Home Feature Missing you my friend Pradeep!

Missing you my friend Pradeep!


By Alok Joshi

Sometimes it is easier to sit down and cry in the dark, than find exact words to describe our relationship and feelings involved in it. But I must do it because Pradeepyou always told me to “keep writing”.

In life’s journey, we meet many people. But some touch our lives so deeply that we refuse to accept that they are no longer around us. One such noble soul was my closest friend Pradeep Singh, who suddenly left for his onward journey on 12th June, battling lung cancer in a Mumbai hospital. I am still in a state of disbelief, utter shock and sadness.

Pradeep was my friend and batchmate from ONGC 85’ batch of young executives. Having known him for 38 years, I must say he was a very fine gentleman, humble and polite, bright and intelligent, naughty yet mature, warm-hearted and helpful. He belonged to Dehradun and loved everything about “Devbhoomi” as is evident from his innumerable writings. He was a historian with a difference, who had deep knowledge about Indian history at large and Doon in particular. Many of us know Dehradun better because of his well-researched and fact-based writings.

We started our careers and married lives almost at the same time. Whenever he visited Doon, batchmates of Club of 85’ met up with our little kids. For me he was an epitome of a genuine friend, a good husband and a caring father. He and his wonderful wife Madhu made a lovely couple whose hospitality was unmatched. Our jobs took us to different directions, but the bonding of the Club of 85’ continued and grew with time, especially after we all turned to our 60s.

I left ONGC for work abroad in 2007, and lost touch with him. After my return in 2020, I spoke to him about the draft of my first book. Writing was a common thread that strengthened our friendship. I owe a lot to him for my writings even though our subjects were poles apart. By sheer coincidence, once our articles got published in Garhwal Post on the very same day (July 4,2022). Since I was more private about my writings, he used to share my stories with others on his own. Who does all this? In today’s world, it is difficult to find people who can shed their egos, forget competition and become inspiration. Such was my friend Pradeep.

Destiny brought us together when I decided to settle down in Dehradun. Initial days were difficult. Pradeep came to my rescue. He was excited to have us back and helped me during my house-hunting process. Within an hour of my contacting him, he had lined up an apartment (though eventually we didn’t finalise it). He knew we were new and needed help. Like people, the city too had changed. But he and Madhu were kind towards us. They often invited us to the Doon Club, where he was a member. As luck would have it, I bought an apartment close to his home. They were the very first visitors with a house-warming gift even though we never hosted any party. Then came the Literary Festival in November 22’. He and his wife would pick us up from our new apartment and drop back every evening. Pradeep also made sure to introduce me to other authors/writers.

We were constantly in touch during his illness. On March 28 he wrote,” We will reconvene there (Doon Club) again dear.” The last I spoke to him was on his birthday in March-end and he gave me ideas about my next book. When I asked him if there was anything I could do for him, he replied in his own sweet way, “Whenever I need a hug, I will message you.” For him, it was always about others. Our last conversation was on May 13 when he shared the sample cover of his next book about the history of Dehradun (1676-1947).

My last message to him, a couple of hours on the fateful day before he left us must still be in his inbox that reads, “Pradeep dear, you are always in my silent prayers 🙏 Get well soon buddy… we need to write a book together.”

Without you dear Pradeep, I am poorer today for having lost a part of me. Without you the Club of 85’ is lonelier than ever before. And without you, Dehradun will not be the same for many of us…. We will always miss you and cherish all the sweet memories.

(Alok Joshi is an HR Advisor, freelance writer/author of two books including “12 Sweet & Sour years in China”)