Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Friendship Day message - A friend lost is a life investment gone

Friendship Day Special -Dr Jawahar Surisetti
A friend lost is a life investment gone

On the cusp of life , the turning point of my life when I joined Institute of Hotel Management at Kolkata , I was trying to find the bearings of my career or thereabouts. In an ecstatic mood of the first achievement in the 18 years of life span , I found myself lost in the metropolis. Coming from a small town , the culture, the language and the openness intimidated me . There were students from across the country and I suppose the culture shock would have been for many.
A Tamilian named Rangarajan found the abuses so common in the daily parlance of Delhiites very repulsive and even ended up in a boxing bout after which he left IHM and joined as a ticket collector in Railways . In such varied circumstances, there were people who held me together . We were the three musketeers . Amitava Mukherjee, the localite ; Anil George basically a Keralite but from Bokaro and I from Visakhapatnam. I was the only hosteller among the three so was privileged to have both the worlds to myself. The three of us stuck together in times when fags and booze engulfed the innocence and ignorance of many who had come from protected backgrounds and suddenly found the freedom to indulge in these and to some extent drugs .
Amitava would play host most of the time in his Garden Reach residence and we would study , do the little masti that we were entitled to and attended college almost 100% of the time .
In three years , we had grown to be inseparable and Amitava and I had a special bond - unexplainable and strong. In the final year he had shifted his residence to Tollygunge . His mother used to cook food for us while we studied and we would use his IITian brother's used one side papers for our study.
Time passed and we passed out and settled in our jobs in different parts of the country and as people in the hospitality industry know , the work sucks people into it so much so that there is no time for oneself leave alone others.
I got engulfed into this myriad domain and lost track of all friends . But both Amitava and Anil kept writing to me at my Vizag address and I was elsewhere so did not keep in touch .
Twenty five years later when I was doing very well in life and looked back in introspection on what I have lost , I realised that I had lost two of my dearest friends to my selfishness and opportunism.
I started finding out using whatever means I had . The hunger to find them was so much that I even gave a front page ad in the telegraph to find Amitava. In the effort , I could trace Anil as he stuck to hotels and found him in Kerala . I rushed to him not to lose him this time and we met after 25 long years like long lost brothers from a Manmohan Desai film . Anil still remains the same - simple , emotional and a true Christian.
But the eerie silence from Amitava was worrying me . I had achieved everything in life but was not able to find one friend whom I desperately wanted to meet . And after 3 years of this search , one fine day I got a message from Vivek Bahadur another IHM friend that Amitava was suffering from a rare brain disease and had been on bed for the last two decades and he had breathed his last on that day.
I was shattered . The disease explained his silence for so many years but the regret was that I could not be with him when he needed me most .
I cried like a child . I had not cried for years but this is one failure that I will carry to my grave . He was there when I needed him but I failed him when he needed reciprocation .
Many of us leave our friends on entering crucial phases in careers . But a friend lost is a life investment drowned . I realised this but it was too late . For 20 long years he was on bed with a failing brain and I could not spend one moment with him .
The moral of the story is come what may , stick to friends for life . This investment pays. Realise before it's too late .
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