I am an only child. I had an elder brother but he died before I was even born. I also had a bevy of cousins but most remained remote as we met occasionally. There was one however that had a special place in my heart and was undoubtedly the closest. He was my maternal uncle's son and was affectionately called Johny. Johny died this morning. He had a massive heart attack and did not survive the complex surgery he was put through.
Johny was a free spirit and and somewhat an enfant terrible. Perhaps that is why we were so close as he mirrored by own rebellious ways. We got along from the word go. My first memory of him was when I was six and he four. This was during my visits to our grandparents in Meerut. He would follow me around and imitate everything I did. But strangely I did not find it annoying. Far from that. It was rather pleasing and tickled me pink. The next time we met I must have been eight or so. That was the time I had the great idea of staging plays for the elders. These were two character plays featuring Johny and I. We made tickets that were sold to my grandfather and others and performed every night. I was often the princess and he the butterfly. Something he never forgot or forgave as even recently he mentioned this fact to me.
Time passed. As always we met sporadically and always got along famously. I have memories of bicycle rides in the colony, of shared meals, of movies watched in boxes, of listening to cricket commentaries, of making scrapbooks, of singing and dancing. I led and he followed, always game for anything I would come up with.
When I got married and had my first child he lived with us for some time and was the greatest support I could have wished for. When I decided to dabble with conference management he followed and was a great asset. I can never forget the nights and days spent in conference halls, the crises we solved, the tension and nerves, the thrill at a work well done. He was by far the best numero two you could wish for. Whatever the emergency or even the mess, Johny got you out of it with a smile. He was unique. Ultimately it is the career he chose for himself while I went seeking other pastures.
Johny was also a great uncle to my girls. He would spoil them silly and cater to every whim of theirs. Over the last years we met oft and on though we lived quite close. He dropped in once in a while and the time we spent together was always precious and comforting. His presence was always reassuring.
Johny did not a have a mean bone in his body. He was the most humane and kind person you could imagine. He was devoid of any ego and was caring and giving to a fault. He lived his life a tad recklessly though not caring about himself. He only had time for others. I remember chiding him time and again about this and he simply smiling and telling me he would take my advise some day. He never did.
Today I wish we had spent more time together. There was so much left to say. Today I wish he had heeded my advise. We often think we have all the time in the world. But alas, that is not the case.
The world will never be the same without Johny's smile. I guess the Gods get jealous sometimes. I will always have a bone to pick with him though: the butterfly always followed the princess, then why did it decide to fly leaving the princess alone and forlorn.