By- Mangesh Dahiwale ~
Abhiyan’s untimely death on 8th February 2019 left those who knew him shattered and sad. In less than a few years, Abhiyan left his indelible mark on the Ambedkarite movement and gave it a direction uncared for before. While most of us look for ideologies and the past, he looked at the future and not just an immediate future, but deep future where all the people, including his beloved people, will enjoy the best fruits of humanity.
His ideology, his philosophy of life, and his action in the world was resolved. Unlike most us, he knew what was important for him to do and to that he was ready to dedicate everything he had.
My friendship with Abhiyan was tied up with many threads seen and unseen, but never was any thread so weak to pull us apart. I remember him as my junior in VJTI, a noticeable handsome young man, but though our years crossed, the friendship needed to wait for many years to blossom, and when it did, it is going to last beyond death.
After coming back to India, Abhiyan was desperate to dedicate his life to the community. He was searching for ways to help, ways to connect, and ways to offer and dedicate. Upon his arrival to India, Abhi got in touch with our common friend, Ajay Kamble. Abhiyan wanted to write a big proposal for Arts initiatives in the community. That was a pretext to have many long calls over the phone. And when eventually we met at the preliminary meeting of Nagpur collective, there was no going back. We only marched ahead.
Abhi was the man of action, as thinking was already sorted out for him. Deep and clear thinking, and at times creative thinking, was as natural to him as breath. But such a human being he was, he could not just live on thinking. He loved and he loved fully and completely. Whoever met him never forgot him. How could anyone? He related with anyone and everyone. In a Zen sense, Abhi was the person beyond the ranks. He was gone beyond, but always his feet on ground. Paraphrasing Oscar Wilde, Abhi often said with that cute smile on his face: You can take me out of chawl ( Referring to where he grew up as a child near the working class locality in Mumbai, Worli chawl), but you cannot take chawl out of me.
He was away in USA for a few year, but community could not be taken away from him. So much so that he left this world in the middle of his service to the community.
Abhi was a leader in himself. He found new ways to look at the community situation. He could see farther than most of us could see. He wanted his community to grow in every direction possible. He did what others could not do. His leadership principle was very simple, yet profound. He was never tried of quoting his father on this: To push forward those who are going forward and raise them who needed to be pulled up. This was the summary of his leadership: he pulled and pushed with lender love and care.
He opened an entire new world for me: a world of friendship, brotherhood, and freedom. In many interactions together with other friends on different occasions, he immediately created a community beyond any narrow confines. In one of the memorable nights with my brother Abhi, he opened up an entire paradigm of new consciousness, an artist he was, through the media of music and his signature smile. As we talked through come finer points, he took control of music and started playing a sequence of songs on his iphone. He started with Nina Simone( this was the first time I heard this name) ending up with the revolution will not be televised, through James Brown’s Sex Machina, sprinkling Bob Marley and Fela Kuti in between, he set us free.
I can write many episodes when the conversations became deep. I knew that Abhi is a special being, more than a greek god as friends around teased him. You could be in a awe of him, but never jealous. You could be working with him, but never as a subordinate or superordinate.
I lost a friend, brother, and a teacher. He would reach out if he gets to know that a friend is in difficulties. He would offer to come if you needed him. He was there. He is there. The body is perishable, but not those values that quenched the thirst of many hearts. We will continue to live you, Abhi, in our flawed and limited ways.
Love you, my brother, Abhi !
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, also known as Maulana Azad, was an eminent Indian scholar, freedo…