“I will come again"

A fortnight ago, I was in deep sleep, around 12.30 in the night, my phone rang. Muddasir, we lovingly called him Mudi Bhai, was on the line. “ Is there any food ready, I am coming.” I left the bed and arranged food. He arrived in less than 15 minutes.

He had a hearty meal, and then  we chatted for more than an hour. We had a cup of Kehwa, before we went to bed. Knowing his habits, as he was a frequent visitor, I didn’t disturb him till late in the morning.  As he woke up, he asked for breakfast. Honey- Nun Chai, and homemade bread. Add two pieces of chicken. And the  breakfast was ready. While he was having his breakfast, his mother called him up. “I am all well, coming home within half an hour” Mudi talked to his mother.

Once he finished, he wore some loose trousers. Why these trousers, I asked curiously? “I had a minor accident. There is pain in my leg,” he explained. “Nothing serious, I am recovering.”

It was the first time he hugged me before leaving. “Bhai thank you.” . I felt it very unusual, as shuttle between home and Srinagar was his routine. “You know Boss wanted me not to go home last night, so  you were my destination. He must know that I stayed back, so I need to message him.” these were his last words, before he left my place.

He rode his bike, and left hurriedly.  In the evening, when I entered the newsroom, I was welcomed by him. “Bhai, it was a delicious dinner, thank you. I’ll come again soon,” his words are still ringing in the air.

The moment I finished my assignment, Mudi Bhai, with that usual smile, requested Arshad sahib and me to have a cup of coffee. However, the coffee shop was closed by then, and we ended up with a mango shake. Sitting on a table opposite to each other was the last meeting with Mudi. After that  day he did not come to office becausa of the fracture in his leg.

I asked Arif Sahib about Muddasir, and he told me that he was not well, so working from home. Earlier, we used to have joint video calls but from last around a week, Mudi did not pick the phone.

On Friday morning, at around 6.45 am, I got a call from Mukeet. “Mudi has passed away.”

I rushed for his funeral prayers. I couldn’t reconcile that now Mudi Bhai was not among us. I could not believe he wouldn’t come to me for delicious food. I could not believe he would not say thank you.

It started sinking in when I wrote about his funeral. When I wrote he breathed his last before reaching the hospital; when I stared at the chair on which he used to edit copies. That chair is still tucked under the desk, no one has pulled it for the last 10 days.

Now I know, Mudi Bhai, you won’t join us in the newsroom. You left too early. Can’t forget the smiling face. We will meet sooner, or later. Till our joining, my prayers are for you, keep smiling in Jannat.

In our organization, Mudi Bhai was outstanding. He was always happy, and radiated happiness. Whenever I filed a good story, he would call and appreciate. Even at times, he used to tell me to follow the story and file one more. “ Facts are important, you jot them down, and the editor will shape the story up,” he used to tell me.

The newsroom will always feel incomplete without  you, Mudi Bhai.