"An end of an era" has been a headline the frontpage has screamed through this month of August. Towering titans Karunanidhi, Somnath Chatterjee, Ajit Wadekar, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Kofi Annan have doffed their hats and bid adieu leaving millions baffled as to whether the spheres they once dominated would be able to survive their absence.
The Hindi doyen and the Tamil scriptwriter shared a single year of birth. Their poems shone through and paved paths for a new party to take root. The Jan Sangh, DMK, BJP owe a lot to them as the oratorial skills of these two doyens ensured a steady building of the parties. While the Tamilian's script could spur four Chief Ministers, the Hindi doyen was a master groomer of talent leaving a large second rung leadership who unabashedly wore him on their sleeve. If one could claim success even in his rival's success, the other could admire a Durga as well as castigate her. One chose to fight a battle through his life and even after death while the other built consensus through life and after death. One held Tamil against Hindi while the other held Hindi against English on the world stage. One became a Tamil icon while the other became a Pan India icon. Both shared a bond of being shrewd strategists and tacticians mastering the political landscape that the sun set as thousands walked behind even their cortege.
A cricketer par excellence and a great samaritan also in their demise shone through the grieving thousands. Wadekar and Chatterjee towered amidst these two icons in their exits showing that their place amongst the titans was very much in place. Even as the above sportsman and genial and sombretadministrator found their epitaphs being written the international diplomat Kofi Annan also bid an adieu.
It would be common to say when we refer to them that in their august presence a deed was done but they have conjured an August Absence that is hard to fill. Though difficult to emulate would we be able to do so?