[A tribute to a friend and brother, Jai Shah, written shortly after his passing. 29th Sep, 2010]
I have been catching up with friends on Facebook chat these days. People from the past and present; happy, frozen icons in chat windows. Text is always the best way to communicate, I feel. Many times, I am more comfortable sending a text message than calling and I have heard a few others say the same. This morning, while I was logged into the chat, a new conversation window popped up and froze my heart. It was from my friend Jai Shah. “Hi”, it said.
Jai is a friend, a brother and a partner. At over 6 feet, he stands tall and can polish off three zinger burgers at one go with ease! He is a caring friend, a loving husband to his beautiful wife Aritra, a good son, a watchful brother and a gem of a human being.
In the brief period when I had quit my job to run an online motorcycling magazine called Monoshock, Jai had been my wingman. He could handle contemporary litre class super bikes and three decade old Lambrettas with equal ease. Once the ride was done and the machines returned to their owners, he would pen down his experiences and these, clubbed with the photographs I had taken would make up the various stories and road tests on the e-magazine.
“However, every now and then a Bike maker comes along who sympathizes with the enthusiasts and gives them what they truly want, unbridled performance!” wrote Jai for the Hyosung Comet – Yamaha RD 350 comparo, an article that got the website more than ten thousand hits in three days!
We would meet every Sunday over lunch. These meetings were either at my residence or at Magnolia, a place for great food on Park Street, Kolkata. Conversation would revolve around work, food, motorcycles, women and the odd road trips which always perished in the planning stages. On days when we used public transport, Jai and I would send away a few beers to that legendary place where all beers go to die.
“Rawker on bro..” he would text me when the new story he had written was online.
The chat window froze my heart because Jai has passed away in an unfortunate accident a few days back. I was there when his last rites happened but I cannot believe it still.
He is too alive to be banished into the ‘dead and gone’ space. There is a huge chunk of him I carry in my heart all the time.
The chat was initiated by his wife, Aritra, whose courage and strength, I cannot even begin to fathom.
We chatted for a while and there were so many moments, when the boundary between this world and the next kept disappearing.
I speak to Jai often in my mind. But today was different. For someone like me, who prefers typed letters over voices, it felt like home.
Rawker on bro!