Friday, March 6, 2009

Not in vain..

Hey all,
I know I havent written in a long time here and apologies for that! There is a lot to talk about and I do want to sit down and get a nice long post about all thats been happening and some things that have not been happening as well! But today I just felt like talking about something else...
I know Iv spoken quite a bit about how much a lot of effort has been put into me coming here and getting this education..and today I wanna tell you about that one man whom I miss the most in this whole wide world and without whom I and my mother would not be here where we are today.
Girish Rajadhyaksha was born as the third child in a poor yet ever increasing family in Mumbai in the 1970s. Growing up in old Mumbai in a not so rich family wasnt the best deal you could get in the 70s. Life was difficult and Girish didnt find it a bed of roses either. His mother wasnt the most helpful of persons, and although his dad worked hard, it just wasnt enough to support 5 children and Girish like his siblings had to start working from a very young age. Tough times instilled tough values, and in no time , he was one of the most famous doctors in Mumbai, married to the woman of his dreams and with a perfect life. The only thing missing was a child....
Due to certain reasons Gauri, his wife could not bear a child..they decided to adopt.
On a fine morning in September 1988, the doctor and his wife visited the Children of the World centre in Mumbai. Gauri was a bit apprehensive...several babies lay crying or sleeping in cots in a large room. The nurse guided them inside, and they walked towards the babies. They passed one after another, babes either bawling or snoring. Somehow something wasnt right... they walked on. Then suddenly as they were about to pass another infant who was snoring in the nice soft bed, they saw it open its eyes. The baby looked at them, stretched out his hand and grabbed Gauri's finger, and gave the biggest smile in the world. This was it, this was the child. Girish and Gauri knew instantly. Within moments they had the baby in their arms and in no time the baby was home. They gave the baby a name...Shantanu Girish Rajadhyaksha was born.
I grew up always with one aim...to be just like my father. True, I was always closest to my mother, but dad or 'baba' was my hero. The best doc in the world. Growing up in those years was amazing...he did things for me that noone else would have done. I remember when Coca-Cola re-launched in India again in 1994, he drove for 5 hours just to find me a bottle of Coke, and only rested when he saw me sipping it with a smug grin on my face in my mom's arms. His clinic was just 5 minutes from our house, and I would always find time to go there and sit once in a day, playing with his assistant or with him whenever he was free. I was too small to have noticed how amazingly well he was respected by the masses. Everyone from all classes of society would come to him and he would treat everyone equally. My mom has countless stories about the number of times he performed miraculous surgeries or just brough people back from death. We had mafia bosses come to our place, get themselves treated by my father , and then offer him their allegiance. At the time int he early 90's, Mumbai was ruled by a very well known ganglord who was responsible for the Hindu-Muslim riots and the subsequent terrorist attacks in 1993. The papers would be filled with stories of murders carried out by this ganglords cronies..Bollywood stars being their prime targets. Yet they always had enormous respect for my father and he always kept them at the furthest distance, refusing to let him or his family get involved in any way. Life was good....we had a ncie house, we bought another big mansion on the outskirts of Mumbai, and were practically millionaires.
In February 1995, my uncle, my mother's sister's husband, got very sick. They lived in a neighboring city, and while returning from a religious visit, he suddenly had severe migraines and had to be admitted to a local hospital. Hygiene wasnt really that good at the place, and even though the doctors performed an emergency operation to remove a big tumour from his brain, my uncle developed an infection in his brain which put him in a coma. Naturally everyone was very worried, and both my mother and father rushed to be at his side. My father was more so needed at this time than any other. We made several trips, and I remember being there for a couple of days too. This time however, my father could not save him. My uncle's infection proved to be fatal.. and he passed away on March 4th. I was in Mumbai at my cousins' place and my parents were with my aunt to be by her side. My mom thought I should be there too. She almost never left me alone and she missed me a lot. She told my dad ' Could you get Shantanu here please?' He agreed and decided to drive down back to Mumbai to pick me up.
6th March 1995 : I was playing cricket with my favorite cousin at 7 pm at night. Dinner was almost ready and since I was about to win the game I didnt want it to be cut short. The door bell rang. Everything went silent for 2 minutes. Suddenly there was my aunt calling me outside in the hall . Oh! here were two of my father's friends. 'Hey Sunil Uncle, Hey Vilas uncle. How come you are here?' ' Shantanu you have to go home with them ok?' ' ok....now?' ' yes now, we will talk later ok?' ' Ok..fine' ..We drove home...there was utter silence in the car. Noone felt like talking. I couldnt understand it. Why didnt they let me finish the game? Are Mama and Baba home? 'Shhh Shantanu we are almost home' they said. We parked outside the apartment complex gates. There were a lot of people waiting downstairs ...dressed in white. 'Has someone died uncle?' I asked innocently. They didnt say.... I was led up the stairs. The door to my house was open...I walked in....My father was lying asleep at peace on the floor. He was covered in a white cloth. His eyes had cotton balls over them. I knew at that point what it was...but I didnt realize the shock. My father was no longer alive. He was dead. He had been caught in a car accident while coming back ......to get me. He was waiting at a signal and a truck had backed up on our car, breaking though the windshield and ramming into my father, killing him instantly. The truck driver fled. There was my father....dead on the highway...after saving so many lives God took away his own, he called his angel back. I honestly say I could not grasp the pain, I just wanted to be with my mother. I went in. There she was, crying, sobbing hysterically just waiting for me to hold so she could let her emotions flow at the top of her voice. I still remember the exact words she said..'' Shonu..majhi Shonu...(My baby...my darling baby).. aata fakta tu ani me (now its just you and me)..Baba nahi yenar parat ....(Your father is not coming back)" and we just hugged each other and cried...I remember nothing else from that night.
Today its been 14 years to the day since he passed away. I want to tell my mom something. She was wrong when she said my father would not be coming back. Shes wrong...because he never left us. From that moment onward when people realized that Girish Rajadhyaksha was alive no more, the fame vanished. There were to be no celebrities, no glamour, no millions. All that was left was a woman who did not work and her little son. Everyone but a handful of people deserted us, offered us no support...But we survived. All the taunts, all the attempts to bring us down, spurred my mother even further. We werent out. My father had invested all of our money wisely and it was enough to last a lifetime. My mother learnt how to make use of it. She worked hard to learn the tricks of the trade, and we are at this point of time successful and doing good because of those efforts and invaluable decisions made by my father. My father lives on in me , my mother's husband lives on in her, Girish Rajadhyaksha lives on in us. The day I got my visa, me and my mother both thought of the same thing..' This is for you dad'
Even though my parents adopted me, I do believe today that I am my father's son. Whatever I do today , whatever good that I have done , its all because I just want to be like him. I know I will never be. I always want to be known as ' Girish Rajadhyaksha's son'.. wherever I end up. I spoke to my mother today, she doesnt cry anymore. Today she is happy, that her son has made his father proud. Somewhere up in the sky, somewhere in my soul, somewhere within me, I hope my baba is smiling at me.He died trying to reach out to me, today I want to be as successful as I can so that I may finally grab his hand one day and make that connection at last. I know he would have been very proud of me and my mom, and I feel that pride driving me on to those greater heights...
Never forget that we all are here due to the superhuman efforts of someone who loves us to death..so much that even death doesnt stop them from making sure we get what we want..whether it be a bottle of Coca-Cola or a world-class education. Make those people proud..step up!
Baba I love you
Dedicated to the best father in the world - Girish Yeshwant Rajadhyaksha.

Dedicated to Girish Yeshwant Rajadhyaksha

3 comments:

Chelsea Moyer said...

Shantanu,

Thank you for sharing. . . your honesty, thoughtfulness,gratitude, and sensitivity is very touching. Your father sounds like an amazing man I am sure that he is very proud of you.

Shantanu Rajadhyaksha : Junior said...

Thank you Chelsea, he most definitely is an amazing man.

Sara Hilton, Admissions Counselor said...

Such a beautiful post, Shantanu...thank you so much for sharing.