Baba’s Best Friend
Baba, a name, a connection, my deepest emotion.
Baba, my weakness, my strength, my pillar, my bend.
I don’t remember beginning any day without Baba’s special breakfast.
I don’t remember going to sleep, without Baba’s bed time stories.
Baba, my granny, my mommy, my aunty!
Baba, my Batman, my Superman, my hero.
How do I find words enough to describe what he is for me?
My girlfriend asks me, why does your life revolve completely around him? She is insecure because she doesn’t know where she stands in my life.
I calmly tell her. You are the moon to me, but he is the sun! And I cannot help but revolve around him. Because that’s what earth’s supposed to do. I kinda got dumped after that because the analogy held true for the earth and moon as well. Next time I’ll make it a point to use another example. :p
I am twenty four. Who would say? I need him like I did when I was four.
I never had friends. Because to me, friendship meant what I had with Baba. Or it meant what Baba and his best friend had since they were kids. No ‘friends’ of mine could ever reach that level. And so my best friend was Baba. But his best friend was Kabir, the person whom I am named after. Baba lost him when they were in their twenties.
It is about the time, I and Kabir were in play school. We had become such great friends in so little time. Both our surnames were same. And hence our roll numbers were consecutive. Our names rhymed, too. Sameer and Kabir, inseparable since playschool. So much so that people found it difficult to differentiate who was who. One day, it rained heavily in the town. The place was probably going to get flooded soon. Since it was playschool, we were not enrolled in the school bus list. Waiting for parents did not seem like an option. So the teacher sorted us into different buses depending on our addresses and bus routes. She gave the details to the bus driver and helper and instructed them to make sure that each pre-school kid was dropped off his door. Now it so happened, that the teacher gave him the right details but handed over the wrong child. So I landed up at Kabir’s place and he ended up at mine. Since it was a flood-like situation, our parents corrected the blunder only the next day….
This is one of his fondest memory of early childhood. Of course he didn’t remember so many details, he was filled in by both their mothers as they grew up. Baba particularly loves this memory because every time the duo had some adventure, their parents would start off with the story stating how inseparable they were right from kindergarten and the whole narration made Baba very proud of his friendship. It was like an achievement for him.
We were in school. Eighth grade probably. Kabir was the new sensation. Puberty was sprouting and he was in the school band as well as basketball team. Now you know, both of these are prerequisites to charm women. His guitar and game worked wonders for him. Well, I too had my share of attention. I was the smartest kid in class, and not nerd-smart. I was actually cool. I was that guy who girls came running to for help in their homework. So together we were the talk of the town. Once Kabir was rushing back to the class after his basketball practice, all sweaty and tanned and he bumped into a girl. For the first time in Kabir Malhotra’s life was a girl disgusted of him! She said, “Yuck!!” right on his face, cringed her nose and walked away. Well, that’s how he met Anvesha, the girl he married when he was twenty five.
I personally feel, the two of them were haughty in school AND college. Too proud of their friendship, too aware of their charm. Drunk. This age is drunk! When I compare myself to them, I feel I was much more sensitive and matured.
It is almost like a fairy tale that this cliché love story actually worked out. Maybe in their time relationships weren’t as demanding as they are now. But my friendships and/or relationships never reach the high point I want to have. Baba’s best friend was lucky to have them both. Baba was lucky to have an amazing friend. And I am lucky to have Baba…
We were in the final year of high school and Anvesha was one year junior. Still not giving in to Kabir’s efforts. She knew she deserved more and she made Kabir work for it. When she finally agreed, it was our farewell. I was scared. What if it affects our friendship? But she was different. She was the first and only woman in this world who did not see our friendship as a threat to their relationship. The only woman who never tried to break us apart or steal our time. No matter how many other people entered our life, our friendship did not change. Never could. And she understood that. One day, we were driving down to the beach and I said it was terrible how Kabir never read. It was a statement initially, but it ended up in a fight. Now, I would rather call it a difference of opinion, but at that time I took offense for some reason. Two days went by, we were not on talking terms. I wasn’t dating anyone at that time, so all my frustration was piling up inside me. I had no other friends too. He on the other hand was taking it out on Anvesha. Now, we weren’t so stuck up about the argument. It was bad because we were not even on talking terms for two days. We had not played our favourite PC game and we had not had a rough football day. On the third day, Anvesha came over to my place. I’d only opened the door when she began,
“I know you’re no good out here. He is throwing random tantrums at me like some mad woman and saying he is just stuck up with university assignments. So stop feeding your ego and come over. What’s the point sulking so much over a petty issue?”
I opened my mouth to protest.
“Oh don’t try to act all cool!” she did not wait for my answer, “I know this, and everyone does, you and he cannot manage without at least two sarcastic judgements a day. So why even try?
And then she dragged me to his place. I think I heard her mumble, ‘I don’t know who the girlfriend is in this case’ with an eye roll.
Gladly they had someone who could put a little sense in their heads. I always see Baba chuckle when he talks about this fight. He probably finds it funny that his best friend was throwing tantrums like a ‘mad woman’! Thank god I am not a girl, because this is something that would definitely hit the feminist nerve, ‘mad woman’! However, if not for the woman there, they would have spent much more time sulking!
At times, when Baba gets really sentimental. He doesn’t narrate any particular incident. He would just talk randomly about his best friend. Lose track. Shed tears. Sleep.
I was the best man at his wedding. I was the first person he would play his newly composed notes to. Even the ones he composed for Anvesha. We would sneak out of college and walk down to the beach. Eat, no hog! He always had a habit of dropping his food. Never knew how to eat sophisticatedly! I always kept an extra watch during exams. Because every time he would run late and panic that he forgot his watch. We would drive late night on empty streets. Ride a bike at times. Fly. He loved the adrenaline rush! We preferred fresh air, night clubs disgusted us. And in our time, even the culture hadn’t changed so much. We star gazed and spoke deep shit on roof tops. And this was a total secret because ‘boys don’t do that’! We would travel together. And he would always look back and smile after getting down from my bike. His ear to ear grin was more than a goodbye. He even grinned the last time I saw him…
The one last time Baba saw his best friend always brought him tears, always. He loved his best friend like a brother, more than a brother.
Kabir had married Anvesha, they were this cute couple who could never get enough of each other. That day, it had almost been a week after their son was born. I had snatched away their right to name their own son, saying that they could name my first child. I was still thinking of a good name and Kabir was after my life.
“I am not calling my baby, baby anymore, you think of a name or else I would start calling him Sameer.”
This threat had become such a usual occurrence that I did not pay heed to it. I was busy looking for a good name in all languages possible. It had to be the best, after all this child was going to be my partner in crime.
Their first anniversary had just gone by and they could not celebrate because Anvesha was almost ready for labour. Sameer wanted their first to be special and so he had planned something huge for her which even I didn’t know. I was babysitting and he took her out. He’d said, “see you mate” and grinned. He didn’t see me again. He left me. And his child. A child who had no father. A child who had no mother. I raised him as my own. And named him Kabir…..
Baba didn’t marry. Nobody accepted him with his best friend’s child. He did not care. He did not even hand me over to my grandparents. They knew him too well to object. He says he would have lost his mind, if not for me. I say I don’t know where I would be if not for him. My father died in an accident. But I am sure he would have been as great as Baba. I miss having a mother at times, but I don’t feel orphaned. Never did. Not even when some stupid relatives told me I wasn’t his son. I was ten. But I knew already, Baba never concealed a thing. He’d told me if someone says anything like this to you just reply,
“I know I am not his son, I am Baba’s best friend!”