Of all that I learnt this year some of my greatest lessons have been with people and relationships, so much so that I’m not sure if I’m even done sorting through them all. People whom I love, those who I call friends. I have left more than a few behind and found that some just silently walk beside me sometimes not even making themselves known till I miss a step and find they are there to hold me and that, that one thing has changed so much. There was a time when friendship meant playing together in the lunch break, exchanging Tiffin boxes when mum packed a meal you don’t like. It meant biking together in the evening and playing roughshod in the playground. It meant giggling behind boys’ back and later over their backsides. And since I’ve always had more guy friends than girls it was more often a female derriere being admired, and most of the times I’ve had to suppress my baser instincts, but I let bygones be bygones! It meant listening to the story of ‘I think he/she loves me’ a million times over and the cries of ‘He/she doesn’t even know I exist’ a million and one! It also meant making (girls) or buying (boys) friendship bands and cards and generally declaring undying friendly feelings for each other – I take thee, ex, why, zee, as my wilfully chosen best friend for better or for worse, in sickness and in health till death do us part! A veritable sob-fest (girls) or a back-slapping (boys) fest followed. However, once you grow up you, or rather I, realize how little words mean. Oh, don’t get me wrong! Words do have a place and I with my eternal love affair with them would be the first one to say so. But that’s what I learnt! I have always put such stock in words and promises, always assuming veiled conviction, that to understand that so many times the conviction isn’t veiled but just an assumption was like taking an ice cold shower in the zenith of hot desire – not too pleasant but necessary to avoid disaster if both parties aren’t truly prepared! Friendship is more than the word, it is the deed. It is more than air-kisses and Sunday brunches, more than Yellow cards and sleepovers and definitely more than empty declarations of forever and meaningless “How are you doing these days?”. I learnt that some people are all too capable of words but hopelessly handicapped in deed and spirit whilst others who squirm in their seat if ever put in the spot with a question like “Do you care for me?” and find it hard to ever say the words, any words, have the capacity to be the rock and weather the storm of life, with you, with endearing nonchalance. It is not to say that one can’t be the other, but it is to say that there is something to be said about knowing the difference.
Here’s to those with whom I learnt about the (not so) subtle differences:
David: This past year you helped decorate my house, cooked countless meals at home, we jived and learnt about common sense and science, you made me laugh when I wanted to cry with every breath I took, you reminded me to eat in days when keeping food down was a battle of wills, the random video’s we made, the late night biking trips when I couldn’t bear to stay with my thoughts alone, the camera shopping and the trip to the hospital when I was so delirious your bike seemed like a time machine to me, or the eleven in the night trip to the labour room;)...it’s just that I look back and there you were. I don’t know if you know how close to the brink of sanity I came and how big a difference your being there made, but I did and it did. Thank You.
Rohan: I don’t know when you went from being big to being little for me, but you did. Maybe it was in the course of all the conversations about what life means, what integrity is, ethics, what makes a relationship work, what we want from life and as each conversation unravelled I found myself getting to know more of who you are and more importantly who you wanted to be and to be part of those conversations with you was just like being part of a siblings’ growth process. Apart from that the craziness we’ve indulged in be it UV dancing, getting you a makeover, the outrageous comic strip ideas, the random video..lol..reminded me of the good things in life. But most of all, you are one person I know I can reach out to and you’ll be there...like you haven’t already done enough! Whether it was the rescue mission at one thirty in the night or moving my stuff home at one thirty in the night (what’s with the one thirty in the night anyway!) or coming to your place when I’d been puking my guts out and hopelessly in pain! Always being the one people rely on, you don’t know what it means to know there is someone I can rely on. Thank You.
Gayatri: We’ve known each other long enough but since I always missed all the sobbing sessions, combined with my aversion to cell phones and my ability to flutter at the fringes of a group and not really share what’s going on with me, never let me know you all that well. This past year and a half I’ve seen you grow and blossom into a woman I’m proud to know. It’s never been easy for me to ask for help. Thank you for not letting my handicap stop you from offering. Thank you for being there when I broke down and sobbed. Thank you for humouring me when I was barely clinging to sanity. Thank You for taking me to the hospital and taking me home afterward. It’s a kindness I’ll never forget. Thank You.
Namita: What do I say? I never saw us as particularly close. We were too different. But we’ve slowly bridged that gap and I’m glad for it. Thank You for letting me know that you’re there. Twice I called you and cried like I was being tortured to death. I think I was probably incoherent, yet you listened. Thank You for your patience. Oh, and you made my birthday special, thank you for taking out the time.
Shaista: Well, we have spoken a lot in the past six years. Shared a lot of very interesting conversations. Done a lot of very interesting things. This year somehow, the conversations were deeper, the concerns more important, life more real. Thank you for your support. That day, if not for you and Amir I would have simply collapsed. He’s a great guy you know? I just see him as someone who’s loyal and puts family first and genuinely cares for friends. (Though he can be a tad bit overbearing at times! ;) He’s not come into your life and made us one friend short, but you brought him into our life and gave us one friend more. The perfect uncle he’ll make for my kids! Thank You...both of you.
Anka: Just the fact that you’d take a break from studying, just two days before your exams, just to take me to the hospital (at eleven in the night that too) says everything. There are people we don’t meet for ages, don’t talk to in eons and then just pick up where we left off like the time and distance never were...you are one of those people. Thank you. Oh, and Ravi’s coming to town soon, so I guess we should be meeting? ;)
Suhasini: Hello big sister. What do I say? Where do I begin? Do I even really need to? You are the biggest risk I’ve taken with my heart for you asked me to believe in forever and place my trust in your love for me. That, when I was suffering from third degree burns from believing. I’m glad I didn’t turn tail and run. Thank You for being my reaffirmation of faith in people, promises and honour. I promise you forever. Wholeheartedly. Thank You.
Prashant and Ari: Okay, being my usual honest self I really don’t know why I’m putting your names here for we honestly haven’t spent all that much time together. But something feels wrong; the list seems incomplete without your names being here. Ari, every time I look at you I feel your arm around me during the huddle at roy and ravi’s last MIC. You didn’t know what was with me, yet had it not been for you holding me up I would’ve not been standing. I love you. And Pinks, you, if every time we meet you didn’t crack up at my expense we’d have something going y’know. Even so, I love you too.
Jagrut: Eight years of separation melted into nothingness when we met again. You saw me at my most vulnerable that night. Thank you for taking care of me. You don’t know what it meant or how big a deal losing control is for me. Thank you for being the kind of friend who says "Keeping in touch doesn’t just happen, friendships don’t just last; you need to make it happen." Thank you for making it happen.
Ravi: Ah, you’re a tough one. I kept postponing but I’ve reached the end of my list and here I am. It’s more than me not knowing what to say, it’s knowing that maybe I’ve already said more than enough. Despite that, some things just can’t be left unsaid.There’s been a lot of water under the bridge. The road has not been smooth, anything but. Through that...thank you for your honour, your support and second chances in life. Thank you for finding it in your heart to be ‘nice’ to me.:)
I’ve stretched my limits to extremities in this last year, in a lot of instances I’ve stepped beyond; be it emotionally, physically, intellectually or experientially. I am quite proud of who I am and all the choices I made. There is one thing I realized though, through this journey of stretching my limits I often came to breaking points. Being able to get through that has enabled me to be here today and had it not been for all you guys I don’t know if I would’ve made it. A lot of people have the courage to dream, but not all are blessed with friends who believe those dreams can be real. At the risk of sounding corny, thank you for never being my crutches (that would’ve been easy) but being the wind beneath my wings that helped me reach heights higher than I could have reached alone.