4th January and a lovely joyful morning and I talked to my parents as usual and started my day with zeal. After a few hours, we got a call that Deuta is no more. With Agony and disbelief, I froze and flew to my home state and part of me probably froze for the rest of my life.
Don't recall the age, but since I could remember I saw Deuta's inseparable association with radio. Sometimes a flute, Ravi Shankar, Zakir Hussain, sometimes the unknown song on Bangladeshi channel, sometimes BBC or voice of America, known unknown songs that woke us up from Deuta's radio. Our Sundays were filled with music, how we enjoyed Bhupen Hazarika on Sundays. Probably that developed my ear for music and passion for poetry and news for Bhaiti(Brother). Lyrics and fragments of those songs still chimes in me. A prolific writer and an author of 15 published books, Deuta was our best friend, philosopher, and guide. As a 90s kids, we didn't have a generator in our homes and electricity was so unpredictable and those days television was the no 1 entertainment for us. Since electricity was so unpredictable we often missed watching daily soaps. And Deuta had a solution for it, since he was a born storyteller he came up with his own stories or serials, sometimes-popular stories from Assamese fables or folktales, Maupassant to Tolstoi and made it even more authentic by adding a must-have commercial break. And whenever the electricity blessed upon us we used to Enjoy TV soaps with Deuta wrapping me inside an eri sadar. Ah, I still feel that warmth and comfort in me.
More than going on vacations our trips were mostly to our aunts and uncles and book fairs. We built one big extended family with all our cousins, uncles and aunts. We collected books with Deuta and developed the habit of reading. Our library in Assam is witness to all his vast and precious collection.
It has been 18 years since I moved from Assam to Connecticut. I visit every other year if not every year. The phone then skype and now WhatsApp are the mediums I connect with my family almost every day. Deuta was intoxicating with life. Talking to Deuta turned mundane into an amazing and significant day. Over the phone, his delish description of my Mother's everyday food got transported into my tastebud, whether the sour and light quintessential Assamese fish curry or the crunch of crispy pakora or rainy days hot chicken soup. A vivid description of changing season whether the seasonal flowers foxtail in spring or night jasmine in Autumn, through his words Deuta transmitted all the fragrance, sound, song, taste even seasons from Assam to Connecticut.
A strict disciplinarian and a man of the method, he had the heart of a child. One who knew how to be happy in other's happiness. Opened a night school for tea garden workers, co-founded the first girl's college in our city and a talent development organization for kids and teens in the early 90s. Words just merely justify his contribution. In spite of all, he was the best human being who enhanced and enriched our life with good memories and experiences that created a path of positivity and inspiration and a little world of love and compassion. Who found joys in small things, watching a sunset while on the way back home or sighting a new bird in the yard. Deuta, who waited for me outside my examination hall, had a drop of tear in his brown eyes eagerly waiting outside the airport, coming back home often bringing spicy samosas for us, never forgot to bring gifts for Ma on every anniversary for last 40 years.
A man on dialysis for the past one year, to be precise 3 times a day, loved the life to the fullest with an undying hope and ever-smiling face left myriad of memory to treasure in our lives. Rest in peace Deuta.