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– Harish Kapadia

As we received the news that Lt. Nawang Kapadia was no more, without any exaggeration, hundreds of people poured into our house. Almost everyone we knew in Bombay visited us. Each one naturally had sympathy, love and affection towards Nawang and us. There was kind of surge of support which was rising like a wall and it gave a clear message that in the hustle and bustle of a city like Mumbai, there was a strong heart throbbing somewhere. People had travelled long distances to visit us. There were elders who could hardly walk, but made it a point to come over and talk to us. A lady, 83 years old and a distant relative, travelled a long distance to visit us. Many who themselves were sick or had suffered tragedies recently, like mother of Kaivan Mistry, rallied around us. There were long standing friends with whom we had lost contact, were present and the whole community, many business and professional associates, or even whom we call causal acquaintances – all were there. Like every family you are close to some, just know a few and even have strong differences with some others. Everything was set aside and the warmth and condolences were offered to us irrespective of stature or nature of relationships. All families from the Vijay Apartment, the building we live in, were present for the funeral and subsequently called at our house regularly. Many families from buildings on our road, Carmichael Road, called on us and organized a meeting to pay tributes.

I hope to write about these individual persons later.

On the day of the funeral thousands gathered and everyone passed Nawang’s body with respect. The Yoga Class of Palkhivalas, where Geeta and I attend regularly, was kept closed that day and students of all the classes were attending the funeral. So were student’s from Nawang’s School, St. Xavier’s Boys’ Academy were present with flag of his school. For next four months at least, there were visitors everyday at our house.

People phoned from all over the world to offer condolences. The hardest was to talk to friends of Nawang who were abroad. These young friends of Nawang were living alone in a foreign country and were totally confused what to say to us elders. In fact we had to console them for in the far away world they felt perhaps more sad than all of us. E mails from all corners of the world followed. Many mountaineers, even without knowing me personally, e mailed to offer condolences. There were messages from Pakistani mountaineering friends. They were as sad as any other friends and wished that such deaths would stop on both sides.

There was a message in all this. Humanity has a heart; people may be busy, they may be far, or not in contact at present, but when and where required, friends, relatives and the family stands with you.