Shiv Narain Mankad had not much in common with me.
We were not in the same college. We were neither neighbours nor lived in the same locality. Yes, We lived in the same town & it was a brief stay together in a NCC camp that had brought us closer. We ended up being thick friends.
My parents and other friends were always little uneasy about our friendship and often were reluctant to express acceptance to this young lad from the countryside.
I use to wander at times as to why don’t they accept him as he is. I feel I can now understand their dilemma as they were often looking for a common platform of worldly factors like family status, education level, mannerism, social strata etc., which probably was not there.
Shiv Narain was quite unmindful of all these expressions as I never found him disturbed by their marked indifference towards him.
Shiv was a true friend in the best sense of the word. Always there, when friends needed him.
We both were quite actively involved with “National Cadet Corps” or NCC as it is known to most of us here in India. We had attended many camps together including the Republic Day Parade Camp which is a dream camp for each NCC Cadet.
Now, there was another opportunity. A cultural contingent was to be sent for the Republic Day Parade Camp. Shiv had brought the news that selections would be held next Sunday at NCC Headquarters and all interested were to report for an on the spot selection.
Quite a few aspirants had gathered that day. Our NCC Commandant declared that only four Cadets are to be sent from our Squadron.
Our interviews went off well and after screening, a stage came where three Cadets had been finalised, and there was a tie between me and Shiv Narain for the fourth place. Both of us were interviewed again.
Shiv Narain was interviewed first. He came out smiling patted my back and said “Best of Luck !, you must give it your best try.”
I went in and the next few moments probably saw the worst side of me. Acting as the most selfish person I have ever known, I pleaded my case for inclusion in the team, obviously at the cost of my friend’s place.
I replied in response to a question that “I should be selected because I am more skilled than Shiv ( which was a fact. I was the Keyboard player for our cultural team ) and Shiv has attended the camp twice in as many years where as I have done it only once.”
I cannot forget all my life what the Commandant said to me. He said “Boy, You should consider yourself really blessed to have a friend like Shiv, who has already given up his candidature in your favour, using the same arguments”.
The walk from the interview room to the waiting hall was the longest I had ever experienced in my life. I had a heavy load of guilt on my shoulders. I did not know how to face Shiv.
But Shiv, made it very simple as always. He embraced me the moment I came out of the interview room and congratulated me with a child like excitement, that was so pure and pious.
I could not muster enough courage even later during the period that we were together to tell my friend that I, in one of my weakest moments, had behaved quite unlike a friend and that I am sorry about it.
The fact that I am writing this story is a testimony that I am still carrying the load of my guilt on my shoulders. I hope I will feel lighter now that I have written about it.
I have an intense desire to meet Shiv to tell him that he was the last Shiv, I have been unfriendly with and that I want him to know it for the sake of friendship.
Nitin Kulkarni; a global person with Indian abode; keen follower of human processes; a catalyst in human relations; disciple of serenity, simplicity, & excellence; is on an experiential learning expedition in life. Founder of “PAM”, the “Positive Attitude Movement”, he is also the facilitator of PAM’s universal expression “Nascent Dew Drops” , a free weekly E-zine of inspirational and motivational stories from real life experiences.
His other articles can be viewed on the web page Nitin Kulkarni’s work or can be requested by sending him an email. Visit his web site http://www.nascentdewdrops.com or log on to http://www.topica.com/lists/Nascent_Dew_Drops/ to register with the “Nascent Dew Drops” mailing list ! “Nascent Dew Drops” can also be subscribed simply by sending a blank e-mail to mailto:Nascent_Dew_Drops-subscribe.topica.com .