SAUDADE

His name was Sai. As far as my memory can recall, he’d always been in my life. 

He and I were childhood friends, we did everything together. Hell, I’d even go as far to say he was my soulmate, with every sense of the word. We attended the same school, we grew up together. played together, the whole nine yards. It was like that for a majority of our youth leading up to the latter years of our adolescence. 

Our lives began to take a different course once we graduated secondary school and went onto college. Sai had gone on to major in Biochemistry at a prestigious institution in Madhya Pradesh, one state over from our hometown.I went on to do Environmental Science at our local community college. Although we were now apart, we made an oath to talk to one another and check-in at least once every day. I remember distance taking some time to get accustomed to, I’d blame that on our old routine of seeing each other, of course without responsibilities getting in the way. On the bright side, during his break he’d come home from college. Those were one of the best few days throughout the year for me. Every time he came home, it was like I was living a nostalgic dream. It’s like we were those little kids again.

It was blatantly obvious that I was in love with him, anyone would’ve been able to tell as it was written all over my face. At times, I was embarrassingly smitten around him and my friends would call me “tomato face”. It was pretty hard to hide at times. Even though Sai and I were close, a romance between us was almost impossible. Him being a Kashyap boy, while I was Maheshwari kept us romantically separated. I’m sure we were both aware that a relationship presented itself with more pros than cons. Especially since both of our families held their traditions high. 

Sai did have his run of relationships and girlfriend struggles, albeit he wasn’t good with them. Of course, despite my romantic feelings towards him, I put my jealousy aside to be there for him during his darkest hours with my shoulder to cry on. Sai went through several episodes of heartbreak, being his friend it was painful to watch him cry many nights. It took a hefty lot for him to heal from them. It wasn’t until his final semester that we started kindling a romance between us. We both agreed that if it didn’t work out then our friendship wouldn’t be at risk and promised to stay in each other’s lives. Since we were young, both of our families were quite acquainted with each other, but despite that they had no plans for him and I leading into marriage. Being a woman from a very conservative Maheshwari family, they’d wouldn’t have approved of our relationship due to bearing different cultural values. So we kept our fling a bit of a secret from our parents. We loved each other so much that this one obstacle, felt seemingly so small, hopefully didn’t get in the way of our love.

Finally, I was in a relationship with my best friend. I would call it the most magical years of my life. In the beginning, I became all too familiar with butterflies fluttering around in my stomach. Being at his side while hand in hand was all I could ever ask for, at times I couldn’t believe it. I was living in a real dream that was almost too perfect. We both had great jobs so we made decent money and got to do all the things we wanted. This had been the period we couldn’t ask for anything more so we couldn’t have been happier. I suppose in all of this, I had gotten so astrayed in love that I forgot the calamities that came along with it.

It wasn’t until we both turned 25, that my parents had started looking for a suitable match for me all while behind my back. Upon finding this out, all I remember is being filled with pacing emotions. At this point my parents had figured out that Sai and I had been seeing each other, but they never considered him to be a possible option for marriage. I was harshly instructed to break up with him since his Kashyap values didn’t align with ours. My siblings had always warned me that this was bound to happen, but I was too ignorant to take into account that this day would come. My parents were so close minded that any pleading against their wishes would’ve led to no avail. Once I told Sai the news, I cried my heart out. It felt as though every heart string within my body had been severed by the dullest blade. It was absolutely crippling, so much so I went as far as to suggest we run away together, out of this reality, and far far away. It was at this point, that nothing else mattered. He told me that he had no plans of running away and he’d always remain my best friend through any inconvenience. He understood and respected my family’s decision even though it was a grueling one. 

“Family stays with you forever, no matter who you are, how high you fly, how low you 

sink. Your parents, brothers and sisters are your own. Never hurt them, be with them. You don’t get everything you want in life. In our case, we won’t get to be with each other forever. What we already have is way more than what most people get in a lifetime”

Those were the last words Sai relayed to me before we broke it off. Those are words I will forever cherish. It was filled with reassurance, but with sadness. 

Eventually, I got married the following year. He attended the wedding ceremony and endured every moment leading to when I was announced wife to my husband. The fact he was there at all, despite all that had happened reaffirmed his promise of always being there for me. Before the ceremony, I introduced Sai to my husband and they became familiar with one another, thankfully on good terms. I could tell through Sai’s eyes of somber that he hadn’t gotten over us, and certainly had no plans on moving on. As I was the only woman he loved with every fabric, but although our lives were lived separately, we still remained inseparable in spirit. 

  Not too long after the wedding he lost his dad. It was at this point, he’d lost both his parents. Sai’s mother died shortly after he was born, leaving him to be raised by his father and extended family. His father was a good man, but was immensely affected by the loss of his wife, so he never wanted or had plans to remarry. Being from a background like that, it’s clear that those experiences in itself shaped Sai to be the kind soul that he was. He took no soul for granted and appreciated everyone. Undoubtedly, the best thing about him was his ability to make very good friends, essentially the ones we grew up with in our childhood.

Unfortunately, he was involved in a tragic car accident that resulted in him succumbing to the injuries from the crash. He’d suffer with third-degree burns and few broken bones. Once I got that call from him, I remember my world shattering to pieces. I rushed to the hospital to see him as soon as I could, just to be at his side as he’s done for me. His wounds were gradually worsening with time. The doctors told me there was nothing they could do, but despite that he kept a smile on his face whenever I was around. It wasn’t easy to see my beloved friend in so much pain. It was on his deathbed that he told me a testament to how pure his love was for me. A love that is rare to come by. 

“See, thank God we didn’t get married. Or else you would’ve been a widow at the age of 29. I have no doubt that God would have been upset with me”

I was at his bedside in his final moments and while he was taking his last breaths. It was the last thing I could’ve done for him, as his best friend. I owe him a lot and even though it’s been a couple years since then, to this day I am still grieving. I am thankful to have grown up with him in the time he was alive, to have experienced everything that was him and more. If I could relive it all over again, with the exception of him sticking by my side til our end, I would. I hope , at least in the end that he was at least able to be with his mother and be reunited with his father.

I miss him.

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