I had been thinking about Usman Vakil yesterday for no particular reason. And today I received a call from a mutual friend who told me that Usman had succumbed to the virus. In 1996 I had a similar experience. I had been thinking of another man, someone much older than me, and before the day was over, I heard that he had died suddenly. Perhaps it's one of those supernatural incidents one reads about. The one I'll never forget is the sudden and overwhelming feeling I got that Indira Gandhi was dead. After a few minutes I switched on the car radio and heard that she had been shot. I was so shocked that I had stopped the car for a few minutes, wondering if I'd really heard it. 

Usman had been with me in college for six years, and the one thing that made him stand out from others was his ambition. Of course, in a way all engineering students were ambitious but he somehow knew that he would reach the top. He went to the U.S. and worked for a time in a menial job (filling petrol in cars) until a rich man gave him a managerial job in his firm. After that, Usman took over the firm and became very rich. He persuaded all his brothers and relatives to settle in the U.S., employing most of them in his factory. He married the daughter of a rich industrialist whose son was married to my cousin. That marriage ended in tragedy when my cousin died of burns sustained while she was pouring petrol into the tank of a running generator.

So Covid has struck again, and will continue to do so until everyone is vaccinated, which could take many years.