Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Cruelest Month

April is the cruelest month of the year, so says the poet, to which I somewhat agree. Many moons ago I was born in the month of March. My mother often speaks of the water shortage they faced that summer, which I now assume must be in April-June. They had to fetch water all the way from the well at Sihpui which is quite far away, and the journey home was uphill. To make things worse I was that baby who cried a lot and created unnecessary fuss. Maybe it was the dryness.

Speaking of dry, April is the worst month out where I live, the driest and hottest month of the year, with temperatures hovering at the mid-forties. So, it’s not exactly a chart topper for me.

Palm Sunday 2011. April 17. My mother called me while I was having my morning tea. It was quite unusual to receive a call on a Sunday morning, knowing what a chaos Sunday mornings are at home (the rush for the bathroom, the last minute ironing, the elaborate morning meal and the cleaning up that follows), and what was stranger was that my family would call me in the morning.

“Did you hear about Babie?” my mother asked.

“No. What happened?”

“She was found dead this morning in Delhi.”

Just like that. One of my oldest friends passed away, and there was nothing I could do. I generally dislike things that go out of control, and this situation was something much worse. I called up Babie’s sister, one of my best friends, and hearing that shaky voice trying not to cry, I felt something huge stuck in my throat. I didn’t cry, and was at a loss for words. Maybe I said something, and maybe we tried our best not to cry, I don’t remember. It was a short conversation. She and her new husband were leaving for Delhi to bring Babie home, and there were arrangements to be made. Maybe we spoke about that.

I remember one birthday, I think it was my 13th or 14th, my friends and I had a small celebration at home. And we took a few pictures. Being the age before digital cameras you could not see how you looked before the photos were developed. We were at that age, that awkward neither-here-nor-there stage, and all of us were at our ugliest. We forgot all about the pictures. A few months later when we looked at them Babie took a pen and scribbled all over her face in all the pictures. She didn’t like the way she looked. Isn’t it strange that among the girls in those pictures she was the first one to go?

This Palm Sunday, I will remember my old friend and the times we had. I will feel sad, for a little while, but I will always be thankful I had a friend who was lent to us for such a short time. Maybe one day we will meet again, and maybe she will wear that furry colourful slippers she wore the last time I saw her.