16 June 2006
And I called him....Friend.. A friend is somebody u can think of and suddenly smile... Its odd how our mind brings back to us things we thought we have forgotten..Things we havent thought about for years, memories , perhaps we never want to forget.A light breeze carried the smell of jasmine as i leafed through the pages of my old autograph.Observation has always been my habit and now, i watched the guy at a distance pulling back his hair.Of course i couldnt see his face,but his back looked somehow ...familiar?? i remember one of my teachers telling us that the minds eye is sharper than any arrow.Its target never fails to fall a prey.And then, he turned back.The warm, lucid eyes met my gaze... Ive read somewhere that each of us has a hidden place somewhere deep within ourselves ; A place where we go to get away ,. to think things through.. , to be alone , to be ourselves. This unique place where we confront our deepest feelings , becomes a storehouse of all our hopes , all our needs , all our dreams and even our unspoken fears . But now and then , whether by chance or by design, someone discovers a way into that place we thought was ours alone . And we allow that person to see , to feel , to share , all the reasons , all the uncertainity and all the emotions we've stored up there . that person adds new perspective to our hidden realm ; then quietly settles down in his own corner of our special place, where a bit of himself will stay forever . And we call that person a friend.. Justin . Thats what we used to call him.Charming, well built...hmmm.. handsome...?...er.. some friends at school used to think he was cute.Oh yes, he was proud ; yet, not vain. But of course, he used to brag a lot. The Achilles’ heel? There was a girl. A very pretty lass. She was his neighbour. a simple girl. He professed to have loved her all his life and was quite confident that she would accept him too. But our great Romeo was in for a disappointment.She was a sensible girl who knew that looks were not everything .Of course, the whole scene of rejection was greeted with peels of laughter and howling from us.And then again , it was fun teasing him. We were the best of friends . justin and i . He was the first friend i had among boys and perhaps the last i will ever have .It was the same with him too.I knew it. Some of our friends used to warn that our friendship would never last. I used to think that was a funny idea. But now , i wish… they were wrong. Now that i look back i dont remember exactly how we came to be friends .We were so very different though we seemed to be similar superficially. Yet, it was like in a dream. Too good to be true . It was almost as if , we were destined to be friends . We never shared the same ideas or thoughts. But we were never too busy to listen to what the other had to say. We learned together , laughed together , fought together , ... and then… we cried together.... Those were the days ive always loved to look back. The best pages from my memory of school life . We loved to go for walks. And this was a flower we picked up together. For some reason , unknown to even myself, i have preserved it.It was one of the little things i treasured all my life..The page still smelt of jasmine...scrolled in it were his favorite quote... " Written with a pen , Sealed with a kiss If u are my friend , please answer this : Are we friends or are we not ? U told me once but i forgot. So tell me now and tell me true, so i can say 'im here for you' of all the friends ive ever met, your the one i wont forget And if i die before you do, Ill go to heaven and wait for you..." They say the mirror has two sides. The fun loving, jovial, much adored justin framed just one side The darker shades of his life were yet to be discovered.He had had a rather disgraceful family background, but those were just some of the little things the world never knew and he never wanted them to know. Yet, he was a favorite at my house. We all had a lot of faith in him , and he was living up to it too .He was pretty protective about me. Just how protective he was , i had to wait and watch. As i said earlier,everything was more or less like a dream.Too good to be true.And like all dreams, this one was short lived too.As months bloomed into years, we were in the final year even before we realised it.And, i had a strange feeling of being possessed.Boy or girl, he never seemed to tolerate anyone getting close to me..even talking to me for that matter.When he was with me, i had to pay my full attention only to him.He was so much obessesed about me that he used brood over anything that was uttered against me.True or not, he never seemed to bother.But all that was just trifle matters. I used to take care to throw it out of his heart...but then there was something in his heart i never quite succeeded to throw out... Towards the end of school, i developed a unique friendship with a girl. I knew she was in desperate need of a friend and i wanted to help her..what i didnt know was that there was someone who was much more desperate to keep me to himself.Justin had taken a marked dislike over Nafisa.He might have liked her , had she been somebody elses friend. There was no end of stories he digged about her.Trying to convince me that she wasnt the right kind of friend for me.For some weeks he silently resented my friendship with her.Infact, brooded over it. But then the volcanoe finally erupted and then there was no stopping him.One dreadful day, he told me to make a choice.Either him or Nafisa.He told me quite casually.With the simplicity of having to choose between a a chocolate candy and a vanilla ice-cream.Yet , having known him for quite sometime, i didnt fail to notice the undertone of spite in his voice.For the first time in my life i felt that there was malice in those once benevolent deep brown eyes...and for the first time i doubted whether he had after all inherited the darker traits of his ancestors... In that juncture,it was not a choice that he had given me.And he knew it.All he wanted and expected me to say was that i valued him above Nafisa.It was with child like obstinacy that he stood his stand. He wanted me to assure him that he was my best friend. It was as simple as that.But i wouldnt for a moment gratify his ego. I was candid enough to tell him that i wouldnt break my friendship with her for the whole world . It was perhaps somethin he never expected.And then somethin snapped...and as i stood there watching him walk away from me, i knew that he would never be the same justin again...the last frail string of our once bonded friendship was broken. He must have thought that i was disloyal, but i never attempted at an explanation. Never did i attempt at a reconcilation, though i knew it was just a matter of compromise from both sides.And i never regretted it .No, i didnt call him back as he must have expected me to do. I guess ive loved the sky than the golden cage…. Yet lookin back , i wonder... was it worth cutting out such a great friend like him..?Didnt i miss all the fun we used to have?Had it been someone else, someone who wasnt so damn possessive , would i have gone back? Did i deep within my heart always wanted to run away from him?As i ponder over this question , i realise , i shall never know its answer.Or ... would i?oh... the vast blue sky... The days that followed this event was perhaps the most dreaded days of my life...i never relished the thought that there could be people who hated me.And the thought that my very best friend is now my worst enemy didnot make things any better.Every day brought a new story of venegance.To him i was a treasure he had lost and he regretted it.My nonchalant attitude infuriated him even more.And desperate times called for desperate measures. On a cloudy day, one of my friends told me that justin wanted to meet me in person, alone.And when i did meet him, we literally sat there without speakin to each other for over an hour waitin for the other to make the first move.In the long run , finally he spoke.'i thought u were my friend,' i heard him murmur….. "The difference between u and me is, u 'thought' so , but i, beleived it. Yet now, im convinced.Ive made a mistake.A gross mistake."Perhaps i sounded sarcastic when i made this retort. Nothing was said for another five minutes .Nothing was said about Nafisa, about our friendship..nothing. But those five minutes seemed to last for ages..never ending.And then once again, he broke the tense silence.All he said was, "Do you know what the doctors do when their patient has cancer?.............They cut out that part.".And when he walked away from me, i knew that he was walking away never to return again.... The dreadful monsoon atlast passed away...and it was spring again.I joined in a college down south for further studies and i heard that he had joined somewhere up north..That was six years ago.And that was the last time i had heard his voice .But i had no difficulty in recognising it again.He was still good looking....well dressed..he had certainly been successful in his life....yet his deep brown eyes had lost its brilliance.. I have no idea for how long i had been staring into his eyes.."i hope u havent forgotten me.."He seemed to say. Curiously, his voice somehow seemed too far away…distant....But i was extremely delighted. To see him. Right there, standing in front of me.It was like havin just discovered a treasure i thought was long lost...and he was different now, i could sense that...All the glorious memories of our past rushed back to me like a cool gush of breeze.We could make up.Yes, i knew it.Perhaps we were destined to meet after all these years to reconcile when we have realised our faults...The heavy cloak of guilt of having once abandoned and hurt a dear friend can atlast be removed and thrown away.Forever.But fate had other plans for us.. Just as he was walking towards me, another friend of mine suddenly stepped in the way with a gang with her. His voice was eclipsed in their loud gabber.I tried to make way through them .But even as i reached the other end,i found that he had faded away to an unknown background….once again.He had gone as unobtrusively as he had come.A loose page from my autograph flew by.. " Written with a pen , Sealed with a kiss If u are my friend , please answer this : Are we friends or are we not ? U told me once but i forgot. So tell me now and tell me true, so i can say 'im here for you' of all the friends ive ever met, your the one i wont forget And if i die before you do, Ill go to heaven and wait for you..." ... now i realise that perhaps, some things are never meant to be... ....and then, the sweet smell of jasmine faded away.