Cuteness prevailed in her eyes. Sweetness overflowed from her lips when she spoke. A ring of happiness dwelled around her. She was the apple of her parents’ eyes and the blue-eyed girl in the school. Above everything, she was my best friend – Harshika. This is a story that took place nine years ago when we were in seventh grade.
On a fine Saturday morning, I stood outside Harshika’s home and shouted, “Hey Harshika, come down fast otherwise I will go to school without you.” In spite of my admonishing call, she took another fifteen minutes to get ready and come down. Somewhere deep down she knew I could never leave her for any reason whatsoever. Not just Harshika, even I had the same level of trust in her. Well, this was just the sisterly side of ours. However, there was another side too, which came to the fore when we reached our school. As usual she wanted the front row seat in the classroom and I loved being the back-bencher. She was the brilliant one between two of us. Finally we settled onto the third row after a long verbal duel and the day went on like any other.
That night, it rained cats and dogs with thunder and lightning. Next morning, when the sun rose everything looked fresh as if God had cleansed the earth of all the impurities. Harshika came to my home around 10:15 am. Looking a bit perplexed, she grabbed my hand and dragged me into my room. I asked her surprisingly, “What’s the matter?” She said, “I don’t know what happened last night but I felt a strange thing. Believe me, it happened, I wasn’t dreaming.” She said something which made no sense to me. I tried again, “Sit here & explain. What happened? Why are you talking so vaguely?” Taking a long breath she began, “You must know how it rained yesterday. In the middle of the night I heard a thunder and was so afraid. I called my father in a loud voice, my eyes still closed. I could not bear the terror of the dark night. Suddenly, I felt a soothing hand on my forehead and thinking that it was my father’s, I went back to bed.” She halted to take a breath. Meanwhile, I said, “Then what’s strange so strange with it? It…” She didn’t allow me to speak any further and continued, “When I hugged my father the next morning thanking him for the previous night, he laughed at me saying that I must have been dreaming. But you know, I am sure I was not dreaming. There was someone. I am very confused, whom had I met! Please help me and please don’t think that I was dreaming.”
I was dumb-struck. I didn’t know what to tell but I had to tell her some thing. I laughed and said, “Maybe it was the devil.” But looking at her innocent eyes in tears, I immediately said, “Hey I was just joking, I think it was God’s hand blessing her beloved child.” To my surprise, she smiled and putting her hand on my head, she said, “Dear, not only me but even you are God’s beloved child. So I am showering all His blessings on you that He bestowed upon me.” We laughed it off but no one knew what this act of passing on her blessings onto me meant.
The week passed peacefully. Monday morning, while in the classroom, Harshika started coughing badly. I gave her water but her coughs didn’t stop. Suddenly, I saw some spots of blood on her palm.She puked blood and fainted. Within minutes, she was taken to the hospital and her parents were called. Her mother wailed, “My little princess, How could God be so harsh to her? Why her, why not me?” The Doctors said that she had a malignant tumour in her stomach and will have to undergo a major surgery which could be fatal. For a moment, I could not feel anything. I was numb!
Harshika was shifted to the best hospital in the city. For the first time in my life, I realized that there were many more important things in life than just losing a pen, missing your favourite television show, getting scolded by your teacher, not getting the matching dress, eating tasteless healthy dishes made by your mom or feeling upset when your dad forgets to bring ice-cream for you. I realised, it’s the people we love from the core of our heart, who add value to our life. I could do anything for Harshika, but did not know how or what. All I could do was pray every minute of the day. The most astonishing thing was that amidst all this, Harshika kept smiling which gave us the strength to bear the hard times.
After four days, Harshika was taken to the operation theatre for surgery that went on for the longest five hours of my life. Doctors informed us that she was very critical and anything could happen. I was angry and nothing gave me solace. It felt as if I was burnt completely from within.
She opened her eyes three days after the surgery and turning her face towards me called out my name. I sat beside her holding her hand. She had become too pallid. I felt like giving all my strength to her.
It was hard for her to speak but she, my Harshika was brave. She tried to smile and said, “Mom, Dad I love you”. Then she faced me and said, “Dear, I know there has not been a day when we have been apart. I know it is difficult for you and my parents to live without me but you all have to accept the truth that I will have to go away soon.” Her parents burst into tears but there was something very serene in her smile. She turned towards me and said, “You remember the day when we were discussing about whose hand it could have been. I will surely investigate and let you know whenever I get a chance of coming in your dream.” Saying this, she closed her eyes again.
Four days passed and she did not open her eyes. She seemed like a sleeping angel. On the fifth day, a doctor came out from her ward and said, “I am very sorry Sir, we tried our best but could not save her.” Everyone there started crying but I just could not react. Harshika’s last words kept coming back to my mind. I could not understand why was she so concerned about knowing whose hand was it, devil’s or God? Maybe she wanted to know whether devil had poured all the unhappiness or God had bestowed his choicest blessings on her, which she had passed onto me. I wanted Harshika to visit me in my dreams and tell it to me. I did not want to miss the opportunity of meeting her even in a virtual dream world.
It has been nine years now, Harshika has still not visited me. Maybe it was the hand of God and Harshika does not want me to feel guilty that I had taken all her blessings and she had to suffer. But I will keep waiting for her till my last breath. It is not the curiosity of knowing the answer but the hope of seeing my beloved friend once again…