Roll No 1

I remember the day one, when I met you first, on the rooftop of the cursed toad lodge and shaking your hand, and thinking, I was lucky, that you were same class and same section as mine.

I did not tell you, but you were the first proper new friend I ever made, when I moved out of Darbhanga, where I knew everyone for like a decade.

I remember you as you were, and not what you became. I remember you in those white uniform with green belt, or in your long trousers, sandals and red/brown T shirts.

You see, I have kept your memories as they were, instead of adding to it or trying to erase them.

I remember promising to fill your diary, with memories, and did not, eventually.

Not because I did not mean to, or did not want to, but because I did not have the emotional strength to do so. I am weak in ways you would not understand. You were a brother to me. And yes, I meant to write the full diary, because I had that many memories with you.

I forget nothing.

I remember catching the horrific flu in October of 09, and you staying by my side all night, reducing my temperature with water pads on my forehead.

I remember you bringing that tiny pastry on my birthday on March 31, 2010, and me unable to thank you for it.

I remember moving away from our toad lodge to focus more on my studies, and then you would come over and staying at my place most nights, because you cared enough.

I remember you getting me Jim Jam Biscuits on 26th February 2009 when I was shifting away, because you knew it was my favourite.

I remember loitering aimlessly with you in the sullied roads of city centre umpteen times.

I remember us pedalling up the slope from sector 4 to City centre, with you out of breath and me just laughing away.

I remember us eating lunch in the wide halls of BT. I remember BWB9102. I remember that you joined with me.

I remember you quoting your nana ji about calls not connecting when dialled, saying one has to dial from heart.

I remember us preparing together for BT tests, and me teaching you optics formulas.

I remember us giving the module test in DAV school, then attending the Farhan Sheikh “limits” class later.

I remember us laughing our hearts out with Himanshu Bhaiya in one of the rooms of Toad Lodge, for no reasons at all.

I remember you being able to stop a running ceiling fan with your bare hands.

I remember that one time the ceiling fan fell on your bed while you were sleeping, and you did not even realise.

I remember you being by my side at Himanshu Bhaiya’s farewell treat in Sher-E-Punjab.

I remember you eating chicken on Diwali day of 2009 in Sher e Punjab.

I remember when I came across you on the way to my home, but I was so angry with something else, I just passed you by and kept going even without a smile. That was rude of me, but I did not want you to face my anger due to something else.

I remember you being by my side in early morning organic chemistry classes at feku Vidyarthi.

I remember you calling me on the new year of 2010 and staying on the phone till the new year came.

I remember you forcing me to go see 3 idiots movie, and I found it very very entertaining.

I remember us in the exam hall of class 12th, in GGPS school.

I remember you being by my side when we accidentally got treated by Shreya in NutKhut the night before she was shifting town, on 24th March 2010.

I remember you giving me a green lockable diary with a message saying, “keep all your secrets locked in this”.

I remember you living with me for a month in our 2011 exams.

I remember you asking me what did I want for my birthday and I had said, “Aeroplane!”

I remember attending you sister’s wedding in December 2011 and staying up all night playing cards.

I remember giving you my tourist hat which I got from IIT Bombay. I loved that hat and never let anyone touch it even. But I gave it to you.

I remember you calling from Delhi while you spent the summer with your sister’s family.

I remember that call in 2013 summer, when I cried to you, saying I was irreparable kind of broken.

I also remember me crying my eyes out at 4 am because I realised you were drifting away.

I also remember crying when I realised you lied to me on my face many times.

I also remember crying all night, unable to sleep as I realised you replaced me with the same people who bullied me for four years.

I also remember crying on the last conversation we ever had and realising I lost a gem of a person.

I remember you, my brother. And I saw you change. Or your priorities shift. And I remember not being able to adjust or accept.

I could have been Joey, and you Chandler. But then you found your Monica and neither of us could handle this new situation.

I still cry for you. But its okay. we only cry for the people we love.

I got shuttled, and angry. The anger, after all these years, is gone. The hurt is still there.

Of all goodbyes we said to each other, and came back again, the last goodbye has remained unsaid.

But how do we say hello after a goodbye that was never spoken??

Niharika Di says I have a wound on my insides that won’t heal but doesn’t fester. Initially I did not agree even though she was spot on.

But now I realise it’s true. And in part, it is also you. It keeps giving me trouble to sleep every night but makes me a better man the next morning. Hell, you taught me to be kind. Today, I try to touch people’s lives, help whoever, however. If I come across someone broken, I help them heal. And there are situations when I do not know what to do or say, and that is when I ask myself what you would have done. A lot of the shades of my character were learnt from you.

You are in the foundations of the man I am today.

Of all stories the world knows about me, you my friend, are the purest and the most unknown. I have always written about all other people in my life very openly, but not you. I guess I was just numb.

And I did not know how to cope because our story got over before it should have completed decades later.

I am not sure why I am writing this in 2019. Cathartic, I guess. Or maybe I am not numb anymore. I do not know. But I do know I love you now as I loved you then, if not more.

“रहिमन धागा प्रेम का, मत तोरो चटकाय. टूटे पे फिर ना जुरे, जुरे गाँठ परी जाय”

And no. I do not want a second chance from life.

Both of you won’t be the people I loved  with all my heart then and still do. And I am definitely not the fucker you left in 2015.

There is going to be no sequel to this story. No part twos. No second comings. I am very ardent on that. Nothing gets to ruin the most cherished memories I will ever have.

But my kids will always hear about you and your stories.

“What is over but not complete,

what turned bitter, but is still sweet”

What will never be does not undermine what once was. And what was, was special.

I hope you are happy wherever you are. I pray for you every day.

Thank you for teaching me so much. Thank you for giving me this perpetual dose of paranoia and a basic mistrust in everyone and anyone I know.

Thank you for teaching me that strangers are better than friends. My whole life will be a test case for that theory.

Thank you for teaching me to never go all out for a friend, and to maintain minimum safe distance from everyone. Because people getting close always ends up bad. So, yeah, that.

Thank you for making me realise I was both of you’s bitch for four good years. And that is the greatest lesson I have ever learnt. To care for myself more than someone I consider family. Won’t happen again.

I miss your laughter and your silly jokes. I do. Everyday. Every time I come across someone tall and healthy, yours is the first name that comes to my mind.

My troubled nights will always give someone a better morning, I hope.

After all, the good that came my way has to be shared and passed on.

Thank you for that.

Hain na? Hain na? Hain na?

-Soo

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