Today...He passed away, left a deep voidbehind in all our lives, but he lives in our hearts. There is a saying "God gave us relatives; thank him for we canchoose our friends." I guess it's not true entirely. He came into our livesby default, I befriended him by default. Our mothers met, showed the babies toeach other and I guess we liked one another that very moment. Emotion is a verydifficult thing to express in words, especially what I felt with him. In retrospect, I look back and try and understand what was it that he always stood for, cared for, wanted and the only answer I can get is "be happy and make others happy".
His parents named him "Appi" after the 1982 Commonwealth Games' mascot "Appu". I do not recall how we actually met and became friends, all I know is that our lives were so intertwined in each other that consciously or unconsciously we called each other's mother, "Maa", that's how the bonding was. The madness, the "hulla", as our moms would put it while chitchatting, was all over. Growing up in a small beatific, virgin town of Mussoorie was a privilege, the fresh air, nature's arms and astounding beauty of it all helped us grow even closer. Among the quarrels and not talking toeach other for, at the most, an hour and the hugs, promises, dreams, the " Ican even die for you buddy"s ,our childhood was interrupted with routine.Mundane, academic routine. We were thrown into the rat race to run and compete;we were rabbits, harmless rabbits. We did not know how to race. Being in the same competition and with almost the same talent gives birth to jealousy too. I admit, I was jealous, jealous of his sharp eyes, his speed, his acumen for creativity and his physical swiftness. But I loved him. We would still play inthe dirt; get our bottoms beaten up by our respective parents, get hurt doing insane things, beaten up again... it never stopped. Oh I remember the "HE-MAN" he had. I wanted it too. He loved it and I loved him to have it, because he was so him when with it.
Regardless, he moved to a different school after sixth grade and I missed him. I did not have the guts to tell him that,because I knew he would harangue his mother to switch schools again. I let itgo. Now our childhood memories and purity was marred by academics, cut throat competitions and the sword of achievement was always hanging on our heads. Bothof us being hopelessly romantic, tried not to lose that purity, but we had to.The only time we got for ourselves were the winter holidays, the virgin snow would bring back the rascals from their lair, and we enjoyed it, every bit of it. Come twelfth grade and then the usual, "what are you going to do next" from the elders. We didn't want to do anything but bask in each other's warmth. I chose engineering and went far away. He stayed. I guess he did not want to losehis purity; the urge of being pure was so deeply ingrained in him that he chose to cut away from the race.
We hardly talked, all was just in our hearts, an occasional phone call, email was enough to say "I Miss you Man"(social networking sites had not started back then). After completing my engineering, I came to the "Land of opportunity" to challenge destiny and take on what life had in store for me. Even though the distance grew, the closeness remained the same. He too had moved to Bangalore for a better future after spending a lot of time finding himself. We spoke little. Then came the splurge of Facebooks and Orkuts and MySpaces, we signed up. It took us almost two years to find ourselves on those sites, but we found each other one more time, the strong bonding of childhood had never died,we realized. I had the opportunity to confess my jealousy to him. He forgave me. Once again we plunged in, this time, we thought, we were matured, knew our boundaries and had "grown up". But no, we still talked of the days of yore, the HE-MAN's and the stupidity and chuckled. We were still the same, bonded by brotherhood, bonded by inseparable love.
I was so thrilled to find him again, I told him that when I come home, we would go to the places we used to go, do the stupid things we used to do and this time we would not even get our bottoms whipped, and he had agreed. I guess that friend he had lost he was getting him back. He said to me that he was glad I was back and that he had hated me change and be like "them". He was happy. He had left Bangalore and had come to restart his career in a place closer to home. We were chatting on one of the sites and he told me that he was going to Delhi to restart and that he would want me to be there with him once I got back, said he would treat me like a king. I smiled and agreed.
One does not realize when premonition strikes. Off late I just missed him so much that I was looking at his pictures sitting at my insipid office desk, I was planning to call him up and let him know how much I missed him. But the thought was buried under some work and I too let it go. How was I to tell that it was going to be too late? I received aphone call from a common friend merely eighteen hours later; Kartik was butchered to death by his own friends. I went numb. I was dumbfounded,speechless and too shocked to react. But the tears did the trick, I could only cry, I could only do that. But the usual therapeutic effect of tears did notlast long, I was angry, scared, shattered, deeply saddened, and helpless and all of these emotions were felt all at once. But I could not do anything, he was gone, and I was not there to save him. I was not there when those inhuman beings were beating him to death.
The next day was friendship's day, I was to call him.
What can I do now? Keep him alive; keep him living, not his memory mind you, but him. I promised myself yesterday, I am going to be the best friend for all, what he wanted me to be. I will try to become the person he wanted me to be. Make people smile, as he smiled, believe as he did and give, as he gave........
YOU STILL LIVE, BUDDY
YOUR KINDS NEVER DIE......