Dayanand Shetty hardly ever spoke, certainly the last and least about himself. In the handful of chance encounters that brought us together, I don't remember him ever drag his trials and tribulations onto you, leave alone brag about them. But each time he listened attentively to your bagful of tales, his stoic attention and effervescent smile stayed with you.
I am indeed lucky to have enjoyed some quality time with him despite those chance encounters. Now when I look back in time, I fondly remember all those occasions - morning train rides, fag-end bus journeys, occasional drinks - when he unfurled few pages from his life book... from the struggle of his formative days to the challenge of later years. This was not the usual rant that we often hear people indulge in, this was genuine lament at how the world functions the way it does and why the people around you behave the way they do...
Daya had rich insights into life and simply because he never displayed them like pearls of wisdom, he was always denied the stardom of sainthood. But then he never demanded it in the first place. His bliss was truly unconditional, and more important, eternal.
It's a pity that the world denies you the right to set the degree of contentment; not even in your own life. Daya was content with what he had, or rather didn't have, but the world was keen to call him a loser. Not that Daya never aspired for a better life, but he was never desperate about it. Precisely why his divine nonchalance was declared his worst defeat. This social stigma also made him pretty vulnerable to the diktats of the folks around him, at the cost of spreading misconceptions about his personal conduct.
I myself held him in poor light when I knew of his abject surrender to a certain Godman claiming to be God. I learnt much later that even this aberration was thrust on him. Not that he should not be held accountable for this hopeless resignation, but one feels his general debility in material affairs would have inadvertently
made him hopeful of some magical transformation in his life.
As it happens, such selfless lives invite self-infliction that invariably brings on ilness and disorder. Daya had been unwell for long. Twice, he eluded life-threatening circumstances but this time round, fate eluded him. The last I saw him, he seemed relieved, if not happy, to be home...far from the arid environs of the hospital ward. But this relief only made way for the ultimate surrender..It seems most likely that he had planned this voyage himself, at least I would like to believe so now.
Dayanand is no more. He's left for heavenly abode, discarding the run-down robes of this life. But his simple, uncomplicated ways as also his unadorned detachment will continue to inspire me in despodency and ecstacy alike. He was the only one among my friends who was genuinely delighted with my offbeat pastime of visiting far-flung places without rhyme or reason. I could see the radiant bliss in his eyes when he learnt of my visit to the Annapoorneshwari Temple in Karnataka, to seek the blessings of the majestic 61-feet Hanuman purely based on an internet search. Neither is Karnataka my home town, nor is the temple goddess our "authorized" deity -but only Daya could feel the magic of this pull that goes beyond the notions of home towns, ancestral roots and family pride.
What could be more tragic than the fact that today I find not many souls with whom I can lament the real tragedy of this household Yogi, not his outward misery that has the world pity him as another hapless commoner. Some tragedies chase you even after your demise.