My Long Lost Friend

Summary

The writer while trying to find out his long lost friend fondly reminisces about the sweet past association and makes an
amazing discovery.


Virtues Come to Light

Our teacher was giving a lecture on Inhibitors in our Biochemistry class. To make the subject easier he was trying to illustrate the point, when a few stood up eagerly and tried to put up some examples. My friend occupying a seat next to me told me very promptly in an undertone “look there is an inhibitor at work and that is why my pen refill is empty right now”. But he did not stand up and offer his apt illustration but made things clear like water to his friend so easily. The teacher could watch him talking and summoning him to his desk asked him to repeat what he had so long been teaching. The poor student shrugged off his initial inhibition and rattled off everything so nicely that not only us even the teacher was also charmed by his concentration and power to grasp a new subject not to speak of his captivating English pronunciation and clarity of thought!

Brilliant But Maintaining a Low Profile

He was Srinivasan, originally hailing from Kerala, a south Indian state, a medium built shy boy who was born and brought up in Kolkata. Unassuming in nature he would speak English and Bengali fluently and never foisted his choices or preferences on others always maintaining a low profile. He did not have many friends and unlike us he would not take part much in extracurricular activities. During the time we would be found loitering in canteens or hostels he could be finally traced at College library if not in a corner of the field poring over a book or a class note.
Although he was close to me I never tried to intrude into his personal life. So when he would remain absent for a day I could easily resist the temptation of pestering him for the real reasons. I never enquired unnecessarily when he would come late or leave the classes a bit early. I took it as quite natural for a human being. I knew his parents as he had already introduced them to me. His father was a business man of the city having huge number of clients and it was natural for his son to lend enough time to assist him in his business matters. Some times when I would accompany my friend after the classes he would swiftly return home pleading very politely his inability to give me further company as he was having preoccupations not specifying anyhow, though. Nor I had the inclination to give him any trouble with questions which, I thought, might have irritated him.
Although my friend kept himself updated in all matters he would never take part in any sports. He would not be found as a spectator either but we never made any queries. His pleasing personality and tacit approach to avoid any tiff with us dissuaded us from disturbing him anyway as he was found to be immersed in his own way of activities, a bit different from ours.

Looking For Something Else

But he was nevertheless very popular and nobody seemed to have any grudge against him. I gradually came to be his closest friend as I shared some of his traits like being reticent and somewhat disinclined to expose myself to too much of games or loitering. We had another similarity. He refrained from smoking much to the discomfort of my friends who had formed a smoking club even!
I can well remember that only few times he shared his family problems like the demise of his grandparents or an accident one of his aunts had met with in South India. I would, however, like to engage in personal topics mostly. Even though I had assured him my services anytime he needed I cannot remember a single instance when he sought my assistance be it in matters relating to studies or personal issues. We found in him a very sharp and intelligent boy always quick to assimilate any subject but astonishingly he attained only mediocrity in all the examinations. To remain just an average sort of student all through the course was perhaps his only target but then the teachers never overlooked his attentiveness and sharpness. He was seemingly not bothered about not having an edge over others but he was always looking for something we could not perhaps fathom. At times we would wonder with such good qualities why he failed to secure the top positions in the class. But I never embarrassed him with any questions in this regard as he seemed to be not worried at all.

A New Discovery

But one thing I disliked and which I told him to his face was his name. Except his surname I can never recollect his first and middle names which are so big that only abbreviations could possibly come to his lengthy name in the system! So we had to make do with his last name and that has now caused a huge problem for me when I am now frantically trying to trace him through the social network sites. While atlast I failed to trace him in the vast world I have then looked to my friends during my college years. They are clueless but divulged a news about him which I could learn for the first time after almost four decades- While we became post graduates he turned out to be an MBA and a law graduate as well simultaneously.

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