“You’re lucky if you have that one friend you can trust, that one person with whom you can be yourself without feeling awkward about yourself,” is the advice I received as a kid. Over the years, people came, people left. Growing up I realised that there’s no good friend, better friend and the superlative best. No sir, you’re either a friend or an acquaintance. To be sure, there are the used-to-be friends but got-married-and-went-off-the-radar kind. There are the “Facebook friends” and a host of other neither here nor there categories. But this isn’t about them. This is about the friend that I’m fortunate enough to have.
That’s the kind of conversation we have! Between us, we don’t understand formality. If I’m behaving like an idiot I’m informed of it and vice versa. There are no I expected you to understand blah! In fact common knowledge (I know that you know that I know…ad infinitum) is usually the norm. The depths of despair haven’t been reached if the situation hasn’t been discussed between us, neither has happiness been conquered if it has not been shared with the other.
Except for the fact that we belong to the same state, went to the same college, were classmates during post graduation and then went on to join the same company there’s nothing in common between us! As humans we are stationed quite far away on the spectrum. He likes to keep things simple, complicated is what life usually is around me. He is cleanliness and neatness personified, messy is the word for me. His circadian rhythm is synced to our parent’s expectations, mine is trying to find its rhythm. If he is the genius, I’m the eccentric. If calling someone “vaahiyat” is as far as he would go, my expletives are in sync with Anurag Kashyap movies. And yet, our differences notwithstanding, we have always been there to hear each other’s complaints about life issues (read flatmate trouble and job chaos) and to celebrate in each other’s achievement.
Life has always taken care of itself when the two of us decided to get work (un)done. During our post graduation we always did group (or individual) assignments together. This “together” was of a different kind. While people would sit down together to discuss how to go about the assignment, we didn’t bother with these blah-ness. One of us would start work on it (usually him) then hand over or mail the progress after which the other took over. So a normal assignment would involve him working at it during the day and giving it to me during dinner after which our man went to bed. I would work on it during the night, hang it on his door by 3 a.m. post which he would resume. We did meet deadlines (with a lot of conditions apply); his friendship with the nerds came in handy.
A particular instance was a source of immense amusement: it was a finance assignment that we had a month to work on. As is normally the case, for three weeks we kept making plans regarding starting work on the assignment, to not leave things for the last moment. When three days remained we decided it was high time. That our blessed sports committee decided to organise the badminton tournament at that auspicious moment with a 6 hour notice came as an exogenous “shock”. Badminton tournament meant that we were 12 hours before the submission deadline and work on the assignment was in the blueprint stage. He had worked on his part, I had mine “almost” chalked out, it needed the finishing touches. In retrospect, if one has been up all night, 5 a.m. isn’t the time for finishing touches. When we got back the assignment, I saw the score, felt good about it and moved on. He being the conscientious soul decided to look in. It was then that we realised that my sleep deprived self in giving the finishing touches forgot to remove the footnotes numbers and things like “as mentioned in the previous chapter” while performing the diligent copy-paste routine. Our professor had duly circled every single occurrence of my lackadaisical attitude but had fortunately decided to not be a sadist about it!
Such things were the norm rather than the exception. My utmost priority has always been to fix him up with a member of the opposite sex, that by way of fulfilling this objective I have done zilch (except forcing him to download Tinder) is another matter. His utmost priority it seems is to help me get my priorities right as I usually screw up. We are concerned about what the other is up to. If he decided to get drunk during Fresher then I stayed sober and when I decided to get drunk during farewell, I asked him to take care of me while I was at the antics. That despite all precautions I ended up breaking a washbasin before I passed out will always remain a mystery to me-was the basin weak, was I too strong, how could I have been so drunk?!
He is the reason behind a lot of the good things I have done. The traveling, the confidence to stay single and above all taking pride in being myself. He single handedly motivated me to start a blog. From its theme, its name, what I should be writing about, everything about this blog was done with him by my side. That persistence is not one of my traits my friends know. The fact that I have been writing this blog consistently is also because of him. Whenever I feel that it’s just gibberish or really not good enough, he keeps me at it. When I don’t write for long he enquires about it. I can’t thank him enough for this. All the criticism and harsh words are cushioned when I know that it meets his expectations and that’s all that matters. In that sense he has a certain Dalai Lama aspect about himself. Spreading good cheer and motivation since time immemorial.
Our love for traveling binds us together. The most “adventurous” trips where Murphy is at its best usually happens when we two are involved. The whole chaos during our Nag Tibba trek has made it one of the most memorable trips of our lives. My companions got to know that like true love the notion that cars on the highway stop if a girl is asking for a lift is a Bollywood perpetuated myth. That 2017 began with us getting scolded by the cops in Rishikesh for singing “Ankhiya milae kabhi ankhiya churae, kya tune kiya jadoo” on the top of our voice while walking back to our hostel is the kind of thing that keeps happening to us.
Life happened when we moved to different cities. A lot of people left Delhi, but it was when he decided to shift that I knew the Delhi experience was going to undergo a qualitative change. To a truly great friendship there is only so much that distance can do. When I’d moved to US for work, his prodding made me go out and explore New York irrespective of whether I had to do it alone or with a friend. Even now, when I’m home alone and Life decides to be a sadistic bitch, I’ll call him at 1 a.m. to talk things over. We work out Plans B, C and D if A fails. When I interrupt with “but what about this other plan” he replies with a nonchalant “that’s the backup plan, if all else fails.” When he can’t make sense of his work he decides to get in touch. People’s idiocy drives him nuts. He can’t deal with “fake” and “posh” and if you combine them then our man is going to “erupt” (by his standards). The freedom of saying whatever we have and want to say with the assurance that we are being taken seriously and not being judged is what our friendship has always been about. To a truly great friend: you stand alone, nobody comes close-Happy Birthday!