The universe gives humans everything that they should have. Though we might not see the gifts we receive for what they are, but over a period of time you do realise that it is exactly what you wanted. Today happens to be one of those times when I want to thank God for giving me a ‘precious treasure’ that gave me all the happiness I ever wanted, rendered me with all the care I could ever ask for, taught me all the lessons I should know and gave me something to remember all my life. I want to thank God for giving me a friend who is so special to me that words fail me as I begin to explain how lucky I am. And also, my heart is filled with a little sadness when reality hits me that my friend is no longer in my life. He is alive, hale and hearty but is not with me, in person, anymore.

It was just a mere acquaintance at first that blossomed into a deep friendship. He spoke to me for the first time in a laboratory. It was as formal, as ‘formal’ could be, but that very meeting is still etched in my heart for reasons unknown to me… No deep relationship can ever be formed overnight I’ve read. And, yes, it did take us time to forge a bond that I can say I’m truly proud of.

We were as different as chalk and cheese. He was always my worst critic. He criticized everything that I ever did. And honestly I never took offence. He didn’t care if I would be offended (I guess he knew I would not). He always hit me with the harshest words when it came to commenting about something I did. Be it the way I wore my hair, to liking the colour lavender to my notes and even the way said “Hi” to him over the phone. Of course, some things he said were only to pull my leg and over a period of time I learnt the difference. I also learnt that, everytime I corrected myself after he criticized me; I had learned to do a thing in a much more refined way.

I don’t remember him calling my name very often. He had a nickname for me everytime I did a new ‘antic’. I was christened and re-christened everything from ‘moti’ to ‘pogo’ to ‘phattu’ and also ‘Mac’ I had a smile on my face for everytime he told me “Aaj se tera naam change…” I knew it had to be a new nickname.

Over a period of time he grew very protective of me. He took care of everything thing I did. His observation saved me the trouble of telling him certain things. He already knew what was on my mind. You already know what your best friend is going to say to you. And then, from friends we became best friends. Though we never admitted how much we meant to one another. No “emotional” stuff for him. He was never good at handling any feelings and till a point of time I thought he didn’t have any feelings at all. It was all practical and methodical work for him. I was the clown of our friendship and he was the professor.

The ‘professor’ taught me a lot of things. I guess it was easy for him because he saw my life in a way that I couldn’t. He saw my life as pragmatic persons are supposed to look at it. I saw my life as poets are supposed to see it. He taught me how to put my foot down. He taught me how to segregate and quantify. He taught me how to be strict on myself. He taught me how to measure. He taught me things that I might have not learnt on my own. The best lesson that I learnt (with examples) from him still echoes in my mind, “Sameen don’t repeat your mistakes.” This line hits me hard at times even today. It reverberates in my soul just the way he had said it.

I don’t know how I touched his life and I wondered if I ever did. Then one fine day he did acknowledge what I meant to him and how he treasured the friendship. That was the time I realised he did have feelings and that was one side of him I was not able to see. Now I know that it was a side he did not ever show. I was taken aback but pleasantly so. I wondered what had overcome him. Little did I know it was time for him to leave. He had to go and he said it in a very subtle but saddening way. I was not prepared for his departure and before I knew it, he was gone. I wonder how he is doing today, but I also know he must be fine. He was always the ‘man in control’.

I do miss him but not in a way so as to pain my heart. I miss him when I want to relax over coffee. When I want to have a good laugh over the poorest jokes that we could crack. When my mom asks about him. When I do a thing and no one ‘criticises’ me.

I’m glad we were friends.

I’m glad I had a ‘formal’ talk in a laboratory.