him as a friend, colleague, student, son, uncle and even as loving brother and so on...
For me, he was both colleague as well as a brother. Though he was slightly elder to me in age, he used to called me ‘bubu’ [elder brother in Rai language]. I first met him during my Sikkim Observer days in the late 1990s when he was a staff reporter at Weekend Review. We used to meet frequently in press conferences and other functions. It was in 2001, when my wife used to run an NGO, and had organized an Awareness Generation Camp for women in Lower 6th Mile that she requested me to invite a journalist as one of the resource persons to cover the topic of women’s rights. Ameet, then still with Weekend Review, accepted my request and addressed the daylong function. We became closer friends since then. Eventually, Ameet joined our office as correspondent and since then we used to meet even regularly. He was very efficient while noting down information in his notepad. One could easily write the whole story from his notes as he used to neatly write down everything in detail. I never heard ‘no’ for any job assigned to him by the office.
Though he is not with us anymore, here I would like to also recall some weakness which now stay with us as sweet remembrances. He would sometimes go missing from office for a week or so without any notice. He would appear and give no one any chance to say a word of complaint as he used to seat in a chair like a wet cat and remain pleasant with an ever-smiling face. We used to hear of problems he was going through, but he never let any of it out in the office. We used to also talk about our children as one of his sons was my son’s senior in school.
As a friend and brother, I found him very happy since he got married a couple of years back. We were also very happy to see the progress he was making on all fronts. Unfortunately, some months ago, he was in a bad accident and spent months totally on bed rest. We used to talk over the phone and was managing to keep high spirits specially since he was blessed with a child three months ago. He had promised me to treat me to a quarter of Brandy when he rejoined office, which he did a few weeks back, but left us before he could keep good his treat.
Some weeks back, he had shown up at CRH to call on my ailing father-in-law. He was walking with the help of crutches and stayed there for around half-an-hour. His health was fine and his charming face gave no hints of anything ailing him. During our conversation, he suddenly enquired which of the two hospitals – CRH or STNM Hospital – had a higher mortality rate. “Obliviously CRH because STNM sends all critical patients here,” Uttam had quipped. This is the last conversation I remember with Ameet. Ameet’s final day among us followed the same routine as he was brought down from STNM Hospital to CRH at around 4 in the morning.
With profound grief I can only say Goodbye my friend and dear colleague. You will always be in my heart. I always pray that your soul finds peace and your family finds the strength to continue despite the vacuum you leave behind.