The pious recluse

His friends knew and accepted him as a loner, even the closest ones. But he had been having a hard time at college as of late, more so than ever. He had never been a smoker or a drinker, neither had he been the guy to liven up a party. He used to sneak back home as soon as the vacations began. Famous as ‘pious baba’, the only time he was the center of attention was during the examinations. His friends tried to reach out to him, make him see the light. “You should smoke up, drink up, live it up a bit baba!” they used to tell him.
At the end of their third year summer vacations, his friends gathered for the traditional second-homecoming evening. As usual, they tried to reach out to him again. This time around, to their utter dismay, he uttered a reply they had never expected to hear. “Ok”, he said.
The winter vacations were about to begin, and he was sitting at his usual spot, staring at the sunset and smoking life up. His friend wanted to catch up before boarding the train in a few hours, and it was not difficult to find him. “So nice to see that you have finally learnt your lessons this semester, baba. After all these are the years to live it up!” He said nothing, smiled back at him and continued smoking. “So when are you going home then? It’s been a long time and I bet you must be itching to get back. You haven’t train-hopped as much this time around.” “I am not”, he replied. “Whoa, haven’t you changed? Got a research project or something?” asked his surprised friend. “No, I like it here. It’s quite.” His friend had seen Baba change through the semester but now he was slightly worried. Shrugging off the surprise, his friend told him “Look, I don’t want to listen to your mom complain that we spoilt her baby boy.” “You won’t. She died last June from cancer.”
Baba got up, smiled at his friend and walked into the sunset. His friend looked on perplexed at smoke rings formed by the orphan, realizing that he was not living it up. He was trying to cure the part of him which died last summer.

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