When I was in college, I used to have a classmate named Atul Talwar. Today I am thinking about him.
Through out the degree he wore only white clothes. White clothes, shaven head and a black bag were kind of his trademark. Many times, I asked him questions like why he always wear white and why he avoided sitting near girls? He just used to smile at me and say something like
...because I am getting prepared. When a plant is small it needs fences and all kind of protection, but once it becomes a tree, it doesn't need any fence or protection.
I don't know why but I used to envy him for the peaceful smile he always had on his face. I wanted to be like him, but I didn't had the strength to be like him so I loathed him. But he was always calm. He wanted to be buddhist monk. He was quite impressed by them. He was impressed by Swami Vivekananda and like him, he considered all the females around him as incarnations of Kali mata (goddess). Throughout the college, he kept his head shaven. In the initial years of college, he used to have some traces of violence and arrogance (as he used to pluck hair from my face with his fingers and he used to get irritated by the comments made upon his personality) but as the time went by, he became mature. By the time our college was over he was a more self-controlled person than he used to be. He became more calm. My enviousness for him also receded and I started appreciating whatever he was doing. That's what spiritual people can do. They can change your mind.
Once I vowed that before our college is over, I would make this plain-white-clad-man a colorful personality. Little did I know at that time that he was more colorful than I could ever be. I only had the namesake but he actually had 'peace' in his heart. He never participated in mass-bunks as he was a bright student. Once we were planning a college wide strike and I was assigned with the task to convince Atul for not attending an exam. I put at stake all of the little spiritual knowlege I had at that time. I remember, I said to him things like, "If I have even a drop of holiness in me, then I am telling you that we are doing this for a good purpose". Well, I actually believed the same at that time. He literally laughed at me, but he was convinced and decided to stay at home.
He used to read so many spiritual books. He used to meditate in library, sometimes for hours, without minding how many people are there watching him. He never made a girlfriend and strangely was not even shy of girls. He just didn't need them around himself and they didn't use to bother him. He was intelligent, very good orator and at times competitive. He was always busy in himself. He never attended any college festivals or late night parties, but he was always present in debates, quizes and extempore competitions. He had no best friend and no enemy either. He was one of his own kind in college.
Recently, I heard about him from one of my old classmates, that he has joined 'Rama Krishnan' ashram and has become a spiritual teacher there. Every evening he delivers lectures there on spirituality. I don't know what he is doing and where he is but I am pretty sure that he is calm and happy with that ever existent smile on his face. Even if he is not a red-robed buddhist monk, but I like to picture him as one, in zen trance posture. In my eyes, he has become what he wanted to be, 'a monk' and I, who used to envy him, am still struggling with 'What I want to be?'
I still envy him, however now I am very happy for him.