"NS" was my first friend. I don't mean the "was" to mean that he isn't my friend now, but because I have lost track of him. My parents say he became your friend from when I was just months old. They said he used to come to our home as a kid to watch TV (the only one of the two in that locality then) but kept watching me play as an infant. It amazes me but doesn't surprise me at all as ever since I gained control of my senses, there was NS, his home right in our street.
Almost everything about him was curious. He is a Jain and remains the only Jain I know in first person till date. I have gone to temples with him and remember seeing him wear the "vibuthi". He had a red coloured bible at home that he got from his Christian school due to which I knew of the existence of bible. For a long time, I have seen a picture of a Jain Tirtankara on top of a tall pedestal with with all sorts of animals sitting on a spiral ramp that leads up to the pedestal. And for years, I had thought that it was Buddha. :)
He was creative! He once showed me a picture of Mickey Mouse dressed in a red wizard's robe. That was the first time I believed that every day people that I meet can draw something beyond match-stick figures with just pencil, crayons and papers. A couple of years or so later, I myself had a small collection of Mickey, Donald and Goofy, and then veered off to mythological characters like Hanuman, Rama, Shiva and Krishna. The best I did was a picture of Sita garlanding Rama during Swayamvaram, that I reproduced from "RamaKrishna Vijayam" a spiritual magazine that my parents had subscribed to then!
His creativity didn't stop with just drawing. He was a bit of a science geek too! In his early teens (or may be a bit earlier) he had amused me by making a car chassis using a couple of batteries , motor, a few wheels pulled out from god-knows-whose-toys!
But he was not all geeky all the time. We had a lot of fun flying kites, catching fish from streams flowing on the road after monsoon, playing games involving good guys, bad guys and fights involving all the Tamil movies that we saw.
After close to 20 years, I only increasingly miss those days. I was jogging this morning when for no reason all these memories came up and I felt a sudden rush of stupidity at how I have let such a friend who has influenced so much of my first memorable experiences slip away. Facebook has come to the rescue in making up for the mistake. I have found him in seconds on search and have sent a friend request. Keeping my fingers crossed!