I grew up in the small town of Shoranur, with picturesque paddy fields and the 'Nila River' flowing by. The "Valluvanad", from the erstwhile era, didn't embrace the saga of change post independence, through its many folds of revolution, the green and the white. Valluvanad still remains a cluster of small towns, frequented by the film crews with their cameras, to gift the average malayalam movie lover, a panoramic nature experience, not of the jungle, but the green of the paddy fields and the tranquility of the green carpets, meeting the blue skies.
Arun and Biju, my two friends from church, thought it hilarious that I was a novelty straight out from the movie sets of 'Adoor Gopalakrishnan', the 'Satyajit Ray' of the South Indian cinema, because of my profound silence for days, even while I was loafing around with them. We went for christmas carols, wooed females studying in the local girls school, got drunk for the first time sitting on the banks of the river 'Nila' and talked about the bitch called life. We were friends, poles apart, but holding a thin line of familiar notion about the 'concept of fun'. Another startling contrast was what music did to the three of us; for me music meant time to sleep, while for them, it was the time they really came alive, singing and playing many an instrument which I didn't even knew existed.
8 years have gone by since I moved out from the small town, and both were there helping my family not just with the packing, but the laborious un-packing in the new city. Biju ventured into many a business and jobs, of which I lost track, while Arun shifted his base to the U.S of A and eventually got married couple of years back, with his childhood sweetheart, a wedding which I couldn't attend, because of some silly reason. Biju had called me on the wedding night and abused me for my absence and having not met either of them in years. I shrugged it off calling him drunk and asking him not to call me when slurred with spirits. The drunk sessions over the phone reminding me of my failure in meeting the friends from childhood repeated many a time, and I invariably laughed or shrugged, as the voice from the other end sounded.
My friend was found hanging from a tree by the side of 'Nila' in early hours of dawn today, with his feet dangling inches from the ground. Hanging alone and cold, at a place, where the three of us have sat nursing dreams about the future and many a bottle neck. The pun artist God, made sure he was hanging stiff by the side of a river, around the same place that was surrounded by our laughter and dreams. People whisper about it as a suicide, tempted by financial crisis, but I find it hard to fathom. He loved his life, he loved the years passing by, bringing forth the christmas and the new year, he loved his existence and new reasons to celebrate it.
I can't remember the time I last met him in person, how much ever I try ponder, but his voice from some months back, slurred with alcohol, sounds so very clear in my ears, rebuking me yet again about my failure as a friend. I sit back laden with thoughts of growing up and realizing I wouldn't be meeting Biju again, apart from tomorrow, when he would be shrouded in a white cloth and buried in the cemetery, where we had sat for hours getting drunk on beer. The last few years I knew so little about him and he would laugh at me from his grave and remind me of how miserable a friend I am, not meeting him one final time when he could have actually talked.