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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Gone Too Soon, My Dearest Brother!

You were not 92 years old today, you were 92 years young my dearest brother (Prithvi Rishi), when you left us to live in your heavenly abode. May you rest in peace!

Here's  celebrating you with happy memories of wonderful moments and shining years:

Let me start with those exciting evenings of the bygone era before Partition at the Government College swimming pool in Lahore. After finishing with your daily practice, with unaccountable lengths of the pool, for the State swimming marathon championship, you would be ready to show your matchless power in the friendly water polo matches with your winning shots. It was no surprise to anyone when you won the Punjab state championship for free-style marathon and helped your team take home the trophy for water-polo. You cannot imagine what an inspiration you gave me and to my school friends, who spent the evenings admiring your stamina at the college swimming pool and learning a lot from your skills.

“Milk Does Body Good”, the commercial slogan made popular by the milk lobby in USA since late Nineties, was passionately promoted by you decades earlier during your youth years , and later throughout your life. Remember the milkman who was always so amused seeing you gulp a couple of bottles of the pasteurized milk, before even the bottles made their way to the kitchen? It sure helped you have a body that made your friends envious and aspire others for such a healthy physique. There is no doubt, your healthy habits and hard regimes resulting in your having a robust health kept you ever young, in fact, providing you ample excuse to proclaim you were only forty-nine on your every birthday beyond that age for many years. It also paid off in providing you enough strength to fight and show remarkably fast recovery whenever you confronted serious age related ailment recently. We all have to learn from you how important it is to take necessary steps to safeguard our health well in time, so that we can ward off, as much as possible, the ill effect of old age on our health.

Hats off to you for the exemplary courage and bravery you demonstrated during the Partition when the militants entered our house in Lahore on learning that you and father were still living there. Your presence of mind in enlisting help from our wonderful Muslim friends next door helped you both in miraculous escape by crossing over to their house from the terrace and eventually across the border to India. And thanks again to you, although father had lost everything he had built in Lahore, the financial hardship of the family did not last too long. Your great career break in your friend's lumber company enabled the family to come back to the same lavish style of living as we had in Lahore. There was no looking back thereafter, as year after year, your career-graph kept moving up and up, eventually making you the managing director of the company you devotedly nurtured to become the biggest lumber company in Northern India. I can never forget those happy days in the family, especially your organizing the unforgettable tracking trip for me and my friends, from Simla to Missouri through the forests in the interiors of Himanchal, with excellent arrangements made by your staff throughout at all the forest guest houses on the way. That trip we cherish for ever.

Your amazing spirit in dealing with adverse circumstances came to the fore when twist of fate compelled you to close down your flourishing forest business. As terrorists infiltrated from Pakistan across the border into Kashmir and intensified their operations from the forests, the Kashmir government had no option but to ban all civilian activity in and around the forest areas to fight the terrorists. Your business was the worst hit by this ban as your all lumber work was concentrated in Kashmir forests. Forced to quit Kashmir, with all your investments in lumber business totally lost, on spur of the moment you made the most sensible decision, to move to the U.S. to start afresh from a scratch.

Here in USA, you did not take long to learn that you had arrived in the country where one could begin at the bottom and reach for the sky, with sheer hard work and determination. But to become big here, you have to first forget how big you were back home. Be prepared to accept any work, however small it may be, it will be worth it. Having learnt this basic aspect of the U.S. life, within weeks you were doing jobs that were simply unimaginable, especially for people from your circle in India, who knew you as the king amongst forest lessees – distributing newspapers early morning and doing construction work during the day. Even in the severest of storms your clients never complained of missing their morning newspaper for which the publishers awarded you a trophy that you showed to everyone with pride. You kept making progress at a tremendous speed and realized the American dream in a much shorter time than most others did.

Today, when you are enjoying your well earned rest in heaven, having gracefully retired after reaping the fruits of your untiring hard work, you cannot imagine how much we miss you. We will all the time truly feel that you have gone too soon, my dearest brother.