My friend Ruba left.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been about over a decade since I’ve known him. It’s funny remembering how we first met. We were both arrogant gulf bred brats who met in Class 7th in a sleepy town called Kottayam in God’s Own Country. And like all Gulf bred brats, we hated one another because either of us knew that the other’s tall tales were all a bunch of bull.
“Yes, the Sheikh and my family are very close friends”, I would boast to the group of girls I tried to impress.
And he would reply to the same group, ‘Oh, that’s nothing. The Sheikh sends his car to my dad everyday’.
“Oh really, I thought the drivers went to the Sheikh’s car rather than the other way around.”, I would respond and then we would fight like crazy, fistfights et all.
It was funny that we never got along earlier – we hated the same teachers, the same teachers hated us and we both spent a lot of time in the principal’s office, mostly together and mostly because of trying to break the other’s face. But it was in Class 8th that we got together – our English teacher, Reena miss, decided to put all the trouble makers of the class sit together and Ruba and me sat on the same bench with Kiron between us. Now the story was that both Ruba and I hated Kiron- so since the enemy of an enemy is a friend, we joined forces to fight the foe no single superhero could withstand and on that day, the Avengers was....oops, sorry.. wrong story J… but the point is that Ruba and I got together then to buddy up against Kiron. But later, Ruba n I realized that we had a lotta things in common and eventually we turned into the best of friends.
School life was never complete without Ruba. One of my most distinct memories was once when the Chemistry teacher caught us talking in class. She picked up on Ruba and yelled at him to repeat what she had just said. Since he obviously could not answer the question, she furiously asked Ruba loudly, “Reuben!!! Tell me why do we immerse the Copper rods in Copper Sulphate solution?”
Ruba thought about it for a long while and answered conclusively with this die-hard confidence, “To kill the germs, ma’am.”
After school, we ended up in the same engineering college. While he was interested in tran’sistors’ and re’sistors’, it was my classmates’ 'sisters' I was interested in J . While he learned C, C++ and other languages, I tried learning Tamil from the Hindi people staying there. Since I was always had a feeling that the college management would one day ask for my thumb as ‘guru dhakshina’, I used to proactively give them the finger anyways. If Standard&Poor had known me then, they’d have downgraded me from ‘AAA’ to ‘???’ (or even ‘WTF’!). But Ruba was always around to my rescue. And in spite of our varied interests, we still were the best of friends and used to meet every Friday night along with half the college at our local assembly point outside college, to pay our weekly homage to Shakeela aunty.
We even liked the same women in college. While I bitched big time about him and screwed his image with the girl he was hitting on for pitching my own ulterior interests , he later took revenge by charming the girl I had a huge crush on. We also had the same set of friends – the resident heartthrob Dannyboy, Estella, ‘Frenchie’ Chandy, ‘Kambi’ Jinny, ‘Commissioner’ Maathu, the mighty meek Ashwin, Moulana mon Moulana, Jetty ‘Dash’, ‘’kaaka’ Kiron, ‘Out’ Varkey, Leejoe Shukhla and a whole lot of other characters who still color our lives in their own special ways.
After four years of college, as it was fashionable then to exchange addresses, I was quite shocked when he actually started making use of it by writing letters to me. Today, I still have some hundreds of letters he’s sent to me. Later he revealed that I was the only person in the world who ever read any of his writing.
A few years later, he moved over to Germany and even though we never kept in touch, we could always pick up from where we left in the rare calls that we made to each other.
He recently got married and he told us of his secret to gaining respect from his wife- he grew a thick moustache. And sure enough, after marriage, he was the one who wore the pants in his house, behind his apron.
My dear friend Ruba left. And it’s weird having all these thoughts running through my…..
(Door Bell rings…)
Aah, that must be Ruba back from the wine shop with the booze…
Hope he hasn’t forgotten the salted chips…
Saala hamesha bhooltha hai.