Monday, February 16, 2009

Frozen in Time...

Once upon a time, in a far-off place, a small boy used to get 10 paise a day as pocket-money. In those days, you'd get 2 peppermints for 10 paise but this boy, who was me, would swallow his temptation and keep aside the precious coin. Over a period of one month, this collection would grow to nearly 3 rupees and then, one friday evening, after the school bell rang, I'd trot to a nearby bakery, with my best friend by my side. We'd order a mango fruit drink(bejois, I think) and hand the coins over the counter. Then I'd take a sip, a very slow sip from the cool bottle, savouring every drop of the delicious drink. Pass the bottle to Harish and he'd take a sip and give it back. The bottle would pass nearly 10 times between us before getting sucked dry. Walk back home, cool all the way down below your throat, thinking about a similar treat the next month.

I'll never forget that taste, and probably may not savour that deliciousness again. And Harish! Where is he now, I wonder. In which part of the world? Our friendship was legendary. When our kannada teacher would narrate the story of Mahabharata and explain the deep friendship between Duryodhana and Karna, she'd mention 'Like vishwanath and harish', so that everyone would understand. And there were others too, hovering around--a close-knit group of friends. Yet, just over 20 years and not a soul around! Many of us have been thrown around and away by the demands of life, by separate priorities and individual callings. A few live close enough but they're far away. I'm too much absorbed in the details of my everyday living to even bother calling them up. Maybe they too have similar or different obligations. Maybe they're too busy to even look back at the past and remember.

Life amazes whenever you try to reflect back on it. How fast priorities change, how quickly we break away from close-knit groups and fritter away, going new places, making new friends, building new bonds. At any given time, you never imagine that this friendship or kinship is only temporary, that in a few years, this person could be out of sight and out of memory. Yet it happens very often. Just six years ago, there were five of us who'd meet every evening on a cricket field. Play cricket, take a walk to the nearby bakery, chat for nearly an hour in the evening, dream about the future---and now my contact is limited to only one of them--that too, maybe because he's my neighbour! We're not stone-hearted either--given half a chance, maybe we'd be too happy to meet up but it never happens, that half a chance never arrives. Life gallops along at break-neck speed, so you better keep up and keep moving!

A metaphor I came across quite sometime back illustrates this temporariness of human relations. It's as if we're driftwoods, moving along the course of a river. The currents bring us close and keep us together for sometime and as the river enters the planes, we slowly move away, towards new driftwoods, separating again, sailing along. And while we were together, the other person would've meant the world for us. We'd entrust them with our most cherished secrets and fears, envision our dreams with them and hope for a future of shared destines. Little did we know what life had in store for everyone. That it would take another quarter of a century before we'd set eyes on each other again.

An sms and a phone call from one such long lost friend prompted a rush of memories, buried deep down--amazingly fresh and not forgotten. 'Let's meet,' he said.'It's been 25 years since we all came to know each other and became friends. I'll organise.' How exciting would it be to meet them all after such a long time! Some have passed away, some are in different parts of the world. Many would've changed beyond recognition. Yet it would be a wonderful experience to meet these souls who were so close to you, spend time with them, listen to their stories and revive all those antique moments. It's like reclaiming a lost part of yourself.

Yet you know very well that you'll return to the galloping life from this meeting, back to the current friendships and acquaintances, so will these old friends return to their lives. Life will suck you back into its demands and pursuits, handing over new relations, promising everlasting bonding and love. It knows well that you'll get too busy in the details to remember this promise. Maybe that's the way things are meant to be. Maybe this temporariness itself adds beauty and depth to these relations.

Will I meet Harish again? I don't know, but If I do, I'd love to walk with him to the same bakery(which still exists behind our primary school building), order the same mango drink and sip it with him. And remind him of those jingling coins in our pockets as we hopped to this same place, 25 years ago, full of anticipation and excitement. Sentimental? You bet!


  1. You are both sentimental and wise. I am a little surprised that in your country people also get pulled hither and yon. I thought that was just a Western problem. I met up with my best friend from both high school and college a few years ago and we sat and talked fully as if we had been apart only a few months. You may be surprised how easy it is to fall back into that comfortable sharing feeling.

  2. *sighs*

    Childhood friends were fun.
    I don't know whether or not you have joined, but facebook is a wonderful tool is seeing what people are up to these days...;-)

  3. its good to see friends connected. good luck for you...

  4. Dear Vishwanath,
    i am reminded, after reading your write-up, my meeting a friend after 55 years ! Years are just numbres. The friendship never fades.
    You write well. I wish I had been reading all your posts regulalry. I wil snatch time and read all. God bless you.

  5. Anon...Thanks :-)

    Jen...I haven't tried Facebook; don't know if it's a great tool for connecting to old friends. Maybe I'll check it out.
    Nice to see you here after so long :-)

    Tabor...It's amazing to meet people after a long time--they would've changed drastically and also remain the same underneath. I met one such person who was my classmate and he looked aged beyond his years, yet he had the same mischievousness and warmth.
    Yeah, it happens here too--we get kicked all over the place. Maybe it's the same across all modern cities. We're truly global citizens in this way :-)

  6. Dear Guruji...Thankyou for the appreciation. They're highly valued and priceless.
    Meeting someone after such a long gap must be a truly amazing experience. I can't imagine it--the emotions and all!!!

  7. Vishwa,
    I am reminded of my school reunion after 32 years. I too thought that we would never meet. Life had taken us in various directions.But when we did,what was amazing was that the years did not matter, we just connected as we did all those years ago!And, it is not necessary that you will all go back to your lives and forget this reunion. I have gained a number of "old-new" friends, and we talk or meet quite often.So there is a chance that Harish and you may just pick up where you left off!

  8. Meena...Yes, you wrote about it, recently. It's always nice to meet up with long lost friends and discover how life has lead them on different paths.

    In our school days, we once decided to speculate where we'd be, say after 10 years. We thought, we'd write it down somewhere and meet again after 10 years to see how much of it had come true. Crazy times. But I guess the idea didn't materialize and we just went our ways. I wonder what we'd have written down and how much similar or different reality would've been.
    I hope to renew quite a few friendships and as you've noted, wish to pick up where I'd left off :-)