Bishwas and I
I was in a long queue for college admission. It had been two hours and nobody moved an inch. The small window from which “service was being delivered” was nowhere in sight. The student leaders were coming now and then and saying they were sorting the issue. But we were still at the same spot, irritated by the sun up on our heads and the state of administration. Then somebody behind me thought they had to take action and went ahead making sure their spot won’t be taken.
They returned and started arguing with a student leader. A huge boy was growling, “What’s the point in lining us up when the actual work is being done from the backdoor?”
“That’s Bishwas, isn’t he?” the lady exclaimed.
“Yeah, but don’t interrupt me. What’s up with people these days? No patience at all!”
“Sorry, my bad. Please continue.”
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Bishwas and others argued with the student leaders for a while. Every one surrounded the student leaders. “Admit us from the backdoor,” we demanded. To save themselves from the wrath of the young guns, the student leaders finally helped in getting the work done in the right way. Before leaving, I talked with Bishwas, took his number and thanked him for what he did. “Oh, it’s nothing,” he said. “I was helping myself. You were lucky to be in the queue.”
We were sitting under a tree in the college premises one day when Bishwas said, “These leaders… These are the ones who create problems out of the blue and now everyone thinks they will solve existing ones.”
Within a month since we got admission in the college, Bishwas and I turned into best friends. We used to in sit the same desk in the classroom, we used to have lunch together, and we used to talk on various things that interested us both. Elections for Students’ Union was coming up, and Bishwas was infuriated that the leaders who had not helped us were now presenting themselves as the saviours.
“Why don’t you run for the election?” I said.
“What’s the point?”
“Remove them from their position of power.”
“Who knows me? Nobody!”
“You should’ve taken the credit that day, you know. Every new student would have loved you.”
“Maybe, but you flatter me. Don’t do it.”
“You should have let everyone know what you did.”
“Should I have held a mic and shouted from the top of the roof?”
“Yep. That’s exactly what you had to do.”
“Nonsense,” Bishwas laughs out loud.
“But a loud nonsense is the common sense.”
“Does not mean those with common sense give in to the nonsense.”
“Yes,” I jumped. “This is exactly why you should run in the election.”
“I won’t. Politics, elections… I’m not made for such things.”
I failed to convince him. And, despite having common sense, and despite the big talks, we gave in to the nonsense and never thought about it again.
After the first year exams, Bishwas stopped coming to the college. He stopped answering my calls. I had no idea where he lived. I still don’t know where he lives. What an awful “friend” I was! If I had been even a good friend, I would have known about his family, I would have gone to his house, I would have shared my secrets with him, like he did. But I did nothing that should call me a good friend. Yet, when he came to my house to hand over the invitation to this party, he said, “You’re my best friend from college. I don’t want you to miss it.”
Surprised, I asked, “But I never tried to contact you after you left college. I don’t know why you left. And I didn’t bother to find it out.”
“You only knew my number and you called me. But I didn’t want to connect with anyone. I had distanced myself from everyone, even my family and old friends. What’s the point in being sad for things you were not responsible? Cheer up, buddy!”
“But why did you go away from everyone? What problems did you have?”
“Let it be a secret, buddy. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“So, something bitter happened. Tell me what happened.”
“What’s the point?”
“Perhaps, to unload the burden off your heart.”
“There is no load to unload, but because you insist, I will tell you what happened.”
He then told that he had joined the college only because of the pressure from his parents. He was a bright kid and his parents had huge expectations. But he could not find joy in the college activities. “Everything felt forced,” he said. He was doing things without any passion. That’s why he devised a plan to run away to the Himalayas. That’s where the rishis and santas have gone to find knowledge and peace. He stole a few thousand rupees, and threw his phone in the Kali Gandaki a few days later. Then he heard about a monk in the wilds beyond the Himalayas and went to meet him. There he found some peace but he could not forget his parents and friends so he came back to invite me to this party.