This is the story of a boy who loved to fly.

Once upon a time, there was a boy. He had big eyes, and a big smile, shy, but very sweet. The smile could often be hesitant, but once it came out, it lit up his face like the moon.

As a small child, the boy saw a lot and said little. His eyes were watchful, thoughtful, and you always wondered just what was going on in that little head of his.

The boy was very kind, tender-hearted. He loved animals so much that he stopped eating meat before he was 10 years old. And, as he grew older, if you tried to tempt him with animal protein, he’d just wave you away with that big smile of his.

As the boy grew older, it was clear that this was no ordinary boy. He started yoga at an early age, becoming an experienced practitioner and then teacher. He had the gift of athleticism, becoming an ace golfer who almost turned pro. He was brilliant, earning graduate and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins and Brown.

His childhood quietude grew with him, but he also found his voice and a gift for rhetoric. He was tall – very tall! – and good looking – very good looking! And that smile. What a smile.

As the boy grew up, his life straddled two worlds; those of his father, and of his mother, who lived in different cities, with different families, different lives.

And as he became a man, he started to look for his own place in the world. And he wanted to fly.

Mehtab base jumping in CroatiaThe boy’s gift for rhetoric, for lighting up a room, led him to put his skills to work in war-torn regions under the auspices of various United Nations agencies. He started excelling in his professional life and, along the way, acquired a beautiful young bride. But the boy still wanted to fly.

And then the boy found skydiving.

Once he did, there was no turning back. How the boy loved skydiving! And base jumping! This sport, that he fell in love with, with such a passion, took him to the furthest corners of the world… like Croatia (pic).

And with every jump, with every dive, he felt more alive, that this was what he was meant to be doing. He was a pro – that’s what you have to call anyone with more than 300 jumps under their belt.

The boy had found his wings. He had found his place in the world… soaring high above it.

On October 11, 2015, the boy took his little brother (not so little now, a grown man!) out for a jump. He went up for his own jump first. He was flying!

And then it all went horribly wrong. The jump went wrong. His landing went wrong.

And the boy died.

The boy was my baby cousin, Mehtab Mukerji Dere. He was just 33 years old. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, but I loved him and was very proud of him.

Please keep Mehtab and his immediate family – especially his father (my uncle) and his mother – in your thoughts and, if you pray, prayers. They need them.

Fly forever, Mehtab.

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke