Leave it to Psmith

Leave it to Psmith

Sekhar, the dutiful soldier, was a born do-gooder who delighted in being of service to others.

People who retire from service are usually at a loose end, not knowing what to do though most would want to do something productive or gainful. No such thought bothered Sekhar.

All his days, after retiring from the army, were busy. The creed he lived by was rendering help when it was needed; relatives, friends, friends of relatives and relatives of friends would seek his help and he would be ever ready to render it.

I have been the beneficiary on more than one occasion. Whenever I had a problem, I would approach him. He would reassure me with the standard reply: “Leave it to Psmith.” And I would, without any qualms. Believe you me, it would be resolved. If I expressed gratitude, he would brush it aside, saying, “What did I do?” That was an understatement if ever there was one.

The words ‘can’t’ and ‘no’ did not exist in his dictionary. Sekhar never felt he was taken advantage of. So he would pay property tax, deal with lease agreements, handle bank accounts for sundry people. Helping people was second nature to him. He was a born do-gooder who delighted in being of service to others.

He was a very active member of the association for retired army officers. He arranged welcomes, farewells, receptions, annual functions. It so happened that a couple of funerals took place within a short time. The man at the helm of affairs was none other than Sekhar. There was a long interval before the next funeral. The attendant at the crematorium, with earnest innocence, remarked, “It’s been a long time since I saw you, sir!” Droll humour indeed.

So when Sekhar passed away recently, the sense of loss was deep and intense. He left behind a void, an emptiness, a vacuum that will be hard to fill. The words may sound trite but they are straight from the heart. The consolation was that he was given a fitting farewell. He was cremated with full military honours in far-off Nagaland where he had gone to spend time with his elder daughter. His ashes were immersed in the distant Brahmaputra, the swirling water carrying them away.

He was fully deserving of the honour for he remained a dutiful soldier till life was snuffed out.
His straight bearing, smart turn-out and military moustache is etched in my memory. His appearance belied a heart soft as putty. A few days after the funeral, the immediate family shared meal with all the members in the campus. It was a community affair.

Nothing could have gladdened his hospitable heart more than this fellowship. I recall Mark Antony saying of Brutus, ‘His life was gentle, and the elements so mix’d in him, that Nature might stand up and say to all the world, ‘This was a man!’