Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

i

Credit: Sudhir Tailang

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

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Credit: Sudhir Tailang

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

i

Credit: Sudhir Tailang

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

i

Credit: Sudhir Tailang

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

i

Credit: Sudhir Tailang

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

i

Credit: Sudhir Tailang

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

i

Credit: Sudhir Tailang

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

i

Credit: Sudhir Tailang

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

i

Credit: Sudhir Tailang

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang

i

Credit: Sudhir Tailang

IN TRIBUTE

Late everywhere, but left the world early: Sudhir Tailang's brother pays tribute

Rajesh Tailang

My older brother Sudhir Tailang was known for his fantastic sense of humour as much as for arriving everywhere late. He missed countless flights and trains during his rather short lifetime. Let alone being late to events hosted by others, Sudhir would often have to struggle to arrive on time even when he was the host.

I remember several instances when the chief guest would arrive before him and I was called upon to salvage the situation. He used to call himself "late Sudhir Tailang" in jest for this habit. Ironically, he is now "late Sudhir Tailang" for the world.

And yet, Sudhir was never late in meeting deadlines for the various newspapers he worked for in his lifetime. He never missed a deadline during his three-decade career.

Sudhir and Rajesh Tailang. Photo: Aditi Tailang

Photo: Aditi Tailang

Late or early, his characteristic sense of humour would never fail him. Even the pain of cancer could not overshadow his intrinsic humour. Sudhir suffered from the dreaded Glioblastoma (GBM) Grade IV type of brain cancer. The man who stood up against political ills had to yield to the malfunctioning of his brain cells at the end. It was as if they conspired to form a deadly tumour in his head.

Yet, the cartoonist insisted that the tumour could not blunt his humour.

"Doctors can remove my tumour but not my humour," he would say. While being taken for the first surgery, he jokingly told the doctor, "If you find my head empty, please don't tell anyone."

"Mr Tailang, I found a lot of smileys inside your brain," the surgeon retorted a day after the surgery.

But the tumours never ceased to grow. From one to two, two to three... the final count at his last MRI was seven. Still, the number of smileys remained the same. The cancer gradually took away his physical strength but his 1000-watt smile remained intact till the end.

Sudhir had another talent to match his humour - his singing skills. He enjoyed humming Rajasthani folk songs and Mohammed Rafi numbers. He would make the barrenness of deserts seem beautiful with his rendition of Kesariya Balam, a folk song originally sung by Bikaneri traditional singer Allah Jilai Bai.

Sudhir could enthuse life into any gathering through his soulful voice. He was invariably asked to sing Rafi's timeless melody "Rang aur noor ki baraat kise pesh karun" during parties. The audience would forget that the performance is coming from the same man whose cartoons have forced many politicians to swallow their pride.

I owe my acting career to Sudhir. During 1984-85, I was studying at a school in Bikaner while Sudhir worked for the Navbharat Times. I would come to Delhi every year during the summer holidays. Sudhir was still a bachelor at the time. Every day, I would accompany him to the office and disturb him.

He eventually found a way to deal with me, thanks to the pages of that very newspaper - he saw in it information about an acting workshop for children being organised by the National School of Drama (NSD) and enrolled me for it. I was introduced to the world of acting and he got rid of my childish chatter. The acting workshop became a regular activity during my summer holidays for years to come.

Later, it was Sudhir who inspired me to become an actor. I succeeded in gaining admission to a 3-year course in NSD. Although some of my cartoons had been published by that time, Sudhir laughed that one 'martyr' was enough for the family.

According to Sudhir, political cartooning was a dying art. The increasingly coloured pages of newspapers were eating away the space for black-and-white cartoons. He felt cartoonists needed as much protection as our near-extinct tigers in this country.

Sudhir was born on February 26 and my date of birth is October 10. I was 10 years younger than him. But, after the completion of his first operation on October 9, 2014, he told me, "Now, I am only a day older than you. It is my second birth."

He passed away on February 6 this year, just 20 days before his first birthday. One would never know the right time in his home as every clock showed a different time. When I offered to tune the clocks, he said, "I get late as there is no clock in the washroom!"

The "late Sudhir Tailang" left us a bit too early. Was this the only way, Sudhir to set straight your record of being late?

Rajesh Tailang