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January 6, 2010

Him

There was a kid.
Charming in some ways, Exasperating in more.

From what I remember of him, he was always talking. Or screaming. Or laughing.
Frankly, I sometimes got an impression that he thought he owned everything. He was Omnipresent. He was all over the place. Those were the initial days.

We had taken a liking to him initially. His confidence was attractive. What was unsettling though, was the fact that he defied all conventions. He did not behave his age. He did not behave his gender. He did not behave his linguistic or cultural identities. He was not one of us. It was this very recklessness that had drawn all of us to him then. He was nothing like any of us ever knew. He was not one of us. He was a mystery none of us could decipher. He dreamt big. We all knew that, by the end of college, we all would have respectable jobs or equally enticing scholarships in the glamorous universities in the West. And we would have our own families. We also knew that none of that would apply for him. Though naturally the most brilliant among all of us, we knew he would not tread the paths of conventional wisdom. In fact, very often he would claim that he would give up his life in the quest for new things. Maybe blue lemons. Or Lunar-flavored ice-creams. Or an entire new ‘All That Jazz’ sequence that could put Catherine Zeta-Jones and Rob Marshall to shame.

He looked great, was an eloquent debater, a star footballer, the most elegant dancer in college. Yet, he never found popularity. Most of us were secretly jealous. He was something none of us could ever be. His way of looking at life was not feasible for kids like us that had always had a very-grounded upbringing, to adopt. Surprisingly, he never had a girlfriend despite the girls, that we were smitten by, drooling over his very existence. We would suspect him to be gay, but then, he never even got a boyfriend either. That lack of interest towards acquiring a partner eventually got him tagged a social misfit, despite all his talents. He still didn’t care.

Well, things happened in our lives as well. We, the guys, found girlfriends in the girls that were besotted with him and the girls in our group found boyfriends. We preferred spending time with our respective partners and would hardly hang around as a group any more. He was always alone, but sometimes we would invite him to spend some time with us for, well, his presence ensured great photographs for every moment that we spent. He was brilliant behind his camera; he seemed to possess a lust for photography.

In the later days, we all gained much more prominence. He had started out with great promise, but I feel he had somehow sensed the latent feeling of prejudice that people had against him, which led to his quiet acceptance of a circumstance-catalyzed-fizzling out. On the exterior, he still was his jovial self, but something had gone awry with him. The sparkle in his eyes had reduced in its brilliance. Also, he had started looking weaker and leaner.

I topped my class when we graduated. He ranked a close second. Only, he did not turn up for the convocation ceremony, which was a week after the results, which in turn was four months after the examinations. We partied throughout that evening, after our convocation. We drank, and got wild. And we did miss the great photographer who would have captured the entire evening in his camera. Not much though. The four-and-a-half month hiatus had given us the opportunity to wipe off from our memories, the guy-whose-initial-glory-we-could-never-match-up-to, and the guy-whose-steady-downfall-none-of-us-would-have-ever-wanted-to-have.

The news reached us the next morning. He had just bowed down to rapidly-dividing-groups-of-cells in his liver. We were sad. We visited his parents. We did not wish this for him. Yet, somehow, somewhere, within all of us, lurked a sense of relief. The guy who could’ve dazzled the world with his brilliance had withdrawn from the race, leaving for all of us the opportunity to become The Famous One, and not friends of The Famous One. He had failed. He had not created anything worthwhile. Anything that the world would remember him for.

His way of expressing his emotions had always been Over-the-top.And corny. He claimed people would love him for his being Corny. Even in his death, he wrenched out Love from all of us through one such corny act of his. His letters reached us a week after his death. Each letter enclosed a charmingly written poem for the person it was addressed to, and a photograph of the respective person with him. He and his disarming smile, he and his intensely kind eyes, he and hypnotizing charm. He had indeed created. Beautifully heart-rending souvenirs for all of us to remember college by. He had created something WE would remember him for.

2 comments:

T. Mukherjee said...

WOW. Now that brought a lump in my throat.

olive oyl said...

beautiful.