Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sister of my soul - Part I

This is a story from the not so faded pages of my memory…about a friend I loved…and lost! I forget when I became friends with her or how. In a school reputed for teaching the maximum number of students in the whole world, unfortunately there were very few I could relate to. But she found me in the sea of faces and singled me out for her affection, loyalty and devotion and I returned her gesture with equal fervor! We were thick as thieves, always sitting together, always talking, whispering, laughing, and sharing everything from homework to lip balms to pangs of puberty to immature crush on some senior boy! And we shared a passion for Beatles, ABBA and Simon & Garfunkel…even the teachers knew about that! Every now and then we’d be pulled up to give impromptu performances in front of the whole class! In a class full of budding Rabindrasangeet and Hindustani classical singers, we were the odd ones out, but we loved every moment of our little gigs and the applaud that followed!

When we reached class IX, we had to separate! She and I chose different additional subjects because of which we were put in different sections. I missed her terribly and waited for the lunch-break and the minutes between classes when we could catch up by the drinking-water taps! That year her cousin, who was in the morning section all these years, joined us. I didn’t like this girl from day one…she was the proverbial kebab mein haddi…apart from the fact that she had absolutely nothing in common with us, she was also very needy, very insecure and very nosy! Yet my friend had to keep her close, because she was family…and if we didn’t give her enough attention, this girl would go home and cry after which her mom would call up my friend’s mom and complain how badly she’s treating her own first cousin! Pretty soon the situation became unbearable…my friend and I couldn’t talk at all…anything we said or discussed would eventually reach my friend’s family distorted like Chinese whisper and the poor girl would be reprimanded for ignoring her cousin over the company of someone with dubious morality! We mutually decided to give the cousin some space between us so that she stops making life so miserable for my friend and that seemed to work for a while! As much as I disliked her, I decided to be nice to her for the sake of my friend!

One day something unexpected happened. I had a severe stomach pain while in school, and had to be rushed to hospital for emergency appendectomy. For the next two weeks I was in the hospital and then at home recuperating! My classmates came to visit; those who couldn’t, sent get-well cards or called home to inquire. Only the person I missed most didn’t visit or call! There was complete silence from my friend. It broke my heart…I oscillated between making preposterous excuses for her, getting really angry and feeling abandoned! After almost three weeks when I went back to school, I took special care to avoid my friend; I rarely left the classroom, ate lunch at my seat, took the lift instead of the stairs and every day I waited her to come looking for me! But she didn’t!

A few weeks later, one day I bumped into my friend at the girls’ toilet. We exchanged forced pleasantries, she enquired about my health, I said I was doing fine…after that I had nothing to say to her and she seemed uncomfortable too! We bade each other good-bye and went back to our classes! That was probably the last time we spoke. Every now and then I’d see her at the playground during lunch-break standing arm in arm with her cousin at the corner which used to be ours for so many years! Sometimes we exchanged weak smiles…her cousin would always make it a point to turn her back towards me! After a point I stopped looking at her, moved on with my life…in a school of 14,000 students it wasn’t too hard to find new friends!

Soon it was time for the Board exams, the long break after that and then the results! I did pretty well…good enough to be among the hallowed circle of handful of students who get accepted in the last two years of school. My friend didn’t make it…she went to another school; so did her cousin and I never saw them after that!

A couple of days back I received a mail from the cousin…she found me on Orkut and wanted to get back in touch. I read and re-read her three line mail over and over again. In a flash I was 15 again; all the sadness, the anger and the heartache came rushing back like water from a broken dam! I realized that I was holding my breath, so I forced myself to take a deep breath and calm down…that chapter of my life ended so long ago; so much water has flown under the bridge since then! We are grown ups now and as the rational adult that I claim to be, I shouldn’t hold the cousin responsible for the demise of my friendship! In retrospect, I could have done things differently; I could have told my friend how much I missed her or given her a chance to explain…but I didn’t; I was busy playing the victim and wallowing in self-pity!

The petulant 15 year old me and the middle-aged current me fought for a long time and finally I decided to reply to her mail…no angry, sarcastic diatribe against her for the follies of the past; neither a mushy, sentimental reminiscence of the good old days…just a cut and dried account of the present! So now we are officially in touch…yet I don’t see the point of all this! Why play this charade when I have neither forgotten what she did nor forgiven her for it?!

Does time heal all wounds? Does growing older really make you wiser? I think not. There are some incidents in life that you never get over; you just learn to live with it!

15 comments:

Soham Pablo said...

Absolutely agree. There are parts of us which never grow up. There are things which trigger old memories and take us back to a time when we were vulnerable...And now that we have the strength to retaliate - it brings out a bit of that 'beast' in us :)

Anonymous said...

The last two lines says it all...

ichatteralot said...

Your post and my recent post have a lot in common. Shreemoyee said that I should get over the childhood rivalries as it was a long time back but I dont think these things change and besides I dont want sainthood so early in life! Ah! Another South Point pass out?

Anonymous said...

:) I did write something to ichatteralot's post to that effect. What I meant by my comment to her post was, one usually can never forget, but one can learn to forgive, not for any one else but for one self, so that it can resolved, rested in a coffin and one can move on in their minds. But then there is no single way of dealing with loss and grief. Do we ever forget about the times when we were so young and some one we trusted misplaced it, guess not. One can learn to have a sense of humour about it I guess.

GhostOfTomJoad said...

I guess it's a litle tough to get over a sense of betrayal that one feels. But it's hard to understand why you should even agree to be in touch with the cousin. Like you said, don't see any point in being in touch with someone you don't want to be in touch with. It might help to get in touch with the friend though.

Nautilus said...

@Soham:I wouldn't quite call it the "beast" in me, because I have decide not to retaliate. Its easy to get carried away and throw accusitions...but that takes away alot time and energy which I don't have, or rather spend somewhere else! :-)

@Grey: It does, doesn't it? :-)

Nautilus said...

@Chatter: Your post and that e-mail came at the same time...I don't know whether it was co-incidental or a sign :-)

I agree with you on the part that I don't want sainthood, at least not yet! But it disturbs me when long buried ghosts of the past comes knocking...I hate looking back! And this particular incident has invoked a lot of spirits I'd rather not have faced! Since they are awake now, it calls for exorcism :-)

And pray tell, which other school in this whole world had 14000 students! :-)


@Shreemoyee: I agree with your suggestion about looking at things with a sense of humor...but its not always possible! Some things can neither be forgotten nor forgiven! We just carry the cross and move on till the weight becomes a second nature :-)


@Ghostoftomjoad: I didn't agree to be in touch with The Cousin...I merely replied to her mail, and the main intention behind that was to find out what happened to my Friend. Now I have that information (even though I don't know what to do with it) and the cousin has been banished to the dungeons of my bad memories once again! :-)

ichatteralot said...

Hey which batch ? (I apologize if thats an impolite question!! You may have been an ex flame of my husband for all you know! He is from South Point too

Nautilus said...

@Chatter: Impolite? NO!!! But dangerous queation! Not only I scream to the world how old I am, but also dig out some old admirer from the past...no way!!! :-)

ichatteralot said...

Ok! I understand and empathise completely! You can mail me at ichatteralot@indiatimes.com - then the whole wide world will not know :)

Lavanya said...

It was good as long as it lasted and what cannot be cured has to be endured right? Yes, we dont really grow up, we just learn how to behave in public.

Bobby said...

Must say that these are some really neat pieces of writing. Wonder when u became such a prolific writer - that too with such a terrific sense of humour. The reviews are especially good - take that up as a profession. Keep it coming tho'....... Bobby.

Nautilus said...

@Lavanya: How very true!

@Bobby: Wow...yet another blast from the past! Whats going on? Thanks for the kind words though...do come again! :-)

White Magpie said...

Hmm..how did I miss this one?

Forgiveness really requires immense strength and I am not sure I have it complete yet. I hate it when someone just pops into your life after a long time assuming its perfectly okay to say hi hello and erase everything in the past. The dilemma to act on what happened in the past and the present us is maddening at times.

Pranayam worked for you ;)

Nautilus said...

@Magpie: I'd be mad too if some ghost from the past just pops up in my life peretending nothing has ever happened! But in my case reconciliation with both my friends turned out to be a long drawn process punctuated by lots of hesitation, fears, guilt, heart-ache and buckets of tears!! I guess thats how we women resolve things! :)