This blog is in memory of my dearest friend, Sandeep Singal who passed away a day ago, may his soul rest in eternal peace.
It was the year of 1974. I was promoted to class 6 at school . It reopened on a rainy day in June. First day at school was always busy and delightful. New books, new teachers, a new classroom, new syllabus and a few new friends. It was on this day that Sandeep joined our school at St. Ursula’s . Slim , tall, handsome , fair and well dressed in long half pants and shirt. He was seated at the table next to mine. We exchanged smiles , introduced ourselves and a relationship was soon established which lasted as one full of love, mutual respect, help and fun for the rest of our lives until yesterday when he passed away. Brain haemorhage had consumed the life of a perfect human and a wonderful friend. I have no words to describe the loss which has been devastating.
As school progressed I remember distinctly my drawing classes. We all had the Camlin paint boxes of water colors. Sandeep had a set of small tins of Camlin poster colors. He invariably kept passing them to me as I painted. I never asked for them, but he always did that, the kind soul that he was. He was good at studies too . His father worked at Telco and they were a well off family . He had no airs about his well to do status. He was a simpleton. As we kept moving from one class to the other our friendship kept on growing . We would be together at classes doing projects at the end of the year. I remember he had a ready to assemble jetking transistor set for his project, which on final assembly actually worked. He shared everything he had with all of us. He was good at cricket and hockey, I can’t forget the style with which he played . A good all rounder at the game. As we grew up we got closer. We reached the 10th standard and that’s when he first came to my home.
Not many of my friends had then been to my place except for those who lived near me like Paul . Only Jaydev and later on John were the few exceptions. I too never wanted any one to come home as we lived single room chawls. It was embarrassing to get the rich and affluent from visiting our places. But with Sandeep I was only too happy. He had no issues,no airs, always accommodating nature, he was happy to be be in my company and home.
We finished our 10th or matriculation and it was time to part ways. Some of my friends and myself joined Jai Hind junior college at Pimpri. Others went to Wadia college, Fergussen college etc. A few of them along with Sandeep jad joined St. Vincent’s. After 11th standard he along with Dharmendra left Vincent’s to join Ferguson college.
All this time he kept coming home on and off. The chair at the corner of our room near the door would be his seat. Else he dit on the washing stone slab outside our room and spent ling hours chitchatting.
He interacted with my parents and after some time both of us would go for a ride. He had this vijay super scooter and we would go to Chinchwad gaon ,where there was a hotel by the name of Vrushali. Snacks, tea followed by a cigarette was the routine. I don’t remember having ever footed the bills, well I never had the money. It was Sandeep all the time. All this time we were talking, discussing matters political, educational etc. Cracking a few jokes and what not. As dusk fell he would again drop me home. The Vijay super later was replaced by the Yamaha 350, nice powerful bike, the best money could buy back then. It was fun riding pillion on that bike. Wonderful memories.
We got through our junior college and I joined the medical school at BJ . Before I joined B J Medical I had joined Ferguson collage for BSc and spent a couple of months there . Again here Sandeep was by my side introducing me to new friends at Ferguson. The camaraderie continued until I joined the medical college. Later Sandeep would come to my hostel on and off. We still found time for each other.
I can’t recollect exactly but if my memory serves me right , Sandeep later joined some Regional Engineering college at Nagpur or some other place. Our meets stopped and the flurry of letters began. He would regularly keep writing, the only letters I ever received at the hostel were from him. He was not happy in the college , didn’t want to complete it and so on. My replies were occasional but he was regular. He left the college later on, and one fine day again landed up at my hostel. Times flew , soon I passed out got married and our meets became lesser, main reason being his parents had shifted from Chinchwad to Pune. He too got married flew to the States and for a period of time no contacts. It was only whenever he came to India he made it a point to call and meet up .
With the advent of the mobile, what’s app and social media , again we were in touch regularly. We had our class whatsapp group . Well Sandeep , Rajan, Shreeram and myself had a separate core group . We called it the backroom group . It still exists but now Sandeep is no more.
His visits to india brought classmates together. Can never forget those meets, especially the ones at golf club, Balewadi high street or the last one in the winter of November 2021 at Poona club. We spent a lot of time all 9 of us classmates, remembering school dates our mischievous adventures, our teachers and our past life experiences. We had promised to meet soon but fate would have it other wise.
It was 5 to 6 days ago his brother Jaideep called me to inform that Sandeep had a brain haemorhage and was in a hospital ICU at Seattle. It both shocked and saddened me, being a doctor I was apprehensive, bleeds are bad, on life support in an ICU wasn’t a good sign. I prayed that Sandeep recover, God couldn’t be so cruel. In fact I was scared to even follow up daily with Jaideep, fearing any bad news. Today as I inquired with Jaideep and learnt that Sandeep had passed away, I couldn’t hold back my tears, I haven’t cried in a long time, but losing Sandeep has pained me a lot. That lovable, handsome, caring friend of mine is no more. There is nothing I can do but to grieve.May God give his soul eternal peace. May his wife and children have the strength to bear the pain.
Life is unpredictable. Sandeep’s sudden death has retirated this. Make it a point to keep meeting old friends whenever the opportunity arises. Who knows what tomorrow has in store for us . Good bye my friend….it’s been a huge loss for all of us