The summer I was 15, my friend Kenny and I were up at my family’s cottage for a few days, flush in the glorious boredom of post-exam bliss. We were hanging out on the dock when my mom came down and told us that there had been an accident. A plane from Canada to India had gone down over Ireland. Our friend Mukul Paliwal was on board.
We’d known Mukul since kindergarten. I’d lost touch with him since my family had moved from Nepean to downtown Ottawa, but Kenny and Mukul were still close.
Mukul was a cool guy, and a genius. In grade 4, he built this crazy electronics thing out of wires and motors. For the same assignment, I made a ghost out of bristol board. That was the same year they brought in the health hussle. Mukul and this guy Chris used to sing lewd lyrics to the songs as they pretended to do the exercises, but they never got in trouble because Mukul always had this terrific smile on his face.
Mukul was on the plane because he’d stayed in Canada to write his optional year-end exams. He’d made his recs easily — he was a straight A student — but he wanted to try to boost some of his grades. He was on his way to meet his family in India when the plane blew up.