Saturday, January 7, 2012

Listening for Faith in A202

“Salman’s Room”

For us A202 will always be that, although you no longer stay there. Somehow part of your immense personality still lingers in a room now half-empty.

The night after I learnt of your departure, I sat on your empty bed. I don’t know what I was trying to achieve. An answer to why you left, perhaps? Perspective? Maybe a way to get over my guilt?

Because I am guilty. We were best friends in Sem 2, but drifted apart in Sem 3. We climbed roofs together, sat together in a corridor eating ice cream (and subsequently got told off together by the counselor who was passing by), got into all kinds of s***. Good times :D

So I should have known better. I recognized the signs, but I didn’t put them together. I knew things were going wrong, but I should also have known that they were falling apart.

On that night I sat on your folded mattress, on an empty bed, in a room right next to mine. I stare at the wall beside your corral, once covered with memos you wrote to yourself. Stuff like “There is no right or wrong, just right now”. But right now that wall is bare.  

I should have done something – anything – to ease your burden. Because behind that now-bare wall of A202 is my room. Where I stood by doing nothing, while you were silently (and not silently) crying for help. Behind that wall I stood by idly as you sank deeper into a personal hell. Of that I am guilty.

Sitting on what was once your bed I see the things you must have seen in your darkest hours. The ancient ceiling fan, the modest locker, the ordinary yellow door. Things you must have seen differently then than I do now. And again I question: where was I?

I couldn’t have advised you – mainly because I didn’t know what to say, or how to. I still don’t. But looking back I realize I could have provided something more precious than any piece of advice: a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on. But where was I?

Now I sit in a room half-empty, trying to listen to someone no longer present. I am too late. I am sorry; I did not help you reach for the faith you needed so much.

After that night, we finally met you in the corridors of our college. Your decision was final, we did not attempt to shake it. We know how stubborn (read: principled) you are. We are just glad you have not given up. By yourself you seem to have rediscovered faith in yourself. And although you are now “living outside the lines, [where] its nerve-wracking and disturbing, no road in front of you”, somehow you inspire in us a belief that you will make it somehow. I don’t know how; but God willing, you just will.

On that night I did not yet know all of this. And on an empty bed, and just a little too late, I sat a while longer; listening for faith in room A202...