It was an unexpected dream. When I awoke with the fading saltiness of the dream, it had already intruded a box of memory that was tightly locked and marked as archive.
He was my friend. First friend to see me stand fiercely about equality. Think that started our friendship. I refused to “rag”. We were 18-19 year olds. Me a sophomore. He a fresher.
He saw me sniffle and hold back tears, I thought he never saw, over a bad case of messy breakup. He always sat next to me. Passing one of his ear phone and playing his songs. He didn’t pretend that he didn’t see my hold my tears. He always looked me in the eye and told me, “it will get easier.” And then go on talking about the kind of songs he likes. Slow songs. They were always, slow sweet ones. Gradually, two of his favourites had become mine as well.
There were walks in the greens. Especially the greens after rains. The seat next to either of us in the bus, if empty, always by default belonged to me or him. We were like peas in the same pod.
I was proud when he broke the news that he cleared the National Defence Academy exams. I would hear him in facination as he would tell me about the kind of questions and physical tasks he had to clear.
We kept in touch. Even with the limitations he had to face when in training. And when he would call i would hear about horse ride training. Falling off the horse and fracturing his leg. Boxing sessions, and winning the rounds.
He would always tell me – everything is in the mind. I was better but still upset over the breakup. I had lost a best friend.
His calls were unpredictable, which I loved. And one day he broke the news that he made into Airforce. I was super proud of him. I always saw him as a kid and called him one literally. We revelled in joy while he let me know that he’s younger to me by six months.
He always saw me as a person. Respect was immense. He would always say – “that’s my girl” or “my type of girl”, to me.
Few years later, he told me he had achieved his dream. He had made it as a fighter pilot in the Indian airforce. And I was speechless. A fine gentleman. A fine friend. Ambitious. Achieved his dreams. Couldn’t have been more proud of him.
I had graduated and started working by then. First job.
Another call. A call asking me to be there with him as he graduated, top of his class. I wanted to be there. I could not. I had to chose between saving up vacation time for him vs my sister’s wedding. He understood. It would have been my first and only ball.
He had more trainings to under go.
One day, he let me know he liked me. I had healed by then. He knew. He knew how i saw him. He respected that. But he didn’t give up.
I wished, many times, I felt the same way back. To like him more than a friend. Look at him beyond the “kiddo” I saw him as over the years. I couldn’t. I didn’t think it right either for me or him to get into a relationship – when i didnt reciprocate or to give him false happiness or the hope that I’ll one day get there.
Finally, it ended with – “I did really like you, you know” from him. And a response from me as “I do too, still very much. Just not in the way you do.”
The calls got lesser. Maybe it was his way of coping.
He found love. He told me about her. His feelings and confusions for her. I was happy for him. More so because i had my friend back.
And then he was gone again. Without a word and a goodbye.
I was angry. I confronted a wall. I was sad. Then just let things be. Life goes on.
There are days like today where an unexpected dream opens up these images. I surprise myself with the vividity i remember these things. I miss my friend. But i can still smile, that there was a beautiful friendship. I was seen as a person. Liked as one fully knowing all my uglies. Simple and honest friendship, until it became unbearable to one of the two people involved.
I’ll always be fond and partial to the Indian Airforce. Just because he is one of them today. Also, he is the only person seen me gwak awestruck at Airforce men swarming around our college before he became one of them. He had made fun of the gwaking part, and still not let me feel embarrassed about it.
A very good friend. I miss.