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DEEPA DAS

Celebrating a Life of Love, Laughter, Grace and Free Spirit 

Engelberg
01:01
Lucerne
00:27
Deepa
00:34

For Deepa: 

 

It's been said the true test of  friendship comes when you realize that you can always take up with your friend just where you left off, even after years of separation. Time just does not matter, it just slips away. The mark of time you see on a friend are only markers of the time spent apart. There are regrets and also happiness at the distance you have both traveled. 

I'd have such thoughts, every time Deepa came to mind. And she did often. And always when with mutual friends or just by oneself, LSR came to mind. That was where in my first year, more than three decades ago, I met Deepa. She was my classmate, soon after my friend, and then, something I never told her, but recognized years after I left LSR, she was my best friend. If I want to think of the happy times I had at LSR, those times and memories always had Deepa in them.  She stood out, of course, in every way. She was tall and lovely. She had warm, honey brown eyes that held laughter and later, at some moments, sadness too. She had a perfect smile. When she smiled, she made everyone feel that she was your best friend. 

She played basketball and was very popular.  Sometimes she would miss classes, and we knew she was away playing matches. When she did appear for class, and we waited in the colonnaded verandah outside, she'd regale us with stories--what happened in locker rooms, for instance,-- and she made us laugh. Those years in LSR, I remember her this way. No matter after how many days I saw her, she would appear, and finding me alone, would stand with me, smiling. She was my best friend, I think later and now, because she accepted my quietness, just the same way she accepted everyone. She was my best friend because she stood by me the one time I needed a friend most.  

She lived in the moment, basking in it, showing happiness and sadness too. I remember the misty look in her deep brown eyes when she lost her brother. I remember how her eyes lit up when I met her, and Shruti too, a decade ago. I remember her happiness when friends enjoyed success. She made the years slip away. She made us feel that life wasn't for regrets, that sadness only made us appreciate the happy moments more. That was the last time I met Deepa. 

And yet, and yet, I never thought I had ever lost touch with her. I think neither did Deepa. Some months ago, she sent me an email. Just a line, and it's as if we were once again waiting outside class, those many years ago in LSR. 

 

Some days ago, as the news came in, my thirteen year old daughter, seeing me weep , sang this Olivia Rodrigo song. A couple of lines struck me then: 

 

"Don't know if I'll see you again someday

But if you're out there, I hope that you're okay"

I hope you are okay, Deepa. Like everyone, I will miss you. And your going away will never feel okay. But there are things I remember, and always will and I feel blessed to have known you. Blessed too that I have these memories that will continue to teach me even more through life. Go well, my friend.  

- Anuradha Kumar

I have known her since 1984. She was in Class 10 then, a year younger than me. We used to stay in the same colony, Arjan Vihar in Delhi. Then we were together in PGW, Delhi University. She was so full of life, loving, caring and a beautiful person both from inside and outside.

 

She was very special and spread joy and cheer all around her. 

 

- Aroma

You were here, made distinct mark in everyone's heart, You will be always remembered as a Lion Heart. A person full of compassion, heart full of love and care.

 

No consolation can bridge this void, the journey here on shall not be same but your laughter shall always be etched in our brain.

- Ujjwal & Shilpi

Deepa Di, as we fondly called her, was a shining light. She’d light up a room with her presence. My memories of her from Law Faculty and PG Women’s Hostel days back in the 1990s are those of a mast (मस्त) girl who knew her stuff. She was a force to reckon with. Tall and beautiful, she was an inspiration to many of us. 

I was fortunate to have met her and spent a lovely evening with her in December 2019. Since then we kept in touch.

Her last words to me were:  “...it is so good to know that you continue to challenge yourself. Big celebrations awaits you here”

- Bhavya Chaudhary

My friend, family and sister "Deepa" and I will always be her "Sanjay Bhaiya". People say that death makes us apart but she was and will be in my heart always...forever.

The relationship with Deepa with me was more than 36 years when we were together in school and becoming more stronger 

as time goes on. There is no words to express more of our relationship as all her friends and and family knows it.

Wherever you are my sister you will always roam around me.

Love you always.

- Sanjay Bhaiya

Deepa and I met in college. She was my roommate for a short time and friend for life.  “Bindaas” is the word that leaps to my mind in describing Deepa. There were no strangers for Deepa because her generosity and simplicity meant everyone who met her became a friend and that’s how Deepa took me under her wings.

 

Deepa’s charisma would shine so bright that those who met her once would be forever and positively impacted by her. She radiated confidence and naturally led any room she entered and Deepa taught me how to be confident and trust my instincts.

 

Once, during dinner, just because of a bet, Deepa drank up a whole huge bowl of Kheer. I don’t think I ever laughed harder than that. She was spontaneous, fun and easy to get along with. Also her generosity and empathy knew no bounds. We had a friend who was pregnant when we were in the hostel and every single day Deepa made sure that either she or someone else carried hot bath water for our pregnant friend. I cannot imagine  Deepa’s face without a smile and she spread that smile to all of us.

 

In honoring Deepa’s memory I pledge and hope to spread smiles and positively impact the lives of others- I know she’d like that. I miss my friend but I know that wherever she is, she is taking charge and spreading joy.

- Supriya Chakravarty

The Deepa in Me:

When the devastating news came on the night of 16th June, it felt as if lightning had struck and everything went dark. After I could open my eyes and see again, I found myself standing in a desolate desert: the trees had gone, so were the birds, the flowers, the meadows, the springs, the songs, the laughter, and the wind was brutally cold. My world had changed in a moment.

Deepa wasn’t only my friend or the best friend, or my soul sister or soulmate that I have lost. Yes, she was all that on the outside of me. But she was also so much more within me, that I feel I have lost myself—the parts in me that had held, guided, nurtured and fiercely protected me at all times. I feel orphaned by myself.

Over the 36 years I knew Deepa, since 1985, when we first met in school, and later as classmates in LSR, as enthusiastic cadets of NCC Air-wing in which we together learnt to go up in the air on a glider and to shoot with rifles and pistols, then in law school as wannabe lawyers and justice mediators, later going on to work together in the constitutional courts, and in the meantime going through our other personal milestones together when she also became my daughter’s god-mother and we both got adopted by her entire family: through those journeys, I don’t know when Deepa became a vital part of me, my within, that defines me as a person today who I don’t any longer recognize without her.

Yes, I know, I know, I am supposed to write about Deepa and not me. Where do I begin? Deepa is the most beautiful woman I know besides my mother. Deepa is the wisest woman I know: she just knows the right way and the right thing in the smallest and the biggest matters of life. She is incredibly uncannily intuitive, such that she knows everything without my having to tell her, many times even before I know myself. She is an unstoppably happy person, happy for everyone’s happiness, happy for the littlest reason. She has the most contagious and sunlit smile on earth that just vanishes the slightest sign of blues. Deepa’s mind is brilliant and ever growing: she is curious to know more about everything and everyone. Deepa notices, listens to, and remembers every tiny detail.

 

She notices even from the sides and back of her head. Deepa is no one’s fool and totally no nonsense: intelligent people just never mess with her. As for herself, if she occasionally goes wrong, she cleans it up, yes she does, sincerely and diligently. But then Deepa is this cleanliness freak: she does ‘deep cleaning’, not stopping till everything is squeaky clean and sparkling. She is also organized to a fault: she knows the box no. 3 on the fifth row in a pile of 30, and the number of pens and pencils inside that box. And those boxes, pens and pencils in her boxes and all the stuff in all her boxes and almirahs are always the best quality in the world, chosen painstakingly by her. And so the exotic boxes are very few and precious, Deepa doesn’t waste her time, energy and space with the mediocre stuff. Yet, Deepa is herself down to earth and humble: she intrinsically respects simplicity. That elusive classy-simple combo, it’s Deepa who discovered the formula.

 

Anyone who knows Deepa has also been fed lovingly by her: she cooks smartly, quickly and magically. I don’t eat meat or fish any more but when she cooks I can’t say no to that (of course she personally serves it for me and delivers little morsels right into my mouth, who wouldn’t like that?). She has secret tips for her recipes that she shares very seriously: every little flavour’s details are meticulously explained by her. That’s the thing about her attention to details: she never has a single thing out of place. Deepa, the proud Leo, is truly lion-like in her generosity.

 

She is compassionate and not just for her loved ones. I have seen her taking care of unrelated persons in their sickness, without any fuss. She is indefatigable with boundless energy and strength, to be the pillar for everyone who needs her to step in. And of course for her family and friends, Deepa leaves absolutely no stone unturned. She moves mountains to make each one of us in her inner circle feel her rare kind of love that cannot be seen or described. It’s a love that you know and feel and cherish each time. And while I do feel a bit self-conscious every time, actually I don’t mind her spoiling me with the most precious gifts on every special occasion, stuff that I would never have the heart to get for myself. I know that for her kids Aadya and Upmanyu, her spouse Anupam, her sister Rupa, her parents and parents in law, Deepa would personally go even to the heaven to find and bring back what they needed or wanted.

 

Deepa is fun, like lots and lots of fun. She is filled with unadulterated joy like a child and in spreading it all around. At the same time Deepa is an all grown up reticent adult when it comes to sharing her own problems and tensions — that’s the one thing I don’t appreciate in her, she is too proud to tell anyone when she’s sad or stressed. That’s why I think she is a bit crazy: always giving so much and taking so little for herself, whether it’s love or joy or care. She just believes unflinchingly that the Universe is protecting all of us and we must keep doing what we must do. Deepa is immensely dignified and self respecting, mind blowingly courageous, steadfastly conscientious: I know no other with that level of commitment to these values, whether at home or in workplace or in society. Deepa has the big vision and the courage to follow it: she always dreams big in her inimitable larger than life signature style. She wants to next start an initiative for education and nutrition of girls in her ancestral village, as she believes those would transform the entire communities.

 

Deepa is… well, I could go on and on.

But wait. You find it hard to believe that one person could be all this?? I totally understand and accept that. Did you think I am mistakenly writing about Deepa as if she is present with us? Well, Deepa outside of me may have left—perhaps on an urgent and important mission elsewhere in the Universe. But the Deepa inside me is right here, with me, how could she leave me, she never did, never ever. The Deepa within me is here, and like always she is shy about what I have said about her and she’s blushing, but like always she is patting my back, winking mischievously.

Deepa and I had planned to travel together when all our kids are grown—just the two of us, and that plan is on.


With love,

 

- Shruti Pandey

I can never think of Deepa without her smile lighting up the moment.  Whenever Nandita and I met her we were engulfed by her warmth and affection. Always cheerful, she was always more focused on others; we never heard her speak about herself or of her concerns.  

 

Although Deepa was very much an individual, I noticed that her strength became the strength of others. People around her could and did rely upon her and count on her love. 

 

Therefore, it feels bizarre to say, ‘Deepa was.’ To us she will always be there, a source of sunshine.

- Chandan Sinha

दीपा, तुम्हारी लौ कभी बुझ नहीं सकती
तुमने सबके दिलों में जो रोशनी पहुंचाई है,
उन दिलों में तुम हमेशा रहोगी।


तुम्हारी हंसी बहुत याद आती है
तुम्हारा अपनापन
तुम्हारा बांकपन
तुम्हारा सबको समझाना
तुम्हारा सबको अपना बना लेना।


तुम छठ पूजा के लिए  जब आई
भरी महफिल में रौनक छा गई
और तुम सबको अपना बना गई।


मेरे दिल का एक हिस्सा तुम्हारे साथ चला गया है
काश, तुमसे ये सब कह पाती।
जहां भी हो तुम,खुश रहना।


- Lucy Thakur

She was like a live wire. Always brimming with excitement. Whenever it rained, Deepa along with few others would put a blaring music and dance. Hostel life was so much fun when she joined us in the third year.

 

Our history group used to gather in one room and have endless gossip sessions. There was a child like innocence in her.


- Roopam Singh

I have a specific memory. Deepa used to sit next to me and make graffiti on my thighs. After which outside the class she giggled and teased me so much.

My cheese sandwich with green chilies was her favourite too. Second period tak sab khatam ho jata tha.

Sigh! I had wanted to remind her of all this. But it can’t be done now.


- Swati Jha

Rathore uncle and my father were close friends and colleagues and so both families interacted a lot.
Uncle aunty Deepak Bhaiya, Deepa and Roopa are an unforgettable part of our childhood. Through good times and bad times we were together.


Deepa, I still can't believe that she is not with us. My memories of her are a very active and dynamic girl. But also very down to earth, loving and considerate.
We lost touch after we moved from Pune. But we all remembered them fondly.
I feel sad that I did not reconnect earlier.


My thoughts are with her family during this trying time. May God give them strength to bear this loss.
Deepa be happy and be at peace wherever you are.
Om Shanti. 


- Beena Rajkumar

There are No Goodbyes my loving friend Deepa. Wherever you will be,  you'll be in my heart.


We shall definitely meet again. Till then Miss you.

You'll forever be in my thoughts and prayers.

- Sheetal and Sunil

This is one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. We are still in loss of words because no words are good enough to speak about the amazing Deepa.

 

For us, Deepa has just passed away from physical world to the afterlife. It is in heaven she now rests.

 

One would remember her as mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, etc. but first and foremost she was a friend. While she played her different roles, it was her ability to reach out and lend a shoulder when you needed it the most made her stand apart from others. She always had your back. She was a “giver”. She gave much to her family, work and friends. A life that exemplified brilliance.

 

Shalini and I remember her for her enthusiasm and passion.  She was polite, but always quick with a witty remark. Her joviality and good nature attracted people the moment she walked in the room, and no one can forget her contagious laugh.  She was a principled lady who would not hesitate to block a bus with her scooter on busy Delhi road, get into the bus and beat up someone who was not particularly nice. She sure had the guts. At the same time, she was gullible as well. For a very long time she would feed Minku only paratha’s with food (even after marriage)  because Minku conned her in thinking he had never eating roti in his life (which obviously was not the case).

 

There are many such remembrances, but we will keep them for another day. Today let’s just remember Deepa knowing that while she is gone, she will continue to live in our hearts for ever.

 

To her family: Please remember her at her best and celebrate her life she lived. Like Shalini and myself, we are sure that you are thankful for the time spent with her.

 

God Bless everyone!

- Shalini and Jay Singh

The earliest memory of Deepa that Usha and I have is of a young, enthusiastic law researcher helping our friend Sangeeta Ahuja with her book, the first on PIL, that then became 2 volumes, on ‘People, Law and Justice’. This was in the early 1990s. Deepa’s openness, energy and charm was endearing. She had this broad, sunny outlook, and compassion and commitment. That is a lot of good to find in one person. And, when it was family and friends, Deepa was always there, giving unconditionally.

 

Over the years we watched Deepa grow into a fine human being, a totally supportive partner to Anupam and a caring and loving mother to Aadhya and Upmanyu. She believed in pushing the boundaries in her work and never losing a moment that she will find for friends and family. She took joy and pride in her family’s achievements. It is very difficult for Usha and me to come to terms with Deepa’s tragic demise. For me personally, I will miss the first phone call on the birthday that Deepa and I shared, our competing to be the first to call and wish. That call, not missed once over the last 25 years, would always begin with a hearty laugh, so characteristic of Deepa. One can only imagine how difficult it must be for her family to come to terms with Deepa not being around. Our heart goes out to her mother and Rupa, Anupam, Aadhya and Upmanyu, and to friends who are deeply affected by her departure.

- Muralidhar

We first met when she was a student and then aspiring lawyer when she worked with me on my book on PIL. We remained in contact through Usha and Murali. It was wonderful to see you all briefly in London.

Deepa and I always aspired to spend more time together once our respective children were grown. I can only now wish I had that opportunity in this lifetime.  I will always treasure her friendship, intense energy, warmth and integrity - and sense of style. I will hold Deepa in my heart for the rest of my days.

I can only imagine what you, your children and wider family and friends are going through. The loss of a dear loved one is so hard to bear.

Know that she is at peace now and may she rest that way. Om shanti om.

- Sangeeta Ahuja

Madhu and I  have known Deepa for over 20 years. She was a true friend that we could count on in our good and bad times. When we think of Deepa, her bright smile sweeps our mind and though we are unable to come to terms that she has left us, her smile keeps us going. We have numerous memories of time spent with Deepa that we will cherish all our lives. She was caring, compassionate and a person full of life who made sure that everyone around her had a good life.  Deepa will remain in our hearts forever and be the guiding light as always during our difficult times.

-Madhu & Dilip

*Deepa - the warmest person, the most beautiful soul, you will live in the hearts of your friends forever... The countless memories with you are precious and will always be cherished... Be happy wherever you are... With love,

 

Manisha Singh

Deepa
The beautiful light as your name suggests- you lit up all our worlds, of the people who knew you well and even of those who didn’t.
It is so very difficult to comprehend that this light has gone ahead to shine in another world. But today I am not going to complain that you left us, I am going to be thankful for what you left us with. You were and will always be a ray-of sunshine for all who knew you.

Deepa- you and love are synonymous- you loved so fiercely , your family, your friends and everyone who crossed your path. People like me were lucky to have that love. You lit up every room you entered, there was this contagious energy about you that was hard to escape. It made one feel loved, wanted, secure. You were someone who made people feel protected. Your tight hugs I will so miss , your voice still rings clear in my heart. I remember the first time I met you, I was in MH and you in PGW, we hit it off from the get go and that never changed in our lives through so many different experiences. I will always cherish our heart to heart talks, the memories of the trips and times we spent together.

You were such an accomplished career woman , you went after your dreams with so much determination, I remember your happiness when you completed LLM and we were always so proud of you for always marching forward in your career. I don’t know how anyone can ever fill the huge void left by your missing physical presence, every trip to India I knew I would see you, it will never be the same.


In my heart you will forever reside till as long as I shall live - warm, loving, beautiful inside and out, I will always love you Deepa. Mami jee adieu for now

- Aparna Lal Das

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