Tuesday, August 16, 2005

When turning 23 is a good thing.

Some people think I wait long periods before each blog so that my 'Comments' count touches double digits. That's really not true. Though I think that might be a nice idea :)

I've been wanting to talk about these few people in my life for quite awhile. Since my birthday on June 4th to be precise. I procrastinated for as much as I could, then declared to myself that I would do it on Friendship day ( the day otherwise holds as much meaning to me as Valentine day does- sub-zero levels, really).

Among life's many unexplained things is the concept of friendship. As we get older and more mature, it's been increasingly difficult to find people who match your wavelength or simply those who are true to you. Moving from school to college to work and then again to school, I've seen life becoming increasingly complex. Life, and with it relationships. I know I'm landing on sensitive ground when I say this , but in the picture above are my closest and oldest friends- people who remind me how simple life can really be.
It's not like we've always been together- the last we've been in the same city for more than 3 days is in 1999.

We were the group which just fell together in our 11th- half made up of the new comers to school, the other half already the teacher's favorites. The light of our lives were the breaks- the first 10 minute break where we would attack all our lunch boxes with gusto and the second , the real lunch break when we would go around piling on to the others'. If my school then had the close circuit cameras it boasts of now, I'm sure we wouldve spent a many hour explaining flying bits of chappati to Sr.Patrick.

We would go for all the inter school culturals, win some, lose the rest, make our impacts and look forward to the next. Life was as easy as that. As much as it's difficult to believe and as much as I'm glad to be sitting on an wooden cot, back then, someone had to teach me what jealousy or envy or bitching was. We looked at other troubled relationships and wondered what the fuss was all about. They lost their voices campaigning for me to be the School pupil leader and we gained ground to be one of the most popular gangs in school ever. Even this year, when a few of us went back to school, the teachers fondly asked us about 'our gang'- they were thrilled to know we had kept in touch and are as close today as back then.

I'm not sure if going away to college was a lean phase. The six of us were in five different colleges and I was the one the farthest and, in many senses, the luckiest. My friends would write to me- long letters with details on which colleges our ex crushes had joined and which ones our classmates were in. Now when I read through the carefully saved up letters continued over several days, I dont even remember the characters we discussed with such rigour. The letter -writing phase soon reached a sad end. It was the email era- where we displaced an art that would never be found again. We soon became quite involved in our own lives and colleges. During my vacations at home we would meet up in my house, share space on my bed and come up with everything we could remember that had gone by. The sad, the good , the bad and the miserable of it. And then came the jobs.

Worklife was in a way the light at the end of the tunnel. After four long years we were back. Four of us in the same city of Chennai. Weekend shopping trips, walks along the beach and scrambles over beachside delicacies. We would stay over with each other for the weekends and bring back our school days.

The best part of all this is there's nothing compelling about this relationship. It's simply uncomplicated. For me my best friends are those I can meet up with after months, put up our feet together in the air and fight childishly over maggi like six years had never passed between us. It's about how smoothly our conversations have moved from who the next prank call was for to what to wear for the first of our weddings. It's when our lives merge seamlessly over the miles - and the smiles and the giggles are just the same as years before. It's when each person is so unique and special that we miss them rightaway when they aren't around- or even when they are sleeping while we are busy in conversation. It's such a heartening feeling to know that you dont have to take any effort to keep this going- if it has lasted this long, it will last forever.

This birthday was very special to me. After 6 years I was getting to spend it with my closest buddies. I think that if a li'l persuasion could get them to board trains, take a day's leave and come over to celebrate my birthday, then I must be a special person. And we surely have something nice going. So on the Fourth of June at 12 midnite, there was a familar sight. There was food flying in the air and we were scrambling for cake. In a few minutes we were sharing space , sprawled out on one small bed, licking the icing off our fingers, pondering over whether the cake and tomato all over our faces would make a good facial. I closed my eyes, smiled a silent smile and wished myself a happy birthday. There was simply no better way to turn 23.

Later that afternoon , we went to a studio and got this picture taken. One of the biggest travails we have gone through as a group was to select the best picture out of fifteen- considering there were some of us who just couldnt keep our eyes open or smile right (that's me). More than anything, God, I thank you for having got us through that one :)