It had happened many years ago but not that long ago that it had completely been pushed to the back of my mind. On many an occasion his image used to come floating to the surface of my mind, reminding me how a single word, a single try, a single gesture could have turned the tables. But now seeing his name flashing across my computer screen on the Orkut home page under the friend requests title, I could clearly feel my heart beat quicker, excitement brewing from the marrows of my bones.
I had got acquainted with him in my second year in college. We are in the same class pursuing the same course. We rarely spoke to each other in the first few months in the class. I was the shy and conservative person and did not mingle much. But then things changed when I was selected as the class representative. I suddenly found myself interacting with majority of the class, forwarding them the notes, listening to their woes and running pillar to post trying to get things done.
It is during this time that we started speaking to each other. Till then he had been the rich spoilt arrogant guy of the class who performed well in the tests. I detested him and at the same time admired him for his intellect and ability to top every test. But he was loner in the class; the others avoided him, I guessed they were jealous. Then suddenly when I received a call from him asking about an irrelevant thing I had already announced in the class, I found myself talking with him smoothly and in a relaxed manner. The next day, too, I found myself talking to him for around half an hour when he called with a doubt in the exam syllabus. Soon it turned into a kind of a routine with me talking to him almost daily.
Initially I had doubted whether he could even be called a friend of my mine. My other classmates rebuffed me saying that it was his tactic of wasting my time. But I still picked up the calls not because of any interest but as a call of my duty as Class Representative to attend to the needs and requests of my classmates. I purposely missed his calls sometimes and never returned any. Nevertheless he would call again. And it soon blossomed into a tiny friendship; I call it tiny because we still did not, more correctly, I did not feel completely at ease with him. I never asked from him any favours or help even if I wanted to and I never told him all the things he asked me.
But his calls used to come religiously every day even though we used to meet daily in class. I began to open up slowly, to feel freer. We used to discuss things ranging from sports and politics to college gossip and movies and pulling each otherís leg. But our most entertaining and exciting discussions were on what we would do after college, each coming up with weird idea of the enterprises that we could start. Though we knew most of them wonít be even viable, we used to enjoy thinking how it would be to run a successful business.
But things took a downturn when we fought one day. That day I understood that words pain more than any beatings or thrashings. A wrong word uttered at a wrong time can cost a lot. It happened with us too. We never spoke to each other after that; December 11th, 2001 was that day. I do not know whether he missed me, but I did miss him even if only for some fleeting moments in the day.
Soon after the fight I had to go out of station for a presenting a seminar and was back only after a week. In between I had successfully presented my report and been presented the gold medal. I hoped that he would call to congratulate me like he did the last time when I had gone to present a paper. But alas, his call didnít come. I knew I was not forgiven this time. I called him then, something I rarely did, but couldnít say anything more than a sorry that time as he was travelling and had to hang up. And later when he called I was busy with other stuff that I told him I would call him later. But the later never came as I, after getting done with all my exams and work, thought that now things had gone too late and nothing can be done. From his part too I didnít get any response unlike the other times when he would call me after a couple of days even if we had had a small quarrel. My ego too didnít let me call as I felt that he too had wronged just like me and that he too could take an initiate to rebuild our friendship. But it never happened.
So for the rest of the semester, the last semester, we ignored each otherís presence. We pretended we didnít know each other even though I feel that within our hearts of heart we wanted to be friends again. Many at times I thought of calling him up once again but refrained at the last moment wondering what I would tell him when he picked up the call. I wondered whether he would want to be friends again and feared hearing a Ďnoí from him. So I never called him. May be our self-respect and pride, vanity and ego, also stood between us, crumbling whatever we had built up in the last one and a half years. It was difficult not speaking to a person to whom I had spoken nearly thirty minutes every day for the past one and a half years. And so ended for me a beautiful friendship.
We passed out of college and went our different ways and didnít keep up with each other. Often I recalled how during our better days we used to promise to stay in touch with each other after college at least to know how our Ďbusinessí flourished or perished. It felt bad at times but time heals many a wounds and gradually he receded from the surface of my memory, to be buried at greater depths inside.
But when after 4 years, 3 months and 21 days after our fight when I saw his friend request on the social networking site, I didnít think twice before accepting it. It pleased me to think that even after all these years he remembered me and extended to me once again the hand of friendship as he had done once upon a time. A Ďyesí from me and we were back to how we were before sharp words pierced us.
I soon found myself sitting in the coffee shop with him sipping coffee as we exchanged news of many days bygone, relating every event, recalling how we had said goodbyes. It was so nice to get a precious friend back. I experienced the joy in getting back something I had thought I had lost permanently. Iíll have to be careful not to lose it again, not this time at least.