We all have friends, we all also have some good friends and then there are some real friends!!
It was a chilly winter morning of 11 th of January 1989. Our winter vacations were almost getting over.
There was a sign of sunlight after almost 3 weeks of the darkest possible fog. For those who have not experienced winters in cold areas, let me tell you the cold is so biting, you feel like eating red hot burning coal…yes indeed!
It was during this time, that we four friends Faisal, Manish, Manoj and me decided to visit the Devipatan temple before parting for our respective hostels. We decided to meet at our regular adda ‘Sharma ji kitapri’. I can bet no one makes better samosas than Sharma ji. How I would love to savour it’s divine smokey fragrance which comes from the burning of wood coal… in the tea break at Dhwani.
Coming back to the story, we reached early morning and fueled ourselves with piping hot samosas and a full glass of chai. The pleasure you get from holding a glass of chai in that weather is bliss. So after fueling our tummies we were ready to move onwards. We proceeded on two bikes and the temple was about 30 kms away. When we had just about covered 5 kms suddenly there was a blast… boooom… mybi ke’s rear tyre had burst. It was no more possible for all four of us to proceed, so it was decided that the
other three would move on in a single bike and I would get my tyre repaired and returnhome. I reached home and promptly went to sleep in the welcoming comfort of my warm blanket.

Rasheed… Rasheed get up… phone for you… hurry up… it’s from the hospital! my brother said. What? From hospital?…

I grabbed the phone to learn my three friends had met with an accident. They had only provided my name as the person to be contacted.
I rushed to the hospital and found out Manish was badly injured while Faisal and Manoj had got some minor injuries. They were racing ahead as only young guys can and were caught unawares when a sugarcane loaded truck suddenly appeared out of the fog. They tried to manage the situation but skidded badly along the road, unfortunately the road alongside was under construction and had a layer of small pebbles. Manish was literally dragged along the whole length and the skin of his body at many places got peeled off.
He was hospitalized for a long time and it was mostly we three who took care of him then, as his siblings were not around and his parents were old and ailing. Even in this situation friends don’t stop being friends and never leave an occasion to trouble each other. Let me recount what happened. Manish was lying in bed almost completely wrapped in bandages quite like an Egyptian mummy and Manoj was with
him then. Manoj noticed Manish’s father walking into the floor; he removed a tobacco paan masala packet and started crackling it to gain Manish’s attention. Manish who was a habitual masala consumer not having eaten masala since the time of the accident, started requesting for it. Manoj refused and only relented when Manish’s father was just about to enter the room. His mouth was full when his father walked in…you all can understand what followed.

So that is the true flavor of friendship, never leave an opportunity to finger your friend and also always be willing to sit with your friend even in jail, not just arrange for the bail. So that chilly winter morning turned out to be a reaffirmation of our friendship.

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