How long has it been? 10 years? Longer?
My memories of him are like little video clips. A few instances that always show up in my head like a google search results page if someone is to say his name...
When we first met, The Pilot was a cocky little boy of 8. He was a year below me in school, but we never met there. I knew him because his dad and mine were part of the same unit and we lived in the same building. We spent every squadron party the same way - convincing our parents to unlock the airplanes so that we could sit inside and then pretend we were out saving the world.
The Pilot knew the ranking system followed by the Navy, Army and Airforce. He was a sharp kid and we'd fight at least once in every single one of those 'parties'. Usually it was over who would be the Pilot and who would be the co-pilot.
I remember this once, we were at the Club and we got into a pretty bad fight. I say pretty bad coz he threw up at the end of it and I was in serious trouble. This other time he and another friend of ours chased me up the stairs with cricket wickets and we all beat each other up quite well. Yep, we were violent 9 year olds. But he was the first person who ever told me I'd "earned" his respect (And of course expected me to be honored).
We lost touch like Naval children always do. Safe in the knowledge that you always meet again. Inevitably. I never did send him a mail, though he did - and does - pop up in memories as people always do when they were from a happier time. I never even looked for him on facebook...
It bothers me that someone who I once knew so well moved away, grew up and died without me even knowing what his favorite band was or whether or not he believed in God.
I can't help it. The videos won't stop. I remember this other time, we were at some fancey hotel for some farewell party. Us kids locked ourselves in the huge bathroom and rolled up tissue paper, dipped them in freezing water and chucked them at each other from opposite sides of the room, pretending we were at war. More trouble. And the two of us were always in the most trouble because we were the oldest. Ah, the number of "setting an example" lectures we've heard is unbelievable. (The same party, to get back at him for something, I poured vinegar and chilli sauces in a glass and told him it was pepsi. He drank it. I will NEVER forget that look on his face.)
I can't help but laugh as I read through everything I've written. It sounds more like we were enemies than any sort of friends. But that's not true. I remember the countless evenings we spent playing 'FBI' in the building. Myself, The Pilot, and this other friend of ours were the FBI and four or five younger children would be the bad guys. The community hall on the tenth floor was where our HeadQuarters were located and the 'terrorists' could go anywhere they pleased. We had to bring them back to the HQ. Any way we could. I remember running down the stairs, floor after floor, making sure it was 'clear'. Summer Holidays have never been so much fun since.
The kid with the unbeatable tazzo collection. Those little flippy things they used to give you with Lays. He was the only guy in the building who crossed 400 without counting sibling tazzos (He was an only child). Well, till the day he woke up and declared he didn't want to collect them anymore and gave them all away.
Thank you for all the fun times and the crazy moments. Thanks for making the summer hols so memorable. I didn't know the man you became. But I am not going to forget the boy I knew. Thank you for all the memories dude.
You were loved Pilot... and you will be missed. Fly high dude...