Saturday, September 23, 2006

He may have been an unknown Indian but he was honest, capable and reliable

Today, I am sad and upset at the news that my friend Oswald Chakravorty has passed away from this earth. We knew each other from our early teenage years (he was a little younger than me but we overlapped at St. Stephen's College, Delhi). I am particularly pleased that I was able to speak with him on the phone twice on the last day of his life here.

Not only am I happy to have known him, I am immensely proud to have known him because he was one of what has unfortunately become a rare breed nowadays, an honest and reliable Indian. He knew his capacities as well as his limitations, and whatever he said you could consider done - no silly excuses at the last minute regarding why something that had been promised could not be done.

Oswald had no self-pity or mawkishness about his condition. He knew that health is ultimately in God's hands, and each day is a gift to be enjoyed but also to be used in the best possible way. He was not merely a Christian but he was one of those Christians who is a follower of Jesus the Lord. So, whatever the circumstances, he simply continued on the straight and narrow, focusing on loving God and loving his neighbours in whatever ways seemed possible.

I admired him, moreover, because he had much more practical wisdom than I have.
As a government servant he was, among other things, Secretary of a particular Housing Association, and you may know that there are numerous Housing Associations in Delhi. His was the only one, of which I know, that was completed both on time and to budget, and he did it all for the sake of the community without cadging a single rupee.

An extraordinary achievement in terms of project management of course, but even more extraordinary in the context of our thoroughly venal culture and our highly corrupt environment where most people consider it normal and indeed essential to give and receive bribes. It takes a living fish to swim against the current.

So he may have been unkonwn but he was extraordinary.

Even as he was dying of cancer, he was more concerned about a mutual friend's asthma and what could be done to relieve that, than about his own condition.

I greatly look forward to seeing him again, by God's grace, in the next world, where there will be no more parting.

But, in the meanwhile, we need many more like him here on earth.

As I sit with my memories and my tears, this is my simple and tiny tribute to one who was dear to me, but who was also one of those who makes me proud to be an Indian. Sphere: Related Content

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