Tribute to My Brother and Mentor

Tribute to My Brother and Mentor – Bhim Singh Mehta

24 Dec 1980; Bombay Hospital: “The blow was hard, and the shock was severe. We never dreamt your death was so near. But only those who love can tell the pain of parting without farewell.”

24 Dec 2017: “God give us strength to face this blow. No one can imagine what it means losing you. To hear you voice, to see your subtle smile, to sit and talk with you awhile, to be together in the same old way, would be our dearest wish today. The loving memories never die.”

I addressed him as ‘Dada’… Bhim Singh Dada was just 14 years elder to me, more like a father, but at times he felt a lot older than that. He was very protective over me and after my marriage his loyalty shifted to the new bride in the house, Shail. As I look back I know that he loved me a lot and wanted what was best for me. Bhim Singh Dada was a character, whom everyone in the family respected and sought his opinion. He was a perfectionist in whatever he did. He was very caring for every family member but had a serious side as well. No one in the family ever questioned his actions.

I had just returned from USSR in September 1980. Dada was operated for by-pass surgery of heart in December 1080 at Bombay Hospital. Perhaps he had premonition about the outcome of surgery, which in those days was totally uncommon. He went to different cities and met far off relatives and old friends, whom he had not met for years. He seemed very happy and contented and refreshed our memories about these people he had met. In the meantime, he quietly contacted Dr Moti Kothari, then a reputed cardiac surgeon in Mumbai and his onetime school classmate from Udaipur. He fixed the date for by-pass surgery and made a cool close family announcement that he must undergo one at Mumbai on 24th December. Not one person dared ask him, “Did you take second opinion? Why in Mumbai? Why Dr Kothari? Can you try alternate therapy?”. He came to Mumbai, admitted to the hospital on 23rd and went for surgery on 24th December.

In the morning one Doctor from operation theatre (OT) came and approached me for 9 bottles of blood. Urgent requirement! I immediately informed my ship INS Rajput. The Commander of the ship announced on public address, “Nine men are required to donate blood for Lieut Mehta’s brother at Bombay hospital. Volunteers muster at the gangway”.

Oh boy! 24 volunteers came running in under 5 minutes. It was difficult to dissuade extra bodies. Cars were arranged and taken to hospital from Naval dockyard. Blood was donated. The patient, my brother, remained in the OT, no news, except he is recovering. It went on for few hours, much more than the estimated time. Finally, a junior doctor blew the whistle under pressure. Dada was no more. All hell broke loose. It was for the first time that the family questioned his wisdom after he had gone.

Bhim Singh Dada was merely 45 years old and my Bhojaisa (sister-in-law) was not even 38. My nephew Mahim (Bantu) was 18 and niece Pallavi (Timmy) was 8. I would like to share some fond memories and personal attributes that made my brother such a wonderful person.

In my growing up days, when I was in primary school, Dada had just got his first job in Calcutta. He came home to Udaipur and got me a toy called Meccano, which builds creative and mechanical skills. He said while handing over the toy, “Pratap, you have to be an engineer.” Later, he passed on his stamp and coin collection to me. Which I took it to another level and passed it to my son Nakuul. The collection and the memories of Dada continue to reside in our hearts.

In 1972, after the war, my ship INS Mysore went for a goodwill cruise to the Gulf. I picked up a Seiko watch for him. Since he had a thick wrist, the large dial watch, then the latest model, suited him best. He would always show off his priced possession and made it a point to mention, “Pratap got it for me from Dubai”. In 1978, when I got married he got two suits stitched for me, one was with broad lapels, a trend in those days and another a band-gala Jodhpuri. I still possess them, and they fit me well even today.

We would spend our most vacations with him at Delhi. He was very protective of my wife Shail, which made many envious. The fine morning, when we were still newly married, all of us, which included my father, brother, bhojaisa, sister and the children were sitting in the drawing room awaiting bed tea. Shail came in last with tea and as per ritual, she started touching feet of all elders, of course mechanically without looking up. She also touched my feet. Everyone burst into laughter and took a dig at her. It was Dada who promptly came to support her and turned the table other way around. Shail, do you recall this moment?

Our mother predeceased all of us in 1957. One of the things that I respected most about my brother was that even though he had such a serious attitude, he also had a compassionate side. We all loved the passion he had or his family. I will miss my brother more than words can say. We should all be thankful for knowing him and for his time on earth. On his 37th Punya-thithi, a message for him,

“We miss you so much and we know you are resting in the bosom of our dear mother. Rest in peace my beloved Dada till we meet to part no more.


4 thoughts on “Tribute to My Brother and Mentor

  1. Helo Mr. Mehta,

    The loss of our loved ones can never be overcomed . But Soul is immortal. The soul takes a new body . The birth of the new body is related to their Karma. So the souls come back in a new form and are somewhere around us as their Karma are related to their old relations.
    All the souls around you are connected to you with some or other karma, be it your wife , your children .
    I had studied this when I was a BK student. And this help me immensely to bear the loss of my parents.
    Take care.

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