This is a slightly personal post, it might make no sense to anyone, in fact there is only one person I could talk to about this. But writing out things is easier for me at times.
Last night I went to a cocktail reception somewhere in Central Delhi. Not bizarre in itself, other than the fact that I’ve severely cut down my alcohol intake. But big deal, the occasional ‘low-sugar’ Mojito never hurt anyone. Anyway, when I drove down I noticed something peculiar, I knew the lane where the party was happening very well.
A long, long time ago I had a friend who we’ll call A, who used to stay on that lane. Me and another friend of mine, we’ll re-introduce Doc here, used to go over to A’s house quite often. To do what kids did back then. Play video games – Double Dragon, Super Mario; watch cartoons on VHS – classic Transformers and Thundercats is what I can remember right now. Actually quite too many cartoons. These in the days before mobile phones which used to make my paranoid mother even more paranoid than usual when I didn’t land up home with the school bus.
Long story short, during the Class VIII summer holidays when I was summarily packed off to Calcutta to twiddle my thumbs and experiment with cigarettes, A died. I didn’t even know until I came back and called Doc. When A’s mom, who was an extremely sweet lady came to school on the first day, I remember crying and running away and then I never bothered to keep in touch. I don’t know why. I guess I tried to rationalize it – I was 13 at the time. I had barely experienced death, let alone death of someone close to you, someone your age and not some fogey.
Death is a funny thing at any age but when you face the concept in your face when you’re thirteen it does change your thinking in a way I guess. I never thought about it until someone accused me of having a casual attitude towards death. Firstly, I could not get what having a ‘serious’ attitude to death is, but I am horribly bad at comforting people. Because, while A died in the summer holidays, four months later just before the last exam of the second-term exams, Maths I think it was, the class heard that we had lost N, another classmate. Two deaths of guys who sat close to you when you’re 13 or 14? That screws your mind up rather bad.
It also taught me a couple of lessons, the first is to respect electricity and the second was never to want to kill myself. I’ve done plenty of stupid things, and inadvertently tried to kill myself more than once, coming very close to doing so in a car. But, inadvertently mind you. No matter how high I’ve been, or how sad, and believe me I’ve felt horribly sorry for myself every so often, I’ve never tried to slash my wrists or fill myself with Phenyl. If anything, as much as I have screwed up my life, at a level I have to live a full life, to the best of my ability because someone else could not.
And I have to go meet A’s mother sometime. I don’t know what I’ll do or say, but I can’t keep running away for ever. Even from something you would rather forget. Heck, I tell people all the time to suck it on and deal with it. Maybe I should do that too.