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Songs to listen to while reading this: With Friends Like Thesealbum by Bangalore based band Short Round

Yesterday was a couple of lovely people’s birthday. Both of them my classmates and friends from childhood. Now, the thing about Nahan, where we all grew up together, is that roaming around on the roads and market with your friends is what you bond over. Of course there are other things to bond over, like common habits, likemindedness, booze. But Nahan, has this air of drift, everybody is a makeshift vagabond in the evening, wandering about everywhere.

But I’ve always missed on the long chattering walks with friends. I used to be that kid who’d want to play cricket or basketball after coming home. Most of all, I hated (and still do) walking on foot in the public. I seldom talked to many of my classmates because there would be chee girls, ehww boys! playful rivalry environment, or I’d simply wouldn’t have things to talk about. And I can’t talk to people when I do not have something to talk about. I can’t conjure up something funny out of the mundane. I’m bad at small talk. When I talk, I genuinely make the person with whom I’m talking know that I’m open to listening anything and everything that they have to offer, without judgement, without fear of passing the information to other sources. I can be the sink which keeps accepting all the water and vegetable leftovers from the meal plates, without complaining. And at the same time, I can share things myself without hesitations or holding back.

But one way or the other, I did miss bonding over my school friends. I’d be honest, I didn’t really have many common things to talk about. I wasn’t interested in who was interested in whom much, which used to be like the getting go talk point. I was smitten with girl(s) yes, but I didn’t really talk much about that either. I only used to share much with Ishpreet, who used to be, in many manners, like I was – most of the days, we were reserved to the surroundings of our houses after school, because, I guess, we like it that way.

The proof of this lack is that I didn’t get called much after I left. Diksha was the only person who kept in touch all the while. Like 9 years! I kept in touch with many other people sure. I guess that’s what time does no? I saw it with the school friends, then college friends, people whom I spent 4 years together with, are in their own world now – working and enjoying with their new friends in the cities far away.

I did miss out on many times I could have hung out with friends. Although in the last 2 months, I’m really lucky to have been spending time with a bunch of 🍯💛 (read honey heart) people.

Today, on a belated birthday, Lalita, and Akshay gave us (me and Diksha) a treat retreat. We went on a drive to place called Dockyard. They share their birthday on 3rd November, which was yesterday. I didn’t give them anything, which I feel a little embarrassed about. I gift people I care about hand written letters on their birthdays, written with a fancy ink pen ( sometimes even quill when I feel fancy ), on a fancy hand made paper wrapper in an envelop which is not very fancy most of the times ( which is alright ). But then again, we had never really bonded over years, I didn’t know about their feelings much, their history, their family, little things that make difference. So I didn’t really have much to write about. I mean I could have written about things I know, but I didn’t want the letter to be about me, I always make sure it’s about them, what they have given to me and the others. So I guess this blogpost would be a crude replacement for that gift.

I’ve two friends in life that when you are with them, you can’t keep your mouth and tummy shut – they make you laugh so much. Akshay of course, and a college friend from Mohali, Ravinder.

We did have things to talk about, when me, Diksha and Lalita went to excursions a couple of times, but it couldn’t be anything like today. Akshay is like the glue everybody direly needs when you have to submit practical files. He bridges the gap between people, or at least us school friends, so effortlessly and flawlessly, it feels like a breeze stroking the hair on a wonderfully cold winter evening.

Reminiscing back through the time lane of memories is always fun. Recalling the humorous incidents – the funny fights with teachers, kurkure slaps, awkward confrontation with teachers in the toilet, watching Anshul unintentionally lift the scooter up from the front while little children cheered the scooter to an invisible victory line, while Anshul amusingly cursed them, watching Manav getting beaten up by numerous people, including an old man from whose scooter we stole a little petrol from once, watching Varun’s wrath upon girls, watching Anubhav’s impersonation of female voice. Remembering the time I used to be smitten with Lalita and the silly little things I tried to get her attention.

Akshay asked me while we were eating ice cream, why I was looking sleepy. I wouldn’t say I was sleepy, I was just feeling like closing my eyes and enjoying the presence of some friends I’ve happened to love all throughout the journey since we started together in the school. Presence for me is louder than words, louder than memories, louder than pictures and photographs. When I’m silent and I’m listening and I’m smiling for no reason, know that I’m enjoying your presence, your company like crazy and that I cherish it more than the present moment itself.

The most priced moment for me today, was when I drew chairs for everybody to sit closer. That’s when everybody started recalling memories from the school. They were priceless 💛. It’s so relieving to see Diksha laugh! It’s almost contagious. Lalita’s naturally glowing face, eyes, teeth, smile, Akshay’s carefree (yet full of care) and friendly demeanour. They all are contagious.

A month ago, I attended a poetry workshop by one of my favorite spoken word poets, Rochelle D’Silva. The way she starts her workshop is by hugging every attendee for a loooong time, like really long (talk about 3-4 long minutes). It was the longest hug I’ve ever had. It was so warm and peaceful! From that hug onwards I realised hugs are hugely cathartic in nature, just like laughter. Hugs are a natural therapy. Perhaps because hearts come together and exchange silent beat conversations, which they are otherwise not able to do. I wish I could hug Akshay, Lalita and especially Diksha (because she is such a 🍯💛), but here in Nahan, a hug like that is easily likely to be mistaken as something else, and a potential source of gossips and rumours. So I refrain from it. But I really wish I could. It’s one of the few ways for me to tell people how much I love them.

But anyway, it doesn’t matter. With friends like these, having your back, even if you meet them and talk to them (or mostly listen 😆) after ages, it’s invaluable.

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L to R: Diksha, Lalita, Akshay, Me

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