To the Best Friend Who Died...
Goodbye, Syn. I have known you for long. Twenty years, and then some. My person for the longest time. You are my oldest friend, love.
Were. You were my oldest friend.
I remember very little of my kindergarten, probably because very little of it was good. Most of what I remember includes you. Fuzzy memories of you and me on the monkey bars and the tin-lined slide in our checkered pinafores. You telling me stories about your neighbour’s cat, and me telling you about the shark I saw lurking behind my door in my dream. You teaching me how to forge my mum’s signature (we were 6!), me showing you how to make a paper boat... us getting punished for speaking in Bengali in class. And then, me changing schools and us losing touch.
Years later, Orkut happened. It was still the days of cyber cafes, and for Indian teenagers, personal cellphones and Facebook were distant dreams. But I still somehow found you. You were one Orkut search away. I found my old friend, and a new friendship.
Ever since, we haven’t spoken much. I hardly even spoke of you, because you weren’t a school friend, or a college friend, or even a neighbour. You were never a part of a discussion or the bearer of gossip. We never had mutual friends or a common circle of acquaintances. So much could’ve fallen through the cracks for us. But it didn’t. You and I survived, Syn. You were always there, just for me, and we made it.
Till the bike skidded that night.
It hurts that I hadn’t spoken to you more, heard from you more often. Seen you more, been there for you more. It hurts to think that the phone won’t ring anymore with your name on it.
It hurts. A hollow, dull ache in my chest.
Then there’s the fear.
Remember the time I told you about my breathing problem? Now, every time a bike zooms by me on the road or a car drives rash, my throat squeezes shut. I have to make myself breathe for minutes, hear my heartbeat in my ears along with a dull ring. I keep imagining, lifeless. It squeezes my throat shut tighter.
Most of all, I feel lost.
But I’m trying, I promise. I make myself get out of bed every morning, make myself go out, go to work, cross roads, laugh, talk, focus. I make myself think of the new day as another one that I have been gifted, and not as one that you have been deprived of. I try to feel less angry at everything and everyone around me. I try to miss you less. I try to feel less sorry for you. I try to feel less scared for myself.
These days, I have one less friend in my life, and one more reason to be a wreck. But I hope that some day, we’ll be in the same place again, and we’ll have endless time to talk. I promise, I will be a better friend that time.