Driving back home from a Ranan repertory session about 10.30pm on Monday, 24 May 2010 I received an SMS from one of the repertory dancers who is also a doctor at Kothari Medical Centre and Research Institute: “Shyamanand Jalan is no more”. He had passed away in hospital about 9.15 that night.
The next day at his Alipur home a group of us from Ranan stood amongst droves of people who had come to pay their respects. I looked around at the spacious house and was reminded of a conversation with his wife Chetna Jalan a few years ago. She was talking about the revamping of the house while Shyamanandji was recovering from his paralytic attack: the installation of a lift to the mezzanine level dining room and his bedroom on the first floor, the remote controlled curtains which allowed him to open up or shut off a window that looked down into the living room, and many more such little additions. All of these, while practically invisible to those who did not know about it, allowed this man full control, access and enjoyment of aspects of life which are so often cut off by illness and disability. SJ – as he was referred to by so many of us – refused to let an uncooperative body interfere with his ever alert, ever young and ever enthusiastic mind. Till the very end he was brimming with ideas, pestering people to think differently and creatively, and fully and passionately engaged with every single pie he had his finger in.