The friends we were.

I’m in a contemplative mood today.

I came across a long-ago friend’s Facebook page today. There was a time when we hung out all the time. He was a jovial character; he made everyone around him cheerful and silly just by being there. Like most people who laugh too much he had something to hide. Caught out in rare sombre moments, he was exceedingly reflective, almost sad, and monkeying around was his face to the world. His home situation was a bit iffy, he was ambitious but not as talented in his chosen field, his body image was shot. But all these were ghosts he bore silently and covertly. In his group of friends he was unfailingly gregarious, unerring in his quest to see other people happy. He was an essential member of the group.

I also suspect he liked me as more than a friend, but he valued our friendship too much to ever say it. If I’d realized it then I never said anything either for other reasons. For one thing, I was a nerd with no time for relationship messes. It was a different time, and a vastly different me. I was on the road to a career and friends were just something that were. Friendships weren’t meant to be nurtured then; they were just taken for what they were — granted. My friends were supremely important to me, but I’d known all of them for many, many years and they weren’t going anywhere. They didn’t need any extra attention, so I didn’t pay it.

I don’t regret that my friendship with that boy never went anywhere — it wouldn’t have even if things left unsaid had been acknowledged. Sometimes I just miss those people who’ve fallen by the wayside of life. Would we still be friends if I’d stayed back in India? Made an effort?

No answers, only memories.

Now that my own kids are growing up (too fast!), and will soon enter their own phase of friendship to the exclusion of everything else, my hope for them is that they choose wisely and that I do not forget the intensity of it all. Even if they end up finding a dud of a friend, I hope that I remember that it doesn’t last forever.

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