The One who Broke Free

They say life is short, and so live every moment to the fullest. Very few of us can really do it and we often give in to the pressures of life. Among the few who I say had the guts to challenge their routine way of life was Arun Veembur.

The first time I met him was five years ago at a press conference held by the Railways at the Bangalore City Railway station. I might have met many reporters at many press conferences, but I don’t know why I so distinctly remember meeting Arun for the first time. Perhaps, it was because of his intelligent questions or the smart way he asked them.

He was reporting for the Deccan Herald then. I was a newcomer into the field and had looked at him in awe at the in depth knowledge he had on railways. His beard, glasses, folded sleeves and a back pack would fool someone into believing that he was another regular youngster in the crowd. Only when you spoke to him you realized that when he started into blank space, which he very often did, he was actually planning to push his limits to excel.

We joined MiD DAY some where around the same time, and he happened to occupy the work station just next to mine. I got to watch him work very closely.

How much ever was the pressure of work, he never got worked up. He not only remained cool, but was witty and humourous even at the toughest moments. He designed page 2, and found hunted for Kannada words and phrases to feature on the page. The same page also has the MiD DAY mate and he had to find them. Some times when he found most of the mates looking the same, he sought my opinion on which mate was better. I should admit he had a fine taste, for he always selected the aesthetic among similar looking bikini clad women. Many may feel, this was a cool job, selecting a hot babe for the page, but even this could not stop Arun from breaking free.

He knew what he wanted from life. The city couldn’t chain him, or the cushy office. He had a path to tread, a road to explore, a mark to leave. He left MiD DAY to travel. Yes, that the reason he gave, “I want to travel the North East,” he said and bid us good bye.

While on his travels in Assam, he heard of the Ledo Road, which was built during the Second World War, by the allies to transport supplies from India to China. The explorer that he was, he moved to China to tread every inch of the road and write a book on it. He made Dali city of Yunnan province in China his home. He went along the road even to the interiors of Myanmar. As always, he had become an expert on the Ledo Road too. At 28, he had accomplished his mission. He had done what his heart willed. He had followed his dream.

On Monday, while hiking in the mountains of Yunnan, he had a fall and died.

Very few people die while living their passion. Arun is again among the very few. I can only say, “Arun I bow before you in admiration. We will miss you and remember you for your break free attitude.”


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