Sep 19, 2010
The worst had happened. The moment I heard that horrible sound of the accident a few minutes back and saw the disappearance of the Maruti in front of me, I had a strange feeling that something terrible had happened to Keith, my dear friend since the first day of my college three years ago.
It probably took four-five minutes for me to reach the crash site. It was wee hours in the morning as we were returning from the 'teen - adult only party' at a not-so-famous joint. I could see flames emanating from the car which had hit a light pole and then the adjacent wall.
Keith has fallen out of the burning car and I could see slight movement. And I ran towards him. His hand just made a sign and I could hear a whisper, 'Tell my Mom, I love her very much.”
And that was it. Complete silence from him, as if he had given his soul in my hands. Only the irritating sound of the car being burnt is heard until I hear the emergency vehicles rushing towards the crash site.
It was three years ago that I had met Keith on the first day of college. Probably it was destiny that we were seated next to each other and we became instant friends. Keith is the only child of his parents, and since his dad's death, his mother took upon herself to take care of the only son and make him a model human being in this world.
Keith did not disappoint her. The high marks that he got in 10th standard as well as in pre-university had earned him a scholarship which would not only help him complete BSc but even study further, and it was his ambition to get into the field of medicine later on. Besides, he was also a good singer, a talented actor and a modest sportsman. You can say he was a complete all rounder.
He had no bad habits, which was enough for many to make a noise and feel jealous of him. You could hear remarks like 'Keith the Saint,' 'One and only - but very lonely' made whenever he passed by and being his best friend, I too would have felt such sentiments, even though I was not as pious as him.
Keith loved his mother very much. "I have to make this lady proud one day, for she has sacrificed her life for me," he used to say. As with all doting mothers, his mother too looked after him with great love and care, though being a single working mother she may not have been in a position to fulfil all his wishes. She often cautioned him, "Son take care of yourself, I know you and trust you but it could be external factors, it could be unwanted company, or accidents…” "Mother, I am not a child any more,” he used to shut her up with one sentence.
Life like this continued for almost three years, and external factors that his mother referred were evident even more openly, due to the simplistically humble but dashing approach that Keith practiced. With the zeal that he thrust in every single thing he did, it was no surprise when his hardwork paid off and he brought laurels to the university and earned even more jealousy from fellow students. This man needs to be thought a lesson, I heard someone murmuring.
It was in the third year that his mother could give him the gift he wanted - a modest Maruti. Keith and I had been always together, but this car created a distance between us as he now began to come to college on his own. However, our interaction in the college remained as before.
It was just a month before the final exam - time for all the students to come together and have some fun – 'all together for one final time.' Some considered it a 'wild party' while a few called it 'teen - adult only party.'
Normally these parties start at ten in the night and continue till early morning. And this was one party neither Keith nor I wanted to miss. The party began as usual on a sober note with games and singing but eventually as midnight struck it really became wild. Keith, though he initially refused to drink beer, what with students gathering and making a din, eventually gave in. After all, he too was human. Little did he know that someone, out of sheer jealousy, would mix a banned substance in his drink. As he drank, Keith could make out that something was strange and wrong about the beer.
"I am going home,” Keith told me a few minutes later. I was surprised but his face told the story. He would not change his mind. Even though I wanted to continue with the partying I told him, "Okay Keith, I will follow you.” He refused, but I insisted. And we were on our way back. I could see Keith suddenly accelerating which is so unlike him, and I had to work really hard to keep up. The few drinks I had taken earlier didn't help matters either.
Next thing I knew I heard the terrible sound of the crash. The worst had happened. As I touched his hand he whispered, "Tell my Mom I love her...."
Subsequent medical tests did reveal the banned substance in his system. There was an investigation, but would the mother get her boy back? Will the bright boy that Keith was be brought back?
Vivian Castelino - Archives: