(DISCLAIMER: This is not a love story)
The day finally came when we left for Lucknow. We were all super excited. The trip was another drama waiting to unfold which I’ll reserve for another time. We had two days before the competition started reserved for welcome programs, mixers and sight-seeing. Like usual J and I didn’t exist for each other while we all went sight-seeing around Lucknow and attended the welcome programs and mixers. There was another school from our city as well. Obviously we all bonded and the group of seven multiplied to fourteen instantly. They had the same combination as ours- six boys and one girl but had a female teacher. The girl was a ‘girl’ if you get what I mean, and there was nothing we could find that was common between us. She spent most of her time with her teacher or swooning over one of the boys of her group.
It was the second day and that evening nothing was on officially. We decided to play cricket. The girl from the other school wasn’t interested and went away with her teacher and J of course chose Math over a silly game. It was an even team, us six against them six. I played cricket with my cousin and his friends so, I had some tricks up my sleeve and we were having a gala time playing even in the dim lights. I happen to have two left feet and tend to trip over my own two feet and fall randomly. I was fielding. The ball rolled towards me and I ran to catch it- snap! I twisted my ankle and fell! The guys of the other team were alarmed while the ones from my school cracked up! Rinkini fell- again! I was helped up and limped to the edge of the lawn we were playing on. There was a kind of mount where J sat, head bent over a piece of paper. I hobbled there and sat down and the boys went back to their game. The mount I sat on was in the shadows. I wondered how J could see what he was writing. “Are you ok?” J looked at me. Did he just ask that?! I was taken aback! “Umm… ya… its nothing… I fall often…” I replied. “Are you prepared for the competition?” he asked. Was he trying to have a conversation? With ME?! “Umm… the only thing to prepare was the dance. The rest will be impromptu. So I’ll have to wing it onstage… I know what to expect but not exactly what to expect… I mean…” I was trying to explain my event. “Oh you will do well. You are always up on the stage doing these things in school…” J said encouragingly. We were talking! J and I were actually having a conversation, for the first time!
I started talking nineteen to a dozen like usual. And it turned out he wasn’t the quite guy I thought him to be. In no time we were talking about our families, our likes, our dislikes and my love for literature and his love for Math, our aspirations, dreams, ambitions… The lawn and the other kids melted away… We were wrapped in our own little cocoon… talking about things that mattered to us. We were not just conversing but listening to each other.
The night blanketed us from the rest of the world. I remember the stars twinkling bright for some reason… There was magic in the air… an invisible golden thread was connecting our souls on an ethereal level… Something flowed between us that eve… something which is beyond and above any human defined relation… a bond so pure… unadulterated… white… That evening, sitting in the grounds of an unknown school in Lucknow, I found a best friend in J and J found his best friend in me. J and I have stood beside each other through thick and thin since then. We have been each other’s strength when the other has faltered. We have been each other’s critic and admirer since then. Time flew and soon we graduated 12th and headed for different cities. I went to Mumbai for college and J went to IIT- Kharagpur. Distance didn’t matter. We connected on a level which is rare. But, fate had to play a cruel joke. My luck always takes away everything that is important to me. There were misunderstandings, words were said and hearts were broken…
We were been each other’s strength as well as weakness. We have rejoiced our achievements and fought over silliest of things.The world around us has changed and so has our relationships with people around us. I never stopped caring for him and I knew it in my heart neither did he. No one could ever take his place in my life. Every time I have stumbled, I have missed my best friend. Every time I have achieved something, I have missed my best friend… and I knew deep down he missed his bestie too… but wounds inflicted by someone you love so dearly takes time to heal… I cursed myself for hurting my best friend… J was hurt… wounded… and it was best for us to part ways then.
Years passed… We live in different cities today and have our own families, jobs and responsibilities to take care of. J and I haven’t met or seen each other in over a decade. We have grown up to be adults with adult responsibilities and relationships. As they say, time heals every wound and bridges every gap. We got in touch with each other again… the connection is still intact today… the bond is as strong as it was on the eve it was forged… we picked up from where we left… It’s been sixteen years. I might not have my best friend physically beside me to hold my hand in distress or to pat my back in triumph. But I know I have a BFF in J and we have each other’s back- forever.
(Dedicated to my best friend!)