Everyone has a special friend. One friend who is enough to make up for all the countless back stabbers, the no good friends, the heartbreaking boyfriends and the sibling whose love is conditional. I was lucky too.
We weren’t the neighbours turned into friends type. I dont even remember noticing him till I came to 4th std. We were in different classes(thankfully) but because we stayed in the same area, we traveled by the same bus( which we gave up to get the cheap thrill of travelling in line buses and availing SC’s). We were part of the same gang and somehow noticed each other just enough to enquire about each other’s absence. Somewhere in probably 5th standard we got talking and became friends. By the next year, we began to talk on the phone atleast 5 times after school every day and by the time we got to 7th standard, I was his sister/counselor/ best friend/ girlfriend getter/tution mate/bus mate/chore doer etc
When I changed schools in Class 11 and went to hostel to do my +2, he found excuses to call me on the hostel landline, sometimes faking my brother’s voice and sometimes my father’s. He also became the family doctor when I was ill and the local guardian that never was! But one way or the other, there would be a call from him every single day. He tried to convince me to take up Engineering just like him because he wanted a permenant solution to assignments! He promised to teach me if I did his assignments. Bull! I knew him better!
While I did graduation in Coimbatore, he had his close friends keep a watch on me. He was studying for Engineering and hehad wooed a girl enough to get his assignments done(he loved her….too). So during my final year practical exams, he accompanied me to Coimbatore with his then girlfriend and we had a bash there! It was the year we had so much fun. Movies everyday…coffee shops, long drives, dancing, taking a tour of the city we were born and raised in, eating like we were starving from the day we were born. It was like a dream.
it was around that time that he made me drink for the first time. I wanted to try smoking but he said no. To this day I cannot even think of taking a puff for the fear that he will whack me. He shoved my fear of dancing up my ass and convinced me that I can sing. I remember he used to wake up on weekends and put on jukebox(a channel where callers could pick up and play songs of our choice) , wake me up and we would sing together for hours. I was a bad singer but he was worse. He had girlfriends all the way right from school but not once did he make me feel left out or wierd.
It was when I joined for PG that he and another A came as my guardians to drop me at my hostel. Yes, a girls hostel. The warden let them accompany me all the way to the 7th floor and leave my luggage there. I remember the smile on their faces even today. He would still call me most days and tell me what was happening in his life. His family, his girlfriends, his game, his gang etc etc. When he joined for his PG,, my assignments and presentations were ready for him.
We talked less as the career and life ahead got to our heads but we made it a point to keep track of each other. I don’t know when it was that we felt the need to have others in our lives. Was it boredom? no. Was it loneliness? never. What was it? Anyway we began to have another circle of friends, a circle which neither one of us had any clue about and that was the beginning of the end. We began to have excuses for not calling or meeting..for days together.
After we passed out and got jobs, we got back again. Catching up on old times, laughing at old jokes, remembering lost loves etc. We used to meet each other once a month and whenver either of us went on a trip, we would buy the other a gift. Something to say “I thought of you too”. Small tokens that meant the world.
I remember him comin to my house to give me a surprise around the time I had my birthday and we stood in front of my house and talked for 3 hours straight. We talked about our school, our love lives, his career, my wedding, travel plans, mutual friends etc. I remember him sending me a message soon after he left that night saying we will meet again,soon and that after a long long time he felt really happy that we spend time together. The next weekend, him, me and the other A went for lunch at a posh restaurant to have a sumptous buffet with beer . He knew I hated beer which is why he made sure thy had only beer so that I dont drink.
It was that very evening he promised to take me shopping to get a pair of jeans and shoes which was due for many years. That night we messaged for a loong time and somehow happened to share what we meant to each other. I realised that I was a sister he never had and a person he was sure would be there by his side to correct him and to support him no matter what his life turned out to be. In return, he was the person I would turn to in case of doubt, my conscience, the reason I understood men psychology and above all my best friend. We promised each other that we will keep in touch and stay strong like old times.
It was on a cold October morning at 4:30 a .m that I got a call saying he was no more going to call me. He wasnt going to go shopping with me, he wasnt going to clear my doubt or keep me from chosing the wrong path, he wasnt going to be around when I got married, he was no more. He died on the spot in a freak accident. His family didnt know which number to call me because my number was stored in a different name in his mobile. It was stored as SiS.
I think of him everyday. There is not a single road we havent been together on. Every time I have a doubt in my head, I still dial his number and cut. I still hope against hope that its just a dream and that someday life will throw him back into this world and he will find me. He was everything I was missing in my life: a best friend, unconditional love, philosopher, my shrink, the one person I’d decided to follow and that is what he had convinced me of, the last time we spoke.
Last night while I was cleaning my room, I found a box tucked away with a bunch of cards that my friends had given me on my birthdays with most of them being from him, old chits we used to pass around, slam books, autograph books, school badges, my test papers, his test papers and so much more. I looked at them through wet eyes and pushed them back to where I found them. Into a corner, a corner of my heart.
I miss you Sudeep VP, yesterday, today, everyday. And in case you are reading this, I still roam around in that torn pair of jeans coz I havent yet bought a new pair.