An Old Picture

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One of my friends passed away yesterday. In deference to his family’s absolute right to control how they wish to share their grief, I do not name him here. So the pronoun it will be.

I haven’t been in touch with him for years. He was not on social media. Every time I went to Calcutta, I met a few of my college friends, but for some reason, he was never in the group. I also never made an effort to reach out to him, and yesterday when I heard the news, I deeply regretted not having made the effort.

So I dug up an old picture. This was the late 90s, no smart-phones, pictures were rare, and even the ones that were taken, were almost never scanned. This one though was. Taken around the last few days of our graduating class, near the red chairs of the Computer Science building, pretty much everyone in our batch is there.

As I look upon the smiling faces, full of life, collectively with kilos less in fat, and grams more in hair, I cannot help but wonder the thought furthest away from their minds.

Death.

And yet it is here. It is there in the picture now. And there it will stay, and replicate, till one day it will be all that is left.

Death.

And the suffocating sepia sadness of old group photos.

For time always feels infinite. Specially when you are twenty-something.

So we let things slip. There is always other things to do, other places to be, other roads to walk. And why shouldn’t there be? There is always next time.

Except one day there isn’t.

And all that is left are memories, memories of sitting on those chairs, watching the girls from Arts pass by, and swearing at professors for their tyrannical class tests, and worrying about placements and GRE, and debating if Shahrukh Khan should have chosen Karishma Kapoor and not Madhuri Dixit, and fighting for who gets the first chance to bat, the setting sun of October on our shoulders, and the cricket field in front, and if at all  an inkling expressed on the impermanence of it, a gruff dismissal with a “Duh sala, senti hocchish keno?” (Why getting sentimental?)

Goodbye old friend. Happy friendship day.

 

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