April 23, 2024

In his life, Victor yearned for two things: to be a good husband and father, and the other, which was his most practical, to just enjoy life.
And so, it was that Vasdev Keswani, a son of Gordhandas and Bagwantibai Keswani, was born on Oct. 20, 1958 at Ajmer, India. He first came here on June 10,1984, taking up odd jobs in Manila and later in Baguio and the Cordillera where he roamed the valleys and forged the rivers selling his wares.
Along the way, he met Teresita Tan and fell heads over heels in love with her. Their romance culminated in a marriage on Jan. 15, 1987 and they established their family near the river, bamboos, shrubs, and trees at Trancoville as our next-door neighbor.
Four beautiful children came along – Laxmi, 34; Rani, 33; Shanti, 29; and Anthony Rajat, 23, all successful professionals.
Aside from his reputation as a gentleman of “leisure,” he was a deeply sensitive, passionate, warm, wise, and loyal friend. He was a forgiving human being, who laughed a lot but kept the hurt and pain to himself. Sometimes he was misunderstood by his countrymen and like them would rant and fight, especially when he had one too many of scotch, cognac, beer, gin, or all of the above.
We would go to coffee shops and bars for small talks and current tsismis but never complicated subjects as he would not tolerate gibberish intellectual talk – mistaken for logic or a glib tongue for brains. Neither did he like people who name drop connections with those in higher places for their own success. He was contemptuous of people pretending to be brilliant or those who try to put one over another, especially those who freeload on food and drinks especially when he was the one paying. He would always say bahala na EMA for any or all his problems big or small. Thus, unlike the rest of us, Victor was marching to the beat of a different drummer, and he was in-step and we were not.
I worked on his Philippine citizenship way back in 2012. I remember when he was asked “what his favorite Filipino fruit was” and he answered “Indian mango” and I almost fainted. The judge warned him to stop joking in court and I thought that was the end of it, yet he became a full-fledged Filipino taking his oath in a splendid barong Tagalog saying “Pilipino na ako na mukhang bumbay.”
He was a passionate charter-member of the Rotary Club of Downtown Session. During meetings, he never minded the agenda, trivial or not almost always saying, “Bahala na si EMA.” Sometimes he’d forget that there is life outside EMA to the woe of Tessie and the kids. He was a good father though, and even if we would spend the night with booze and food at Cathy’s or elsewhere, he saw to it that he woke up, cooked breakfast, then bring the kids to school, a living legacy in their minds.
He was an original founding father of the Indian Temple and served as its treasurer going on a fund-raising binge for the church. He was deeply slighted though by the omnipresent crab mentality, apathy, and intrigue that hit him.
Monday, the third before he was gone, we went for coffee and talked about mundane things, not knowing that he came to bid goodbye. That fateful Sunday morning after talking to Tessie over the phone, I rushed to Pines Hospital hoping against hope it was all a bad dream. He was in a body bag outside the ER when I got there. As I touched his body, his heart, arms, remained warm, as if saying, “Andyan na EMA, ok na ako!”
Like all of us here on earth, Victor was not perfect and had his frailties. He had his weaknesses but he was a good man. Gone, he is missed but he remains in our hearts and soul. As he enters the pearly gates of heaven after his ashes were strewn in Bauang, I am sure he prayed for us all.
As for EMA, Victor will remain loyal as his celestial defender. As we share our burden of grief with the family, we take comfort in the thought that from now on we can count on him as our guardian Angel in the happy hunting grounds.
So, Victor, we know you are in a peaceful, happy place, but don’t you call me, Mike, Milo, Willy, Pato, Mateong, or Khitz to join you up there for a round of booze. We still have a lot of life to live.
Life under the pandemic seems to be getting harder for us ordinary mortals, but as you would say: Enjoy life. Hasta la vista, boss Victor!