April 26th, 2017, 10 PM – Houston, TX
It is with a very heavy heart and deep sorrow that I wish to inform you of the sad demise of my namesake and a fellow co-activist – Shri Rajiv Chaturvedi ji – from Wellington, New Zealand. As the details of the case have emerged today and now confirmed, it seems to be an accident. The NZ media report mentions the accident, but does not mention his name – < http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/91844133/diver-dies-in-medical-incident-at-titahi-bay >. Local Hindu community is now confirming that it is him who died in that accident. They went to the morgue to confirm the identity. I had a detailed phone call exchange earlier that has confirmed what has happened. It seems he went for a dive at this location – along with 2 other persons. When he came out, he collapsed and passed away before the life flight chopper could arrive. The coroner and the police have ruled out any foul play at this point. Since he was not married and did not have a family in NZ, it took some time for the identification process and confirmation to complete. His extended family has been notified in Allahabad, India, and now the local community awaits instructions from them on whether to send the body back to India, or to cremate in NZ, and send only the ashes to India. Indian High Commission has been engaged and now managing the situation.
My first run into Rajiv ji was when he had pinged my on the gaupooja program that I had organized back on Jan 14th of this year in Houston, TX. We both were members of numerous whatsapp groups, but never communicated personally before that. When he saw the pictures from the gaupooja program, he immediately pinged me and asked to call him. That first phone call lasted over an hour – never mind the time difference of 16 hours. He was so excited to know that someone has started a gaupooja program in the West. He had told me that he wanted to do the same in NZ. Rajiv ji was intimately active in local Hindu community programs. After the initial run-in over gau-pooja, we frequently exchanged personal messages, emails and phone calls. We discussed implementing so many programs including Sanskrit education, Indic Studies at NZ universities, vedic education, veda paathshalas, etc. etc.
But this was not just talk. What happened next showed Rajiv ji’s mettle.
Dr. Rama Jayasundar from AIIMS, Delhi was visiting NZ to attend a conference. The Indic Book Club casually asked if her program could be organized in NZ. After some initial reluctance (due to the physical distance between the 2 cities in NZ), I decided to ask Rajiv ji if he would be interested in hosting her in Wellington, and organizing her program. I had no expectations. And … it was as if he was waiting and ready to do this. There were only few days left for the program. But as soon as I TXTed him, I got an immediate response. He called, which I missed. But he persisted with utmost patience. Again, 16 hr time difference was not a factor. We immediately got on the phone. Before I could tell him the details of the speaker, the subject, the format, etc., he had already figured out the venue, date, time and other logistics. He did not know about the Indic Book Club, but it took just few minutes for him to understand the purpose of IBC and the way the program needed to be done. That was it ! Moving forward was Rajiv ji in action – the program was done with all requirements checked off with clinical precision. The speaker’s travel schedule, making arrangements, inviting audience – the whole enchilada. It is rare to find such understanding, commitment, hard work and precision.
Ever since I received the news about his demise 6:00 AM today, I have been in some kind of trance. I do not know how to react. I am quite at a loss of words, emotions and expressions. I have been going about my business today, but a piece of me is still parsing the demise of a person whom I hardly knew at the personal level. We never met before. I did not know how he looked like. Somehow I never bothered to look him up on facebook or twitter. It was as if I knew him since ages. There was no need to. Hindu Dharma and public activism brought us together, and the mundane seemed all irrelevant. And I do not think he ever sent me a friend request, or bothered to look me up either. We were two co-travelers pursuing the same goal.
The last 15 hrs have been surreal for me. I am hoping that all what has happened is a big falsehood. Somebody has made a huge mistake. I wish to get that txt from the number < +64 210 795 036 > or an email from < email@example.com >. I wish to get that call from that number telling me in the typical Allahabadi Hindi, that all this is not true. But …. ?
Rajiv ji is not gone anywhere. Fellows like him do not go anywhere. He *will* be back.
Until then, …
few snippets …
That was the last Whatsapp msg.
Then, this ….
April 26th, 2017
Source: World Hindu News (WHN)