It’s his birthday today. It would have been nice if he was around. Unfortunate then, that he’s been gone four months and a half. I remember that late night in January when I got the call. I was preparing to leave home for another year. Khushroo was alone in Michigan, waiting for his next semester to begin. The phone call didn’t say much – he was in the hospital, he had a fall when he was out walking somewhere. It wasn’t good news, but how bad could it be? I’d spoken with him just a couple of days before this. Everything had seemed normal.
The next morning I came to know that he was comatose. It didn’t make sense that something so serious could happen so suddenly. We waited the initial few days hoping he would get better, that he might somehow emerge unscathed. His family had flown to the US to be with him. It wasn’t to be. After fighting for more than a month, Khushroo passed away on the 18th of February this year.
At that point, I had known Khushroo for sixteen years. We had been close friends for thirteen of those years. I’d say we knew each other quite well. No man is perfect; you take the good with the bad. Khushroo didn’t have too much of the bad. He was obstinate to the extreme. It was impossible to get an idea out of his head once it got in. He could sometimes be very negative.
That was all, however. He was among the smartest peers I’ve known in my life. I get the feeling that he would have stayed near the top of that group even as we’d grown much older. There wasn’t a grain of malice in him – he was a genuine person. There was the infectious laughter. There was the fact that he rarely refused requests for help. He liked playing sports and was well read. He was generally a popular person among his peers. His modesty and genial demeanour probably had something to do with that.
Like it happens to all of us at some point in our lives, the past few years had been a bit of a rough patch. We’d talked to him, tried to convince him to do something about it, but he was stuck too firmly in a negative rut. Then he applied universities in the US to get an MS and start anew. He applied to a top university and was selected. Some of the negativity carried over – he wasn’t very confident about how he would cope with the pressure of being in a hyper-competitive environment. I had no such doubts. At the end of that first semester, it was clear that his intellect hadn’t paled. He finished at the top of every course he had taken. He would have finished the programme at a similar place too.
There are so many good memories with him. Silly pranks in school, some very humorous moments, thought provoking conversations and much more. As school children, we had bonded over playing PC games on the school LAN. He was an accurate marksman and a good sport. Over the years that hobby had given us so many times to remember. It’s hard to believe that there won’t be any more.
The explanation that we got was that he had suffered an arteriovenal malformation in his skull. A blood vessel had burst, leading to brain haemorrhage, which led to the coma. It was caused by either a congenital weakness in the vessel, or by a childhood head injury, I’m not sure which. Either way, the doctors said that it was a ticking bomb that could have exploded at any point. Might he have survived if he hadn’t been alone when it happened? Maybe it would never have happened at all? Maybe a chance medical examination would have detected the condition? So many possible outcomes, and yet, the only certainty is that it happened when he was all alone in a foreign country. It’s easier to accept a personal tragedy when there’s a cause and effect. To lose a life to a seemingly random situation such as this suggests that god, if he exists, does play dice.
I’m not really sure why I’ve waited so long to type this out. Some part of me still wants to believe that he’s somewhere around the corner, about to call me, or perhaps just knock on the door. Writing a eulogy feels too final. The fact that he isn’t around to wish today is a jarring reminder that he won’t be coming back. I don’t think I’ve come to terms with his passing. There’s sadness, but there’s also a sense of outrage. It’s wrong that a man should have to die at the age of 25. It’s wrong that I’ve lost a close friend to a random medical condition. It’s wrong that someone who fought through a bad time was denied his moment of redemption. It’s wrong that his family has been denied the joy of seeing him make something of himself. It’s wrong that I’m writing this post about his passing so late, and yet it’s wrong that I’m writing it at all.