Rajib Bhattacharya had no childhood to write home about. He was destined to be an ordinary middle class (with a downward tilt; lower-middle class to be fair to economics) man from day one. No fire in his eyes, no skills to present and not much of friends to get help from, he grew up without being noticed on any front. An unassuming guy like him grows up and somehow camouflages into the cattle class of this country. That’s the average norm for the average. I doubt if he ever told his parents about any aspirations in life. Such a nobody’s body is being brought back from a high snow-capped mountain. He is (rather was) 43Y when he died last week due to reasons he preferred to seal by his withered lips.
Dhaulagiri-I is 8167m high and he did climb to the summit. There was something wrong on his descent. He collapsed and died. It may be world’s 7th highest peak, but Rajib had scaled Mt. Everest and Mt. Kanchenjunga earlier who stand higher in altitude. Dhaulagiri has a high fatality rate than Everest, though Kanchenjunga is way more aggressively fatal.
That was a report (and there are a few more on similar accidents over the past 1wk) and not my subject of interest. Questions do the round if he was right. Is mountaineering a sport? Any altitude above 7000m is proven to be a ‘death zone’. Isn’t it foolish to throw away a life so cheaply? Taking loans from banks, selling possessions, withdrawing PF, asking for politicians’ recommendations for funds and collecting donations – typical tantrums of a mountaineer – all for a suicidal rush of Adrenaline? Is it a joke to bring a life of elderly parents or a family to a halt by dying on a mountain? Isn’t it fake heroism to go this far for something with no monetary reward; height of amateurism?
Lemmy, help me crack this riddle! What kept him going through his years of adulthood? He lost toes due to frostbite, struggled to meet his daily expenses, begged to find a sponsor for his next expedition. Even neighbors can’t tell when he learnt mountaineering. How did he finally manage to discover like-minded ‘friends’? They say courage, passion, determination and self-esteem are the ultimate signs of walking on this planet – that’s living as defined by the pundits. When the Indian smart youth sweat out over social media on Donald Trump’s candidature as the US president, Amitabh Bachchan tries to remain unfazed by scandals, Vishal Dadlani tries to promote AAP ‘revolution’ taking time off his US concerts and Mr. Anupam Kher roots for Mr. Modi as the right choice, students (by the grace of their loving parents) enroll for engineering to settle abroad quickly, the PM asks his countrymen to use ‘Souchalayas’, Srijit Mukherjee considers himself as a serious, thinking filmmaker, Arijit Singh croons emotions even while he gulps a pizza down his stomach, the rich discuss new ‘project’ proposals over a drink or two at a posh club, their WAG gang enjoy a debate on Zumba vs other fitness workouts, the middle class favors oatmeals over breads reading a report of presence of potassium bromate (a potential carcinogen), WB sees its beloved Didi swearing in for the 2nd term as the CM with thumping majority at the polls, the corporate employees nail-bite praying for a decent raise in their pay package, SRK pushes his next release date to avoid clash with Salman Khan starrer, … what did Rajib do wrong? He just chose to live his passion, found true love and felt exhausted at an elevation of miniscule oxygen, blinded by the snow. Who are we, the safe mortals, to comment on his actions?
Rajib and I were born and brought up 10 houses apart in suburban Kolkata. In these last 4 decades, while I tried to secure dying, he chose living instead. The neighborhood critics got it completely wrong during our growing up days. He could (and I couldn’t) sense his own pulse sharper and find his path whereas I was busy peeping at neighbors’ success windows and imitate them like a monkey. We hardly spoke though we crossed each other countless times in the first 2 decades of our lives. His file photo shown on TV with breaking news of his body still being hunted down for last rites sends a shiver down my spine. I was late to meet you… too late to congratulate! The better man did win.
Lemmy Kilmister, who has gone silent for good 7M back, smiles.
“If you didn’t do anything that wasn’t good for you it would be a very dull life. What are you gonna do? Everything that is pleasant in life is dangerous.”
“I’m responsible for my actions. I don’t need to hide behind nothing. The devil didn’t make me do it, I did it – whatever I did.”