It was a packed hall with almost every seat occupied at the back. We were late by half an hour. Every one was seated as we walked in. Soft whispering filled the air in an eerieness that obstructed the silence. The choir stood in the corner near Mr. D'souza and his family. The organ started playing in the background making my heart feel heavy as we walked our way up to the front row from the aisle on the side, so as to not grab any attention from the seated peopleor to obstruct their view. People were dressed in black in the front rows, men in black suits and black ties, the ladies in black dresses and a few of them doned black scarfs. It looked like some of the ladies had spent good enough time in getting ready for the ceremony, as I saw one of them with nicely done soft curls, and some with neatly straightened out shiny hair. We walked up to the front row where Mr. D'Souza and his family were seated. My father and I shook hands with him and shared our condolences. Not knowing
how to greet him in a such a difficult situation, I said "God Bless" and walked towards an empty berth in the fourth row.
We walked past a shiny wooden coffin crafted with elegant golden carvings where in lay the body of Mrs. D'Souza. The coffin looked quite royal to me, as I hadn't seen many in my life as yet. Mr. D'Souza's mother had passed away last night after battling with her old age for long time. She was a generous lady and many'a people liked her because of her kind deeds. Though I didn't ever meet her personally but I heard so later from the priest's speech in the church.
As we settled down, at least ten priests gathered at the altar clad in orthodox cardinal gowns bearing the symbol of his holiness. A priest came up to the podium and started his speech in memory and farewell of Mrs. D'Souza, followed by multiple prayers from the choir..
While all this was happening, a song subliminally was playing in my mind, a cool breeze was constantly hitting my face, tears were piling up in my eys. His voice was crystal clear in my memory, he sang with heart and melody, "behti hawa sa tha woh.."... This is the song he had sung on the last day of my job for me. I had only interacted with him in the last one and a half month of my work, when the teams within my organisation were re-arranged on orders of the new management that had come in and assured better efficiency and productivity. Someone had told me that he had even appeared in "Indian Idol" after bunking from office and standing in the line for over 8 hours, and had got knocked off in the latter rounds. The last I heard about his singing was when he had sung to our very own Director of the Agency, a well reknown ad-man, a lyricist and so on.. "Johny Boy" had impressed him so much just by his one song.. For over 8 years he had slogged his ass in this
organisation and now, he had earned recognition from his highest boss. So excited he was! elated!! He thought he might get a break somewhere or at least be remembered or recognized for his talent. That was the last I had heard from him after I had once visited my old office.
Over One and a half years had past since then, and I had received a message from a friend on facebook, shocking me completely. The message read "The funeral of John Godambe would take place at 3pm at Holy Name Church today". I didn't know how to react. I tried calling John's number, but in vain. It was out of service.
<Photography was one of his hobbies. He always carried an SLR with him to office>
I had seen him and spoken to him very less in my tenure at this agency. Just one and a half month he worked in my team on my brand and then I bid him good bye when I was quitting the agency.
I saw him sleeping in the coffin, with his eyes shut, in his black suit. He wasn't singing, nor cracking jokes as he normally would be found during the strenuous working hours, trying to cheer everyone one up. I couldn't believe what I saw. How could such a nice person like him go away? Why him? Why so soon? Johny Boy!! you can't do this man!! Roby, Melba, Bhavin, Mary, Jerry, Sundar, Narendhar, they all were there as his mother cried endlessly on the loss of her only son. We couldn't see her in her eyes. I couldn't see anyone in the eyes, my tears just wouldn't stop. I barely knew him, but he was already very dear to me. His niceness had touched me in such a way I had not known.
A single priest bid him farewell and said the holy prayers for his farewell for the journey in his new life. No choir sung for John, no one could match this 'Rockstar' friend of mine for me in singing.. I prayed over and over again for my friend, yet in disbelief of what had happened. The loss for his family was much greater as he was the only son of this financially weak family. He had devoted over 8 years to this organisation. John's illness had worsened so he couldn't attend office anymore. Though the old bosses in higher position knew of John's dedication and service, little did they try to make the new management understand that John should be taken care of. After all he is an old employee. After all John had become like the old furniture of this Agency who was always there for the agency in times of any urgency or crisis. However, the new management over looked all of his past records and sacked him because they couldn't have an employee fall sick every now and then. All these years of his hard work failed to create any place for him in the hearts the management.
Having laid off for over a year John cut off from all his friends, due to his bad health and in ability to earn for his family. Even his best friends knew nothing about his health and where-offs. Three months ago he enjoyed his last vacation in goa with some office friends. He seemed very happy in the snaps that I saw of him on my friend's FB page. Then two days before he passed away he visited office and greeted his friends. Spent the whole day with them. Little did they know that they would be seeing him for the last time. He knew his condition and he hid it from every one including his family. Selfless, generous, jovial, happy go lucky and a true "IDOL" is how I would describe you JOHN!
You were always liked and you will always be loved.
I wish the best for you where ever you are!
May the Al-Mighty shower you with blessings and fulfill all your wishes.
You yet live and yet sing in our hearts :)
"Behti hawa sa tha woh.."
Hmm.. and so I was in the middle of someone's funeral, crying for someone else. My friend's coffin hadn't been so beautiful, but his soul surely was. He didn't have a large choir to sing at his funeral, but they would never be able to match him. The coffin area wasn't as fancily decorated with flowers but he decorated our lives whilst he was here.
I prayed for both, my friend and the lady who had passed away and left in between the ceremony as I could no longer hold my tears back.
It still is a shock for me to accept, John's no longer here.
Why do good people go away so soon?
I wonder if he's looking down on us all..
Guess he made loads'a fans after all :)
BLESS YOU MY FRIEND :)