I wrote about my friend Sam two years back. Sam was an earnest man, dedicated to his work, always on the run, impatient to achieve what he had set his heart on.
The article ended with this:
“I was accidentally at the project office window one afternoon when I observed the strange arc of Sam’s car as he dashed typically to another downtown appointment. Sam was an excellent driver, and that reckless curve was bizarre.
I rushed out and found the car stalled on the sidewalk, Sam’s large frame sprawled on the steering wheel, motionless. Ominously, even the Rolex on his drooping wrist was still. My best friend, always in a hurry, had finally slowed down.”
I thought that was the end. It wasn’t.
He was his usual busy, brusque person, keen on achieving something he had in his constantly whirling mind.
I looked at him as he appeared on my door and I pressed his big hand. I said, with great feeling, “I have missed you, Sam.”
I had indeed missed his eager face, always full of optimism and spirit.
He just said, “I understand,” and then quickly added, “We have lots to do.”
I said, “Sam, those things can wait. I want to tell you how much I have longed to see you again.”
He just looked at me quizzically. As if he didn’t understand why I was saying this.
I said, “Don’t you understand? Maybe I never told you. You are an important part of my life. How important I didn’t know. But now I know. When you were not with me, I missed you acutely.”
He seemed almost embarrassed by my sentimentality. But perhaps he was also touched.
He said, “But now I am here. We can be together.”
“I am so happy to see you. So very happy.”
He just nodded.
I added, “Sam, we have been working together all these days and months. We talk only of schedules and deadlines. Maybe we should sometimes talk of something else too. You have been a good friend. You mean a lot to me. I feel you are hell-bent on our project. I admire that, but I also feel concerned. I believe you should take better care of yourself.”
Then I paused and asked, “Why are you panting, Sam?”
He was a big and heavy man. When he panted, it showed.
“Oh, the elevator in your building wasn’t working for some reason this morning.”
“So, you walked up all these eight floors?” I lived in a high-rise building.
If I knew Sam, he wouldn’t walk, he would run. He was an impatient man.
“Yes. But I am all right.”
“You are not. You are panting.”
“No, no. I am all right.”
Then he paused and said, “Let me use your bathroom.”
I pointed. The door closed. The next moment I heard him retching. The climb, especially his breathless run, had been too much for him, though he wouldn’t admit it.
Then the bathroom door opened, and I saw his ashen face. He wasn’t feeling well.
“Sam!” I cried out, anxious.
I quickly went up to hold his arm. The next moment I felt him collapsing, his legs giving way. I had a moment of panic, for I couldn’t sustain his heavy weight.
The next moment I woke up.
A thin ray of light was intruding through the curtains of my bedroom. It took me a few minutes to realize I was dreaming. My eyes were wet.
I had indeed missed Sam.
Friendship is hard to forget. Affection is hard to live without.