When destiny dictates and steals a dear friend, you suddenly realise that a part of you has died with him. On April 24, 2021, a permanent void was created in the academia of English Literature and Odisha Education Service, with the untimely demise of Dr A. Vijay Vishnu.
An extremely dedicated and innovative teacher, Dr Vishnu shared his passion for learning with hundreds of students across various government colleges of Odisha, culminating in BJB Auto. College.
My association with Vijay Vishnu dates back to a good 30 odd years, ever since he tied the knot with my friend Alaknanda Mishra (now serving as Head of the Dept. of English in RD Women’s University).
Measured in speech, immaculate in manners, and almost self-effacing, Vijay endeared himself to one and all. His demeanour exuded a polish that indicated good education and upbringing. From being schooled at a public school in Durgapur, he went on to join Loyola College, Vijayawada for his graduation and thence to the Central University of Hyderabad from where he did Masters in English, all with high grades. His popularity among students validated his unique style of teaching. Vijay completed his Doctorate Program from the reputed EFLU, Hyderabad with high recommendations.
Vijay was a polyglot, and comfortable with most social groups. He was already fluent in English, Telugu, Bengali, and Hindi, and on coming to Odisha, he picked up the Odia language with ease and grace, and he had begun to belong. Whenever I visited their home, I found him embedded in scholarly pursuits. His study would be strewn with piles of books, assignments, and journals, while he meticulously worked on his desktop.
It was his passion for writing and excellent command of English that had lured him into the domain of journalism for a few years before he joined the OES. Vijay was a foodie and loved to try different varieties of cuisines and food joints. Whenever I visited them, he would rush to bring home his latest food-finds for me to savour. His enthusiasm sparkled like that of a boy.
Reflecting back, I admire how poised and resilient he remained even when he was fighting a terminal illness! With his refined sense of humour and quick wit, he would underplay his pain, lest he discomfit his well-wishers. I sought his counsel on so many occasions and was graciously advised.
Rightly has the great Seneca, remarked, “The comfort of having a friend may be taken away but not that of having had one” and like Anne Frank, I would say, “I don’t think of all the misery but all the beauty that remains” from this association. He indeed lives on in his deeds.