AS I REMEMBER TRIDIB

TRIDIB ROY CHOWDHURY

Anyone who knows me knows that I like to write happy stories, stories of hope, aspiration and fulfillment. But today is not a happy day. Our friend and guide Tridib Roy Chowdhury is no more. How do you convert this really devastatingly sad story into a happy one?

I have known Tridib for 15 years. I was not a classmate of his from IIT Kharagpur and did not have any such common ties. Our connection was more linked with the future than the past. He was working with Adobe and as his company was one of our important donors, we were introduced only because of CSR. He would visit our Jaynagar school as a representative of the organization and got to know how we work. He had some amazing qualities that all NGOs admire and wish for in all their donors. He was extremely unassuming, very humble and showed genuine care and interest by taking time to listen to us and by actually visiting the schools and interacting with the children. We knew that he would always be there for our Annual Day and Independence Day celebrations. In fact this last Independence Day he was there with us virtually and gave one of the best speeches we have heard that keeps ringing in my ears even today. He talked about how he was amazed to see how well the children were growing up under our care, recalled what one of our alumni had said about freedom several years ago and advised our teachers to teach our children not to be ashamed of failures. In his own gentle way he had great impact on our children and teachers. I was talking about him with the Parikrma teachers yesterday and what they spontaneously recalled about him was his compassion and his quiet dignified presence.

He disliked any discrimination and believed in equality and fair practice. I remember he made sure that the Parikrma children were invited in the Adobe program called Youth Voices and told everyone proudly how it was difficult to make out where our kids came from. Some of those kids that he gave an opportunity to make films and do public speaking went ahead and even won Toastmaster Club awards later on. It was Tridib that gave them their first break.

So I was delighted when I got the opportunity to invite Tridib onto our Advisory Board. He knew enough about Parikrma to guide the rest of the Board members. We depended on him to bring a lot more clarity to our numbers and percentages. I remember his enthusiasm to tell stories of our children as if they were his own. He had an amazing ability to hit the nail on its head and could guide us to look into the future. He was therefore the first person we consulted when we began looking at a digital product that would influence thousands of government schoolteachers in the country. We are so proud that this project is slowly taking shape and will be ready in a few months time.

His passion for change also rubbed off on us. He truly believed that there was hope that things could be transformed. He was not someone to sit back and watch things cynically but dived in to do his bit and make some difference. Many elements in Parikrma will always carry that memory and try doing what we can. I also remember his passion for the outdoors and sports. He was a permanent feature in the CEO Club football match that we started a few years ago as a feature of the Parikrma Champions League Football tournament. He captained the CEO Club team many a times. I recall how enthusiastically he continued his position as a goalkeeper even after hurting his finger that got fractured. All he was excited about was the goals he had saved for the CEOs. He taught our young footballers that love for sports could carry on even when one gets older.

Parikrma owes a lot to Tridib. But the most important thing we owe him for is the introduction to his wife Anuradha. In 2014 he suggested if Anu could volunteer with us because he felt that this was the kind of work that she was cut out for. I had met Anu during some of our events but did not get enough time to interact with her. She was then a senior manager in a well-known research company and I knew we could never afford her. But Tridib insisted that she would be happy to volunteer and money was never the issue. But he forgot to give me her mobile no and gave me their landline no instead. And therefore all the messages I sent her never reached her and we had a few missed appointments. Anyway we finally did meet and there hasn’t been any looking back since. She is today a very strategic and valuable addition to the Parikrma family.

So here is the happy story. Not many of us are fortunate or capable to have the kind of impact on so many lives as he had. Tridib in his gentle inimitable manner has impacted many lives. Parikrma will be grateful to him forever and remember him in all our successes.

We have decided that we will institute an Award for Excellence in his memory and give this to a deserving student every year during our Annual Day and remember him for who he was. A rare and excellent human being.

Tridib, you always lived in peace and may you therefore also rest in peace.

-Shukla Bose

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