I can’t claim to be a friend of David Graeber. I can say I am his fan and that his work has influenced the way I see the world. I met him twice though. I met him first two years ago for dinner at Barb Jacobson’s place where he arrived in a long coat accompanied by a mild fever. He just had some hot tea while we shamelessly gobbled our beers. He came to meet me because I was my friend Barb’s Indian basic income comrade hanging out with her in her London apartment in Charles Rowan House. David sat with us for a long time chatting and answering our questions. Julio Linares his student at LSE and my dearest friend was also with us.
The next day I went to the London School of Economics campus with Julio just to hang out with him in the Anthropology department. We had the Hare Rama Hare Krishna free lunch that they serve to students on the campus. Then we walked around and on an impulse barged into David’s office in the anthropology department. He was working in his sun-lit office. As we entered and greeted him, we accosted a box of his yet unpublished proof copies of Bullshit Jobs. Julio and I picked up one each and bullied him to sign our copies. He was such a comrade he didn’t mind our playful bullying and very affectionately signed the copies. When he signed his unique signature, I asked: ‘David, can you sign this again?’. He smiled and nodded. Being self-proclaimed anarchist, he said something that I will now leave to your imagination.. And we chatted for a while and left him to continue his work.
I cried when I got the news about his death. Megan Coxwell an American poet and Barb’s niece who was also with us that evening with David, sent me a message on FB messenger about his sudden death. I screamed when I saw the message. It was half past eleven at night in India. What made me sob more was just an hour ago I was talking to a group of international students, and I said: ‘ If you want to understand the poor, you need to understand ‘debt’ because they live in perennial debt. It has a curse. Please read David Graeber’s book ‘Debt – the first 5000 years’. He gives a perspective. Let’s talk about the book next time we meet.’
What more can I say?
Each time I think of him I have tears in my eyes. The meeting I am talking about was in 2018 Spring in London. Last year, I desperately called him and was keen to have him at the BIEN Congress in Hyderabad. But he was about to get married and legitimately preoccupied with it.
The last I met him was online when he invited me to speak at a Spectre TV inaugural discussion. It was one of the most enjoyable and deepgoing discussions I have ever had.
I miss you David. I was hoping to come and see you this winter. God bless your wife and the rest of your family. What more can I say?