Father, in this contemporary sketch of a place in the world where giants roamed, warrior-like you entered tall, confident, and armed with science and humanity.
A profile of courage and integrity.
Into this wild, untamed Kenya, on the east coast of Africa, you marched in, in step with the raw power and magnificent bearings of the lions, the towering herds of elephants, the elusive cheetahs, and a superabundance of the wild creatures of this natural world.
Born and raised in Hiran, Punjab, trained as a medical doctor, you, Dr. Amar Nath Bowry, embraced the Hindu philosophy of ‘Karma Yoga’. At 23, you and Lila Wati, your young bride of 17, left your beloved families behind to sail across the Indian Ocean.
Soon you discovered that because of the inhospitable living situation for the native populations in Kenya, death and disease were common occurrences. Along with poverty and lack of resources, the scattered rural populace was preyed upon by a plethora of diseases like Malaria, Sleeping Sickness, Bilharzia.
Ready to face the challenges head-on, with a fervent zeal, you embarked on a mission to help and heal this land. Undeterred by hardships, to fulfill this noble mission, you dedicated 35 years of your life to Kenya. While accomplishing your goal brought you unlimited satisfaction, it all came at the cost of pain and separation for your young family.
Respect All. Love All – was the Mantra that propelled your compassionate heart.
India was always Home. After 35 years, you returned, finally, to be part of that revered Indian soil.
Sixty years! Time must be playing some tricks!
Father, I cannot believe, you have gone sixty,
I still know you as being around me
You are still with me!
Your joy in being alive; your healing, nurturing soul
That won over a vast array of patients and admirers.
Your serene, calm composure, your engaging smile
You truly knew how to listen.
We just spoke.
We told you of our unfathomed lives
Our brow-creased misgivings.
In your bright, knowing eyes
Read safety in a protective gaze,
A guidance, a gentle nod of approval.
There, and then, I vowed never to disappoint you.
You perhaps knew you were dying!
We were with you for the last four months
Watching and rejoicing in your company;
Your fun and games with Nishi and Achal
Your youngest grand-children.
We did not know you were in pain
You looked frail, yet so dignified
With a mischievous twinkle in sunken eyes.
Your pale lips said a lot; only if I knew how to read them!
But you did not let a shadow cast.
The luminosity of your eyes, deep blue!
The doctor asked if they were always
That intense, ocean blue!
Was it ‘The Brightest Flame before It Extinguishes’?
My heart knows: The sparkle of my life
Still is enkindled by your gentle, joyful nurture.
Your Love has encompassed
My whole being!
In my new beginnings with Dhruv
You launched my life on a personal journey
Of Wellness, of Abundance
I thrive in your blessings.
You will be twenty and a hundred, in two months.
The world is richer, the earth full of loving warmth
For you journeyed through it once
Sowed and nourished seeds of life
With an eternal spring of joy!’
— Usha Dhupa
Usha Dhupa (Nee Bowry) was born in Kenya to Indian parents and has lived across Four Continents. She studied English Literature at Delhi University and a published author of ‘Child of Two Worlds’. She loves to write poetry and stories in English and Hindi.