I have learned a lot of life lessons over the years.
Some from my mistakes and some were the consequences of my poor choices.
Most of those helped me become a better person and the rest changed the way I look at things in life.
They not only changed my perspective but also taught me how to tackle unexpected challenges in life.
Eight years ago, around 7 pm, I stood outside a local grocery store, searching my pocket for my keys.
I struggled as I had a carry bag in one hand and also the phone was getting in my way.
I felt it buzz a couple of times and I realized that I had turned it on accidentally.
I didn’t feel like talking that was the plan
I pulled it out to switch it off again.
I didn’t feel like talking to anyone, I planned to avoid all the social interactions.
I was intrigued by some notifications flooding in a WhatsApp group of old friends that have been inactive for ages.
I read them one by one until I found the start of the thread.
It was a text from a very close friend. It read, “my father had a heart attack yesterday, he passed away.”
My mind started synchronizing with the terrible news I had just received.
That painful moment is something I hope no one has the misfortune of experiencing. It happened in a split second.
It wasn’t exactly like they show in the movies.
I didn’t drop those things I was holding.
I tighten the grip.
All my senses dialed down, everything around me slowed down, and everything went inaudible.
Suddenly, I was looking for a place to sit.
I slid my phone into my back pocket and continued to search for my keys, but still, I couldn’t find them.
I felt nauseated. I had to sit. I crossed the road and sat on my bike parked upfront.
I realized that it wasn’t a reaction to her father’s death but a reaction to my guilt.
She had called me a day before, now I could assume why.
She must have called when her dad was rushed to the hospital.
I didn’t answer.
I saw the call, the phone was in my hand, but I didn’t.
To avoid her for a couple more hours, I switched it off.
I was in a bad mood.
My results were declared three days ago.
I failed two subjects. I knew I was going to, after all, I didn’t study well enough.
I was enjoying my restriction-free days in my new apartment.
Still, failure is a failure, and I was upset.
I didn’t answer any social calls, I barely went out and didn’t talk to my parents either.
I didn’t want them to know.
So, I decided to pass those subjects in the next semester.
It won’t have affected the year, and my parents will never know.
This is how I used to deal with a tough time.
I used to isolate myself.
Whenever I was upset, I cut people out of my life for a few days so that I don’t bring them down with me.
That’s how I used to justify my selfish attitude and bad behavior.
Later I realized, I had my best interest in mind.
By avoiding people around me, I was running from my responsibilities.
Now I know that Relationships are two ways street.
If I care about their lives, I should be there for them when they need me.
And that day, I missed a chance to be with someone who always stood by me in the past.
That particular month was a lousy one, and I thought to myself, “what’s happening?” This was the 5th bad news in 20 days since I moved out of the campus.
I resided in the campus hostel for a year before I got an apartment nearby with the same guys I shared the hostel room with. Most first-year students who are away from home prefer to stay inside the campus to get to know the new place and the city.
I made a lot of friends there.
Triple-sharing rooms and all of us living right next to each other was one of the reasons why we were like a big family living in a big old building.
We shared everything, and we cared about each other.
We all stood by one another.
In the second year, I moved out and got an apartment outside the campus.
Despite not sharing the same building and bathrooms anymore, I was still in contact.
One of them overdosed in the first month, one was hit by a car, and one got beaten to a pulp.
The residential buildings were rejecting us like a nasty infection.
It wasn’t their fault.
Bachelors are a pain in the ass to live with.
And most of the time, my friends were at fault.
I knew right then and there, I can’t control their actions.
All I could do is to be there when they need me.
But none of the news hit me like this one, because most of them were just the consequences of their own actions.
But this, she didn’t deserve to lose a father.
No one does.
I realized that I was sitting on the bike for the past 2 hours.
Thinking about her, and what she might be going through.
I saw the empty road and shop owners rolling down their shutters.
My dairy was melting away.
I took my phone out and called her.
She didn’t answer.
I read the message again and again.
What do I reply to something like that?
All of a sudden, I heard someone call my name.
It was one of my classmates, “I heard about what happened, sorry. It will be okay though. If you need anything let me know.” he said. I was surprised.
How could he know about something that just happened?
It turns out, he was talking about my results and not the current situation.
My small mind could not comprehend a stranger being nice to me. “Thank you!” I said
“I have some notes I studied from, if you need them, let me know. Have a good night, man!” he said while slightly tapping my shoulder.
“That will be great, thanks. Goodnight.” I replied. Then He left.
It felt good.
Suppose a random person could make me feel that way, I am an old friend of hers.
I should say something. I must reply.
So, I did. “I am sorry I wish I could be there for you. I know you need space, and I understand the pain you are in right now. Sorry, I haven’t been a good friend lately. If there’s anything you need, anything at all, please let me know.”
Then I fired up the engine and rode back to the apartment.
Nothing is more upsetting than coming back to an empty flat.
My roommates were at the movies.
I didn’t go with them.
That’s the reason why I was at the store buying my dinner. I made coffee, went out on the balcony, the world was fast asleep.
It was a quiet night.
The silence started to get to me.
So, I decided to watch a sitcom or stand up.
Booted up my laptop and resumed watching “How I Met Your Mother.”
I could use some comedy. Sadly, the universe had a lesson to teach me.
I ended up with the most emotional episode of the entire season, “S6 Ep13- Bad News”. Those who have watched it know the intensity.
I was already relating to the fact that I didn’t answer my dad’s call, just like the character did.
When his wife jumped out of the cab, eyes filled with tears and said, “Your father had a heart attack, he didn’t make it.” He burst into tears.
I cried too.
I am not the emotional type, but everything at that point was so overwhelming, I couldn’t help.
It was at 2 am.
I switched on my lights and picked up my phone to call my dad.
He answered, and the first words from his mouth were, “Son, Are you okay? What’s going on?”.
I could listen to my mother in the background, saying, “what happened? Is he okay?”
I have never called them this late.
I said yes, I am fine, and then I blurted out everything. They told me that my academic success wouldn’t matter if I weren’t happy, and I should not hide anything from them.
I didn’t sleep that night.
My roommates didn’t come home, they informed me the same via a text message.
I knew I had to apologize for my behavior when they are back.
I went to see my best friend in the morning.
I knew he would be in the field early for the practice, which I have been missing for days. I told him what happened the night before.
To which he said, “let’s skip the practice today. We both need some food.” We went out to have breakfast.
I invited my roommates to join us as well. I had forgotten about skipping dinner, and I was feeling better with every bite.
That day I learned an important lesson, I realize how lucky I was to have parents that love me more than my grades and good friends. I have something valuable and I should hold on to it. If I take that for granted, one day, it might go away.