Last evening Neel Mehra called to inform me that Robin Aurora had passed away at the St Stephen Hospital in Delhi. This morning was his funeral at the electric crematorium at 5:30 am which Neel Mehra, Deepak Lamba, Tinoo Singh (Lefroy, Roll no 420!) and I attended. The timing for the funeral was so early because the crematorium could not offer any other time slot during the day!
Robin’s departure, I gather, was a result of an absence of sugar in the body accompanied by low blood pressure. That was the medical condition with which he was admitted into hospital and he soon went into a coma from which he never regained consciousness. His passing away was most unexpected because the family was scheduled to travel to Goa this morning to attend a family wedding ! It was the effort and the kindness of Tinoo Singh that ensured he was brought down by car from Solan to Delhi three days ago.
Last night most of us who knew of him and had heard the news of his death slept fitfully. Memories of Robin kept swirling past me right through the night. They came as simple episodes of the most mundane kind. For example, it was Robin who first informed me about Mrs Nanavati, the matron in Linlithgow in 1953, of the lovely person that she was. To this day those who were in her care feel she was more mother than matron ! Alas, I joined School in 1954 and never met her but Robin’s account of her, I still recall, with a sense of the deprived!
Robin was a splendid person. Simple, simple and more simple hearted! It was with him that I went on one of my earliest picnics to the White Temple and its adjoining buffalo pond. It was Robin who was the keeper of the prohibited kerosene fueled stove to manufacture omelettes. He was the one who managed that show and all the accessories required to deliver the goods – eggs, butter and bread. He was never the leader in any group but without his presence that event would never have been the same or even complete. This was the man who knew which gear to move and when.
It was Robin who would tweak my nose to inhibit my terrible snore when he could not sleep even though our beds were separated by another one in between ( JPS Kniggar’s). He was sensitive to this habit of mine and the only one who had the courage to attempt a diversion of air into my nasal passage! It would result in leaving me awake while Robin would then employ the intervening period, till I went back to sleep, to make sure sleep arrived to him before I could return again to a state of soporfic pleasure. He did not always succeed since my window of returning to sleep closed before he could shut his eye lids!!
I have never seen anyone enjoy his cup of coffee or cocoa as much as Robin did. He would curl up the mug in his hands to ensure its warmth lingered for much longer. Every sip exuded pleasure and was a sight to watch. I have, possibly unconsciously, imitated his style from time to time but never has a cup of coffee delivered to me the promise that it held for Robin.
I recall meeting Robin outside the Plaza cinema the year it played “Around the World in 80 days” Even though we were good friends but on holiday and with our respective parents, we just glanced and waved each other since the older folk would not have time for idle teenage chatter. We knew, and so a quick “Hi” was quite acceptable. I also recall the year I met Robin and his mother with Nagen, entering BCS for the first time, at the Old Delhi Railway station on our way to School. This time the greeting was more responsive since their mother joined in the chorus of that recognition. She seemed a tall woman and her boys inherited some, though not all of that feature in full, of her thick set lips. Antara, Robin’s daughter, has a lot of her other features though she is not as tall but a petite version of her grandmother, complexion and all.
Robin was passionate about painting and Mr DasGupta can claim huge credit for the encouragement he gave him. Robin built a huge collection of sketches and water colours which constitute an important component of the memory that he leaves behind for his family and friends. I made mention of this in the earlier piece that I wrote about him and is sent as an attachment to this mail.
Robin was an outdoor person and he turned that part of his character to the life he finally chose. He joined the Dr YS Parmar University of Horticulture and Forestry in Solan and then moved to cultivate the land that his father had bought in Rajgarh. Robin met Neelam his wife through Tinoo, who is also her cousin. They married on October 2, 1980. Antara, their daughter, works with IBM in Chandigarh.
Neelam described him as a gentle, methodical, disciplined and self reliant individual. I, like most of us, can confirm her description. We saw these virtues but she was lucky and fortunate to live with them. Our deepest condolences to Neelam, Antara and the rest of the family.
“He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.”
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Bhog ceremony for Robin will be conducted at:
The Saket Gurudwara, J Block
on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 10 am.
The Path will commence from today and will carry on for 7 days at the same Gurudwara.
Robin is third to the right in the Marathon picture between Badal and me. He is the guy on my left in the second picture:
click for larger view
POSTSCRIPT: Dear ALL. This is also to inform all [those who knew Robin, especially] that Robin’s mother passed away on earlier this year as well – on March 9, 2012.