This Sunday morning, I woke up to the ringing of the alarm bell again. I had forgotten to turn it off over the weekend. It was only 7 am which meant I still had the luxury of sleeping for another hour. My normal working hours begin post-mid-night after my toddler goes to bed and stretches till wee hours of the morning which makes me grab every extra minute in the morning to catch up on my sleep. While locking the mobile, I realized that there was a missed call icon. With trembling fingers, I dialed one of the two most important persons in my household and soon my worst fears came true. My cook had stretched her leave without permission to one more day. This was going to be the fourth consecutive day of her playing truant. I shuddered at the thought of the other important person planning her leave in the same sequence next week. My maid was a huge believer in the tit-for-tat theory and together these two could give me a cardiac arrest any time soon.
I got out of the bed worried about the distressing day. The tornado aka my toddler was turning out to be quite a night owl like both his parents and had maintained his record of staying up till 12 30am last night. So I knew he was going to wake up a little late today. As I was preparing to share the shocking news to my husband, it was a surprise to see him come towards me with outstretched hands. I was wondering if India has won the England test (that’s the only thing he seems to be worried about these days). Instead, he greeted me with a smile and “Happy friendship day”. We have been friends for over two decades now including the years of dating and seven years of being officially married. Of course with time, our conversations have started including grocery lists, our toddlers’ antics and many other typical Indian household topics. Yet I rush to him at the slightest of positive ideas and difficulties till date. I hugged him as another bright idea dawned on me for handling the situation today. “Let’s celebrate our friendship by ordering lunch from 6, Ballygunje Place today.” I could feel the frustrated sigh coming out of his soul which I conveniently chose to ignore.
I was sipping my morning tea when the mobile kept beeping because of the multiple friendship day messages that kept getting delivered. More than 90 percent were forwards that kept getting recycled again in various watsapp groups. I checked my inbox to see if the two people I consider my closest friends had bothered to send a wish. Honestly I knew that none of us really cared for such formalities since our friendship went beyond years. AT and RK live in two different parts of the world now – London and Sydney respectively. I have met them at different phases of life yet our friendships have managed to survive changing times, countries and situations.
AT and I were introduced to each other in the hostel bus when we had shifted to Kolkata from our respective small towns for graduation. But we became friends after getting thrown out of the hostel on the very next morning since the official process of hostel admission was still in process. The administration had refused to let us stay as one of our helpful seniors’ guests until the list was published. We bonded while writing apology letters to the hostel assistant superintendent very soon. From spending a year together in the dormitory (along with twelve more girls) to becoming roommates the next year, we were inseparable. From the first crush to the first break-up, we have been each other’s support system for the past nineteen years. My most special memories of Kolkata has always been about our friendship and this year when I met her after 9 long years, we picked up from where we left. It was as if there had been no break in between.
RK and I recently crossed a decade in being thick friends (both literally and metaphorically). In July 2007, I had embarked on a new journey again after quitting my first corporate job and joining a B-school. The day I shifted to the girls’ hostel, I was enthusiastically going around the place interacting with my new batch mates when I spotted her standing alone near the common area water cooler. I went up to say hi to her without realizing that she might find that weird. She confessed later about labeling me as a nutcase then though she was polite enough to respond to my greeting at that point (till date she keeps reminding me of regretting the decision). Over the next two years, my Tamilian friend became my best friend, my partner in gastronomic adventures and permanent company for even the most hopeless Bollywood movies. With time both of us moved to different cities yet we kept meeting by grabbing the slightest of opportunities even if that meant traveling 2000 kms for my wedding or my son’s annaprasan (first rice eating ceremony). My first novella would have never been completed if RK didn’t agree to edit it in two days flat. It goes without saying that I miss seeing her and meeting her is the sole reason for my recent passport renewal.
I was immersed in my thoughts when the toddler took me by surprise with his jump. He was excited to hear about today being the day of celebrating friendships from his father. He had started preschool in April this year and was one of the last ones to settle down in his class. Mornings had suddenly become all about tears. It broke my heart to leave him at the school door every day. It was only by the first week of May that we realized that his resistance was showing a decline. But soon the summer vacation started. During the vacation, his father and I tried to make school sound like fun. We kept talking about his friends and how they did interesting things. After school reopened in mid-June, the initial few days saw a lot of meltdowns. But one day in July, he just stopped crying because my introvert son had finally made a friend. His new friend had been one among the few names we kept mentioning during the break. My son had suddenly started looking forward to school.
Can you guess what’s so special about this friendship? My son primarily converses in our mother tongue. His best friend comes from the Northern part of the country and prefers to speak in his mother tongue. So if one happens to see this two kids conversing, it would come as a surprise to see one speaking in Bengali and the other answering back in Hindi. Most of the time their individual interaction is not even related yet they continue their non-stop chatter happily. Language has ceased to be a barrier to this new friendship. In an era when the grown-ups of the world can’t even let their thoughts rise beyond religion, gender, language and caste, it is heart-warming to see two toddlers surpass these man-made discriminatory parameters to create a new bond through their innocence. If only the adults could decipher the beauty of relationships and not pollute it with their corrupt thoughts, the world would have been a much better and safer place for civilization to stay human.
My morning today had started on a not so great note but the memories of old friendships and the prospects of budding ones had lightened up my mood and thoughts. Happy friendship day to everyone reading my post. May the happiness of this bond grow by leaps and bounds.