‘The story of our evolution is the story of what we leave behind…’ says Meredith Grey in the famous Grey’s Anatomy.
It was Friendship day sometime back. On the said day Whatsapp and FB newsfeed was awash with cute cuddly bears and mushy posts about our friends with whom we scaled hills & trees and scrapped our hearts & knees. I was thinking about my friends too. Not the ones who are with me today; those who aren’t anymore.
They came into my life, we walked together for a while and then life took us on different paths. Never to meet again or cross paths. With some I’m connected virtually but we rarely interact. No it wasn’t a bitter fight or disagreement that took us apart. It just happened, I let go, they let go. But they have left their imprint on me. I learnt something from each of them and reminisce the time spent with fondness.
I don’t wish to name them, hence will use just an alphabet from their name.
I knew her in GLS school, Ahmedabad whilst in class 2. Yes, this one goes back light years. She wasn’t my friend. I didn’t even like her. So why am I writing about her. She chose me as her friend, her only friend and I did everything possible to push her away. I was friends with Shilpa, the smartest girl in class. Shilpa and I were teachers’ pet and popular. H, on the other hand, was a loner and didn’t perform well academically. In that age we weren’t aware and sensitive, we called her the class dummy. Someone who struggled with studies was labelled stupid and I was no different. I was just as mean as others. H liked me a lot, notwithstanding the fact that I desisted from even sitting next to her. The harder she tried to be my friend, more others teased me fueling my annoyance and disgust towards her.
This went on for three years and then Bapi got transferred to Delhi. Shilpa and I wrote to each other for a while and the inevitable happened. We drifted out of each other’s memory.
H kept writing to me! How she got my Delhi address I’m clueless. I enquired with Shilpa and was informed that H was asked to leave the school soon after I left. Her letters kept coming for nearly a year. I never replied. Why? Because she never wrote her address. Other friends back in school didn’t’ have her address either and she never mentioned it in any of the letters.
Every letter made me cringe with shame and guilt for being so mean to someone who liked me so much. She wrote about the PT period, dance class, debate competitions I won, she wished me happy birthday and so on. She never complained or expressed her hurt that I snubbed her so often. She only wrote about how much she missed me and the school. It tore me every time the blue inland letter arrived. I recognized her scrawly writing. Her letters slanted sometimes up, sometimes down; now I realize she had special needs which were unheeded and ridiculed. As she wrote about how much she missed GLS school and the fun she had; I wanted to crawl into a hole. What fun? We teased her and hated her. I wanted to apologize for being so mean but she never gave me the opportunity to. Till date when I think of H, I just feel so depressed and ashamed.
I hope she is happy and loved in life. I hope she got the help she needed to handle her challenges. I hope she met more kind and helpful people and not the mean bunch like me and Shilpa.
I wish she had considered me worthy of a second chance and had written her address. Would I have written back if she had? Honestly, now at 44, I like to believe I would have but would the 12 year old Kanchana have replied?
I met her in Colombo (2004) when I was lonely and felt I didn’t fit in. With her I felt easy and my stay in the island country sailed through. A qualified doctor who chose to be a homemaker, I loved her company and the pasta she cooked. As a person who’s always hassled & harried that life’s going by and I’m doing nothing significant, D taught me serenity. I don’t think I imbibed much but she calmed me and made my sojourn in Colombo easy. We aren’t in touch since then.
We share the alphabet in our names and that’s where the similarity ends. I met her in Bombay. We couldn’t be more different from each other, yet I learnt so much from her. She was my sounding board for many a writing projects. We have had engaging discussions in her balcony as she puffed in ciggies and guzzled beer. Me the wine aficionado, lover of all things fancy and K – loves whiskey, beer, plastic jewellery & parrot green socks!! My son found his passion in music in her house and his best friend. She taught me to accept difference. I owe her so much. We are in touch but it’s not the same.
I met M in Bombay too, first on LinkedIn and then became friends. He woke me from my slumber. Taught me to feel, breathe and write. He held my hand when I was waiting for the publisher’s acceptance, helping me to keep the faith alive as rejection notes arrived. He taught me to believe in myself and that things work out in their own time. And now I can see that we’re drifting away on our designated paths, away from each other; our ideological differences and life choice too wide a chasm to accept. This is how far we go together.
Why does this happen? Why do we meet people, walk together for a while and part ways? I think Life gives us friends who play a certain role and when the role is over they move on, we move on.
It’s sad but inevitable. Such is life I guess.
To quote from my novel, which hopefully will be out by next summer:
We meet people and they become an integral part of our life’s journey. And in a way they become a part of our lives. A part of us. They affect us, change us; sometimes in a small way. We promise to remember them. Keep in touch. We don’t lie. We really do mean to keep in touch. But life always gets in way. They slip away from our lives and we never meet them again. But they remain a part of us. In a small corner in our thoughts where we don’t go often, but we carry them with us as we move ahead. That morning when … was leaving the hospital, she was heartbroken with the thought of leaving behind the doctor who had become her best friend. Her companion. Her confidante.
As I walk on, I carry them all with me. Thank you for being a part of my journey. We may not be together anymore. We may not cross paths ever again. But your memory is in my heart.
Happy friendship day. Always.