The Name Under cover
The bubbly young man in his thirties was ensconced in a window seat browsing through a newspaper when I was standing next to him in a crowded bus. Finding me, almost of his age, continuing to be on my feet for a long time his conscience seemed to have pricked him. He quickly got off the seat requesting me to sit and I readily accepted the offer as I was also itching for a comfortable journey. The man perhaps read my embarrassment and in his bid to allay the awkward feeling he began making overtures bringing up various topics ranging from sports to politics. I soon discovered that we were on the same wavelength sharing almost similar opinion and disposition. His warm cordiality and sweet demeanour touched me profoundly and we seemed to be bound by good friendship although I could not know him further as he alighted from the vehicle much earlier. I began to ponder how soon I could meet him and exchange our feelings and ideas.
Friends meet in a library
Days rolled by and I almost forgot my travelling companion. It was not the time for cell phone and internet which now allow anyone to easily contact friends even if they are located poles apart. Since we had divergent ways of life living in different areas we could not easily get together except for a chance meeting and that happened a few months later when I could discover him in a library browsing through the newspapers. He could recognize me immediately and preferred to seat by my side and seemingly tried to discuss many things while reading books. But since it was a big library with many restrictions strictly observed we could not indulge in private matters anyhow. My closeness was further reinforced finding in him an avid reader. Although I was not that much addicted but I had always deep respect for those persons having inclination for reading books and other printed works. Our friendship appeared to be renewed but alas! He seemed to be in a hurry as he urgently needed to take a bus and go to a hospital to see his ailing sister. How I wished I could have reached there much earlier to spend more time with him! We could not know each other further and our discussions were restricted to only current news and reading habits.
Striking friendship forever
After a long gap I could again trace my friend in a restaurant when he was accompanied by his wife and daughter. He introduced them to me and we started to dwell on subjects ranging from sartorial preferences to admission in good schools. His daughter carrying a camera was found to be very bright and sober like her father and the picture of the family added to my dream of having such a nice friend thanking God for his blessings. As I thought of knowing my friend better I tried to divulge our basic identities but his wife received a call just then from the residence asking them to immediately go back urgently. I could not proceed further and my intention to know more about my friend was thus nipped in the bud. But still I took consolation from the belief that our friendship acquired a new lease of life.
As I received a further jolt in knowing my chum fully I began to contemplate on true friendship. Frankly I did not have good many friends. Being a bit introvert type I used to open up only to my intimate friends who were few. “What’s in a name?” I asked myself and was content on having his company very infrequently though. It enriched such true friendship where the two young men share common values and taste while they sought to connect further but other business and preoccupations were coming in the way.
I did not have to wait for long as I could trace him though from a distance watching a big Football match being played by two arch rivals of our city. I was a great fan of one of the two teams which dominated the match and scored twice. As I rose to applaud much to my exhilaration that I could notice my friend was in a mood of ecstasy and clapping hands along with other fans sitting besides him. My happiness was more pronounced at the sight of his sharing again another common feature which gave me reasons to remain friends forever, cheer up and enjoy life. But when the match ended I tried by all means to catch hold of him and perhaps he had also such a fervent wish to meet me on that jubilant mood and speak about many things in life which we could not so far discuss. But despite my hectic attempts he melted away in the vast crowd leaving me only to celebrate the glory of our beloved team and fueling the urge for meeting him at the earliest to observe the victory in a befitting manner together.
I was again contemplating the fond idea how to contact him early for the much desired occasion in which my other friends and acquaintances having our football team allegiance were being invited the next day. The list grew large in size gradually as my child began to include his friends as well who were blind supporters of our team. But my friend occupied the top place in the list although not knowing his name till then I had to write ‘My chum’ instead.
While we were all ready for the revelry I received a call from the nearest police station to immediately proceed there. I felt totally annoyed but since such a summon was unavoidable I left for the job leaving others to enjoy in my absence for a short period assuming that the matter was casual. I headed for the officer in charge who had known me well. He ushered me in his chamber and handed over a photograph. I was baffled to find me along with my friend in it. As I was totally absorbed in the picture the officer held his arm on my shoulder saying “Very sorry, it is all gone. Your friend was run over by a bus yesterday after the big event. We could trace the photograph very neatly kept in his purse”. I had forgotten but suddenly remembered how he had instructed his daughter to take the snap when we had met in a restaurant.
So long I had been longing to see him without knowing his yearning for my association but then I could now realize much to my sorrow and loss how much he had been pining for his friend while remaining anonymous.