By Bijoy Misra
LINCOLN, MA–In the scriptures, we come across stories of total strangers coming to help a stranded person who may need a hand. So was Mr. Mool Raj Mathur in my personal life.
There were many who did help letting me to think of a friendly spiritual India in the planet, but Mr. Mathur adopted me as a trusted friend, as an associate to walk with, to support and to counsel. He became a mentor in my adult life.
As I discovered in time, his wings spread much larger than his frail body. He cared for his wife, he cared for his family, he respected his brothers, he sheltered his younger siblings, he educated his children and he helped anyone who needed help. Having grown up in pre-independence India and having been a part of India’s freedom struggle, he was a staunch Indian nationalist without diminishing his respect and admiration to his new adopted country.
He was a brilliant metallurgist and loved his work for the US national interest. He provided support to his family and children in maintenance and in all times of need. He was a man of strength, courage and of confident moral conviction. His deep spirituality was reflected in his voice and through his singing accompanied by his tiny brass-cup cymbals, manjira. In stead of blaming anyone and pointing fingers, he would sing his favorite lyrics with a chuckle – “there is some reason behind it!” “इसका तो कोई कारण है!” The manjira kept the beat. “Let the pain diffuse! There is rhythm in life!”
I happened to meet Mr. Mathur in 1978 in a fundraising concert we did in MIT to help the relief efforts for the cyclone victims in Andhra Pradesh, India. He had deep interest in music and I was interested in featuring Indian musicians to visit on cultural tours abroad. We helped sponsor many artists and groups, and through him I came to meet and know a wide segment of the immigrant Indian community. Our association became stronger and my feeling of nostalgia and loneliness gradually diminished through his guidance.
India Association of Greater Boston, the long-standing immigrant community organization in Boston got weakened through various reasons in the early 1980’s. There was constant friction between the evolving language groups, the community identity was undefined and vague. Mr. Mathur thought it was wise to organize a platform for the immigrants from the Hindi-speaking areas. His sister Dolly arrived in Boston in 1983 after her bereavement in India, she became a partner in the organization. The newly formed United India Association remained the principal forum for the community during the difficult period of Mrs. Indira Gandhi’s assassination and the subsequent Hindu-Sikh riots in Delhi. I got swooped into helping people being affected by the pain and the political scare in the community.
IAGB lost its official registration and was almost defunct by 1985. I was requested by Mr. Mathur and the then President of IAGB Dr. S. N. Singh in an evening meeting in the Fall of 1986 to find a strategy to reorganize IAGB. I took it as an important responsibility and tried to find a path forward. Mr. Mathur was always by my side in these efforts by agreeing to act as a Vice-President when we hosted the first India Day festival on behalf of IAGB in Hatch Memorial Shell Esplanade In 1987.
Mr. Mathur’s wife was an accomplished musician and a vocalist. She helped train both of their daughters in the discipline of music and public performance. She was also deeply religious and spiritual. I got more attached to her with her love and affection. She was a complement to Mr. Mathur in his public work. Each activity became a spiritual exercise culminated by melodious music and affectionate assembly. The old India was reviving herself in a far-away land!
I had never seen a more sincere husband as I witnessed in Mr. Mathur after Mrs. Mathur was disabled through a stroke some fifteen years ago. He would personally take her out in a wheel chair to many public cultural events that she enjoyed. In the story of immigration, their conjugal sharing of life would remain for the books in history!
Though losing his wife was the most severe loss in his life, Mr. Mathur had seen other difficult times before. His younger brother collapsed after a few months of his arrival in the US, causing severe pain in him, more so because his mother in her 90’s was home at the time. The matriarch was strongly grounded in spirituality and was a source of consolation to the family. Mr. Mathur’s patience and resoluteness came from the genes of the revered mother.
I learned from the matriarch that she was the sister of the late Hindi poet Dr. Girija Kumar Mathur, who was stationed at the All India Radio, Cuttack during my High School days. He was a friend to my father and would invite us to AIR for various programs. Little did I know that I was developing a relationship with a family and another Mathur would find me in a remote land twenty years later far away from home. As Mr. Mool Raj would sing – “There is a reason .. इसका तो कोई कारण है!”
Mr. Mathur’s passing away, though stunning, should be taken in the spirit he lived his life. We share our condolences to the surviving siblings, the children, the children’s spouses, grandchildren and great grandchildren. His innumerable friends mourn the unspeakable loss and the irrecoverable void. But we remember his thoughts – “The world lives on positive energy. We should keep contributing to the positive energy through our abilities!” He taught this through many sessions of the Eternal Search Forum that he conceived and hosted. He took the message to many homes, centers and groups. “Be positive, smile and be on eternal search!” Mr. Mathur has gone to search in the other worlds. We should continue to search in this world. “There is a reason – इसका तो कोई कारण है!”