By Deepak Mehra
It was in early 1970s, I was in school and living in Janakpuri, Delhi with my parents. There was a buzz in the neighbourhood that four men have started living in the two flats near us. But none of us were aware of their background. Everyone was curious to know about them. Since, the locality was newly developed in that area, it was a neighbourhood watch area.
Finally, we got to meet them. I was thrilled when they introduced themselves as engineers. And, I vividly remember one of them who identified himself as Habibur Rahman.
As a young boy I used to observe them. All four of them went out in the morning at around 8.00 am by bus. They maintained a regular schedule and came back in the evening at around 6.30 pm.
Time was passing by and on and off we started greeting each other. During those casual talks on the staircase, I came to know that they all are from Guwahati city in Assam. All four were engineers working for Assam state Electricity Board and have been sent to Central Electricity Authority on deputation as Deputy Directors.
My parents and my siblings were excited and happy to have such highly educated young men in our neighbourhood.
Gradually, I started spending more time with them. I was not very studious. I was more interested in learning verbally and started spending my evenings with them. Mr. Rahman took keen interest in me and started guiding and motivating me in the subjects I was interested in. Inspite of the fact that he himself was an electrical engineer and my interest was in the mechanical side, he started investing his spare time after coming back from office, including his weekends in collecting information and knowledge to educate and motivate me. After I had completed my schooling and joined the mechanical engineering program, he encouraged me to pursue higher education. He encouraged me more than my parents.
In 1980, when there was an opportunity for me in Assam he encouraged me to apply for that position. He called me and motivated me to avail of that opportunity. At that time it was a hard time in Assam due to the agitation by AASU. I went all the way to Sumer hydro project which was located near Shillong and stayed with him. He prepared me for the written exam and also conducted mock interviews with me. Two days before the competition exam in Guwahati, he accompanied me from Sumer to Guwahati by walking and taking lifts by trucks. So that I do not miss the chance or late by any reason for that competitive exam. He did not care that he was a senior official with the Assam State Electricity Board and it was not good for his reputation to act like this.
His main and only goal was to see my future and career. During our whole journey from Sumer to Guwahati, he kept on teaching and refreshing my knowledge on the subject matter. On the way he ensured that I am not hungry and lacking anything physically and mentally. Many a times, he offered his share of food to me, so that I didn’t feel hungry or scared of anything.
He was a great human being. In Assam, when we stayed in Dispur (near the Assam Secretariat), he introduced me to all the people over there with pride and dignity. I do remember that someone said to him that why he is wasting his energy and time for a Hindu. That person also very categorically said that you are a muslim and you should only support Muslims. I cannot forget my Guru’s reply. He said, “Maybe I have taken birth in a family who believe in Islam. But, first of all I am a human being. All religions are equal. And, I can blindly trust Deepak if ever I need any kind of support for me or my family.” After I heard him, I was in tears. I said to myself that I am in good hands and by choosing him as my Guru and mentor, I have done nothing wrong in my life. I am very lucky and proud to have a Guru and mentor in his form.
I am very proud to have him in my life. I cannot repay all his good deeds whatsoever he had done for me and my family. I sometimes regret that as his student, I could not fully learn and follow all his teachings.
I have always seen him as a good friend, Guru, Mentor, loving and caring father, well wisher and a good human being who helps people without any self-interest. He served in the Assam State Electricity Board till his retirement in 2002.
When I read on social media that he is no longer with us and I have lost my Guru and mentor, I could believe this news. I am afraid and very scared how will I live without him in this materialistic world where there is no love and affection between human beings. We need such humble people in this world to show us the right path irrespective of caste, religion, age and place.
I pray to the almighty for his noble soul. I want him to be in my life in all my births.
(Deepak Mehra is an engineer based in Canada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)