Vignesh was the perfect friend I would have ever had. He had small sweet eyes that smiled alongside his lips, and that was a sense of reassurance of faith. His hands were always cold for warm Cochin days. Even from far off I could recognize him with his ears that stuck out, in a very cute way. Vignesh and I were never Best of best friends, we were made to sit on the same small bench by our class teacher, that’s all. But then, I had loathed her for that decision of her’s then, but now I know why; I was destined to be his first and last friend.
Like I said, I hated sitting next to him because he used to regularly have nosebleeds and throw up blood. As a kid of class II, I wasn’t scared of blood at that time (surprisingly, now I am), nor was I irritated by his behavior but just that he was a little odd. He never went in anybody’s group, most importantly, he never had any friends. He would sit alone at a corner and smile occasionally at his classmates passionately which were met with rude ignores.
I don’t remember when exactly I started to talk to him, but definitely not on the first day. I clearly remember when I complained to my parents that I’m made to sit next to Vignesh in class, they looked at each other in tone; “We-should-be-telling-her-sooner-about –it.” I could infer what they meant. That night, Dad held me close and said, “Beta (I was called beta, northie-life influence), Vignesh has a disease and diseases can happen to anybody, you and me, anybody. It is not his problem that he has it. Is it? When you catch a cold and sneeze all the way, you friends and classmates still talk to you no? So, what I wanted to tell you is that, be friends with him, don’t make him feel bad. He shouldn’t think that you are rude to him. Be nice to him and show him how good you are, okay?” I remember nodding my head too fast in an answer on being merely flattered. That’s all. But I remember asking dad, “what’s his disease?” for which he said, “you will know, ok? Don’t make him feel bad by telling this but. You are my girl, you are so nice that he will be very happy”. Good night kiss.
Sports days at school come and go but this one was very different. I had fought bitterly with Rahul, the ass (he was major bully and now he has got a very beautiful girlfriend who I pity) for some weird reason; and he hit me hard with a thick book that almost got me choking for breath and my best buddy Nithya (even now), was absent, stuck at home with fever. I had no shoulder to cry on. So I was sitting on the corridor with a heavy heart and sobbing when I suddenly saw an ice-cream being held out at me. It was Vignesh. It was the first time he went so close to sit along anybody. So I was a bit surprised. I don’t remember anything that I spoke to him or vice-versa. But now when I type it on word, I can’t stop forgetting that smile he gave me showing his row of teeth, two incisors missing; and I remember the ice cream spilling all over my uniform. That day was just the beginning. It began with me and ended with me, which is what makes me write this.
Later a lot too he helped me through out in many ways. He was the one who saved my precious crayons from breaking by keeping them safe in my box, he was the one who openly challenged Rahul if he ever disturbed me and we would hold hands while we were taken for picnic. For the first time after days he laughed with me loud when Rahul fell off from the bench his tooth hanging and him crying. Lol. It was the funniest scene from my life I remember.
In the month of December, suddenly from one day, Vignesh stopped coming to school. The previous day he had asked me what I wanted as a gift. It wasn’t my birthday nor was it his, but I was so useless then, I told him to get me chocolates. None of the classmates were keenly interested in him so nobody gave a damn why he stopped attending classes. I was sad at the beginning but soon I had my lessons to learn and things to forget.
Past December, in January I was standing in the office room, to pay my fee for the term. Calls came in and kept going in the school academic department, nothing interesting. But some conversation that mentioned Vignesh’s name caught my attention. “What? He is dead? But… When? Where? Oh this is bad” the lady hissed into the receiver, with tears and breaking voices. She kept the phone and announced it in the office room that Vignesh lives no more. i was kinda dumb or may be too young to realize the pain of death then. Nor did I react to it. There were some things said beyond which for me were alien then. Now not so.
I was the a person who he considered as a friend for the first time and I was bestowed with the news of his death, first.
I was the only person from his class standing there and I didn’t know what to say. Once I was home that day and I told my dad what I heard. He held me and told me that Vignesh was no more and he had cancer. Blood cancer. I don’t remember crying though, for which I cry now.
The term is deadly- Leukemia. The hatred it breeds is tremendous. After so many years, about more than 12 years of his death, I write this because I don’t know what else to do. It is a small gesture from my part for Vignesh which I refused to do then. He had liked me a lot as a friend, saved me from many instances and I am so sure, his memories only come to me in the whole batch and that’s why he constantly keeps reminding me that he was alive once.
A few days ago, I underwent a trauma when my uncle was detected with cancer in his urinary bladder which was eventually removed. He has a very deprived life now. I don’t know any other way of putting it. My friend lost her mom because of a deadlier form of cancer in the abdomen. Yea, my Dad was very true, diseases can happen to anybody, you and me, anybody.
I miss Vignesh a lot and the saddest part is, I still remeber his smile and face CLEARLY.