It had been part of Jyoti Basu's daily routine until just a few years ago. On Tuesday, the hushed silence that fell over 31 Alimuddin Street as the Left patriarch's body came to the headquarters of the CPI-M West Bengal unit was broken only by cries of "Lal salaam" and "Amar rahe".
A sea of humanity awaited as the hearse carrying the former chief minister's body, draped in the party's red flag, reached the doorstep of Muzaffar Ahmed Bhavan after covering the two kilometre distance from the funeral parlour Peace Haven.
The hearse, decorated with party flags and flowers, had to slowly wade through the milling crowd on the road to reach the building, as all members of the Communist Party of India-Marxist's politburo came out, their fists clenched in traditional communist red salutes.
With tears in their eyes, party general secretary Prakash Karat, his colleague Sitaram Yechury, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, his Kerala and Tripura counterparts VS Achutananadan and Manik Sarkar as well as other leaders carried the body of the last surviving member of the party's founding politburo on their shoulders to place it on a makeshift platform raised on the portico.
Former politburo member Samar Mukherjee, a year senior to the 95-year-old departed leader, was the first to garland the body -- quiet and sombre as he took a long last look at his comrade.
With small photos of Basu pinned on their chests, the politburo members then gave floral tributes, followed by those of the party's central committee and the state committee.
The granddaughters of the Marxist patriarch - Koel, Doel and Payel - broke down as they garlanded Basu, who died at a private city hospital Jan 17 after a long battle for life.
Senior party leaders and other partners of the Left Front looked grim, some of them sobbing, as they filed past the body.
The entire stretch of Alimuddin Street was covered with red flags, festoons and banners with slogans and excerpts of Rabindranath Tagore's compositions like 'tomari hok joy' (may victory be yours) printed on them, as common people and cadres formed human chains on both sides of the road.
A temporary media platform was erected in front of Alimuddin Street, while people were seen leaning from the balconies and terraces of the buildings in the area to catch a last glimpse of Jyoti Basu.
Bimal Bose, who came all the way from Majerhat, told IANS: "I have come here early in the morning to be witness of the last journey of this great man. He was my leader."