My friend Primula put up a message in our whatssapp group.It was a one liner.'My father just passed away.'
This was the ex-chief minister of Sikkim she was talking about.Felt very sad.
Primula was my friend from my school days.We all studied in Tashi Namgyal Academy ,the only public school in Sikkim which was originally meant for the royal children and later went on to become an autonomous body.
We were borders away from home in the capital ,Gangtok.
Primula was the chief minister's daughter but was the most humble of the lot.She was very caring and concerned about all her friends especially the hostellers.Every now and then huge packet of tucks would come our way and she never forgot our birthdays.I still have a small saving safe marked with orange pen ,a gift from her.Every year on her birthday we were invited to the chief minister's residence to celebrate it with her family.It was a happy affair with the CM himself making it a point to meet us and her mother ,the smart parliamentarian would entertain us.I don't ever remember buying a gift for her.
With time life took us through various routes ,I have been out most of my adult life but I sort of kept in touch one way or the other.We were connected through social media.I have not met Primula after we left school.I continue to carry warm memories of her.The social media has a way of exhibitting our lives sometimes unknowingly.I sort of knew what was happening with her life.
This winter while sauntering with my uncle to the dispensary for parliamentareans I ran into Mr Bhandari and his second daughter who was a junior from school.I greeted him ,he talked to my uncle,a colleague from the political milieu of India.
One thing that struck me about him was his sheer persona.He was shining all through.He in no way looked sick.
On returning back that day I sent a message to Primula saying that I had met her father and she was down south in tirupatti then and sounded surprised.
I suspect it is a great loss for my friend ,losing a father who towered over Sikkim politics for close to two decades,a man who had absolute sway over what happened in Sikkim then.To me ,he is a friend's father,a chief minister who was meticulous to the point when we were invited for dinner to his place after our class ten results were out,we found that he had pinned our board exams mark on the board behind his desk at Mintokgang and had marked out few of our performances and called us out for it.For a child then,it did not seem out of place for one did feel like one had achieved much with that result but as an adult when I look back I feel much humbled.I mourn with my friend for her father.