Monday, September 18, 2006

A Fitting Tribute

Last week, on September 12, Anuj was honored at a memorial service on the Wharton School campus in Philadelphia. Scores of his fellow students, professors and business school administrators came to pay tribute to him. Vice Dean Anjani Jain began the service by recalling Anuj's intellectual brilliance and wide range of contributions to the Wharton community, both in and outside the classroom, and then recited a poignant verse from the Bhagavad Gita. Reverend William Gipson, the Chaplain for the University of Pennsylvania, talked about how he had come to learn of Anuj's life and his profoundly positive influence on those around him. He invited those present to share their thoughts and memories of Anuj with everyone.

Seven speakers, including Neal and several of Anuj's classmates, then rose one by one to eulogize Anuj. The speeches alternatively brought streaming tears, longing sighs, and sometimes even a smile to those in the audience. Everyone highlighted Anuj's effortless intelligence, passion for life, strong work ethic, and desire to build and nurture deep friendships. They acknowledged him as a natural leader who could make those around him better by simply being a part of the team.

Perhaps the most remarkable characteristic of the tributes on September 12 was how much in common they had with the speeches honoring Anuj at his service in California on June 15. Every speaker eventually moved from his accomplishments and contributions - which, they all agreed, one would never hear about directly from Anuj - to talk about what type of person he was. That is when vivid examples of Anuj's humility, integrity, selflessness, sense of humor, quiet confidence, reliability, respect for the opinions of others, and unwavering concern for the well-being of his friends, family and colleagues came to light. Every speaker shared examples of how Anuj went far out of his way to help them in small as well as profound ways in some aspect of their lives. Whether it was staying an hour after class to help a friend brush up on his math skills, helping someone find a creative solution to a family crisis without being asked, or simply remembering to find a way to bring a smile to a classmate's face when she was having a bad day, Anuj consistently strived to make the lives of those around him better. It was simply the very essence of who he was.

After the formal remarks, Anuj's friends shared a touching slide show of photographs. When the program ended, those in attendance stayed for over an hour sharing more stories of how Anuj had touched their lives. As one of his cohort-mates said:

"Imagine a room filled with a hundred unlit candles. Anuj was the candle in the center that lit all of our wicks."

Anuj along with Cohort I at a potluck dinner. Many of these friends attended his memorial service last week.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will remain in our heart forever. You were a great human being whom no one can forget if he ever comes in contact with you. We studied together in St. Francis' College Lucknow for 9 years and I still remember every moment we spent together whether in class or in picnics.
I stll remember your love for Parle-G biscuits.

May your soul be in peace!

Abhishek Lakhtakia

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You will always live in our heart. Relationships are those that bond, memories are those that make relationships forever. Thus, our relationship continues, simply transformed. For God has plans that cause us to think "why", but only through time will we one day understand.


Ajay, Jugnu, Anika, and Serena"

8:59 PM  

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