Good Bye, My Dear Friend

In a world full of acquaintances, Sriram, you were a friend. I have lost a friend. The real tragedy is my realization of the extent of our friendship only now. That is the most difficult thing to digest. I never said a proper goodbye. Do you remember that the last thing we ever did was wave to each other instead of saying goodbye ? It was a very casual see-you-soon kind of wave. It was in May 1997, in Chennai airport. We were all in Tiruvanmiyoor and I decided to take the last Air India flight to Bombay. It was past midnight when we arrived at the airport. I rode in the back seat in your Suzuki. The display board there said ETD 3:40. I confused it with the time of arrival in Bombay. You laughed and said that the flight was delayed about 3 hours. You offered to hang around. I asked you to leave since it was so late. We compromised and decided to have a Mirinda each. After we ran out of things to talk to each other, we waved and you left.

I have heard many laments from others of how they wish they had told their near and dear folks that they loved them. In fact, I have tried consciously to do that. But who would have thought that this applied to you -- a cousin 5 years younger to myself ?

In my years away from Madras, you were a great help when I returned. It was easy to catch up with you around. You had a knack of making it seem as if I hadn't been away at all. You were always very closely attached to the whole family. I think your secret was that you were everyone's friend.

How I wish we had a few more great years. In your memory, I hope to live with more gusto. And pay more attention to food. And to everything else. I learnt from you that I have to pay attention. And to never take anything anything for granted.

When I get my chance to ask questions and learn the grand design of the universe I know the first question I am going to ask. Why do bad things happen to good people ? It seems so damn unfair.

When I was less than ten years old, I heard a spiritual story. The storyteller was saying that before a person is born, God attaches a soul to each human being and sends them to Earth -- on loan. And when the person dies, God gets back the soul. And that there were some souls that were so good that God loves them in particular. It seems He waits anxiously for their return. Nice fairy-tale. I heard it twenty years ago but I have never believed a word of it. Your case, Sriram, has changed my mind. I believe the story now because even the storyteller didn't know the whole story. Many people have good and even great souls. But Sriram, your soul got better with each passing year. Finally, you had a 25-karat soul. Such a soul is, I believe, very very rare. So rare that even God got greedy.

Goodbye, my friend, until we meet again.

November 1999

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