Gupto Kaku used to stand outside my bedroom window early in the morning holding a small puja basket full of fresh flowers and whisper in a slow murmur “Guten Morgen, Madam”. Still, in my slumber, I used to mutter a gibberish reply and immediately fall asleep again. He used to get back to his morning routine which was mainly prayer and meditation.
For the rest of the neighborhood, morning unwrapped slowly with the chirping of birds, breathless conversation of the morning walkers, chattering of the school going kids and finally the loud noise of the fish and vegetable hawkers. While for me it began when he came to my house after finishing his puja with prasad and flower. I used to still be in my bed partly wakeful partly sleepy while he touched my forehead with the flower and then start talking. He was talkative and talked incessantly. I often used to not listen to what he said but just vacantly looked at him wrinkling my eyes. My mornings were warm and comfortable something I yearn for now.
Both I and his daughter M were late risers whereas he and my father woke up early in the morning. While I and he had our Guten Morgen, his daughter and my father had their usual Good Morning. I and he secretly believed that wishing Guten Morgen was a classy manner and what they did was merely a tacky imitation. Many a time when M screamed Good Morning to my father he used to wink at me from behind her with an impish grin. He was a childish man and had the contagious energy and innocence of a child.
We had a guava tree in our backyard which we had to trim once after getting complaints from other neighbours. I was very upset and I hated to see my bare tree without leaves, branches, and fruits. I might have even cried secretly. He understood this and gathered all the chopped branches that were lying on the ground. The following afternoons he spent secretly carving those branches and one fine day he asked me to come over to his house. And what I saw was a beautiful table crafted out of those branches. He was an amazing engineer, true to his profession. I must have hugged him in sheer excitement.
We had a street dog for a pet. We mean me, my father, M and him. The street dog mostly lived on my balcony but ate both at my place and his. Whenever the dog fell ill all of us started worrying. He used to come with his bio-chemic medicine kit and start giving the dog medicines in all permutation and combination. He was a self-taught Bio-chemic medical practitioner. He had this old thick book with yellowish worn out pages which he used to refer to for everything from a cough and cold to cancer. His passion for bio-chemic was contagious and I actually started believing so much that whenever I fell sick I first went to him. Calcaria Phos became a part of my medicine kit. He never charged and offered his medicine to anyone who fell sick within and outside of his circle of acquaintance. Once he even gave his medicine to an alleged thief who was lying bleeding after being lynched in our neighbourhood.
Driving was his another passion however after selling his car he took to riding his bicycle. He often kept others in tenterhooks while he went on adventurous rides on his bicycle. Those were the pre-mobile phone days and there was no way to find out where he was or when he would return. M often conspired with me to secretly sell off the bicycle however she could never muster the courage to do so fearing his furious temper. Yes, he did have a temper which sparked and then calmed down in a split second.
There are religious people and there are spiritual people. Religious people believe in rituals, customs, doctrines, fasting etc whereas spirituality is beyond all this. He was spiritual, and I never saw him indulging in any brainless religious rituals. His positive thoughts always made me feel confident. On a bad day, a casual discussion with him always lighted my spirits. After my Mom died, the entire neighbourhood came to console me however he didn’t come to meet me in the first few days when the house was brimming with condolences. A few days later, while I was sitting alone in the balcony I heard his voice behind me. He said, “Whatever happens, happens for good”. It seemed ludicrous. How could the death of my mother happen for good? While every other person said that it was the most unfortunate thing to happen and it would be difficult to manage my life blah blah. How could he say like this? He said that it would have been selfish of me if I wanted her to live in spite of the physical suffering she was going through. When the time comes we should gracefully let go even our dear ones and not cling to them. This is how the cycle of life functions. Long after, I realized he was so right. The death of my mother in a way made me matured, strong and responsible, something I would have never developed otherwise. He had this unique quality of looking at a positive thing even in the most negative situation.
I am not religious however before my exams and interview I visited his house to take blessings from him and his Gurudev. The flower he gave me every morning used to be carefully tucked in the pocket of my wallet. Even from the operation table before my C-section, I called him up for blessings and above all courage. If I believe in a Guru it is him. He was not my father nevertheless a father figure and a lovable part of my childhood and I pay my homage to him.