“Rithu hold my hand” I shouted behind the running four year old. I walked in through the crowd searching for Maggi in the shopping mall. I was new to this place. I came to visit my sister two days back. I was continuing my search holding the hands of Rithu tightly who was trying to run releasing my grip. Then a nervous voice called me “Raghav?”
I turned and was shocked to see the familiar face which smiled at me. “Sneha!” no more words came. We looked at each other with shock. People around would have thought that I haven’t met women before. But, my mind was not in the mall. It was flying around the grounds of my college, with the woman standing before me on my side. I could see her sitting under that green umbrella in front of the canteen where we had ice stick once in a week. I could see her smiling at me in college bus which was always over crowded. I could see her walking down the aisle of library corridor. I remember her chatting with her friends in the small canteen where nothing was available other than ulli vada which made our hand oily. I still remember the way her eyes became wide whenever she entered the stage to sing a song for Ace fest. I could even remember the way she tie her hair with small black clip.
I don’t know for how many minutes I starred at her. She asked with twinkling eyes “Is this your son?” I didn’t even remember Rithu was there. I replied “Oh no! He is my nephew. I am not yet married”. She smiled at me “You haven’t changed at all it was not difficult for me to recognize you after all these years”. I had no answer to that remark. She was my best friend in college. I haven’t missed anybody in my life the way I missed her.
When I saw her for the last time she was in a black salwar. After three weeks of her absence a teacher informed us that she left. Later, we discovered from her neighbour that her family shifted to her hometown where she got married. She disappeared from college without even bidding a goodbye. I tried to contact her in many ways but she disappeared in the midst without giving me a hint where to find her. We took different paths in life. I went abroad to do my higher education. I didn’t know where she is or how she is until the moment I met her in the mall.
She told me that she got married and has a five year old kid at home. I listened to her with astonishment. She has changed. Woman besides me is a complete stranger. I told nothing about me to her, I felt as if my tongue was tied by someone. We had a coffee together then she invited me to her home. I noted her email address and said goodbye.
I am not happy with the reaction I showed to her. She is my friend how could I have been so quiet. I talked to her without any full stop when I was in college. We were the most admired friends group in class. I was the talkative of class. I didn’t even keep my mouth shut when teacher was giving lectures. I was always talking to her. I imagined this scene of meeting her many times. But today when I got a chance, why didn’t I talk. Why didn’t I tell her about me? Many questions started buzzing inside me.
The path I took has changed me and it is the same way with her. We laughed together, cried together, did everything together when we knew each other well. Today, neither I know her nor she knows me. I was not able to connect the stranger I met just now to the girl whom I knew. I should have tried to contact her long time back. Now, it’s too late. I spent the whole evening cherishing my memories of her.
For having her back in the same way as before I should start right from the word “hi”. I need to know her again. I should connect the girl I knew to the woman I met. This time it’s not difficult. That night I wrote a mail to her telling her all about my life in the past few years. It’s worth starting again from the beginning than losing a trustable friend.
Every ship will face a storm. The strength of ship is determined by the way it overcomes the storm. Friendship is nothing different.