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The BITSAA Sandpaper issue came through today. As always, I put the entire issue for download. But since I had an assignment to work on, I decided to look at the issue in my spare time. After a minute or two of trying to concentrate on the assignment, curiosity got the better of me, and I started looking at the contents page, just to get an idea of what awaits. And there it was. Something so completely unexpected. “In Memoriam – Meera Banerjee”. I couldn’t believe it. Some news like this would have reached me before, I told myself, and therefore there must be something wrong.

And then I read through the article. Not all of it, but only the parts by those whom I recognized – Aditi Pany and Sandhya Krishnan. So it was true. She is no more with us. And I felt the same pang in my heart as I did when she had left the campus to live in the city. Only now, she had left the whole world.

Almost all the remembrances in the article are by the inmates of Meera Bhavan, by the ones who knew her. And so it should be I guess. How would anyone else know her? I, for one, never had the opportunity to meet her. We never spoke.
I might not have known her but I had noticed her.

It was my first year-first semester(1-1), as well as my first time away from home. I was never homesick, at least not as homesick as N tells me she was, but I was vaguely upset about it. That day I was getting late for a class, when I saw her near FD-I. She was slowly walking down the front-steps when all around her students were flitting past, making way for her, some just stopping abruptly, almost speed-breaking, to nod and smile; and she smiled back to all of them. She always had a gentle, serene, calming aura around her, but at the same time you could see that she was a woman of dignity and principles. Looking at her that day calmed me down and brought a smile to my lips. I just stayed there and watched her step into the rikshaw which trundled her away to MB. She calmed me then, as my heart was untangled again.

Every girl I knew in Pilani had tremendous respect for her and there was some reverence in their tone whenever they talked about her. She, (I always thought this and now looks like it is true from the various articles), was a beacon of hope by just being. One of those rare people I have met, whose entire being – eyes, face, smile et al – reflected happiness, confidence and contentment. Devoid of any confusion or doubt.

And that was how I knew her, and respected her and even loved her – for she reminded me of someone else who I endear – my Aaji (grandmother). When she left Pilani, I never got to see her again, but EPC (English Press Club) once published an interview of hers. I read avidly about how she was working towards some noble cause and I was sure, bringing smiles to a lot of faces.

She has gone forever now, and I thought I should put this remembrance in words. To honor her memory. It also reminds me of how strange the influences are that shape us, affect us. To try and be kind and fair towards everyone then becomes suddenly so important.

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