Colonel Duggal was a very polite, well mannered and a pleasant person. I would often meet him during my morning walk on the road outside our residential colony. He would be taking his dog for a stroll. I was new to the colony just having shifted after purchase of an apartment and was not aware of the many support facilities. During my first walk on 20 Oct 2015, I met this gentleman with a dog. He wished me and we got introduced to each other. From there on he became my guide on settling down in my new environments. I would often ask him about the news paper vendor, washerman , maid services, grocery stores and so on and he would send those guys to my house. I would admit that he became instrumental in my initial settling down in new environments.
Many times, I would take my wife along for morning walks, we would meet Duggal who would be seen strolling with his dog. He was a tall and a well built person slightly on the heavier side about 60 years of age, with a pleasant personality. We would exchange pleasantries and I would ask him some queries on administrative issues. Thereafter we would carry on our respective ways. Our interactions were very brief and cordial . On some days we would meet him at a grocery shop outside the gate of our colony.
During our interactions, I learnt that he had retired from Indian Army about five years back, was an infantry officer and had one daughter and one son. His daughter was married and settled in USA. His son was with him here in India and studying for MBA. On certain days we would not see him on the road, instead his son would be taking the dog for a walk.
One day, I asked him whether he was pursuing any job, he answered , ” Yes, I am the house manager and a Go-Getter.” I could not follow him exactly, he looked at me and clarified, ” My wife tells me to get things and I get them so I am a Go- Getter.” I liked his sense of humour.
Many a times, I thought of visiting his house, but since I had not known his family before, I decided to postpone it for a later date hoping that our friendship would further develop. We carried on our chance morning walk meetings till first week of February 2016. For the next ten days, I did not find him on the road and instead his son would occasionally be walking the dog.
I met him last on 17 Feb while on my morning walk. We exchanged pleasantries and I asked him the reason for his absence from the morning walks. He told me that his mother ( age 90 ) had a paralytic attack and was in the hospital. She had now been discharged from the hospital and was bed ridden. Due to these circumstances, he could not come for his daily walks as he is tied up in looking after his mother. I felt sad and expressed my good wishes for the family.
On 18 Feb, I was little late for my walk and therefore did not meet Duggal on my walking circuit. After completing my walk, I returned home and got busy with daily routine.
At about 11 AM, my house maid arrived at my apartment for the daily cleaning tasks and told my wife that one tall gentleman with the dog had collapsed at the grocery shop and died. This rang a bell in my mind and I asked the name of the person from my maid. She did not know the name of the person and she had heard people talking about it. I was praying that it should not be Duggal. I made telephone inquiries from some people about the hearsay who confirmed that it was indeed Col Duggal who had suffered a massive heart attack at the grocery shop early this morning and when taken to the local hospital was declared brought in dead. Col Duggal had gone for his morning walk with his dog and had stopped by at the grocery shop to purchase groceries. I was shocked to learn as yesterday only I had chatted with him during my morning walk. It was a sudden and untimely death and I could not forget Duggal’s smile and nice talk. How could he die so soon and who is going to look after his aged bed ridden mother now? What would happen to his pet dog? Life is so very uncertain, one moment you are here and the other moment you have gone.
I requested my wife to get ready and with a heavy heart we set out to visit Duggal’s wife whom I had not met earlier. Our intended visit would come so suddenly and minus Dugal in his house, I could never have thought. What would I speak on this sad occasion to his family, I did not know?
May God bless the soul of this gentleman with the dog. Shall never meet this pair again on the road!