“My mother says she cannot afford to live in this city anymore. We will be leaving to our village in UP. I don’t know if I will ever see you again”, cried my friend. It was the saddest day of our life.
Let me take you back to my childhood 40 years ago, to that wonderful school in the suburbs of a serene south Indian city, which was nestled amidst lush green woods and guarded by the mighty mountains behind. The surroundings were picturesque and breathtaking. The life and times in the school were just as colorful and enthralling.
Being a Kendriya Vidyalaya (Central School), the students studied there were as diverse and colorful as India itself.
Harish, Arun and I were in Grade VII and our friendship blossomed.
Both Harish and Arun always nurtured ambitions of becoming Naval Officers.
We enjoyed our school life with gay abandon! Each day was more colorful and eventful than the other!!
One morning, we learnt that Harish’s father was no more. A killer heart attack struck its fatal blow.
Harish returned to school. But, he was a no more that chirpy little boy, we knew. He talked less and laughed less. He always seemed to be deeply lost in thought.
Then he one day, he gave us the shocking news…..that they were moving to their village. It was the saddest day of our lives.
Life went on and Years rolled by …. Harish became a part of our distant memory.
After we graduated, Arun realized his long cherished dream of joining the Indian Navy as an Officer and I too achieved considerable success in my own little way.
Fourteen summers later, one fine morning, someone rang our doorbell. Lo and behold!! It was Arun my good friend!! I was ecstatic with joy to meet my friend after 14 years. He was now the Commanding Officer of an Indian Navy ship.
Age and responsibility seasoned him, but he remained that warm and loving person, he always was.
The following day, he invited me to his ship. I was escorted by the my childhood friend – the Commanding Officer himself. I received salutes from many sailors on board. I was as proud as a peacock.
There was one sailor who caught my attention... there was something about his smiling face and crisp salute.
As the Commanding Officer’s guest, I was treated to best food and drink. We enjoyed ourselves reliving our old days and cherishing those nostalgic memories.
After a while, I sauntered to the washroom. Again, I came across the sailor with the warm smile. “Suresh” he called out almost in a whisper. I looked more keenly.
“Do you remember me?...... I am Harish”.
I looked at him closely. It was Harish indeed. Life tribulations had aged him prematurely. I struggled hard to read the face beneath the face. His deep sunken eyes sparkled upon seeing me.
I was overwhelmed with joy to meet my Harish after all those years. Involuntarily we got into a long and deep embrace. Both our eyes turned moist.
Later, Arun told me that though Harish was his childhood friend, he could not mingle with a sailor due to the protocol of the Navy.
Don’t you think that it was really a strange paradox?
Harish was as good as or perhaps better than Arun or me, but life did not offer him the opportunities that it offered Arun or me.
But Harish was indeed a fighter. He could not pursue his studies but that set back did not deter him from his dream.
Since he could not complete his graduation, he had to join the Navy as a sailor. He worked with utmost sincerity and diligence. He was always one of the most sought after men on board any warship.
Today, Harish too is a Commissioned Officer and a proud servant of the Indian Navy.
Circumstances may cause interruptions or delays in your journey of life.
However, if you believe in yourself and develop the grit and mettle to challenge the circumstances, you will soon find that the same adversity, which appeared to be looming large and menacing, like an unsurmountable monster, threatening to challenge your very existence, will soon begin to diminish in size and finally vanish into obscurity!
Yes indeed!! It is this quality, that will lead you to your goal…to your ultimate destiny!
Harish is a living example….
Post Script (PS):
While Harish continues in his service to the Indian Navy… One fine morning, around seven year ago, I was informed that my friend Arun was no more! Destiny played its role in in cutting the life of a fine Officer of the Indian Navy and to me a bosom friend, who I can never forget till the last day of my life.
RIP Cdr. Arun Kumar K, we miss you…
While the story of the three friends is a true life experience, there are some elements which were based on imagination, which may be considered as part of the “writer’s creative discretion”.