Words freeze and will not suffice to express the heartfelt sorrow at the passing of dear friend Kalyan Barooah, Bureau Chief of ‘The Assam Tribune’ in Delhi and his wife Nilakshi, who was also a journalist.
My association with Kalyan date back to March 1998, the last days of the Inder Kumar Gujaral government, when we began covering parliament. I had just joined the Delhi bureau of ‘The Kashmir Times’, which was its golden days.
‘The Assam Tribune’ had a reserved seat in Lok Sabha in the front row, just on the borders with the diplomatic gallery. Since we both were one-man bureaus, a bond stuck between us soon. For both of us, it was difficult to keep tabs on proceedings of two houses Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha at the same time. So, we used to plan a schedule for the week.
One day, he will cover Lok Sabha and, on that day, I will sit in Rajya Sabha and on another day vice versa. On special occasions as well like the presentation of annual Budget or vote of confidence, we used to distribute time.
I will note down everything regarding Northeast and then share with him and he in the other house, would record everything that happens regarding Jammu and Kashmir and then share with me. Because of our arrangement, both ‘The Assam Tribune’ and ‘The Kashmir Times’ automatically had two hands to cover parliament. I covered and became witness to the falling of Atal Bihari Vajapyee government on April 17, 1999 by one vote from the seat of ‘The Assam Tribune’.
Later we continued this arrangement outside parliament as well, particularly while covering home ministry, which was our joint beat. He used to have an early deadline, so I used to take care of anything happening late in the home ministry regarding Northeast, siting in the on-record or off-record briefings of Mr G K Pillai, then in charge of the region and then send notes to Kalyan.
He also used to take care of anything happening on the Kashmir front in my absence. Kalyan had a hand in many big stories that the Kashmir Times broke, till my association with the paper that lasted till 2010.
We had to strive together to get our temporary passes converted into annual permanent passes in the parliament.
His association and assisting him to cover events for the Assam Tribune was a great help to understand and widen my canvass about the Northeast. The same was for true for him as well. He used to often jokingly tell me to give him Kashmir citizenship since he is extending such a great help to the readers in Kashmir.
Being away from Delhi, I was keeping tabs about his health. Friends were telling that they are hoping against hope. But will his death take away our 23-years of resolute friendship? I don’t know, how Delhi and Media Center will look like without him. He will continue to remain in my heart and mind. I offer my thoughts, prayers during this dark time in our lives.
The tale of the changing colours of time is not on my lips; My heart is not amazed, not laughing, not weeping.
• But your picture is the messenger of eternal grieving—Alas! it cancels out my powerful wisdom.
• Now, who will wait for me, alas! in my homeland? Who will be anxious when my letter does not arrive?
• He stood shoulder to shoulder with me in the business of life; He, a portrait of love; he, my right arm.
• How hard life is! How easy is death! In the garden of existence, death is as cheap as the morning breeze.
• Death comes to the poor man’s hovel; death comes to the rich man’s palace.
• Death is present in deserts and towns, in cities, in garden, in the wilderness.
• Death even creates its tumults in the silent sea, and boats sink in the embrace of the wave.
• There is no room for complaint, nor power of speech; What is life? A noose that squeezes the throat.
• In the caravan, there is nothing but the lament of the bell; Nothing but the capital of a tearful eye.
• The finality of the fire of life is not a bed of ashes. It is not the pearl whose destiny is to be broken.
• Death is the name of the renewal of the taste for life. In the veil of sleep, it is a message of awakening.
Dear Kalyan: My heart in pain is full of your memory. Your journey was like the morning star. Rest in peace. Goofbye..