I can't believe it, it's not real. Even after two days, every ten minutes or so, it suddenly hits me again. And again. And again. I'm thinking of a funny story, telling someone about our crazy days together, and saying, "Bharat is this totally something guy..." and suddenly I realise that he isn't any longer - he was.
It's unreal. An Omen-ish quality of nightmare: blue skies and light wood and sunshine and laughing people getting on with their lives and all the while, a voice inside me is repeating no NO NO it's a mistake it can't be true it's a horrible horrible mistake and I'll wake up tomorrow and the world will be normal again and all 7 of us will be whole and alive and still ready to conquer the world - as we were 7 years ago, the unstoppable team ready to change the universe. And all the while, in my head, a refrain plays itself over and over again: And then there were six.
How long it's been, the road we've travelled together. Seven years ago, seven kids set out to conquer the planet. We were kings, lords, the world was our oyster and we knew we could do anything - anything at all; we were family, we drank together and starved together, and burnt the candle at both ends together and pulled each other through rough patches. And when the year was up, we still held on to the threads, wherever we were, as went our own ways. And now there are only six, scattered, shattered, drawn together in a virtual group hug of sorrow and solace and shared tears and memories - team days and team building, but Bharat's not here, never will be and oh god it's so unfair and pointless and stupid and there's nothing anybody can do and the world no longer makes any sense.
I don't know whether I believe in the immortal soul. But I think I believe that somewhere, Bharat's sitting on a cloud in the sunshine. Drinking some good whiskey, smoking a cigarette, relishing his butter chicken. Looking down to tell us, "chalo, koi nahin." And as squints into the sun and takes a drag on the cigarette, he slaps his thighs and laughs out loud - with his particular guffaw - at the absurdity of the world.