Manju is no more. No amount of recanting his character or retelling of his stories would bring him back to life. But remembering him would unmistakably make us realize not only the transient facet of life, but also the model manner in which it ought to be lead. Manju for us and Manjunath at birth was an unassuming man possessing an unflinching dedication and embodying an unshakeable character. A character which transcended his duties as an Administrative Assistant in the office. Administrative Assistant in Manju’s case was but a euphemism for ‘Motorcycle Management’, for a fairly substantial chunk of Manju’s time was spent in transit – in transit filing and fetching various documents; dispatching and delivering sealed envelopes etc. In more ways than one Manju was a purveyor of a variegated nature of human emotions. Outrage and outpourings, apologies and authoritative diktats, rancour and revelry – many typed out in pages, some illustrated in colour, others adorned with Governmental seals, and all invariably signed off with flourishes.
Oblivious to the emotional quotient attached to the documents themselves, Manju treated every single piece of paper and every request made to him with equal equanimity. Although he used to be plagued by a plethora of pleas every single day, imploring him to grab his helmet, kick start his trusted bike and navigate his way through treacherous traffic and terrible weather alternatively, he retained a serenity that was near beatific. Always possessing an innocuous but impressionable smile, Manju had his unique but trusty ways of prioritizing between tasks and also handling taskmasters. In fact with reference to the latter aspect, he could easily have provided a concise lesson in the techniques of man management. Even though never brusque or brash, Manju had his inimitable ways of conveying his emotions. The man could not only move documents but also make statements.
Possessing an enviable amount of patience (a necessary trait when one happens to deal not only with indispensable papers but also with irascible personalities), Manju could (although he rarely ever did) narrate instances of having had to wait for hours together at a stretch just because the concerned person to whom a document had to be delivered was cloistered in a meeting. All the while being continually plagued by the never ceasing ring tones and pounding vibrations of his cell phone, detailing the geographical contours of his next port of call. But very few of us could remember seeing him flustered or frustrated, fierce or fuming. He was an unsung hero who by his inconspicuous but necessary absence, guaranteed and lent credence to many a presence. Even on those rare occasions of slack and respite, the very sight of Manju sitting in a corner poring over a magazine or gobbling a quick meal was one of reassurance.
Like any other day, Manju kick started his trusted bike this morning as well, donned his well serving helmet and set out on his way. But he could never have known that someone up there had realized that Heaven was suffering from a severe logistics constraint and that the services of an ever smiling, grounded, efficient and effective expert was the desperate need of the hour. So at one of innumerable traffic signals, as an unsuspecting Manju sits on his bike, with the harsh glare of an unrelenting sun beating down on him, a speeding bus bears down on him and catches him unaware.
Manju thank for every single minute of your time, thank you for your patience, thank you for your kindness, and thank you for an attitude which I would be extraordinarily proud to possess and even more proud to practice. Rest In Peace my friend and sleep well.
Although the Logistics problem at Heaven would be a relic, all of us who miss Manju fervently hope that the drivers up above are at least more responsible!