I haven’t met anyone that was so passionate about life as Neil was. He spread energy and joy wherever he went. Be it a shop owner, a friend, the postman or just someone who lived in the vicinity, there is no one who hasn’t been impacted by his energy. Neil loved everyone and everything. The places he had been to, the food that he ate & liked.. Neil loved to explore new things, especially food and places. He loved being in the outdoors and almost everyone who had met him once remembered him fondly.
Neil and I met through our common friend Mona, who met him first on a social networking site known as hi5, that existed years ago, in 2004-2005. We exchanged messages on it, and were fascinated with how he described all of Parel in text, right from a small Aarey outlet, to the old buildings and hospitals, all upto Matunga where he went to school at Don Bosco. Such was his memory. Neil could tell you stories about every place. He could tell you where names of things came from, or where the patterns of grills or foothpath tiles came from. “It is all geometry”, he used to say.
Slowly, he entered our lives and found a place almost immediately in our families. It was like we knew him for ages. Everyone in our building knew him, right from grandparents to grandkids. Such was Neil, made people feel welcome and comfortable, joked with both the young & old and never discriminated. He valued friendship immensely and loved making people feel special on their birthdays and anniversaries and well, every day.
Neil always brought either sweets (that he himself loved to gobble up with us :P) or snacks each time he came to visit, so I remember once in December 2016, when he came home and his health was deteriorating, he couldn’t even walk straight but was very apologetic instead that he wasn’t able to bring anything that time. That was him, always putting others before himself, even in pain.
I confided in Neil with many of my own issues but often didn’t require to say much. Neil always spoke the right things, not just because he listened, but because he could feel. He wasn’t one to sympathise but empathise instead, a quality that very few possess in this time. The days I didn’t say much, even a phone call that comprised of mundane conversation uplifted me and filled me with energy enough to get through my pain. And that is what baffles me, that the energy he contained wasn’t enough for him to get through his own fight. But then again, I also feel that we should seek warmth and comfort in the knowledge that he may be finally in the right place now, for a heart like his couldn’t find a place here on earth.
Until next time, please rest in peace Neil. We are all always with you ❤