One True Friend
A Short Story by Vasu Gangapalli
Based on true life incident
‘I want you to write a story on me.’ Sawan wrote on FB chat.
‘Sure, I would.’ I replied.
‘You could write it when I come back to Bangalore.’
This was the last conversation with him, and I wanted him to return soon, so that I could take some details from him for the story. Unfortunately, fate had other plans in store.
Sawan Kumar Sahoo is from Rourkela, Orissa. He is 28 years old, is an MBA (Finance) graduate. He stayed with his friends in Kumaraswamy Layout, Bangalore and worked in a MNC. He is jovial, full of energy, kind hearted and a great friend to all.
It is his wonderful smile that stays on one’s mind forever. Of course, there are numerous hindi movie songs which have his name in the lyrics. When one of us reminded him this, it would bring a broad smile on his face.
‘See, how famous my name is!’ He used to say, still smiling.
He is like the lead character in my short story ‘Everlasting Smile’. He is my inspiration for writing this particular story, in which the character helps those in need and all he wants in return is their smile, which he cherishes and frames in his little heart.
He used to teach computer science at Vidyaniketan School, which was run by a NGO to children from class 5th to 7th on weekends twice a month. He was the reason for their happiness as he used to give them chocolates, cakes, and other gifts once in a while.
‘I try to find my joy in theirs; I just can’t explain in words how I feel when I see them smiling!’ He said.
‘I know!’ I replied smiling at him, ‘They are so lucky to have a person like you!’
A few days before Christmas in December 2011, he wanted to gift these kids something. Finally, after discussing with us, he decided to give them geometry boxes, which would be helpful to them in their studies. He collected the money from his colleagues and friends to procure these geometry boxes for them. Later, he shared with us the pictures of these kids.
Many of us think or even talk about doing good to others. Especially, to those who can’t do anything back to us in return. Most of the time, we only talk and think of doing it in near future. But Sawan was actually doing it, rather than speaking about it. It made him special and different from others. He was an inspiration for many of us.
He was part of our deal cricket team. He used to play cricket regularly and had been part of the team which won many matches. Also he loved watching matches on television.
I recently had a cup of coffee with Bala Bhaskar, his team mate and colleague, who recalled the fond memories he had with him. Especially, when they both had been to UK for transition in the year 2010.
Sawan liked watching movies. He loved the Harry Porter series a lot. He used to eagerly wait for the release of Harry Porter movies.
Sawan took up the birthday celebration of his colleagues at office. He used to collect money from colleagues for procuring birthday gifts, which he usually chose personally for most of them.
We had been out on a picnic to Chikmagalur on 29th July 2011. Sawan was seated beside me during the journey to this place. We were listening to music on my MP4 player. Also watching the latest hindi movie. We were total 14 people.This trip was filled with risk, adventure, excitement, and fun. Most of us were spending more time.
This is one of the best picnics we had so far. Something told me in my heart, that a trip like this could not be repeated again. Sadly, I was right.
One more trip we had after this was when Mahesh, Prashanth, Sawan and myself went to attend our colleague Champaknath’s marriage in a village after Tumkur in October 2011. We had gone in Mahesh’s car. We had our breakfast on the way in a hotel. Tatte idli is famous in this place and we all had it.
It was in the month of March 2012 while playing a cricket match, he had a muscle tear and he was admitted to a hospital.
When Mahesh and Rajeev visited him at the hospital, he asked them to check with the Doctor regarding the dosage of a tablet. This was prescribed by a different Hospital He was dreaded about the dosage. Later, his friends told them not to check with any one, and the dosage was for CANCER. Mahesh and Rajeev had to lie to him that the tablets were high dosage for Fever.
He came to office after he got discharged from the hospital, before leaving to his native place. He was as usual smiling at us. I never thought that this would be the last time I would be seeing him in person.
After going to his native place, he had been to Mumbai to get second opinion from famous cancer hospital over there. Somehow, the medication didn’t work for him, so he went for ayurvedic and was in the path of recovery. As a matter of fact, I was seriously thinking of writing an inspiring story on him as soon as he came back to Bangalore, as I had promised him.
No one in office knew when he passed away on the fateful day of 9th January 2013. It was not cancer which killed him, but brain haemorrhage.
Next day, one of his friends had posted a comment on Face book against one of his snap which was taken along with his friends at Nandi Hills sometime back.
The comment read ‘Miss you, Sawan!’
The thought that he was no more didn’t cross my mind. I thought maybe he was away from Bangalore and so his friend was missing him like us.
It was on Saturday morning, while I was having my haircut in the saloon, that I got a SMS from my colleague Prashanth.
‘Vasu, are you sleeping or awake?’
‘Tell me? I am awake.’
‘There is a bad news about Sawan.’ He replied
‘What is it? What happened to him?’
‘He is no more!’
‘W-what? Is it true?’ I asked rather shocked.
‘Yes..please check his face book profile.’ He replied.
I was lost in thoughts and walked back home, with heart filled with sadness. I just couldn’t believe that he is no more with us. I logged on to Face book after reaching my room. I read the RIP messages on the wall of his profile and that was one of the saddest days of my life. I had lost one good friend. I kept staring at his picture…which was taken at the shooting spot in Chikmagalur.
Then I remembered that he had given me a book to read long back. I searched for that book which I hadn’t read so far. It was Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’.
‘The book is far better than the movie,’ He had said, while giving me this book.
I walked to the balcony, opened the book and saw his name written by him in pencil. I gently touched his name on the page with my fingers. I looked up towards the sky and prayed silently for his noble soul.
When I returned to office on Monday evening, I still couldn’t take off his thoughts from my mind. My mind just kept re-winding and playing the memories of him again and again. I took my mouse cursor towards his name on Office Communicator, which popped up a message saying that the contact is away for 304 days. That reminds me the 300 days of suffering and pain he went through. Finally, when the fateful day came, he had to give up!
‘There is no death to the soul as it is immortal. The soul only changes bodies like we change our clothes.’ I had read it in book published by ISKCON long back.
I have a feeling that Sawan would come back soon. Also one of his friends had written in his Face book profile wall ‘RIP’ for Sawan stands for ‘Return It’s Possible’…
Yes, I believe in rebirth at least for his sake.