Society

Thanks for all the laughs, Shovon Chowdhury

On February 26, we lost Shovon Chowdhury, who wrote The Creaking Tree column for the Health section of this newspaper, to pancreatic cancer.

Back in May of 2020, when he started making hospital rounds for treatment, he sent us a two-chapter piece on his experience with the words, “Laughing through the tears. They dry up faster that way.” Titled ‘The Pancreatic Diaries’, the columns that month were among his funniest ones. Humour, Shovon had found, was the best way to deal with the surreal and the tragic — a principle he would apply while writing about both his personal grief and his dismay at the state of national affairs.

When he further caught COVID-19, it was, he said, “for investigative reasons”. In his self-effacing manner, he called himself a ‘valued customer’ of the hospital, and remarked that the lack of return of investment in health insurance no longer rankled him deeply. Through all the needles, scans and bandages, Shovon found the energy in him to make us laugh about the nurses’ accents, the chatty ‘enema man’, and the sponge baths.

At the Health team of MetroPlus, we sometimes worry that our page may be a bit serious for a Monday morning. Which is why we were lucky to have Shovon lighten up the mood since 2017. He would take our piece on screen addiction, and joke that it was a sinister plot by this newspaper against more convenient digital alternatives to reading the news.

No topic was off-limits for him, and so we would tussle over specifics as writers and sub-editors are wont to do, but in the end he would always make us laugh. Today, he would have written on the many types of headaches he has endured over the years, most likely delving into a stream-of-consciousness anecdote about his distant Bengali relatives.

We found out more about the peculiarities of people in his life than strangers are expected to know. But that is how it goes with writers; they get to choose what part of their lives you see. He may not have told us his cancer was worsening, but we did find out that he had always been proud of his luxuriant hair; that when he was in college, he had a cat named Stone who gave birth to kittens named Pebbles; that he escaped swimming lessons by thrashing water on his mother; that Shaun the Sheep doing a thumbs up was one of his favourite GIFs.

Shovon made sure that we, and all his readers, chuckled throughout a grim year. Making someone laugh is one of the kindest things a person can do, and for that we remain thankful.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 6:00:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/in-remembrance-of-shovon-chowdhury/article33962422.ece

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