Sometimes life has a funny way of giving you perspective, doesn't it?
10:01 am...an email arrived in my inbox this morning. Still vividly remember the time..as checked it in the hope that it was a spam email. But it wasn't. It said Niru Goenka had passed away. Everything I was planning for the day, everything I was hoping to do, the new battles for nurse hours...just went into suspended animation. I had to read the email again. And again. Please..must be a joke? An inappropriate one? But it wasn't. It still held out the haunting message, still held out the same message which just gave me an awful feeling. Niru Goenka?? He was just a few years older than me..what the heck,,,but it was..alas..true. More messages poured in..and it was true, one of the brightest lights of diabetes care in this country had gone out. Just like that.
I wish I could tell you reams of stories of how we spent nights together drinking, chatting...but I can't. Niru was a friend but not a close one. 2004 was when I first met him..I was the Chair of the Young Diabetologists..and I remember bouncing into this Asian chap, a face full of joy...walking up to me..and saying what a great initiative the YDF was..and if I ever needed any help,"just ask" is what he said. Over the years, I have met Niru multiple times, listened to him speak, read his articles but for one reason, he will always be special to me.
I have always mulled about sharing this with the wider world, wondered whether this was too personal, too dark..but maybe today is the day. 2012 March..a very difficult time for me professionally..and possibly the most I have ever struggled...struggled with losing friends, senior and junior Consultants taking sides over certain issues, feelings of betrayal, anger, being lonely and the more the situation escalated, the more it burnt me. I had enough...and I was ready. Ready to create a new enterprise of "Young Guns"..and there was no one I was ready to listen to. I was Partha Kar..once my mind was made up...I had never gone back...never walked away from an enterprise. To hell with the old codgers, to hell with the ones who had turned their backs...I was going to forge my own path. 30 young guns signed up..all ready to press the button.
And then one evening my phone rang. It was Niru. A long chat ensued..I vented..I shared my angst...I talked to him about betrayal....I had had enough. And he listened. And at the end he said a lot too..and finished with these words.." The future is ours Partha..why create something else? Lets get our own patches sorted..then we can tell the rest what to do. You know we can do this together.Trust me on this one. Let it go. Put your energy somewhere else". And I don't know why...but I listened to this calm , sensible fella...for the first time, I stood down. And just like that...I was at peace...with myself, peace with everyone else. Niru Goenka had somehow, just with his words, done what so many had failed to do.
I never knew Niru that well..but I have yet to meet anyone who didn't like him. Universally liked and loved is a clichéd term..but for Niru it was so true. A wise head way beyond his years, a gentle soul with a passion to improve diabetes care which burnt through and someone who was dedicated to improving training...he was special.
I wish I got to know him better. I wish I had the chance to work with him more. I wish so many things...but right now...I wish and hope..that wherever he is, he is at peace. Never got the chance to say it, Nirupam Goenka...but thank you for that evening which meant so much to me, helped me grow a bit more. I am sure the whole diabetes world will miss you...but right now, while writing this blog...I miss you, my friend. Rest well x