Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Please forgive me

It's the most difficult thing in the world to write your own friend's obituary, but it's even worse to report it in a clinical fashion as befitting a news correspondent.

For nothing I write will ever do justice to the Minal Panchal I knew but lost touch with a few years ago...but whenever I think of her, what comes to mind is an exceptionally sharp sense of humour and a keen sense of observation...and both helped the two of us as we worked all night and sweated over drawing sheets and architectural models.

I can see Minal slumped over our morning tea and breakfast in the Rizvi College canteen where we both studied architecture (but she completed it successfully, I didn't), the wry look on her face that proved her skepticism about all things unscientific, her curiously high pitched laughter at trivial things, the way she dreamed and sketched silently even in the middle of a noisy classroom...

A science student from Mithibai College (batch of 1996) who hated Mathematics with a passion ("because I can't figure out permutations and trigonometry, yaar") and who carried her dislike for the subject into structural mechanics in our graduation years...the only times she would really perk up was when anyone suggested a break when she was bored, or when she spoke of her older sister Kavita. To this day, I wonder at how much the two sisters were more like one soul in two bodies; each knew exactly what the other was up to during the day. Or night.

I quit architecture in 2002 and lost touch with her completely. Her and everyone else in class. Which is why there's nobody I can call and ask for her whereabouts. Her home in Borivli is locked; it turns out her mum has been staying with her ever since she went to Blacksburg to pursue a masters in September last year.

And because I wasn't talking to her lately, I hesitated a hundred times over when I pondered getting in touch with her on Orkut. I'd looked for her and found her immediately, but a foolish sense of pride over bygone fights and the kind of reluctance that doesn't want you to make a fool of yourself, stopped me even from scrapping her.

I realise now that it was a huge mistake. I should have at least scribbled a line. At the most, she wouldn't have replied. But the silence of a rebuff kind of takes the edge off the silence of an unasked question...

Now it's too late and illogical to mourn the death of an attractive, tall and ambitious architect who had unspecified dreams which she shared with nobody but only the closest of pals...I don't know how much, if at all, she'd changed after graduating, but I get the feeling that she was too mature, too well-formed in character to change much. Oh yes, she loved the good things in life - calorie-rich sandwiches, enough money to buy whatever she wanted to, intelligent and good looking boys...but this same girl also liked to keep life simple and uncomplicated.

I'm still trying to figure out why I'm so shattered by the death of a girl who was non-existent in my life for the last four years. Maybe it's true what they say about some connections being forever. How else do I explain why random thoughts pass through my mind at this moment when I'm writing about her...the colour blue...8B sketching pencils...her lovely parents...the many nights of laughing and falling asleep over unfinished architectural homework at her place or mine...

Minal will always remain in my mind from now on...she who loved Frank Lloyd Wright and hence The Fountainhead...she who always spoke her mind impartially, about anyone...she who liked all things weird. I don't know if I'm more sorry for the mother who would grieve for her younger daughter in a foreign country, or the scores of friends who have been scrapping her incessantly for news of her whereabouts. Her phone is unreachable, she's still on the missing persons list, but everyone knows she's gone.

Damn. I don't even have the nerve to leave a condolence scrap for her. I'm so sorry, Minal...

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its pathetic they still are not able to identify all 32 victims, who might have been already existing in the university records.

There's still hope

Mosilager said...

stuff like this that makes people want to seize the day... no telling what happens the next day. She sounds like a great person, truly a loss to the world.

arZan said...

Wiseass

I am linking to your post. Am a fellow alumni like you from RCA. Was in the first batch of 92, and hence never bumped into you or Minal.

This is truly a shock.

Pls let me know your email ID. Would love to talk with you offline. You can reach me via my blog contact page.

Anonymous said...

A beautiful tribute! I’m sure that wherever her spirit is, she knows how much you cared!

Anonymous said...

there's the concept of holding on to people in life , even though they may not be physically in them. their memories are the way they will live on.

i am sorry for your loss

-

rads said...

That was beautifully written. I am so sorry for your loss, and I know everyone around me pray for her and the rest at VTech.

M (tread softly upon) said...

That was a really touching post. And although all the people I knew at VT are okay, I still feel a sense of immense loss and pain everytime I think about the tragedy and what everyone who lost someone dear to them is going through.
Here's wishing everyone strength and courage to bear the loss.

Anonymous said...

Let her soul RIP

संतोष said...

It was really a shocking incident.. May God Bless Peace for their souls

Anonymous said...

she seems to b a wonderful person,may minal's soul rest in peace.

alpha said...

beautifully written and heart wrenching. I feel for you and all her other friends....

what a shame!

Anonymous said...

Hope her family and friends find strength and courage to deal with this difficult time. What a tragic, senseless loss of a beautiful life.

Venkat Narayan said...

hey,
this is a very well written blog, that conveys one message clearly, dont lose touch with any one who has touched ur heart in ur lifetime, cause life is too short.

May minals soul rest in peace.

Shiv said...

It is hard wen u get to know you cant talk to the person whom u want to...
Wherever Minal is now, she will surely have got ur msg..
take care..

May her soul RIP

Swati said...

i am sorry for your loss and the loss for all the near and dear ones. we feel your sorrow.

Pooja Aggarwal said...

I don't know you, don't even know how I landed on this post. But your post is soul stirring. I hope you find the courage and hope to recover from this soon.

Its a shame that so many lives ended in this manner. Take care.

Sachin said...

Its so sad that there are so many wonderful people in this world who you come to know only after they have passed away - and that too so early and in such a tragic manner! To think I too have stayed in Borivli all my life and maybe was somewhere very close to Minal geographically....

Both my wife and me received such a jolt reading about Minal. Life is really unfair - its all to easy to say everything happens for a reason but its not always true.

Am sure Minal is reading your lovely tribute whereever she is now and would be loving you for the affection that shows up so clearly in your words. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful tribute. You must have been very good friends with Minal. May her soul rest in peace.

Radhika said...

Hi Vrushali,
I am journalist with Daily News & Analysis, a Mumbai based newspaper (www.dnaindia.com). I came across the VT massacre members community. There I found a link that directed me to your blog. Is there any way I can get in touch with you? Please e-mail me your contact number on dnaspeakup@gmail.com.
Regards,
Radhika Agarwal
022 - 39 888 888 Extn. 455/456

Anonymous said...

its been two years since she is gone... but Minal panchal came back to my mind today... and i still wonder about the cruelties of life that take away innocent people , cut short beautiful lives... leaving so many unfinished dreams behind... Minal may ur soul rest in peace dear

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