I & Abhishek had been friends for years. I don’t remember when & how I met him the for first time..I have never been good with memories.. but all I remember is that he was the only friend I had in years. Sometimes I really think what defines a friend.. how you call a person your friend.. how many categories of friends are there…
I wish there was a dictionary or an encyclopedia which I could juggle through to find out how to select your friend. I wish I could choose the best friend by myself. It’s a old saying that this is the only thing you select in your life… rest all is framed & scripted either by your parents or by your society. Over the years I have been trying to find 1 person whom I could say “Yes this is the one!!”
But I guess that is impossible.. A perfect friend does not exist!! Actually nothing that is perfect exists! There is no perfect circle, there is no perfect straight line.. there is no perfect husband, there is no perfect wife, there is no perfect son or daughter. Even the Artificial intelligence is not perfect.
Over the years I myself have been trying to define a Friend in my own context. A person with whom I can laugh over silly things. A person with whom I can share all your secrets & everything even if it does not concern him. A person with whom you can sit for hours & walk away without saying a single word & still he would understand the silence. A person whom you would call in the middle of the night to say I cannot sleep.
A person on whom you can scream for your mistakes & put the blame on him & say it happened because of you,even if he was not a part of it. I can write pages & pages on the definition of “THE FRIEND”. But actually it is not the definition.. it is the expectations… this is what everyone looks for in a friend..
Abhishek was such a friend.. Yes he “was”..
Our friendship lasted many years, not even a single day passed by when we did not meet & go out & sit on a food joint & have a shared burger & cold drink. I’m not ashamed to admit that he used to spend the money all the time, may be it was the reason I liked him. In late 90’s having a bike for a 16 -17 year old kid for a middle class family was not an easy task.. being the only son of the family.. I was not born with a silver spoon..
My parents never let me felt that all my wishes will be fulfilled at a single click.. & I thank them for this upbringing..But Abhishek was different… sometimes I felt he wanted to flaunt his status symbol that he had bike, he had money.. but it really did not matter to me..I was happy to spend time with him.. he would sit me silently at the Hazratganj Café in the heart of Lucknow city when I used to bunk my Engineering tutorials.. which I never went to attend..’
We would buy a burger & a cold drink which costed 20 Rs. At that time & just sit & watch the crowd..Discuss about his & my crushes.. talk about all the nonsense.. & spend hours & hours doing nothing till the time the classes was over..He was an average looking guy, not that I was a macho man… but he was a good person at heart..We had no clue what we wanted to do in future.. we would talk about doing hotel management.. or doing Engineering or doing BBA..
I remember we went to take admission through a walk in seminar in Leela Hotel for Hotel Management..When I think of a reason why we went.. I just laugh because my girl friend took admission in Hotel Management in Ooty & I wanted to be with her… & he agreed to go with me..
We never thought we needed parents permission for doing such things… it was natural..So imagine the kind of relationship we had..
But then as soon as results of 12th were out.. suddenly from nowhere my father came up with this admission form of Engineering college of Maharashtra & asked me to fill it up within four days..
First thing I did was call Abhishek on his landline.. In Late 90’s families did not have leverage to have 4 mobile phones in families.. especially because incoming was not free & those Big Motorola handsets were costly than diamonds..Why did I call him..? Same stupid thing.. I wanted him to apply as well..
The phone ranged & it kept on ringing…
“Is Abhishek there”? I asked..
“No he is not there”.. his brother replied rudely.. he did not like me because Abhishek spend more time with me rather than him.. at least this is what I understood
“Where is he”? I asked.. it’s like were playing KBC.. & the next answer would give him 10 crores..
“He is out of town & would come back after 4 days.”
Next few seconds were a complete silence with my own breath ringing my ears.. why he did not tell me… he could have come home before going.. he was my friend.. how could he have gone without telling me..
Suddenly I heard the strong voice of my father.. “Did u fill the form ? Tomorrow is the last date for submitting the application”.
I got annoyed.. as if I was going to be last engineer on this earth & the world would end if I don’t do engineering. But then I did not have courage to reply to him & I just completed the form & submitted for approval. For next 4 days waited for a call from Abhishek but it did not come… & then the news came of my admission in Maharashtra & I was suppose to report to college in 7 days.
The feeling was devastating.. I have never known anyone other than Abhishek.. how would I survive… who would bear me like he did…Who would listen to all my bullsh*t & yet not say anything against me..
I called him again and this time it was him…
“Where the hell were you”? I screamed on from local phone of the PCO
“I was out of town due to death in my family” he said.. what could I have said.. I was supposed to understand him & his situation.. that is what friends do.. right? Within seconds I became an understanding person & tried to console him.. not that he needed one at that time.. but it was my responsibility..
Then I broke the news to him “I’m leaving on Monday for Counselling & then I’ll have to join college”
Not that I expected any reaction from him but he just said.. “Perfect!!!”
That was new to me!! This is not what I presumed the reaction would be.. was he angry or sad or disappointed. I don’t know. I didn’t care.. because he was my “THE FRIEND” & I knew nothing would change between us even if we were poles apart. So next few days past in preparations of my going away.. as far I knew there were only 2 people on this earth who were sad by my going so far..
My mother, I could see it through her rolling tears & Abhishek, I could sense it through his silence..(At least this is what I could sense). Finally the day came of my leaving & I called him morning… telling him not to be late as my train would leave at 3:00 p.m. As a perfect friend.. he was right on time.. to see me off.. We did not talk much.. just gave a hug, did a chit chat and I left. Before I boarded the train… I just said.. take care of my mother in my absence… he just smiled.
I knew that smile.. it said…”Don’t worry.. Be happy…I’m here”
Engineering college… WOW!! Now I was an Engineering student.. Suddenly that feeling of supremacy started flowing through my blood. I was the first engineer of my family & I still had no clue what I would study & what I would do without Abhishek.
During coming months I made many friends & every time my benchmark was Abhishek.. I compared everyone with him & kept on rejecting them by bringing them from friend list to acquaintance list of my mind..
I did not find anyone who was like him…. At this time I realized it was not the money he spent on him which mattered.. I had so called friends here who would still spend money..my room partner’s Father had 4 petrol pumps in a small town of UP.. so money was never an issue..
I realized.. what I missed was his constant presence.. people would misinterpret to be homosexual but it is important to clarify that I’m straight & never intended to move into that direction. I liked his company because he was simple.. During my Engineering days.. the life moved very fast.. weeks, months just flew like a wind.. & the first Winter break happened. I was the most happiest person to return back home to see my mother & friend..
My father came to receive me at Station.. during my short trip from station to home.. we talked about many things from college to fees, to hostel conditions & mess facilities & room partners.. my eating & drinking habits. He did not ask me a direct question but I knew the thought behind those questions.. he wanted to be sure that I’m not drinking or smoking..
Like I would have told if I was really drinking or smoking.. He was my father not my friend..
I reached home & saw mother & Abhishek… Best combination to find these two people together at the same time..
My mother was diagnosed with inflammatory myopathy. (A disease featuring weakness and inflammation of muscles and (in some types) muscle pain.) They did not tell me during weekly calls because they did not want me to get disturbed.
Abhishek joined BBA in some college of Lucknow & he has been on side of my mother every day. He used to visit them daily in the evening.. Bring her medicines.. groceries.. call her in case he is not able to come. That’s what Best Friends do.. right.. He was just so perfect!! My Perfect Gaurding Angel.. who stood by his promise to take care of my mother..
I did not thanks him!! Why should I… it was his responsibility.. may be.. or may be not…would I have done the same thing as he did… I still ask this question to me…would you have done this for your friend..?
life moved on… I completed my Engineering & went on & joined a MNC & life moved on.. kept in touch with Abhishek through phone calls, the frequencies of which reduced from weeks to months & then it ended up to facebook chatting whenever we saw each other online..
Were we running from each other? Were we expecting the other person to take the initiative & ask “What happened”? “What went wrong”?
There were many questions.. but all of them remained unanswered.. because they were never asked..He completed his studies & went on to do MBA.. I was happy for him!! That he came out of lucknow because there were no professional future in Lucknow.
In winters of 2004 he called me & told me that he is Faridabad & has joined a software solutions company as a Sales Manager, I Was so happy to hear his voice.. after these many years.. I felt proud that he called me to share his success. I Was so happy to have him around me. I said let’s meet & you just ping me whenever u r free & I’ll come to see u… but that ping never came..
I started wondering, did he wanted to taunt me by his success..did he wanted to tell me that he was not looser..did he wanted to tell me that he could survive without me… these many years..
On 2nd December 2006, my kid was about to be born & I had no idea whom to call.. so I called him..& as to my expectations he said don’t worry I’ll come soon..
He arrived in 2 hours of my call.. As soon as I saw him.. I hugged him & said thanks!! U came.. I needed.. but I could say “YOU” because he did not come alone. He came with his would be wife.. that time his Girlfriend..
This was not expected.. I called him not be a visitor.. I called him to be on my side..when I had no one to talk to.. I needed a friend that day because I was alone & he came with a stranger. In half an hour.. I said him to leave as everything was normal & I can manage now.. I thought he would stay.. he used to stay in past.. why wouldn’t he now..
But he left immediately as if every minute was heavy on him. We never talked again.. for years.. he has been in my contact list almost every day we have seen each other online on What’s app… the best friends communication channel as on date.. but we have never talked..
When suddenly 1 day in pinged him.. “How are you? Where are you? Long time no see”
He replied instantly as if was just waiting for me to take the initiative..
“I’m fine… In Lucknow…. Just came for 4 days on a break to lucknow with family”
“WOW!! How’s life? You completely vanished” I asked..
No reply came.. from his side.. I blamed the internet 2G connection for the delayed response..
I said “If you are in Lucknow.. please visit my mom. She misses you a lot..”
After 1 minutes of silence he replied.. “Yes I’ll do”
I still remember it was 19th July’14 & I happily called my mother that Abhishek will come to see you. But it never happened.. he never went to see my mother.. I waited for days & days to hear from my mom that Abhishek came today. I didn’t ask because I was scared of the answer.. scared of knowing that he did not come..
I called him after a week.. the bell rang.. my heart was pounding.. although I dial the number but I was not sure what would I say..
He picked up the call.. “Hello? Good Morning!! This is Abhishek!!” he said.
I said.. “Hii..” he did not recognize my voice..
“Who’s this?” he said..
“Wrong Number.. Sorry” I said… he deleted my number… from his phone book….
That was the day… I lost my Best Friend…