Year 2017: Delhi (Present)
As soon as I opened my eyes, the realization hit me. The sunlight was peeking through the window which was half opened, with throbbing headache I welcomed the unusual surrounding of my Hotel Room. Empty bottle of Tequila from last night, reminded me of my present and with that all the pain, sorrow and heartache came rushing back.
Year 2009: Jaipur (8 years back)
“You are late. Again!”
“Sorry. Sorry. Won’t ever happen again. Last time. Please!”
“You know I can’t be biased. Go and stand with the Late Comers.” I continued. “Assembly is about to start.”
This was a usual routine for me and Pradyut. He would often come late in the School assembly and being the Head Boy, it was my duty to write a note in his Diary.
However, our friendship was never affected by these drills. We were Best Friends. Ironically, not since childhood.
Pradyut’s family shifted here one year back. His dad owned an Export Business and now it was Rajasthan’s marble that attracted him. He was setting up an office in Kishangarh, 60 Kms away from Jaipur, and that would keep him busy most of the times. His Mom on the other hand, was a social worker, putting the money earned by her husband to a good use. They were a happy family of three on the outside.
No one apart from the Domestic Help and Me, of course!, knew the reality of this dysfunctional family.
I still remember, when I was asked to introduce this New Comer to the Class and Help him make new friends here, by our Principal – Bansal Mam.
“So, Now I have to spoon feed my social skills to him” I thought.
But Boy was I wrong! As soon as we stepped out of Mam Bansal’s Office, Pradyut started talking and to my dismay, continued for entire day.
Before I realised, he became my friend or in his words “Best Friend Forever”.
We were inseparable for entire year, shared so many memories together. We used to sit on same bench where I would study and he would sketch.
“See” Pradyut elbowed me showing the last page of his notebook.
To say I was awestruck, was an understatement. At the age of 18, he was no less than a trained and well established artist.
Whenever asked, he would say “My hands just shape the thoughts my Brain is processing”. It was something I never understood.
But then, who has ever understood Pradyut.
Year 2011: Pune
“Pradyut, why are you doing this?” I said almost shouting.
“What! If you want that side of the room, I’ll move my stuff. Relax.” he replied nonchalantly.
“You know I am not talking about the room. I meant your life. What are your doing with your life” I spoke clearly furious.
“Adi, it is our first day in your dream college. We got an amazing room. The view outside is mesmerizing. And you choose now to talk about shit.” It was his turn to get irritated.
“Shit? This is your life. Why are you here with me, when we both know you belong somewhere else”
“I belong here with you, in the Mechanical Engineering Department for next four years. End of discussion.”. He sighed.
“Don’t let your father do this to you, Pradyut. Do what your heart tells you. Follow your dreams. Fight for your Passion.”
“Ok, I will. But first I am hungry and the cafeteria is right opposite Girl’s hostel.” he concluded.
I looked at him and only after showing him a middle finger, followed him to the cafe.
Year 2015: Mumbai Airport
“Did you keep that overcoat I gave you yesterday” my mom questioned for the fifth time since morning.
“Yes Mom” I rolled my eyes like a 10 year old.
“Don’t use that tone with me. I am your mother and it is my right to worry about you” she replied almost teary eyed.
“Dad, will you help me here, Please!” I used my last resort.
“Aunty, don’t worry about him. Next time when he comes back from Berlin, you get him married.” Pradyut joined in my mom’s team.
“Yes, that’s a good idea. At least there will be someone to take care of him there.” Mom continued her emotional spree.
“Pradyut, I am going to kill you.” I butted in. Since he was the only one I could take out my frustration on.
“It’s time for check in, Son” My dad spoke for the first time.
I hugged everyone before entering the departure gate. This was my world, three most important people in my life. My family.
Year 2017: Berlin
“Pradyut I’ll call you back. I am busy with some work.” I spoke clearly irritated.
“You said that last night too. When will you call back. I miss you buddy.” he replied from the other end.
I instantly felt guilty. These past months have been challenging for me. Work stress is eating my head and to top that Ramya is Pestering me with all the wedding details which is in three months.
I heaved a heavy sigh and spoke “I am sorry Pradyut. I’ll call you tonight after work for sure. I have so much to talk to you about.”
“Relax! If Ramya hears this, she is definitely going to murder me for being the third wheel in your relationship.” he joked being his usual self and continued “Tonight, I will wait for your call.”
“Sure thing Buddy.” I promised.
Little did I know, my work won’t let me fulfil the promise I am making.
The meeting got stretched, while discussing the product launch. Hours passed and my phone started ringing.
I checked the number which started from ‘91’. Pradyut was right on time. I helplessly switched of my phone deciding to call him as soon as this gets over.
Now, there’s a little thing about future, it’s unpredictable. We plan our entire life sacrificing the present to shape up the future, which on the other hand never promised any certainty.
As soon as the meeting got over, I called back on the same number but it was now switched off.
Leaving office in a hurry, I decided to check the remaining voicemails and messages later.
After reaching home, I dropped myself on the couch not caring to change the clothes. Extending my right arm, I pressed the button on Caller ID. Five new Voicemails, It said.
I went through the first four which were all sales calls with closed eyes, not paying any attention.
What came next, froze my entire system. A familiar voice that I was hearing after years. It was Pradyut’s Mom.
“Adi, Pradyut is no more. He committed suicide. We found his body in the washroom.” she continued through sobs “the last call he made was to You.”
Year 2017: Delhi (Present)
It’s been a week since that phone call. I flew down to India to attend Pradyut’s funeral.
Everything is going back to normal gradually. His parents have relocated to London with the relatives. All the friends from School and College have already left for their respective lives.
Tonight, I will fly back to Berlin, to continue with life, with one question piercing my soul.
“Why didn’t I pick up his call that day?”