Friday, February 25, 2011

Sometimes it just gets too late. R.I.P. Uncle Pai

I am sure most of you who are reading this wouldn’t know who this person is that I am referring to as ‘Uncle Pai’. To all of them I would suggest, try a Google Search, you will find the answer. After you get the answer if you ask me why an 81 year old who died of a massive heart attack yesterday evening and who I have never even met, mattered to me, then probably I need to answer that.

I have been a reader of the children’s comics ‘Tinkle’ since I was in kindergarten and am proud to say that I have each and every published issue of the magazine since 1997 till date. Mr Anant Pai was the founding editor of the comics which has been now in the print for more than 30 years. Mr Pai, popularly addressed as ‘Uncle Pai’ by children all over the country used to write back to the children who wrote letters to him. I am proud to say that I still have the letters that he wrote to me in his own handwriting. I can’t recall exactly, but there is one letter which I must have got in 1998-1999 in which my entry for a Tinkle column had not been accepted. He had written to me, an 8 or 9 year old then, explaining why it could not be accepted. I still have that letter with me.

I continued remaining a regular reader of Tinkle and in September 2004, I, along with some friends of mine, started a children’s club in my colony named ‘Jagriti Amar-Tinkle Club’ which was founded under the banner of India Book House Pvt Ltd (the publishing company chaired by Uncle Pai). Throughout the 3 years for which my club ran successfully, Uncle Pai acted as a mentor for our club’s successful running. He personally wrote to us many times praising our club’s activities and endeavours, which included organising of various competitions, annual day celebrations, sports meets, picnics and parties etc., all by a group of a dozen children in the age group of 8 to 14 years.

Even after the club dissolved, and he stepped down as the editor of Tinkle in 2007, I was in personal touch with him till 2 years back. I used to let him know what was going on in my life- my studies and future plans. He always wrote back to me either via an e-mail or a letter. He had addressed school children in Bhubaneswar on children’s day in 2007 and I had got to know about it a day late. I couldn’t meet him although my grandfather saw him. After that, I had expressed a strong desire to meet Uncle Pai if I went to Mumbai some time.


This is one of the last letters I got from Uncle Pai back in April 2008:

Dear Antarik,
This is in reply to your letter which I've received after nearly two years.
Since you used to write to me in 2005-2006, I clearly remember you. Do not feel unhappy that you have been unable to achieve much.
As for not being the editor of Tinkle, it's due to old age. But I'm still in office as a consultant editor.
I am giving below a quotation from Edward Everett Hale:
"I am only one,* But I am one.* What I can do,* I ought to do.* And what I ought to do,* By the grace of God, I shall."*
Antarik, I have always been with you and will always remain with you.
With lots of love and best wishes,
Affectionately yours, Uncle Pai

I don’t know if this was a coincidence or something else, but just 3-4 days back I was going through my old emails and on seeing mails to Uncle Pai I had thought its been a long time since I wrote to him. He surely remembers me. I should write to him. Due to some work I had postponed my letter to be written later. Well, I guess, some delays are unacceptable. Some delays can be delayed forever.

Today morning while sitting in class, I opened today’s Times of India and was just scanning through the front-page when the anchor story caught my eyes and I was left shocked and bereft of words. The headline of the 2 column short news story read: “Uncle Pai dead, but his Amar Katha lives on” and was accompanied by a picture of the deceased visionary.

For most of us probably this news wouldn’t have mattered much. Owing to the fact that it was featured as the anchor story, many serious news readers would prefer ignoring the news story in this space. But for me this was something not at all easy to accept and digest. I just couldn’t control my emotions at the moment and preferred continuing reading the whole of the paper at that time which probably I wouldn’t have done otherwise. I was regretting the fact that I hadn’t written the email to him 3 days back. Probably he might not have had time to reply to it so soon, but at least on reading it he would have smiled at the fact that I still remembered to write to him. But I didn’t.

Some times it just gets too late.

I would never be able to thank you for all the support you provided to me. You will always be missed.

Rest In Peace Uncle Pai. 
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6 comments :

  1. so touchy..:(
    just got to know so much about uncle pai through ur blog..
    amazing personality..:)
    may his soul rest in peace...
    n u ended it on such a true note..
    somethings left for a later date,are left forever..

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  2. Really touchy. Send it to the editor of Tinkle as an "Sradhanjali" to Uncle Pai. Let the World know how that great soul influenced a child's heart. I regret not having given you the scope to meet him. Sometimes postponing costs a lot.

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  3. touchng blog.....we will miss u uncle pie....
    bt vry true sme delays can be delyd frever..

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  4. Really really sad... I hadnt been reading newspapers since sum days nw n came 2 knw thru ur Blog abt dis n m really sad... I hv many many Amar Chitra Katha comics n used 2 read each a lot many tyms... Really sad abt his demise...

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  5. Heyy! Absolutely touching tribute to Uncle Pai. Truly, this totally moved me, and I can completely relate to it, because you know, I've been through almost the exact same thing too.
    Uncle Pai was a father figure to me, and I too have never seen the man. I've written to him many times too, since I was a kid. I still treasure the handwritten replies that I used to get. I intend to frame them now. His demise shook me similarly. It deeply impacted me.
    And this would be the former president of the Bangalore Amar tinkle club speaking. :) Just like you, we had an Amar Tinkle Club in bangalore too..we focused on tree planting. I remember Uncle Pai's encouragement for us to this day. The club too, dissolved, but I still remember all the lovely encouragement he provided. This is a touching tribute, I'm sure that you can relate to it, just like me. :)
    And BEAUTIFUL blog! Was recommended to this page by Reena Puri of Tinkle when I was having a conversation with her via facebook. :) Glad to see you've been blogging since succha long time!! Just like me. :)
    And oh, about collecting tinkle comics...i think that's one thing that every true tinkle fan does. :) I have almost a complete collection since 1995 now.
    cheers! and glad to have chanced across this blog. will keep visiting.
    and RIP Uncle Pai. I'll miss him unbelievably!! :(

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