Hi Ashish,

I admire you.

We may not be family by blood but you treated me like one. Our relationship was beyond a supervisor and graduate student, a manager and employee – you considered me a brother from another mother. You were judicious enough to chastise me for my follies but were effusive in praise when appropriate. I hope it is better for you out there than when you were here.

You demonstrated how one can be successful but humble. If you had a conflict, you placed ethics ahead of everything else – Character First, Rest Second – you repeatedly said. You were extremely passionate and committed towards your work. One prime example being, when it (accidentally) came out that you had generously let go 100% of your 3-month consulting remuneration towards the university.

You took pride in your will power. When you were diagnosed with Depressive Disorder, you were courageous to publicly accept it. It was extremely disappointing that some people discriminated you for it. I didn’t like the situation and we had a discussion on how to address it. That incident left a bitter taste for both of us. I didn’t forgive them and now, there’s no chance I will. I always told you that sometimes you were too nice to people around you. You did listen and even realize it but it didn’t seem to bother you. Karma is my Dharma, you said.

You had a soft corner for me. You let me be myself and when others considered me stupid. You entertained my penchant for crazy ideas which were off-beat to others. You took a lot of pride in my success and celebrated it more than me. Remember our phone call to inform you about our WWW’14 paper acceptance? You were ill and under medication. In a feeble voice, you told me that the call was a better treatment than the anti-depressants you were under. I was happy that my work had some impact to help you cope with your condition.

Last week, I wanted to reach out to you and share some good news. I’m pretty confident that you would have been extremely happy and proud. Can I still share it with you? I would like to but I don’t know how. You were my mentor and the one person who would take a bullet for me. People around me would call me foolish and crazy but you believed in me. I would like to thank you for the huge influence you’ve had in my life both professional and personal. If given a choice, I would do it all over again.

PS - I’m sorry I can’t send this directly to you, I don’t exactly know your new mailing address.

(May 2018)