I am aware of my limitations in penning a few words about Guru because whatever one writes about him will be minuscule to what the human being was. With my heart full and my eyes brimming with tears, I have nevertheless decided to take the plunge in penning about Guru, my very dear friend.
I first met Gurudas Kamat in the year 1976 when we were students at the Government Law College. I took an instant liking to him because of his easy approach-ability and his strong magnetic personality. Guru approached me when he stood for elections as the Class Representative. He addressed the class requesting for votes and his gift of the gab left all of us speechless. Instantaneously, I had decided to support him and the election results were a no brainer. Guru emerged victorious and from then on our friendship bloomed. We took to each other instantly and there was never a day we were spotted without each other at the college. The daily routine of going to college was that Guru would come to my house, picked me up and both us travelled together. Most of the days he had lunch at my home and my parents liked him so much that he was served all the South Indian delicacies which he relished to his heart’s content. Thus began the friendship which lasted for forty two years when the Gods chose to take away Guru to their Heavenly Abode on 22nd August, 2018. The news of his premature untimely death was too shocking and I literally slumped to my couch not believing what I had just heard.
The flame called Guru had extinguished. This flame which had lit many peoples’ lives and touched, moved and inspired a million lives had been suddenly snatched away from everyone’s midst. Crestfallen and heartbroken, I informed our friends’ circle who were too shocked for words. Such was Guru’s impact on people. It’s just sad and brutal that I will never see him again.
Guru was a born leader and when joining Government Law College itself was an active member of the National Students Union of India. Born to middle class cultured parents, Guru acquired leadership capabilities right from his school and college days. Guru had so many admirable qualities, a few of which I would love to mention:
· He was a charmer with an infectious smile and had a charisma that was unparalleled.
· Endowed with the gift of the gab, he had excellent persuasion and influencing skills
· His attention to details was frightening but he could perceive things beyond the ordinary
· Had a delightfully impish sense of humour and wit
· He showed immense courage and fortitude in whatever challenges were thrown at him, and always had his friends and opponents guessing about his next moves
· For him, ‘what is right’ was more important than ‘who is right’. Hence, had his convictions and beliefs too strong for anyone to dare.
· Extremely quick on his feet, he could come up with strategies instantly
· Highly devoted son to his parents, an extremely loving husband to his wife Maharookh whom he often referred as his ‘Everything’, and Sunil, his son was the apple of his eyes
Stepping into our college days, we had real fun. In the three years we spent together at law college, I have been to every ‘who’s who politician in the country’ along with Guru. It was a great learning to see him meticulously prepare write ups, press releases, points for discussions with leaders and would want me to go through them and give suggestions as a third person would see it. We would spent hours in the law canteen and discuss everything under the sun consuming copious cups of chai --- calling it chai pe charcha. He would always have an opinion of his own on most of the subjects since he read voraciously and interests spanned from politics to movies to music to sports and you name it. The most intriguing part was that at all times he needed someone to accompany him. He would never ever go anywhere alone …. He loved company. And he had me to tag along and I learnt a lot being with him.
I remember an incident when we hopped into a cab and realized that the cabbie did not know the address where we wanted to go. In his inimitable style, Guru asked another cabbie for the address who knew the same. Not wanting to disappoint the cabbie in whose cab we had already sat, he asked the other fellow to lead us and told him we would follow him. Till this day this arouses laughter imagining the scene where there was an empty cab ahead of us which we were following and both of us sitting in the cab behind. This also brings out another trait in Guru that he would ensure he does not leave anything to chance. Every evening after college Guru and I would go to his wife, Maharookh’s office, and then travel by train to our respective homes. Those were the times my friend Guru was dating ‘his to be beautiful wife’. For Guru, his wife Maharookh was (is) his Universe. I remember the Pani Puri, Bhelpuri, and Lassi the three of us had most of the evenings. Ice creams would be additional if the wallets were heavier.
Amongst our circle of friends, Guru was very much loved. When he was in our midst, he was the connoisseur of all eyes (women included but Maharookh kept them at bay). He had a lot of personal and political anecdotes to share and it was fun to hear him. He was our direct passage to both National and International news, and he was adept and astute in understanding the nitty gritty. I can hardly remember paying any restaurant bill when Guru was around. Guru was a foodie and loved to eat different cuisines and each time try a new eating place. I have to confess that all the best restaurants and hotels that I had been was courtesy Guru. Quite a lot of weight that I carry around, I owe to Guru and his fondness to satiate the appetite of his friends. Of course, all of us will miss his enormous enthusiasm and energy, his greater than life stature and his immense love and affection.
Guru was brilliant in academics and he topped the LLB exams of the Bombay University. Soon thereafter, he joined Phiroze Vakil to practice law. But it was short lived since his calling in life was Politics. He grew from strength to strength in Politics from a young leader leading the Youth Congress in the country to Member of Parliament in Mumbai for five terms to becoming the Minister of State at the Centre. It was through sheer hard work and dedication that he scaled great heights hitching his wagon to a star. I can recall that in one of the elections he was contesting, the application form of the opponent candidate had a technical fault. The opponent candidate called Guru and confessed there was indeed a technical fault that could debar him from the elections. Guru assured him that he will not complain and that he contest without fear. This was the magnanimity and largess of my Guru.
The amount of affection and love he had generated during his life was seen to be believed. Thousands of people had lined up to pay their last respects and homage to Guru with several of them in uncontrollable tears. Many of them were poor people whose hearts Guru had touched by his untiring efforts, hard work and dedication. Befitting his stature and the great human being he was, he was draped in the National Tricolor Flag, and State Honors were offered through gun salute and sound of the bugle.
Left to me, I will go on and on. Truly, a piece of my heart is forever broken with Guru moving on. His time had come and he was dear to the Gods. What else to say but “That Death lays its icy hands on Kings too”.
I miss you Guru .... too much.