In the summer of 2008, when I was in 9th standard, I used to be a front-bencher with a classmate called Prashant.
One day, I asked a guy named Sachin Chaudhary to sit with me for a change. And all day, he made me laugh. I got addicted to his sense of humor in a day. The next day, I asked Prashant to sit with Sachin’s deskmate.
I didn't know Sachin well, he just transferred to our school last year in 2007. In 8th standard, I had a couple of conversations with him when our Sanskrit teacher advised him to borrow my Sanskrit notebook since he joined late. One afternoon, he came up to me and asked in a shy manner, “Akshay apni Shanshkrit ki notebook dena, Tyagi ma'm ne kaha hai” (Akshay, can I borrow your Sanskrit notes?). The way he pronounced Sanskrit was different. I knew he was different than others. So, I gave him my Sanskrit notes for a day, but then he disappeared for the next couple of days. Now I was running behind on work. So, I decided to hunt him down with the help of a classmate Shivam. Shivam had an idea of where Sachin used to live. So, we went there, searched and asked around for an hour and some of his neighbours led us to his door. I knocked the doors. He opened up smirking.
Now as Sachin and I became desk-mates in 9th Standard, we both developed some nerd love for each other. We had many things in common, a common last name, a passion for Cricket and we both were hardcore nerds, didn't use to talk much to anyone else accept a few carefully selected friends who were much like us. We use to have long conversations before school assembly and during lunch. The conversations used to be about anything related to sports, tech and sometimes politics.
Somehow Sachin knew everything, except English. When we use to study Mathematics, his only request to me used to be, “Tu mujhe is question ko Hindi mein translate kar ke bata de, baaki main dekh lunga” (you just translate all the questions to Hindi, and I’ll solve them). One day our Maths teacher noticed it, so he decided to pull our leg. He called us out and told the entire class about how big of a Nerd we both were. He said, “these two guys are impossible to be separated”. And then the class girls decided to join in, and complained about how both of us never talk to any of the girls.
They were right. We were inseparable. We were not homosexual though, just nerds.
Once we were in 11th Standard, in an English exam, Sachin was just sitting ducks. He didn't study English because he didn't understand it. I was sitting just behind him. So, every once in a while, he used to turn back and see what I am doing, and every time I was busy writing. In the last half an hour, he just lost it. He wanted me to give one of my sheets to him so that he can copy. But I was afraid that it might get us into trouble. So, I didn't. Next time he turned with one of his sheets in hand, snatched one of my answer sheets, and gave me his empty sheet. I just got afraid if any teacher got suspicious, I might get into a big trouble. And meanwhile, Sachin was just writing at the speed of a bullet.
Thankfully, we never got into any trouble.
After completing the 12th Standard, we both had a choice to make. I decided to go for Bachelor of Technology as my Undergraduate. I asked Sachin to join me at my college, but he didn't had any interest in the subject. So he said with a laugh, “Nahi bhai, hum to Delhi Police mein hi danda baja lenge” (No, I’ll just join Delhi Police and beat the crap out of criminals).
After that, we both parted our ways since school was over and we both had a different life ahead. We didn't get much time to meet after that. Sometimes he would visit me and we would play Playstation for hours. But We were not inseparable anymore. Life has gotten in the way of our friendship. We didn't use to have enough time for each other as we both were busy in our own thing.
But we both knew that we will reunite one day and then we will be inseparable again. But again, Life has its own way of dealing with things. You can never predict what's going to happen. In May, 2015, I got a news that he passed away by a sudden accident while playing cricket.
But he is a true friend, something I could never be. He still visits me in my dreams and we still talk about current sports and political issues. In fact, we just had a conversation last night about the ongoing Cricket World Cup. He was as usual very insightful as he predicted how MS Dhoni can be the X-Factor for India.
Sachin, if you're reading this from the world above us all, I always forget to tell you this in my dreams (taking a cue from Wiz Khalifa here):
It's been a long day without you, my friend.
And I'll tell you all about it when I see you again.
We've come a long way from where we began.
Oh I'll tell you all about it when I see you again
When I see you again.
And we'll both be inseparable again.
He didn't die. He just finished his innings early, being a slogger he was.
It was not easy to write this. But for him, एक ट्रिब्यूट तो बनता है (this tribute is a must).