Monday, July 4, 2011

Sixth Anniversary and still Surprised

It was a surprise. I know I should have expected it- it was so inevitable. Yet, it came to be a surprise. It was just another normal day for me. I was sitting at my table, trying to complete my homework before 6 a.m, and I had no other thought in my mind. So naturally, i was surprised when my father came and slipped that day's newspaper in front of me. I ran my eyes over the names on the page(for it was the obituary that dad pointed to) and found none that I knew. May be because I wasn't looking for it. Dad had to point before I found it. There, the very first name in the very first column- Wafa Khaleel. My best friend since kindergarten. Well, I was surprised. I gave the paper back to Dad and continued writing my homework. Dad closed the book and gently patted my shoulder. 'No class today, dear. You can do it later.'

Of course, no class. the school had to honour her, so no class. I went back to my room, not knowing what to do. I was shocked, kind of, numb. I lied down, hugging a pillow. Memories came rushing through my mind but I couldn't cry. Not then, no, I couldn't. But later when I heard my mom sobbing, I felt the first tears welling up in my eyes. I should have expected it, I kept telling myself.Yet, however you expect it, death and birth can be the greatest surprises of your life. Especially when the person who has died is someone close to you, someone too dear to lose. It does not matter that she was ill all those days, very, very ill and almost hoping that death would take her away from all pain. Nothing matters when a dear friend is dragged away by death. It will be the most unpleasant surprise of your life.

And so it was for me. My Wafa, with whom I'd my first lesson. My Wafa, with whom I shared lunch and drew pictures. My Wafa, with whom I played and talked and laughed and cried for about ten years. My Wafa, who had been fighting with one hell of a disease for the last two years of her life... In the end, she lost the battle. She was too tired to fight any longer. After all, blood and bone cancer is not too simple an opponent She lost her life, and I lost the best part of mine.

I cried, but only a little. May be because I was too numb to realize the full impact of the news. Whatever the reason, I cried only a little then.But when I went to her house and saw the body, the loss I was about to suffer struck me completely, and I broke into tears. I sobbed uncontrollably. One of my friends fainted. I don't remember much of what followed. Life went on, though less colourful.

Now, it is July 5 again. Six years had passed since that unfortunate day, but I remember everything clearly as if it was only yesterday that we sat and talked. I remember all the weekend visits when she stopped coming to school. We talked without pause about school, teachers, friends and latest movies. I remember some visits more clearly than others. Certain things are struck in my memory. Like the fact that she liked mangoes and chocolates. And the time I had given her medicines. And how she had always won when we played Chinese  Checkers. And the day she told me how hard she had to try at times to stop from crying out of pain, as she knew it would upset her mother. I remember it all too well... Sometimes, it is a bit difficult to stop the tide of memories. Especially the sweet and sad ones.

They say time is the best healer. Well, I disagree. Years have flown since my dearest friend's departure from this world, but I'm yet to overcome the sorrow. I have lots of friends, but none who can make me forget her(not that I want to forget her). At times I turn to talk to her and when I realize that she is not with me, I feel the fresh stab of pain. Her death was, and is, a surprise for me. The wound is still fresh. And it will always be.