Its hard sometimes to forget and even harder at times to remember some things. And there are those some things, which we never remember to forget. They lie somewhere in us. Deep inside. Yet so unknown.
This morning I woke up to remember about a guy. He was neither a close friend of mine nor a person who ever kept contact with me. I first saw him during my 4th Std. He was a year junior to me. We used to board the school van from the same stop. The initial memories are quite smoky. Don’t exactly remember when we started talking. But we did and that developed into a friendship. The first significant memory of him was the way he came in his cycle to take me to play cricket in a nearby ground. He was a brave guy, as I would put it. He rode a full size cycle when he was in 4th and even took me doubles to the ground. He didn’t care anything for the world around him. Born to a very well to do family, he had all comforts at his fingertips. Many of my first things came from him.
I developed a liking towards cycles and forced my parents to get me one too. Further memories are a bit scary. We used to fool my parents and go out to the main streets and further cross some of the busiest junctions in Cochin to buy latest floppy games. Once we collided against each other and I went falling into the canal. Someone picked me up from the stinky canal and dropped me home. He seemed guilty of the crime and stayed rather away from me for a few days. Though it took me 4 bars of LUX to clean myself, it took more than a week for him to start talking to me again.
We mostly played at his house. His brother and his cousin brother were an elderly duo but somehow we four used to be together so much. His sweet little sister was probably the only thing he would bother listening to. The way she called him and the way he took her in his arms really made me at times envious for not having a younger sister. I still remember one fight where all three of us fought with him and he became so angry that he threw the rubber ball away, slammed the bat on the floor and just rushed into his house. We waited out some time for him cool up and come back. But he dint return. So we went up to his room. We were sure that either he would be boiled up or lying on the bed with his head buried under the pillow. We slowly and cautiously opened his room’s door and there he was, sitting with his sister, laughing and smiling, explaining a comic book to her. Made me feel good. Another mood of the same person who slammed the bat a few minutes ago. His sister could do wonders on him at that time.
It was accidentally one day when he had food from my house and he got attracted to a special mango pickle my mom made. Next few days we were on fight. That was a usual thing between us. We fought a lot. One day a gal in our van forgot her glasses in the van. Me being so kind hearted (mind the gal was my classmate and a charming pie too) decided to take the glasses and deliver it at her home! I picked the glasses and got down from the Van. He was surprised to see glasses in my hand and didn’t quite enjoy the idea of home delivery of glasses. We argued and in the end, he just snatched the pair from me and dropped it near a shop’s shutters and walked away dragging me behind him. The next day promptly the case of the missing glasses came up in the van and further in the school. Her parents seemed so panicked for a lost pair of glass. I was keeping my finger crossed and was waiting to somehow get back home and be there till the whole issue is forgotten. But before noon I was summoned and was asked this question “Deepak, why did u throw her glasses away? Shez your classmate. You have to respect her and her things. I am going to call your parents and talk to them about this”. I was shocked. I didn’t know how to react. I saw his standing some meters away with a cribbed face. I knew I was locked. I tried to clear my side, but he had already confessed that I had taken the glasses and thrown it away near a shop. I felt like being all over him. But I was scared. He is brave and strong, I was weak. I kept mum and stopped talking to him as a result. This was a turning point. We did not talk for long. We met everyday but stopped interacting. I started missing all the showy things we did like going for a ride in the cycle, visiting his uncle who had a latest version of windows, the 4 player matches in maharaja’s nets etc. The Uppu Sodas (Salt Lime), the sip ups, the bubble gums, were all stopped.
My house had a quarter built wall. His usual style was to come in his cycle, screeching his brake sound as he stops it near my gate and then a loud call… “Deepakkkk”… By that time I would be out and on his carrier, ready to go. I waited for all this again. Slowly we started smiling back at each other when we waited for the van and while we walked back from the stop. One day he broke the ice and asked me straight, “Are you coming to North? I heard Mindstorm stored has got some new games”. I was waiting for it. I agreed readily. That evening I could hear those brakes again. But this time he got down from the cycle and was coming near my house. Seemed rather shy and unsure. I came out and my mom was somewhere nearby. He slowly pushed ahead a glass jar and a small bottle of oil, mustard and a packet of mangoes. I kept wondering.. Slowly in a rather shy way he went to my mom and asked is she could make that same Mango pickle he had from my house the day before the fight! I could not help slipping into a teasing laugh. For a second he thought my mom wont make and was about to retreat. But she was quick to act and took just the glass jar from him and asked him to come some time later so that he can take it. A wide satisfying smile appeared on his face, for the first time probably an innocent one.
Later as we grew up, his mode of transportation changed from cycle to kinetic or even some bikes. While still in his 7th, me in 8th.. He used to come to my place in motorcycles. I was however scared at times for he neither had licence nor a licenced guy sitting behind him. But he never cared. Exam times were special and full of fun. During the exam days, I did not have to depend on the van to come back home. His car always came to pick us. Sometimes his car, sometimes his bike. Whatever, post half a distance, he made the driver sit aside and always rode them till the main junction. Again, those bakery stops on the way back were special.
He was with me all times. At times we played at his house. The four of us. I used to be the weakest among them all. But somehow I kept myself going with occasional surprises. After a tired play session I remember the Cold Chocolate drink his mom made. Never drank anything like that till date. Sometimes he bossed me around, seemed arrogant and carefree, seemed like a spoilt child of a huge entrepreneur. Anything that was bad, i could associate with him. But at the same time, as I mentioned before, I was with him during all times. Sometimes looking up to him as a hero and at times hating him for all what he does. I still don’t know if he was a casual friend, close friend, brother or just a childhood playmate.
I left school as my dad got transferred. It was during a vacation and he had flown to Dubai to spend the vacation with some cousins. I moved out in between. And missed even saying a bye to him. As I moved to another place, he seemed to move out of me as well. I don’t really realize a moment I missed him or wished I had seen him. There was no attachment between us. Long time later I visited his place and saw him once. Saw his parents, brother, and his sweet little sister. They were all the same. A casual visit to an old memory. Years have passes by since the last time I saw him, his family. There is no contact with him what so ever since then. Now I have grown up to 23. Somewhere I realize that if this same person had been with me, the same way, during my teen, I would have called him my best friend. But…
Today morning I woke up to a piece of news which made me think about him all day. He is no more. Fate had him to succumb to a car accident. His photo in the paper broke me down.
Some things rush into my mind and they always will. The way his sister stuck on to him, the ways his brother defended him, the way he wanted to skip tuitions, the way he touched my life and left an unknown feeling in me. I am sure, for the person he was, he would have braved the fate till his last breath.
I have no one to search for as I walk past my old place. He has left a hole inside. Its only when you have a hole in your heart that you realizes how much was occupied by that unknown someone.