On December 27, my good friend Tejal Reddy had passed away at age 22. During the past week and a half of going through the grieving process, I started thinking about everything that I would have told Tejal before he died and how much his friendship meant to me. This afternoon at 1 PM, this is what I had to say to 200+ of Tejal's family, relatives, and friends.
I have known Tejal Reddy for nearly six years, dating back from high school and throughout college. I wouldn't even be standing here talking to you today if Tejal was not that great of a friend. When I met him back then, he was that quiet kid in the corner eating lunch while the rest of the guys played basketball. It took me a while to realize that Tejal was like a diamond in the rough, and so I had to dig deeper to really find out how special this guy was. When I really got to spend more time with him at UC Riverside, he was one of the best friends you could ever ask for. I think that high school connection just made our friendship grow even stronger, and I considered it a privilege to know him as long as I did.
I honestly can't think of one situation when Tejal has ever let me down. Whenever I needed a helping hand or emotional support, Tejal would always be there. Even though I knew that helping me through my studies or my problems was a waste of time for him, he never hesitated to help me out. If I needed someone to talk to or grab dinner with when I wanted company, Tejal would always be down. There were times when I thought that I was going to flunk out of college in my second year, but I specifically remember Tejal made a promise to me... telling me that he wasn't going to let that happen.
He stood true to his promise, as he would pull all-nighters with me day in and day out... making sure that I would get the material in time for the midterms and finals. With his help, I was able to pass one of the most difficult Biology classes. That entire experience taught me a lot about him, because it showed me that Tejal was a guy that you could only benefit from being around.
Tejal was one of the smartest guys that I knew, and what amazed me the most is that he achieved spectacular results with such little effort. I kept telling him that most people would have killed to have what he had, and I think he knew what I meant. He got me through some of the toughest times in my life... and we took immense beatings together throughout our karate competitions. We experienced pain together, in the worst of ways... but in the end, he made sure that I never stayed down after I got knocked out or beaten down. That orange belt that I had worked for wouldn't have been possible without him.
Listening to your uncles talk about all the memories they have shared with you only makes me think about the times that we went through. I'm not just mad that I lost a friend... or that the Reddy family lost their oldest son, but I'm mad that everybody lost the chance to connect with someone that touched their lives. Tejal had the potential in him to save so many lives, and I had so much faith in him to become a great man. I knew that he was the kind of person that would have rather died than to have disappoint his parents. In his life, he has taught me how to become a better person and to treat others as I would treat loved ones. In his death, he has taught me how to grieve and realize the impact that one loss could have on so many lives.
I miss you so much Tejal, and I want you to know that your memory will continue to live on... not only by me, but by everybody here in this room and those that wanted to be here, but could not make it. Thank you.