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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

'V' for Victory

It was his birthday on March 21 and that reminded me of the fact that we have not communicated with each other for several years now.

We met for the first time in late 1989, soon after I moved to Chandigarh, along with my family. He was among my class-mates at school. Both of us lived in the same sector of the city and used to ride our respective bicycles together every day, at least on the way back home, since I was almost invariably late in the mornings. We were in standard IX then.

After completing standard X, he got himself admitted to a college, while I remained at the same school as before. Within the next three years, we passed the standard XII examinations and then spent a year without having joined any educational institution as he meant to re-appear and improve his scores and I hoped to be able to prepare better for the tests for admission into an engineering course.

During all those years, we remained the closest of friends. Besides being together at school and, later, going for private tuition classes, we used to spend a lot of time in each other's company. He would often come to visit in the evenings and remain seated on his bicycle (which was replaced by a scooter, after he got a driving licence) just outside the gate, while I stood inside, and we would talk for hours on end, even as we ogled at passers-by. At other times, I would visit his place and we would sit in his room and chat, while munching on some tasty snack or the other that his mother plied us with.

More time at hand was filled with long walks or skating along the periphery of the Sukhna lake or hanging out at the piazza in sector 17 along with some other friends.

I often remember some of the pranks that we played on unsuspecting people and smile to myself. For instance, one fine day, when my family as well as the nice folk who lived upstairs had gone out, we climbed up, through the cutout, to what could perhaps be termed as their back-yard, using a stool to get on to the upper rail of a window sash and then clambering up a wall and walking carefully across its narrow top-surface, almost like real-life commandos. We had carried along his .22 calibre air-rifle and a box of lead pellets, in addition to a pair of field glasses. The parapet had been constructed in such a way that there were gaps between the bricks, large enough to pass the barrel of the gun through and take aim without really being seen, except from a very short distance.

We took turns shooting at the window panes of a house across the road. The air-rifle was not powerful enough for any of the shots to break the thick glass across the distance of about 100-150 metres, however, a loud noise was produced each time a pellet found its mark. The occupants of the house must have been flummoxed! At first, an old woman came out to investigate, but went back inside within a minute or two. We shot a few more times. Shortly, her beautiful grand-daughter stepped out to try and locate the source of the noise. That was when the field glasses came in handy!

There were many other such incidents, which I can not recall without a chuckle, during those four years or so, at the end of which my friend joined the Merchant Navy, like his father and elder brother. I recall that I had written "V for victory and V for Vishal" on the card that I gave him, to wish him for his birthday, soon before he left.

Subsequently, I joined a local college to pursue a bachelor's degree in arts, having realised that being the teetotaller that I am, science and mathematics were not really my cups of tea. I did not get to see him until when I was in the third and final year, as he completed his training and then continued to sail from one port to another. Unfortunately, during the days that he came to visit the hometown, I was preparing for the entrance examinations for a post graduate course in management, besides preparing for those of the final year of the graduate degree, and was not able to manage to spare the kind of time for him that I should have. He left without saying farewell, at the end of his vacation.

Soon thereafter, I moved to Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh where I had secured admission in a C-grade business school. I had taken his mailing address from his mother before I left and wrote to him from there. We corresponded a few times after that and also spoke to each other over the telephone, even after I completed the course and moved to the national capital region, where my parents had shifted residence to by that time.

Then, his brother got married and I sent a congratulatory note. He wrote back to regret the fact that he had not invited me. I responded with a letter full of anger. He never replied. Since then, I have written several times, to wish him and his family a happy new year or to wish him a happy birthday, but have not heard from him. His father was kind enough to call me once to enquire after my well being and to assure me that he would pass my message on to Vishal, which I am sure he must have done.

The Almighty alone knows whether I shall ever be re-united with my friend, but the effect that having lost a friend has had on me is that I have become more forgiving and receptive to sincere apologies.


Sidhusaaheb said...

Rahul Sharma Says:

April 3, 2008 at 11:27 pm | Reply edit


Sidhusaaheb said...

Well, we all live with this pain at one point of time or other. We women tend to lose friends sooner though. I had a friend who finally realised that she could not stand only being wished Happy Birthday and then calling me only on my Birthday-those were the pre-cellfone days. She formally called it off and said we would not talk henceforth. I respected that because I could not promise to talk more on phone, given my preoccupations. And finally this January, after 5 years she called back, saying she would like me to forget that she was rude. We are again talking on phone but a thread is a thread “..judei gaanth pad jaye..”
Good Luck to your thread…
Manpreet | Homepage | 03.27.08 – 3:00 pm | #


Men’s and women’s ideas of friendship probably are somewhat different, it appears to me, from your comment.

Thanks for the good wishes!
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 03.27.08 – 3:19 pm | #


Strange are the ways of life? All I can say is face to face I can get away with a lot, on paper, email and phone I have to be careful. What do you say?
Mridula | Homepage | 03.28.08 – 7:15 pm | #


Could be either way…A lot depends on the people involved in the interaction, perhaps, besides the equation that they share among themselves…
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 03.28.08 – 7:42 pm | #


I sincerely hope you get back with V.. life’s short, busy and ruthless.. there are times when you need a friend more than family, siblings, kids even your spouse and the worst is when in those times you turn around and see you have lost that one true friend you ever made..
mayG | Homepage | 03.29.08 – 7:22 am | #


Insha-Allah! God willing!

I agree with you about the significance that friends can have in one’s life.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 03.29.08 – 7:20 pm | #


Sat Sri Akal!

This, I guess, is why anger is considered such a great wrong.

My anger kept me separated from my family for 20 years – my choice, not theirs.

Now that your anger is overcome, I hope you can become friends again. I have one friend of 50 years; I well know nothing could ever replace an old friend.

Best wishes to you both.
Mai Harinder Kaur | Homepage | 03.30.08 – 12:29 am | #


Sidhu ji

Salaam/Sat Sri Akal..

what a touching story – I hope that V reads this somehow – am sure they have internet access in the Navy now and see how his friend remembers him..

Having said that it is painful to see people go but sometimes we need to respect and realise the reality that things change and we move on – or at least others move on and if we really care for them we should set them free

oops slightly cliched but thats the way I feel about this issue, having gone through a similar experience…
Raza Rumi | Homepage | 03.30.08 – 6:07 pm | #


@Mai Harinder Kaur: Thanks for the good wishes!

I hope for the best and have left the rest to the Almighty.

@Raza: It should be good if that happens.

I agree with you and have accepted that at times that is all that one can do.

However, I have learnt from this experience that rebuffing sincere attempts at reconciliation is not a good thing to do and that patience really is a virtue in such cases.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 03.31.08 – 9:15 pm | #

Sidhusaaheb said...

That’s the story of my life – friends keep coming and going. Before I used to think that somehow we could keep in touch – but that never happens, they just move on and so do I.
cyberkitty | Homepage | 04.04.08 – 12:45 pm | #


A very poignant post. Good to see a fellow punjabi blogger. A friend yesterday mentioned that punjabis can’t blog because they don’t know how to. Very glad to come to your blog. Well written posts.
Roop Rai | Homepage | 04.04.08 – 2:00 pm | #


I was googling Sidhu and came across your blog.
Reading this article gave me a slightly uncomfortable chill down my spine.
I’m 17 right now, studying in a boarding school in the US. All my close friends back home. This is the last summer we have before everyone leaves for college. I remember standing outside a soccer field in chandigarh with my friends on a chilly and rainy saturday evening. We all promised each other that after we had accomplished what we desired in life that we would all reunite and rekindle our friendships. Every year since then I’ve felt like that promise will remain unfulfilled. Friendships are mutable and not constant, but there will be some friendship that (I think) will last forever. It’s that feeling you get when you talk after such a long period of time but everything is still the same.
I hope I don’t find myself writing a blog entry like this 20 years from now, but even if I do atleast I shall have with me memories albeit fragments of my wonderful past.
Bilawal Sidhu | 05.01.08 – 5:30 am | #


Well, life’s little punches in our face… wish you get reunited. I had a similar instance with a friend… for a year. And one fine day we were reunited over .. guess what?
A rather humorously edited book on Einsteins’s theories
Sriram | Homepage | 05.01.08 – 11:33 am | #


@Cyberkitty: C’est la vie (Such is life!)!

@Roop: Being as human as any one else, there is absolutely no reason why Punjabis can’t blog. :D

Thanks for the compliment!

@Bilawal: Glad to have you land up here!

It doesn’t go this way for every one and for all friendships. So, I wish you and your friends all the very best of every thing.

However, there probably is a lesson somewhere in this blog-post, for youngsters like you, to not let your friendships wither away.

@Sriram: Thanks for the good wishes!

Well, life has its own quirks, I suppose.
Sidhusaaheb | Homepage | 05.01.08 – 12:44 pm | #