We met in one of the Yahoo! chat rooms in early 2000s. Those days, after work, I used to sign in daily to the chat rooms and look out for my favorite strangers who were frequent visitors to the same chat rooms I used to visit. Goodomen999 was one of them. We talked about everything – philosophy, astrology, society, literature, etc. Almost a year later, we started chatting a lot more through the night and eventually disclosed our identity in private messages. And then I virtually met Bhavesh through text messages on the messenger.
It’s been 20 years of friendship since then! I only know that he was 12 years elder to me, hailed from Gujarat, and was a romantic at heart. We shared lot of values, interests, and ideologies. I am still not aware of where he studied, who were his friends, what were his habits, what he did before we introduced ourselves on chat, but since we moved to private chat and then mobile phone calls, we kept each other informed of the milestones in our lives.
We became each other’s sounding board in life, friends who understood each other without the need for the other side to say anything. We shared about our respective romantic phases of life, heartaches, professional ups and downs, travel plans, parents’ health, finances, and what not, everything that goes in people’s lives between the age of 20-40! And all that just on phone while he was in Bhavnagar, and later in Ahmedabad, and I in Delhi, and later in Bangalore.
We never felt the distance and never realized that we have only met twice in life. Once when he came to visit me in Delhi, and I gave him a city tour – took him to see the Red Fort, Chandni Chowk, the sound and light show at the Old Fort, and then to my house where he met my parents and we all had a lovely evening. The second time was when I visited Ahmedabad in January 2015 and met him and his wife Nita, an equally warm and practical person. It was a short visit and I barely remember our conversation but I remember that he was very happy because we had gone through his struggle when he bought the house I visited.
Life has been simple with Bhavesh, a friend I could call anytime and he would be there. My friendship with him reminded me of nicer things in life – simplicity, joy in little things, kindness, being available for people who matter, taking on life’s challenges with a smile and little planning, providing care to the elderly, songs and poetry, and more.
Last November (2020), I lost Bhavesh to COVID-19. In January 2021 when I tried reaching him on his phone, Nita informed me of his demise and my world came crashing down!
I lost my dearest friend and would no longer have a sounding board, a virtual care that I used to enjoy, a bond I used to depend on, a friend on call! He is the first friend I lost in life and I can only realize what pain people go through on losing a dear friend. It has left a void that to this date keeps reminding me of the loss. I don’t remember my last conversation with him because it was casual and we never expected that it could be last! I could have told him how valuable he has been to me throughout life and how I have enjoyed his company, how I was planning to send some good poetry books to him once the courier restrictions ease, how my parents remember him, and how precious his existence was for me. If ever I knew it was the last conversation! I will miss you, Bhavesh. Goodbye until we meet again!