Years back when I was in school in Mumbai (Bombay as it was known then) I had a few friends living near Chowpaty (beach in Girgaum area). During the holidays I used to go there regularly to chat and play. I had a friend called Khandu who was boisterous, funny and smart. We got along famously and had fun on the beach or would play cricket and so on. Money in those days was always in short supply. Somehow we would manage money and have tidbits, drank coconut water, peanuts and gram!!
For days on we would do these things and how time flew. One day Khandu told me that he was travelling to his native place in Konkan a few days later. Next couple of days we had a great game of cricket. After the game, we had long chats on nothing specific. (Honestly, I do not remember any particular subject that we discussed in those days) The day before he travelled, we again had our game of cricket, chatted and said goodbyes. I checked the date on which he would come back.
Next day I had a game of cricket near my home, but in the evening I felt that I should go to Chowpaty to see the other gang. When I reached there, they were chatting in a group and were quite serious. I wished them and asked, “Has Khandu gone?” One of them said with a long face “He is gone”. I asked him why he is making such a long face and further said that Khandu will be back in about ten days. Suddenly he had tears in his eyes, and he said, “No. He will never come back!!” I just did not understand what he was staying.
What had happened was that Khandu had died in a hit and run accident, just half an hr after I said Goodbye to him the previous day. I suddenly felt as if I was hit by a train! I just did not know what to do. I just started drifting towards home; I do not remember when I reached home. All the time the sentence hitting me was ” He is gone!”