Mourning someone special: See you again, Ahmed Bhai
No, Ahmed Bhai is not here. For once he failed to keep his word, recalls senior Congress leader and former chief minister Motilal Vora
It was difficult to believe that Ahmed Bhai was no more among us. I was indeed aware that he was not keeping well. But barely some weeks ago when I returned home from the hospital, he was among the first to drop in. There was nothing to worry, he reassured as he had done on so many other occasions. I remember his soothing voice telling me, “I am here. Just give me a call if you need anything”.
No, Ahmed Bhai is not here. For once he failed to keep his word.
I know I am not the only one who feels bereaved. Human beings like him have always been rare and of late, it seems, God has stopped making men in his mould. Ahmed Bhai’s door was always open to people, big and small. He would give everyone a patient hearing and would come up with solutions to their vexed problems. On many occasions I found him going out of his way to help—not just to Congress workers but anyone who sought his help. I am sure they would all be in mourning.
Ahmed Bhai was not just kind. He would not differentiate between the rich and the poor, or between Congressmen and those who supported or worked for rival political parties. He would be ready to help them all if he could. Many saw him as a political animal but he was actually a ‘social animal’. He enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life, not just politics. Not surprisingly he enjoyed the kind of access and esteem among all sections that would be the envy of politicians anywhere.
Politics is said to brook no vaccuum. But it is clear that the Congress is unlikely to find someone to step into his shoes, at least in the short run. The void caused by his death looks unbridgable at this moment. At the best of times, it is difficult to find people who are reliable, trustworthy and dependable. In the world of politics, it is even more so. Ahmed Bhai was that rare breed of people who exuded a quiet strength and dignity that was reassuring.
Those who have known him would often wonder at how long or when he slept. It seemed he was available at all hours of the day and night. From early in the morning to late at night, he would not only pick up his phone but would be ready to meet at short notice. Congress has lost a General who was brilliant, worked hard and was loyal. None of us has any doubt that he will be missed and Congress President Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s personal tribute in the National Herald last week is a pointer to how much his absence will be felt by her and the party.
We had known each other for decades. But during the last two decades and a half, we worked closely for the party. To function as the treasurer of a political party like the Congress is far from easy. I know because I have been the party treasurer for long years and am aware of the burden. But Ahmed Bhai wore the burden lightly and with his ever-present smile. I could only silently admire, even more so because he was also the principal and trusted political advisor to the Congress President. He was also a rare leader who placed the party’s interests above his own.
Death, as Steve Jobs said, is the destination we all share and no one has escaped. Nor is death mourned forever. But there are some deaths which are unexpected, untimely and sudden that pain us more. Many of us will also grieve for long.
I am reminded of the song so beautifully sung and immortalized by Lata Ji.
तुम न जाने िकस जहां में खो गए
हम भरी दुिनया में तनहा हो गए।
In the absence of Ahmed Bhai, one does feel a little lonely and a little lost in this crowded world.