1997, An Era Has Passed, Part 2


Karthik’s Story, An Unfinished Life

Losing a friend like Karthik was a personal setback for both Sitaram and me. Karthik had been nurturing for long an ambitious soul within his being, like a limited-edition diamond ring he wanted to protect at all costs, to make it up for his beloved father he missed so much.

Losing his father much earlier in life in Chennai was undoubtedly extremely hard upon young Karthik to deal with in the first place, not to speak of his entire family who upon losing their only bread winner/guardian could not continue to live in their own childhood city: Chennai.

Survival was not a problem but unforgettable memories were, and they were too many to break their hearts and scatter their lives into never-ending misery. His father was, I suppose, a minor-league film producer of Tamil and Telugu films back in his heydays. He produced enough films to make enough money that went a long way to send his eldest son to the US, not to mention the upbringing of his two daughters and the youngest son Karthik.

Karthik had once told me that I should not think that his father’s demise had anything to do with any film production losses or was in anyway debt-ridden for his family to pay back to the debtors. The fact was that his father had a congenital heart disease that dangerously aggravated his condition even after a prolonged diagnosis and had died following a cardiac arrest. Karthik’s father was no more living in this world, but his father’s death broke Karthik’s young heart. He had told me that if it were not for his mother, he would have taken his life that very day when his father left for his heavenly abode. Tears and abject helplessness in his mother’s eyes gave young Karthik his will to live long enough to serve his lone surviving parent.

I remember what Sitaram and I had told him once when we sat on the terrace of our office building eating from our open lunch boxes: “It’s not important, Karthik, the circumstances in which your father had died. What is perhaps more important is to live a life of purpose and dedicate it to your mother and your siblings. Live your life in the loving memory of your father. What’s undeniable is that you are suffering from the loss of your own dear father. But you have to live and be your father’s beloved son.” We know that Life is sometimes unfair; but this time it was totally unfair to Karthik.

His family thought it prudent enough to leave the city they were hitherto so happy living in. Even so, leaving his previous life in Chennai and not before completing his formal education, he had preferred to come away along with his surviving mother, two sisters and an elder brother to start a new life here in the city of Hyderabad. Chennai memories were always there in the family’s heart; they could never forget them and how could they.

Coming away to Hyderabad did bring a semblance of balance in Karthik’s personal life, not to mention his grave emotional situation which I am sure was at one time very overwhelming for him to tackle or come to terms with. He had appeared far better off than what he was dealing with in Chennai with all his unforgettable childhood memories and carefree college years and his father’s bread-winning and successful film production business which ultimately had ceased to exist. There could be a variety of reasons given for that, but I never felt right to press Karthik to come forth with anything he preferred not revealing or talking about it. It was beyond me to get nosey in that way. On the contrary, he shared a lot of stories with us about his idyllic, happy-go-lucky life in Chennai, for instance: he shook hands with many a popular film stars, took their candid pictures and autographs and even shared a few laughs with them. For Karthik and his happy family, life was exactly what it was supposed to be. Idyllic.

I still remember so distinctly when Karthik’s elder brother, a US resident himself got married to a demure little girl of their mother’s choice at the new swanky Greek Park Hotel, Hyderabad. I and Sitaram, resplendent in our best attires, had attended the reception. We simply loved the food, the ambience, the grassy lawn where we had had a fine dinner, and of course the company of his entire family of distant relatives and cousins who came from different places to mark the occasion with gaiety and pride. The general bonhomie that ensued was a thing to behold. A sparkling night well spent in the company of Karthik’s well-turned out kith and kin.

We Still Miss Our Friend

Fate had dealt another cruel blow to the already much-bereaved family; our dear buddy Karthik Krishna who had the entire world at his feet breathed his last in a US hospital. Karthik was driving his brother’s car alone on an interstate freeway when a white punk slammed into his car from behind with such brutal force that Karthik lost control of his car and plunged headlong into a wayside ditch. He instantly passed out in his car which was twisted and crumpled beyond belief. Precious time elapsed before he was taken to a nearby hospital and put under emergency medication. He was almost lifeless; he never got out of the coma. After a long wait of two agonizing days and nights, our dear friend Karthik was declared deceased. In fact, as Sitaram recounted to me, after the accident he never regained consciousness, not even for a moment or two to see his mother, brother (whose care he was driving), and sisters who were waiting for him to come back. Karthik never woke up.

The dream of making up to his father’s wishes could not be turned into reality. Just when the things in his immediate family were slowly coming back to normal, God had to take Karthik away!

Sitaram and I had been missing him very much and the memories of our daily little post-lunch ‘Thums-up party’ at a Kirana cum bakery store tucked away in the by lane just behind our office building. Following the year 1997, my life changed dramatically, drastically; it never remained the same again, as though my very existence, my mind and spirit, took a heavy blow.

With Karthik’s passing away, our era of threesome friendship had also passed away. After Sitaram went back to the US, we hardly ever exchanged emails. Time and Distance took its toll on whatever traces of our friendship remained between Sitaram and me; that too had been eclipsed, permanently. Rest in peace, O dear friend Karthik, Rest in peace. Sitaram and I still miss you deeply. I dedicate a song for you dear:

“O yaara… tu pyaro se hai pyara,

O yaara… tu pyaro se hai pyara,

Mera hai, mera hi rahega,

Dil dara main toh yeh kahoonga

Paya jug sara… “

Among his many favourite English albums: one was undoubtedly AQUA. Songs like “I am a Barbie girl, in my Barbie world… Life in plastic; it’s fantastic… ” and “Doctor Jones”. He used to keep playing the chartbuster songs on his CD-walkman that he often carried to the office:

The other rock group he liked was MICHEAL LEARNS TO ROCK. MLTR’s “That’s why you go away”, “Sleeping Child”, “Someday” and songs so wonderful such as “Paint My Love” and “Breaking My Heart” were his perpetual favourites back in the year 1997, and mine too. There were others too that blared on our music systems all day and night: BRYAN ADAMS’ “I’ll always be right there”, “Straight from the heart”, “Heaven”, PHIL COLLINS, ROXETTE, BON JOVI, BEE GEES, ABBA, STING, with a lot of KENNY G’S “Songbird” and YANNI’S “Tribute” (one of our favourites!) thrown in.

(The fact is that the Barbie song – girly as it sounds – had caught our fancy so much that we made it a point to switch on MTV or Channel V as soon as we got back our homes from office and wait for the song to come up on the countdown, just for the heck of it. Such craze it was!)

With beloved Karthik gone forever, Sitaram too is no longer within my reach and is not even on the near periphery of my life that would give me hope, never mind howsoever small and reclusive, to catch up with him one day, or he with me. There is not even a small possibility of it left now. Unfortunately, he too is lost, perhaps forever, in the wilderness of Time and Distance existing between us friends living apart in separate worlds and not being able to come together to meet and greet; so much for the presence of social media these days.

And I still remember their sweet voices… they still echo in my ears. I’ll never forget them: long lost friends of mine. The year 1997 of our friendship can never be forgotten and it is one of the greatest years I have ever lived and had a chance to enrich my life with. Truly, an era has passed.

I am growing old but I still dream about those wonderful days I had spent in the company of my friends Karthik and Sitaram and the amazing days of our friendship, and I know I can never get those days of the year 1997 back. Perhaps not in this lifetime will we ever meet again. With Karthik gone from our lives, whatever little was left is now ancient history.

End of Part 2.


Source by Arindam Moulick

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