EIGHTY SEVEN

I’m still thinking about you. I guess you don’t know that. I doubt you even think of me. There you go. Even in doubt there is the hope that may be when the loudness of the world has receded at night. When the quiet solitude takes over; just for a flicker of a second my face flashes in your mind’s eye. Your thoughts disappear when life takes over. But when  there is no more thoughts left, this one thing lingers on my mind. The thought of you looking at me from the distance through your prescription glasses with that half a smile hanging off your lips.
That’s how I am going to remember you for life isn’t it? There is nothing more left with me but that memory. Strange how even in the days now social media and camera phones I still have to rely upon my memory of you sitting across the table. You looked at me through those glasses squinting a bit in the dimly lit room. I can almost hear the music playing in the background. I can’t remember what song it was. But I remember every time we would go down to the pub, they would play that song. Strange how one associates good memories with songs. Come to think of it, is this the good memory I have you? May be. Yes, I think out of the several memories I have of us spending time together what haunts me are those eyes looking at me. They had some questions in them, I wasn’t interested in answering them. Because I was too afraid. Yes I was young and afraid.

I was slow. I was stupid.

May be we were friends, lovers, companions,  the definitions felt too constricting.

Perhaps I will remember the evening when we walked on the river bank watching the moon rise and shine across the dark waters. Or how easily a 2 min update about your day 0 placement became a 20 mins conversation.
No may be I won’t remember any of these.

I may only remember how I held your head as you sobbed and your garbled words of apology mixed in the cold crispness of a winter night. I may remember how you held my hand and said it’s just been 2 hours, stay for 15 mins more at midnight. I may even remember time when you looked into my eyes like there was no tomorrow and all my worries were negated by your one word and the night would melt into morning.

But the world is cruel and so is time and we are each responsible for the seeds of misfortune we sow thus, all I can remember now is you stepping away from me and your words like daggers ripping through my soul. ” I don’t think we can be friends anymore.”

EIGHTY THREE

It is important to connect with people. When I was younger I was proud of how many friends I had and how easily I could make friends. But by the time I hit my 30’s I slowly started to realise that not all those I thought were my friends were true. It wasn’t as if I was their first choice as a friend possibly I was just one of the fun people they hung out with.  I had many acquaintances but very few real friends. The real friends lasted years even decades didn’t need maintenance. Or so I thought. Friends need maintaining. Yes they do. Because no one likes to be taken for granted. Meeting them , talking to them , letting them know you are thinking about them are all part of this. When we wonder how we have grown apart from our friends or how friends who were so close to us seem to avoid us the answer is in this. We forget to call friends or talk to them relying mostly on fb or whatsapp which are not really a replacement of for a conversation or even a mail. We get so tied up with work that we often cancel meetings or keep postponing get togethers. Eventually we get so used to not catching up we stop needing our friends and vice versa.

The sad thing is when all this happening we don’t realise it and once the damage is done we are left wondering what went wrong. Recently I did some hard thinking and found myself drifting into an introvert’s shell. I started focusing on speaking to the few friends I have. I strongly feel that if my decade long friendships have to survive I must nourish them with my attention. Else I am afraid by the time the dreaded 40’s appear I will be left with no friends. 

As part for my  ex year resolution I am going to focus on meeting , talking and being in touch with the few precious friends I have. Friends are in my mind your guardian angels here on Earth. If you believe in that sort of thing. It is my firm belief that in order to have a healthy life having friends is important and I am too old to make new friends and I plan to hang onto the few I have. Here’s hoping they want me to hang onto them.

THE END

EIGHT

As someone who has had many friends over the last decade and more, I am also one of those people who has lost a friend or two. The loss has been brought about by involuntary reasons like death and voluntary reasons like out of sight, out of mind. Since I have been so indulgent in sentimentality when writing about friendships influencing my life, I thought I could follow it up with one or two stories of loss.

The loss of a friend, to me is of two kinds, one which is sudden and immediate with no undo button. The other is more silent and invisible, till one fine morning you wake up to realize the absence. I have been at the receiving end of both these phenomenon. The first is gut wrenching and painful or ego driven madness, the second is the sad kind, where you lose a friend or ten just like that, all of a sudden, they have moved on, or you have moved on and there is just so much of a distance both in terms of life choices and mental makeup that it seems impossible to reconcile the differences.

Today in the day of social media, I am in touch with many friends, who fall into that second group. I leave a comment or like something they post and they indulge me too. But the fact that sticks out as a thorn in my heart is somewhere I lost their friendship and having them on my friend list on a website doesn’t quite feel the same.

 I have been extremely lucky to have made some friends for a lifetime at school, university and my PG institute. I must confess, having found these precious few friends, I seem to have grown quite careless towards nurturing and maintaining friendships. I didn’t belong to the age where technology was hard to come by. I had my cell phone, my emails, my social media. Yet, somehow I managed to alienate myself from the bulk of my friends. In the joy of here and now I probably let the years gone by slip away quietly. So out of the 3 close friends at school I probably can name one as still a genuine close friend who I speak regularly. Out of the Junior college days spent at a different school I can’t mention any name, as I had one best friend who vanished in exactly 3 years after we both went to different colleges. From belonging to a group of about 14 girls in my university days I am barely in touch with 5 through some social media site. I know about their lives as much is visible from their posts. I don’t even know where they live in my own Home City. I haven’t seen them in over a decade. Do you know how long it took for me to lose them? Exactly 6 months of completing my graduation final year exam, entering into a new PG program in another Institute! I have thankfully 3 friends from my Post graduation, funnily the 3 friends I was closest to during the actual PG program duration of 2 years, I don’t talk now. It took me 1, 3, 4 years to lose the 3 friends from the 2 years of the PG program. The last of the closest friend I had, I let go just about a year back.

Do you see the pattern? I am lucky at finding good friends but as a friend I am probably the poorest, because I seem to find retaining friends the hardest. Of course don’t imagine for a moment that I try hard. For me it’s out of sight out of mind, pretty instantly. If by some chance or luck the friend keeps in touch with me then perhaps I will stay in touch. You will not believe if I told you the laziness to write extends to friendships as well. If Sloth be a cardinal sin, I am pretty much destined for Hell right about now.

I wonder sometimes when I sit idly staring at nothing, where I went wrong. And I come that gut wrenching honest admission, I have had good friends and lots of friendships, but when it came to be the friend in the two way street of friendship, I stepped off the train, went looking for new people forgetting those waiting in the train. I wanted to make this part of the post sound deep with a beautiful metaphor. But gut wrenching truths don’t make good metaphors, do they? The balance sheet of friends and friendships may have some good assets and some liabilities that I seem to be good at getting rid of [read block from my life] but when I stare at the Profit & Loss statement of the same life of 30 years, the losses are numerous. Too many to write a blog post about, too many to apologize for, too many I can admit , too many I cannot admit, too many to count.

I am not becoming over sentimental about this just because I have hit the big 30, am I ? I am practical enough to know that all friendships cannot be retained throughout our lives. Yet, why do I feel a little sad, a little ashamed to write, post, like or message to a friend who is no longer a friend, who is now merely a batch mate. While I was typing this post, I took a little break and in that time I looked at these 2 friends from my college meeting up for lunch and a third planning to join them sometime soon.

 

And so it comes to me as a sobering thought, losing a friend is not a one way loss is it? Both the friends lose. I may want to sit and find reasons for regret and take a few guilt trips, the fact of life is, my friends also forgot me, my friends who I have lost, have forgotten me once, At some point of time, they stopped calling me to their gatherings, some point in the past they let me go and I was okay with it. Life is that kind of sobering thought, just when you feel filled with regret of loss, it reminds you, that life is all about letting go and accepting when let go in turn. Friendship is not really about a beginning or an ending; it’s about that journey you had with a few people. You can only hope at the very end of your life that you gave the ‘best of you’ to the friends in that journey. You can only hope someday when you no longer live and breathe the same air as they do, they will have a single good thought left for you.

I may have got off one of these trains some years ago and lost about 14 odd friends, but out of nowhere all thanks to social media, I made a surprisingly strong friend. Out of the blue at a very important time in  my life, I self-invited myself to her city for a trip and since then there hasn’t been any looking back, we are still in different cities yet we talk every other day of more personal things than I would ever share on this blog or with any of my social media fueled friendships of liking and commenting on posts and although my profit or loss statement has a few gaping holes, I cling to my strong assets, a few friends who stood and stand the test of time , distance, my laziness, my over bearing personality, tantrums and emotional overtures. These few people have stood with me at the highest and lowest points of my life and I know they are the few who read and comment on my blog, who hear me crib about everything, who find my pj’s funny, who have brought more stability, patience and perhaps a little of inner peace to me.

I look out and see the scrap of blue sky and I know it is the friendship of the precious few that has made me the person who recognizes and feels the sorrow of having lost many friends, but it is also the strength of the few that reminds me not to go into a chasm of despair, instead be thankful and mindful of the follies of youth that makes it easy to lose friends without even realizing it till it is too late. So, I don’t wish to share regret of the friends I lost but to remember the amazing times I had with them, for the little memories that make me nostalgic when watching a Harry Potter movie or reading about the good ole university in news. I am also somewhat glad that at least, the idiotic social media that I am so addicted to has allowed me to be in some kind of touch with the past friendships that may have been lost completely.

Thank you my friends of the past, the present, and hopefully the future for being there, even though I may have not been of much use to you.

THE END

Seven

 

A friend in need is a friend indeed, a proverb that has echoed throughout my life. I can’t think of any point in my life which I haven’t needed a friend and found one. Yes, I have been extremely lucky to have met and had good friends. My belief in the power of friendship goes much beyond the mundane philosophy. Whichever metaphor of life you may believe in the River or the Train or the Journey, friends form an integral part of the fabric if life that we all live.

If I were to believe that birds of feather flock together, then I have had some beautiful birds give me company and in doing so they have left indelible impressions on my life and personality. Peer pressure is a reality but the fact that Peers can have a wonderful influence on you is something I have believed in. So, I say to you, all the positives that you will find in me are inherited from my parents and imbibed from my friends, and all the negatives, they are all mine.

Each and every friendship may not have influenced me in such a way as to make an impression on my conscious mind but there are several friends, some I am lucky to have with me, some I have lost on the way, some who have been cruelly taken away, who have made me the person that I am. There have many times I have thought of thanking them individually. But I know I have never got around to it. In fact it is no longer possible to say a word of thanks to some. Still with some hope of redemption I begin this as an attempt to talk about some of my friends, who have, are and perhaps always will make me feel lucky.

Here are bits and pieces of thoughts that come to me when I sit quietly not thinking about anything, about how friends have influenced my life. Over sentimental and full of nostalgia, this one is for my friends, wherever you are, reading this or not, know it, I think of you.

1. I would not have been as good as I am in antakshari had it not been for the incessant rounds of singing in the school bus.

2. I would never have known so many Hollywood actors name in the Pre-google era had it not been for the rounds of Magnet we played.

3. Playing with Barbie and doll house wouldn’t have been as much fun if it wasn’t after school.

4. I would never become a member of British Council Library without a friend to drag me there.

5. I would never have joined a gym had it not been for a friend’s pep talk.

6. I would not have re joined another gym had it not been for the company of another friend.

7. I would have never thought of studying management had it not been for some mad friends who suggested I sit for the CAT exam.

8. I would have never been lucky to have heard, Bhoomi, Euphoria, Rupankar, and other singers and bands had it not been for the friends who accompanied me.

9. Would Maddox Square have been the same without the gang of friends who made it what it was to me every Ashtami, in Pujo?

10. I would have never read a Mills and Boons novel had it not been for a friend.

11. I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of watching a movie at Nandan without the friends.

12. I wouldn’t know how to use eye shadow and other make up stuff without my friend who told me about M.A.C.

13. I would have never thought of straitening my hair or coloring it had it not been for one or two friends.

Today I end with my lucky number 13, keeping a few funny, mundane, surprising little one liners on how my friends made me who I am, for later.

THE END.