There are a few things that can qualify me for this, but I am going to talk about the time with my friend Anshu Gupta, in the first year of our college life.
This is not a eulogy, don’t consider it to be one, because I am sure he won’t like it.
Let me begin from the start, I knew Anshu from standard 10th and we became good friends in class 11. He was a brilliant, cheerful, and most of all humble guy with the worst handwriting in the world. I have had people tell me that my writing is illegible, but he was certainly much worse than me, which made me feel slightly better. He was a skilled right winger and a good batsman/bowler.
There was nobody that I knew till then who was as good at mathematics as he was. We would ask him, “Hey, Anshu what is the 24th root of 196 to two decimal places”, and he would work it out in less than a minute. Correctly. He was full of optimism. We were all prepping for JEE and I asked him, once when we were studying together, what would happen if we didn’t get selected? He replied, “We’ll try next year”. I asked what if we didn’t get selected the next year too. And he laughed at me and said, ” C’mon! ANYONE can get selected in 2 years, don’t underestimate yourself.” That was the kind of person that he was.
I clearly remember the first time he fainted on the football field. Hauntingly so, it was I who tackled him. I also, being the idiot that I was (and am), boasted of the fact that I had caused him to lose consciousness. I didn’t know then that those words would come back to torture me someday.
I remember the time we all went to Campion school for our Brilliant Tests and the desperately-fought football matches during lunchtime between tests. I remember the fights and the discussions regarding football and practically everything that exists on this planet. I remember his most oft-repeated lines, the tunes of “Roobaroo” the Rang-Dey-Basanti song(his favorite), and his unrhythmic rendition of it that we all used to make fun of, I remember the celebration when we all found out we were all going to be in IIT Kharagpur. I keep remembering and the memories keep coming… they are rich in detail and almost make me forget the loss.
Anshu was at NSS camp where he played cricket on a hot summer day.
He collapsed as he had done so many times before as well. There were no emergency services for miles. I remember the day as never before now. The frantic phone calls from friends, the running to B.C.Roy Hospital and trying to get things organized, watching him being carried inside, trying to scream some life into him, trying to talk to his father while everybody else around me was hysterical. He survived long enough to be taken to the hospital at IIT Kharagpur and we watched from the window to the OR as the doctors tried to revive him, in vain.
Have you ever have had a cracker explode too near your ear? The whole inside of your brain goes numb and there is a strange solemn silence among the chaos. Like a spear that has been thrust so fast and true, that the pain is still to come. Like ice and fire.
I know my pain is nothing as compared to what his family and relatives may have felt. Maybe I had not even felt a fraction of their suffering. I know this, that was the day I lost a very good friend. A friend I would have had for life. A friend I would have gladly been there for.
Often, in times of despair, the thought occurs, could I have done something to save him, I ask and I ask and I keep asking; but there is no answer. Could he have done something to save himself, again there is that numbing silence.