It’s crazy how time flies and we forget things and people and places and get busy in our day to day lives. It’s crazier how some moments and some people become unforgettable, they stay etched in our hearts and minds forever. No matter how many years pass by, the thought of them brings back an old memory, crystal clear right in front of our eyes. The old memory brings in bliss but after a certain point, bliss might turn into awe but nonetheless memories come back and bring with them, each time a reminder of what could have been but didn’t, of the answers we never got, of the questions still burning, of the end that is even today unfinished.
I called her Deepa because Priyadarshini was too long and didn’t reflect the closeness I shared with her. My best friend in UKG of Little Angels School was no less than an angel herself. I saw her on the first day of school. Her curly hair just like mine was an additional green signal to befriend her. I saw it in her eyes, the gleam of a cute kid who is ready to embrace life. We instantly connected and what followed was a sojourn of sitting next to each other in class, sharing our tiffin, running around the playground, saving each other from the class bullies, tender hugs, quite a few disoriented drawings, exchanging notebooks, meeting other’s parents and calling each other’s Moms “Mausi”. Deepa was the first person I actually felt I had earned in life apart from my family, someone who stood up for me in spite of being a 5-year-old, someone who wasn’t scared to choose me over anyone else in class. To me, she was the purest form and the personification of friendship and this is exactly why when she abruptly stopped coming to school, something felt wrong, something went amiss. I would long to see her in class, I would sit alone during recess. I would ensure to call her at least once a day from my landline only to get no response but nothing that I did brought her back. I had many questions in my mind, where did she go, why did she go, why is she not receiving my call, is she ok, what am I feeling, why am I feeling this. I had answers to none or rather even the questions couldn’t be articulated so well like I just did in this article because I was just a kid. It was the first time in my life that without labels to any, I experienced so many emotions — loneliness, sadness, hurt, anxiety and fear.
It didn’t end there because she came back, but did she? I guess my Deepa never came back, who came back was a person like her but broken, scared and shut. I cried deeply when I saw her in school after months. I rushed towards her and hugged her only to feel that she pushed me away. Her head was shaved, she had dark red spots all over her head. Her eyes were filled with tears and so were mine. “What happened to you, please tell me” I beseeched but she just cried and didn’t respond. “Deepa”, I yelled and kept nudging her to talk to me, to tell me what was wrong but she didn’t. She asked me to stay away. The whole day I made attempts to get her to talk to me about anything at all but all in vain. The next day she didn’t show up and I never saw her again, not till today. I called her number for the next few days only to hear the line ringing and ultimately disconnecting due to no response. One day, someone picked up the phone and my heart raced at the feeling that I might finally be able to get some news about her but all the he said was that Deepa and her parents had left the city and he didn’t know about their whereabouts.
I never heard from her, I don’t know where she is or what happened to her but I kept her in my prayers for a long time until it faded away. A couple of years ago, when I told about Deepa to a close friend, her memories came back to me and I opened the search bar on facebook to type her name — I typed Priyadarshini and with the many options that came up, I didn’t know what to type further because I guess I never knew her full name. I went to bed with moist eyes that night and dreamt about her, a good dream where she was perfectly fine and was my friend again. I could hear her laughter and I could still see that same old gleam in her eyes. She didn’t leave me in my dreams, she stayed with me and we drew some more disoriented figures. I smiled when I woke up because I guess that’s all that was left with me, dreams to someday somewhere see her again. I still felt the urge to answer one question — What do I call the power of this unfinished end with her that still makes me smile when I think or dream of her. I guess I will never know.