December 2, 2005
Abhishek is the kid brother I never had.
As I rewind back to the muggy monsoon of 2004, memories of Abhishek and I sharing a raucous laugh on the dilemmas of life; ring true.
It was one of those days when Abhishek had come home from his break. He was doing his MBA at Hyderabad and simultaneously also working with a call centre. We were catching up on old and new times, alike.
He excitedly told me, “Didi I bagged the best employee award”
I was so proud of O.B.K.E.K (pronounced OB-Cake); that’s what I call him.
He was born when I was a little over 7 years old. Still remember the first time when Leena Aunty put him on my lap. There I was flaunting this brand new dress in celebration of his birth and to my horror that-wet-something trickled all over me, making it a day surely to remember.
Abhishek and I grew up together. Literally!
We spent many an evenings watching Sharukh Khan’s first serial “Fauji” and I’d clap in glee when he would emulate the title track with much style. The heart warming smile that flashed thereafter would make me want to spoil him silly. Yet we also had our share of quarrels on who had wacked who’s DC Comic, Target or Tin Tin.
I remember the first time I shifted to Delhi, he pillion drove me across the city, and we went about scrutinizing a decent place for me to stay. I was happy to see he was a steady driver. Well he had his head screwed firmly on his shoulders and that’s what made all of us so proud of him.
That July evening as we both sat catching up on the “latest”, he told me with a rather sweet blush that he had fallen in love. And he somehow knew that this was it! But life has a way of throwing up unique ironies. The girl in question was getting engaged in the next few days to a techie in the USA. He looked at me with those intense eyes which suddenly seem to grow sad but in a haste lit up. He quickly flashed that warm smile and said, “That’s ok Didi, I have shared the best moments in life with her, and I guess I am not up there like her would-be-husband. I am still studying. I guess she’ll be happy with what her family has planned for her.”
I held his hand and reassured him, “Listen Bro, if destiny wants the two of you to be together, so you shall be. For all you know, next year this time you’ll be telling me she’s yours!”
He smiled back again; that confident and in reassuring smile and said,
“Que Sera Sera…I am very happy with life, no regrets, no complaints.”
And yes he looked genuinely happy as he gorged on his favourite chicken curry my Ma had prepared for him with piping hot parathas. He completely loved the vanilla ice-cream topped with the mango chunks and told my Dad, “Wow, Jethu! I’ve never tried this dessert combo. It’s lip- smacking!!”
The next day, Abhishek left for Pantnagar, near Nainital; to go spend time with his mother. He was driving and was accompanied with his father. Their car was hit by a truck; and the ebullient life ebbed out of him in a jiffy. His father survived the crash, but Abhishek was gone…leaving behind a void in our lives, forever.
The next few days were the most traumatic; I have ever known. It was the first time I had seen someone so close to me falling prey to the cruel hands of death. A young, energetic, vivacious and caring life; would touch us no more.
Three days later we stood at the doors of the small Kaali temple, ready to leave; after Abhishek’s prayer service and it began to drizzle.
I quickly escorted Leena Aunty and Kaku (Abhishek’s Ma & Dad) and my parents into the car; strapped the safety belt as Kaku fumbled softly, “Drive carefully beta”. The light pitter patter continued as I revved up the car engine.
My soul was crying; “Was Abhishek crying too?” I quizzically thought to myself.
Barely had we crossed a few blocks there were no signs of the rain. On the contrary the sun was shining brightly. Was it Abhishek bidding us adieu and telling us he was fine.
And that he would forever smile and shine upon us?