By all calculations Rocky was middle aged. He was certainly older than either Joyattam or Jayeeta. I being the eldest of the set, perhaps he liked my mature outlook. He would get excited every time I visited their place. We would go for long walks together. He loved nature, so did I. But while I did all the talking, he would just take in the fragrances of the environment. He loved my company, I loved his. But I could never be as energetic as him.
Rocky had that senior feel about him. You would never see him prance around or get over-excited about something. He loved to rest, sleep, eat and throw an attitude. The only person he was afraid of was Kaberi aunty. Rocky was quite guarded. He loved his family and made sure that they\’re safe from any intrusion. If you wanted to be friends with the Dutta Roys, first you had to be friends with Rocky. Once you had Rocky\’s trust, you could truly enjoy the great hospitality of the Dutta Roys.
Rocky could eat like an elephant and Kaberi aunty is a great cook. I and Rocky both loved the fish and chicken made by aunty. Aunty was a bit strict on Rocky, but that was all for his own good. Once, I was at Dutta Roys with just Rocky for company and we had a fight over who will sit on the sofa that was near the cooler. It was hot and the cooler was blowing away cool, humid air. We both wanted to sit on that sofa but Rocky, the sly thing that he was, took the seat before I could stake a claim. We had a series of pushing and pulling but he didn\’t budge. I even poured some water over him, but I think he enjoyed that even more! Finally, I lifted the couch and turned it upside down thereby dropping Rocky off it. Rocky accepted defeat and went to lie on the bed. We didn\’t talk a word that evening.
Rocky was not allowed to eat too much sweet. But he loved cookies and an odd roshogolla. whenever I\’m there, aunty makes it a point to serve me with some strong, sweet tea and biscuits from a bakery in Kotla Mubarakpur. I used to sneak a few pieces to Rocky, who would eat with relish and demand some more without worrying about aunty\’s scolding. I\’ve been caught a couple of times and have been reprimanded for that too. But I and Rocky were buddies, so it was ok.
Rocky was getting old and losing health. From the beginning of 2006, his health began to deteriorate very quickly. First to go was his eyesight. He had cataracts and could hardly see where he was walking. During our walks in the the neighbourhood, he would frequently stumble over stairs, footpaths and stones. He simply couldn\’t see that they were there. It was becoming too sad for me. His diet went down. He tried eating but he vomited most of it. When I visited them, I made it a point to take him for walks, but by April he had become so weak that I had to lift him while walking. I could feel each and every bone of his frail body. There was no muscle left on his skeleton. He would just look into my eyes as if saying \”thank you.\” He couldn\’t even cry and tears would well up in my eyes. Towards the first week of May, he stopped going out. He would lie prone on his belly and very lightly acknowledge my presence by just lifting an eye. I would caress him and talk to him for a while before my throat choked up. It is painful to see any living thing in that state.
I don\’t remember when was the last time I saw Rocky and I\’ll regret that forever. 17th May 2006 was my birthday and I was treating a couple of old friends at Ansal Plaza. I parked my car at Andrewsganj and informed uncle and aunty. While leaving I glanced towards Rocky. It was dark in his room and I couldn\’t see him. Normally I would go and talk to him, but that day I had neither the time nor the courage.
I asked uncle, \”How is he?\”
\”Not good. Might go anytime now\” he replied.
I just hoped it wasn\’t anytime soon because I wanted to see him once more and say goodbye to him.
The next day I came back all the way from Vasundhara Enclave to meet Rocky. But he was gone.
\”He went away last night\” uncle said.
I hated myself for not talking to him the previous night. I hated the fact that my birthday fell on that day. I tried to take it in with as much fortitude as is expected from a twenty nine year old. I just wanted to say goodbye to him. Why couldn\’t he wait for another day?! I sat there numb and silent.
\”Its ok, he was suffering. Good that he went\” uncle reassured me.
I drove back home with moist eyes and a heavy heart. I kept repeating inside my head, \”Goodbye Rocky..\”