Our lives have become so hectic and fast-forward that we are barely left with any amount of time for ourselves. We forget birthdays, anniversaries, special events or sometimes even our friends and family. And a few years later, there’s a feeling of regret . You wish they were here with you today, by your side. Every time you hit a low in your life, you feel you could have been better. A better father, a better mom, a better sibling or a better friend. It is not that I am busy or sad. Neither did I hit a bump in my life. It is just that I have memories of this guy I knew once.
I had this friend in my school days, a modest friend. We used to live very close-by. We always used to sit together in school. We used to be best friends then (we were too young to differentiate between friends and best friend). I can still recollect his voice even after 13 years. During our recess time all my friends would gather at our bench and have a good time. We weren’t competitors but we used to be competitive in our studies. Each one of us would try to out do the other one.
Once we had this cooking festival in our school. Every class was divided into two teams and we had to make a dish for ourselves as well as teachers (who would hog on every possible chance they get. But we didn’t have a problem with that because they were sweet and caring.) We both were in same team so that was good. In the morning while coming to school, we were so excited about it that we opened our bags to show each other what veggies and other stuff we brought. We had a gala time that day.
I remember him always winning the lemon-and-spoon race on our sports day. Most of the time, I couldn’t even finish the race as I would drop the lemon. As soon as I drop the lemon, I would stop there waiting for him to finish the race. And when he’s done, we would celebrate together even though being in different house. (Our school had 4 houses like in harry potter movies. Red, blue, green and yellow.)
Only if God didn’t have a different plan, I am sure we would still be in touch today.
I always wondered why he had those cloudy grey eyes. I remember asking him this once, but, I guess he said that different people have different eye colours. I was amused by this answer as a kid. Each passing day, our friendship grew stronger. Every year, on the day of result, his mother would come and chat with me for a while. She was a very sweet and kind lady.
We were in the 3rd grade probably. I always felt there was something that he was hiding. He didn’t talk like he used to. He was less active. (I didn’t realize this then. I was too young. It is now when I look back he felt like he was missing life in him.). He would say everything is alright whenever someone asked what was going on with him. There were times when he wouldn’t come to school for a day or two but wouldn’t talk about it.
And suddenly, for several days at a stretch, he was absent. I wondered where he was every single day. One day, my class teacher came to me and asked if I knew as to why he was absent for so long. I said I was clueless. She, our sweetest principal and a few more teachers travelled in our school bus, and asked me to show them where he stayed. As soon as we reached his building, I was told to go back home. I couldn’t understand the reason then. As I reached home, I asked my mother about it. She also didn’t have a clue.
The next day I got to know that my friend had left his family, friends, and the whole world. He was a victim of eye cancer at this very young age. It was then that I realized about all those days when he didn’t show up at school, his cloudy grey eyes, him being less active. I couldn’t even say something to him. No goodbyes. No last words. I always hoped to speak to him for the very last time. And the most irritating thing about it was that I got to know about his demise almost a week later. I was very unhappy with this news and my mother could see it in me.
That day she took me to his place. I didn’t know what to expect. As soon as we entered, there was this silence. His mother upon seeing me, burst into tears. It was tragic and heartbreaking. I had never in my life faced the pain of a loved ones death. I had lost a dear friend of mine.
Even after so many years, I think about him quite often. Tears rolling down my eyes, I think about what if he was here with me today. Things would have been different. They would have been much better. The only regret I have is that I couldn’t have a word with him for the last time. Sometimes the last words are so important. You remember them forever.
I may never see him again. But he is always with me in my thoughts.
Goodbye dear friend.