A friend’s wish

Kitty, my bosom friend, was critically ill. I had not seen him for over six months as I was away from Bengaluru. I phoned him immediately on my return to tell that I would be coming to see him right away. “Listen,” his voice was feeble that instantly worried me. “I know how anxious you are to see me, but before you do any such thing, allow me to ask you a favour!”

I couldn’t help but wonder what on earth he was trying to ask me. We had been so close for over 60 years that something like a “favour” never existed between us. “Kitty, what is this new thing you are talking about now,” I asked. He could recognise the anguish in my voice. “Calm down, my friend,” he responded with his characteristic composure. “I don’t want you to come and see me!”

“What!” I gasped, unable to believe what I had heard. “I mean, I don’t want you to see me in this condition of mine.” He was trying to pacify my rudely shaken self.

“For God’s sake why?” I pleaded with him. “Because you will feel sad!” he replied, “And that is the last thing I want. You know I am undergoing a series of treatments for my dreaded ailment which have taken away your good old Kitty from my person. You may not even recognise me in my present state!”

“So what? You are my Kitty in whatever condition you might be!” “Now, don’t be stupid and sentimental. You have a certain image of me all these years and I want you to cherish the same! Won’t you oblige me, my friend?”

Nothing could have touched me deeper and as those scorching words gradually sank into my stunned mind, I could visualise the down-to-earth Kitty I knew to the core: the dashing extrovert blessed with remarkably impressive looks and a resonant voice which had made him instantly popular and whose life moved according to his own blueprint all through, making him a very successful businessman.

It didn’t take much time for me to understand his thoughts at this juncture. “I do understand, Kitty,” I said in a choked voice. “At least can we talk on phone every day?” “Definitely, it would make me immensely happy.” From then on it became my devoted routine to call up Kitty daily in order to prop up his spirits. And all the while, I painfully noticed his voice getting feebler and his words becoming unclear by the day. That fateful morning, it was his wife’s sob that I heard on phone announcing the end of our dream friendship.

“Can I take a last look at him before his final journey?” I pleaded with her hopefully. “Oh! No please! Don’t break your promise to him. He always trusted you and does so even now!” she said, her voice breaking. I did not have the heart to go against his wish and all I could do was to silently pray for the eternal peace of the departed soul.

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A friend’s wish

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