I was having my after-dinner walk along with a couple of friends along a quiet street in Pune. While returning, a Wagon-R swooshed past us with a terrifying speed. Since there was a dead end ahead, the driver had to turn back and soon the car was speeding in our direction. My friend went and stood in between the road. I thought he was going crazy but nevertheless, not wanting to desert him, I got myself ready for an altercation and stood besides. The driver had to, but stop. He opened the window and shouted, “Kay re!” My friend coolly replied, “Go slow.. (with a pause,) go slow..” and started walking ahead. The car-wala guy was left speechless. It was awesome!

This, friends, is Bibekananda Maji for you! You’d miss something if you aren’t fortunate enough to befriend him.  He has been one of my closest friends especially at IIT Bombay. Although a shy and demure friend, he can get extremely witty and also fearlessly bold at times. Most of we IIT friends have seen him speak to an audience in the infamous infantile secy-election-meeting wherein he singlehandedly turned the drab discussion into a laughter riot. At the conference’s banquet dinner in Pune too, I witnessed a new avatar of Maji. He went up the stage and spoke fearlessly among many things, of the relationship that ought to exist between a student and a teacher, and how such discussions with Abhyankar sir helped in learning new mathematics.

The new friends I got to meet at the conference too were very impressed by Maji’s wit. On the Christmas night, someone asked if he would accompany him to the church. “God is everywhere” came the reply. Another friend was asking everyone when we were leaving the conference. Maji looked up and with a grave face said, “Whenever I get my TA” (travelling allowance), leaving all around cracked up.

Arun sir says there is still a small kid inside him that refuses to grow up. Here’s to that kid hoping he never relinquishes his innocence!

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