Edit: [[As I write this (which seems more like a journal entry), I am not sure if I will post it. It seems way too personal…]]
Boogley asks, “how many best friends do you have?” I did not have a definitive answer. But a couple of faces flashed in front of my eyes. The images then dwindled and settled. One flickered, dimmed and then shone out bright…
Meeting him was almost by chance. In a crowded church lawn standing with two other guys away from the socializing youngsters. I walked up to them and introduced myself and asked them to join the group. Apart from a social obligation it was also deemed as my duty at that time. I am not sure what he said, I am not sure of what my reply was or I don’t even remember what our first conversation was like.
But what I do remember are the many, many, many times when we sought out for each other and to our delight and relief found us. I don’t know what it is that I like about it. Probably his sincerity. Probably his way of letting me know that I am sane. Probably his way of giving space and yet being together. Probably I would never be able to zero in on the list of reasons why I like him. He is hardly the kind that indulge in flattery (which I oh so love!) In fact, he calls a spade a spade, and never minces words when it comes to criticism. (I can quote the latest chat we had about a movie, for this one!)
There was this one moment I will take to my grave. We were helping out in making costumes for a choreography competition. We sat there in the veranda, with bloody-thirsty mosquitoes feasting on him (mosquitoes don’t ever spare him), making adjustments to the costumes as per the choreographer’s requirements. She peeped out of the dance room and checked on us occasionally. He and I have two left feet each. We can’t dance for two pence! So, there we sat making those costumes, not uttering a word, listening to strains of Yanni floating in from the dance room. And at the end of it all, it was as though we had just had a fulfilling conversation. Nothing special about the evening, but everything was special about being there with him at the moment, in silence.
There were long walks we took, sun, rain, dust or wind. I don’t know what all we spoke of. But, there was always more left to say. Sometimes, the wisdom he imparted made me feel he was four decades older than me and not just four months. But there were other moments when I felt he was just a frightened four-year-old. Many sunsets and dusks gave way to nights, while we sat wide-eyes on our park bench, watching a lone kid swing nearby. He would talk of Spartan philosophy or about a potboiler with the same ease. That park bench bore witness to our shares of joys and pains. We have laughed and cried like babies together on that bench. I have sat there on some days, alone, not expecting him to be there, but just to search for a moment I had spent here. The whimsical ‘fairytale’ person within me would love to say that we have a ‘connection’ or that our ‘wavelengths match’. Let’s just say I like to think of him as my second skin, my alter ego. We don’t come from the same background. Our pasts are so different, and yet to find someone with whom you can share every thought that crosses your mind. Well, that’s comfort level, for you.
It sure did feel like I knew him for a lifetime. It still feels like he is here to stay. We seem to be together like forever. Let there be spaces in your togetherness? This line did not make much sense to me for quite a while. Space in togetherness? Quite an abstract thought! How would you love and yet let go? How can you love and yet leave?How can you stay together and yet apart? He has taught me this.
There were painful pangs of separation. There were moments when I collapsed on the spot where I had stood talking to him. There were moments when a hug seemed awkward to pass on to each other. There were times when the only thought I had was to run away and escape into obscurity. He held me then. And yet when I had to fly away, or when I rejoiced, he would delight with me. With me in my joys, but leaving me just enough space to savor it alone. He looks out for me. He has been more than what you could ask for, in a friend.