He had uncontrollable curly hair, always a mess. He had Bugs Bunny teeth and a spotty face. We were thirteen when we met and we were instant best friends.
One day, when we were in high school, he came to pick me up in a raggedy old car. With the way the car heaved to a stop in front of our driveway, my dad wasn’t so sure if I should get in that car with him. “Do you really know how to drive?”
Yes, Uncle. I’ve been driving forever.
You’re 15. Don’t lie. When did you start driving?
I argued with my dad and went anyways. I was the only girl who would sit behind him on his motorcycle. Mostly because no one had faith in his driving and because he never had a girlfriend. I was always writing love poems for his “crushes” and inevitably returning with bad news.
Later when we were in college and met only once or twice a year, we had a secret signal which meant that we were bored with the group and needed to get away. It was perfectly coordinated. We never failed to pick up on each other’s signals and we never even practiced.
In 2005, we graduated and started working in different cities in two distant corners of the world but we were still going through all the first times in life together. We were still being reckless and giving each other terrible advice over the phone.
One night, I was cribbing about my long working hours and poor pay. He was still trying to score with girls and was still a virgin, so he was cribbing about that. I joked that he might die a virgin and that would be the most hilarious thing ever. We were 23 by then and we were old friends.
The next night, he died on the way to the airport. It was a hit and run and no one knows who killed him. And suddenly my harmless joke seemed cruel and heartless and I have never stopped blaming myself for making it. It’s been almost ten years since that night. I didn’t go to his funeral and so for years I just waited for him to call me or for him to answer when I called his number.
Over time it became less and less, the missing and hurting. Our high school friends scattered all over the world. Some grew apart, some just changed. No one even talks about him anymore. I haven’t seen a picture of him in years, so I thought I’ll try to draw one.
B, I wish you could have seen that I got married, I even got hot at one point and then got fat somewhere along the way. That I left India, which I swore I’d never do. That I coped with it. I wish you knew that I still don’t find most people as funny as you. We’ve come such a long way since 13, such a long way from where we began. I guess I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.