Dilip Atre (my father), a.k.a. Baba, passed away in February 2014 due to profuse gastrointestinal bleeding. He was declared to be no more at around 4:20pm after the CPR team tried their ways to resuscitate him for 1 and 1/2 hours. He was 61 years old, and is survived by his wife, daughter (me), son, daughter-in-law, both his parents, and his younger brother and his family (wife and two children).
Baba was the first child of his parents. His immediate family was very poor during his childhood. Despite this, he was known to be an extremely energetic and lively person. His father was a lawyer by education, and worked as Mumbai high-court's administrative staff, but he wanted his children (Baba and his younger brother) to lead a career in science and technology. So he enrolled Baba into Elphinstone Technical high school (Fort, Mumbai) -- one of the finest technical education schools in India at that time.
Baba was an all round personality. He did not like to limit himself to mere school books. He had a great musical talent. He learned to play harmonium and mouth organ on his own in his childhood, and was very good at it. Baba had a natural aptitude in technical and engineering subjects, so he enrolled himself into the course of "Licentiate of Electrical Engineering" (a diploma course) at Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (that time known as Victoria Jubilee Technological Institute). In the final year of that course, he came out with flying colors, and topped his graduating class!
Coming from a very poor lower middle class family, he took up a job to start earning immediately after his diploma, although he had all the required credentials to pursue the Bachelor of Engineering (B.E./B.Tech.) degree. He took up engineering jobs at various companies of different disciplines for about 5 years. During his employments he was known to be a person who would go out of his way to do his duties. The turning point of his career was his employment at Wanson, today's Thermax -- a boiler manufacturing company. Due to his exceptional sincerity and problem solving skills, he was very well appreciated by the customers to whom he provided services. He was appreciated even more, because he refused to accept bribe when some of the customers tried so. But he was deeply hurt due to some workplace politics at Wanson, and hence left the company despite being offered a handsome pay raise.
After Wanson, he worked at a few different companies before starting his own boiler manufacturing company along with a partner in Panvel (near Mumbai). That partnership didn't seem to work out well, so he decided to part ways. Around that time, his younger brother was completing his studies, and Baba offered him to join. His younger brother accepted that offer, and they continued their business partnership for the next 10 years. During this time, the business prospered a lot, and their company's name became a leader in the boiler manufacturing industries in India. Their enterprise and hardwork removed the "poor" tag from the family's name. We had facilities and gadgets like personal cars, refrigerators, multiple telephones, fax machines, pagers, mobile phones when they were considered "luxuries" back in that era (1980s and 1990s). Their company was specially honored by the Maharashtra state government with the "Gaurav Chinha" (Appreciation Medal) in 1991, and he also received the "Udyog Shree" (Brilliant Entrepreneur) award in 1996.
Ten year long partnership with his brother also surfaced some of the stark personality and vision differences between Baba and his brother, which started interfering in their partnership, and so they parted ways after that. Around the same time, Baba was detected with diabetes, with a really high blood sugar count. Baba was always a very positive person, but due to that he often refused to accept health related problems and realities, with a view that -- nothing bad will ever happen!! So he neglected his diabetes for several years. Around his early 50s, when the ill effects of a long term neglected diabetes started becoming apparent, he started taking care of his health bit more seriously.
Over the last 3-4 years he was getting weaker and weaker. Baba was a first generation successful entrepreneur -- he brought entrepreneurship to a poor lower middle class Maharashtrian family made of service class people. He helped uproot poverty from his family, purely with his hardwork and smartness, with no financial assistance from his ancestral family, and without any formal coaching in the business management. He was a very strong willed person, and a weakening body was often mentally unacceptable to him. He kept on following his outdoorsy schedule with his will power even when his physical strength was going down.
Over the last 6 months, he was faced with many diabetes related health complications. Over the last 3 weeks, he was in a lot of physical pain. To top it off he self administered some wrong medications as well. The adverse effects of all this together deteriorated his health at an exponential rate. He still had not given up!
On his last day, he was in the hospital. In the morning he had his breakfast and lunch at the scheduled time. He had even instructed my mother to make some arrangements in our home, so that he can walk without any human help! But, destiny had something else in mind. It was probably not acceptable to the destiny that such a strong willed, self-made person will spend the rest of his old-age on a wheelchair with external help. So around 3pm, his gastrointestinal vein bursted, and he succumbed to death with profuse internal bleeding.
Just like any other human being, Baba had some negative aspects to his personality too. I myself wrestled with them from time to time, but I believe the positive aspects of his personality far outweighed the negative ones.
He was the man in my life, whom I could always look up to, and I don't know how I will fill this void now!
-- March 5, 2014