Thursday, November 02, 2006

But men get lost sometimes
As years unfold
One day he crossed some line
And he was too much in this world
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore

In a New York Minute
Everything can change

-- New York Minute, Eagles


Camus is so irritating (yes, we're on first name basis now). Because he says stuff like "Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal" and "It is normal to give away a little of one's life in order not to lose it all". And you hate him because you realize how bloody right the guy is.

Sometimes life is about forcing yourself to wake up every morning and saying "f**k you" to every meaningful thing that happens to you.

It's a friend's birthday today.

It's always that way with me. I wake up and I know it's someone's birthday that day. Just that I don't know whose, and I spend the day frantically trying to remember. Sometimes I get the feeling a couple of days earlier and I keep telling myself not to forget and end up forgetting anyway. This happened quite recently too.

Anyway, I've known this guy for, what, eighteen years now. We were buddies (note the past tense). We
spent Sunday afternoons playing one-bounce cricket in the backyard with a broken bat and my dog. We traded answers inside the exam hall, exchanged cricket cards outside. We stayed a bicycle ride away. His friends became mine. Mine, his. Weekends were spent at his place or mine with sumptuous lunches and goodbyes that lasted half an hour spent chatting at the gate. We once stumbled on a girl changing clothes in the school staff-room (she's a model now, so you can draw your own conclusions), swore each other to secrecy and then boasted about it anyway. My brother taught him chess. He taught me Hindi. I taught him how to fly kites. We were, what's the word, close.

And then things happened.

We grew apart. He switched schools. We grew further apart. He went to college in Coimbatore and I stayed on in Chennai. I became a city-slicker while he picked up the rural lingo. He wrote me during the first year (note - wrote, not emailed). I didn't reply. Every time he came to Chennai during the semester holidays he would come visiting, play chess with my brother, exchange insults with my sister and later, all of us would stand chatting at the gate after saying goodbye half an hour earlier. And he would go away to Coimbatore. He would have been the perfect friend. If I would let him be, that is, but then I guess I never let my scars heal. Second year, third year, and we continued to grow apart. I emailed him once asking how things were. And I felt stupid about it afterwards. I shifted to a place near my college, and his visits grew less frequent.

He was a star at college while I brooded my way through four years of engineering. Final year, and campus recruitment. An IT company with a three-letter abbreviation for a name took him in, while I chose to work with a firm few had heard of. He got high on code and I was confused. His mother probably wanted for him to earn a lot of money, buy a car, build a house. My dad just wanted me to do my thing.

The abyss widened.

I went to see him once during the break before my finals -- he was in Chennai for a few days then. His dad had bought him a computer and we ran amok installing all kinds of games. I gave him Commandos-2 and showed him how to get past level 4. We went around visiting other friends I had lost touch with (he hadn't) and played a game of cricket later in the evening. Before I left we planned another meeting when we would also go visit our school.

We've seen each other twice after that. In the last 30 months.

He called me recently. He had just returned from an onsite visit where he had torn a ligament in his knee playing soccer. Seven weeks of hospitals and ortho specialists. Said he was reporting to work the next week. We chatted briefly and I said I'd call him. I haven't.

And today's his birthday. Damn.

I wish I could call him. Wish him a birthday and chat like nothing's changed between us. But then I know I can't. Because it's different now. Or maybe, I want it to be different. Whatever.

I wish I could tell him I'm no longer the guy who took pleasure in pipping him at school. Wish I could tell him I don't see the point in cricket anymore (the Windies won! Did they hammer SA or what? Go Gayle Go!). Wish I could tell him news of his onsite visit and snaps in front of the Big Ben are boring. That I'm least bothered about what his sister did at school. That despite everything else, his uncle's death still leaves me sad -- the one person in his family who was 'different'. That my parents and siblings still adore him, but that he doesn't occupy my mind-space any more. That an MBA may not be the way I want to live my life, although he thinks it's his life's purpose. That I don't agree with his definition about anything, including "social life" and "friends circle".

I wish I could tell him I don't relate with his way of life anymore, and that we now move in different circles which don't intersect.

That it takes so much energy to be normal when I'm talking with him over the phone,
trying to be someone I'm no longer in touch with myself.

That the memory he has of me is what I have to
give away in order not to lose what I have left.

That I still consider him one of the few good human beings I've known, one of the few genuine people I know.


That I want it to be on record somewhere that I wished him -- Happy Birthday KK.

20 comments:

The Soliloquist said...

Read this first thing in the morning.Been there, done that.
Happy Birthday to KK (whoever he is) from me as well.

musafir said...

the soliloquist

Hmmm

Karthik said...

I actually wanted to read it first thing in the morning - but pity that my morning starts at 12-40 and i always have work pending :)!! Aneeways it was nice da .. Ha(d)ve a friend on the same lines as well.. Well he switched schools in the 8th standard while i rotted on in the same school. I actually wrote an entrance test for his school in +1 but the buggers asked 10000 bucks as donation. So that was that - but we still kept very good touch - except that he got more and more intelligent while me - Hmmm .. Finally he chose medicine, got into Madras Medical College (he was a state ranker) while u know what-i-did !! Things were never the same after that - we lived very near to each other but never visited .. Occassional phone calls and visits during Golu season always happened. His parents were also fond of me while mine simply adored him .. It was always "Look at V, he did this, he does that".. Then they shifted houses and went a bit far (And i got a excuse for not visiting :) ).. He would have passed out by now and God knows what he does now ... Actually this golu i asked my mom to invite them. She called his mom up, but i donno why - i told my mom to tell that i wasn't around.. His mom said - "'V' misses Karthik a lot, always keeps on telling me .."And my mom gave them my mobile number, office number - everything. But it's two months since and he never called up .. Ok, ok - i could have called, but what the heck ? Why shud i .. Think he would be saying the same somewhere else !! I miss him but have all the good memories which we had for company ..

That's Life da (Sighh)

P.S - Good that this thing doesnt have a word limit !!

The Soliloquist said...

know what.. sometimes i feel this is how it was all meant to be. Maybe the past was too precious to be diluted by the present, and deserved to be preserved unto the future by way of memories.
Countless times, when I have felt that what I am now might have meant ruin to what I had then. "Forgot" so many birthdays,anniversaries, and festival wishes.. (My list includes a couple of cousins as well..)

Reiterating Karthik, Life's like that. (A deeper sigh!)

musafir said...

karthik and the soliloquist

*What? There's more of us?*

People! Please take your stories elsewhere. I'm trying hard to be happy here.

What do you think this is? Some kind of helpline or what? Go write your own posts.

*:-)*

On a serious note, yes, know the feeling.

And since you guys are on a sigh, let me join - *sigh* :P

Anonymous said...

ok I know I know I will sound like a party pooper by trying to extrapolate what ostensibly looks like a 'unique' experience of someone to something which for all intents and purposes is perhaps universally felt by almost every one.

The underlying motif being
"Things change,people adapt,priorities change and more importantly wavelengths dont match".

Sure indeed memories are always there but I have always wondered about this thing called 'nostalgia'...how much does the benefit of hindsight influence the characteristics of it? Does pur present 'context' define the interpretation of a 'past event' ?
Happiness,sadness...what exactly do they mean? it is obvious the incident per se has no such intrinsic attributes ( you know one man's meat is another man's poison...crude analogy I know.. )

ah well..so many questions...

*Sigh*

Karthik said...

Damn u .. Why do u write such posts .. After i commented, i kept on thinking about my buddy for a long time .. Almost got tempted to call him - but didnt !!

Annon above me - Hmm ..
"Happiness,sadness...what exactly do they mean?" - What does the world mean ?? Offcourse it's nothing more than whatever is in ur mind - like the lens thru which i view my experiences .. Hmm Regarding nostalgia and present context - not necessarily .. I have had hundreds of more friends after V. And i was an intovert back(i still am - though people dont believe it)then .. But then - each guy has his/her own significance .. Goes back to one of this blog's earlier posts and my fave one - the post about two roads diverging !! Life's like that afterall - my buddy and i took different roads .. And we never happened to meet again !!

(Sigh !!)

musafir said...

TMWWT

Can't believe that there are just 4 sentences in that comment of yours.

By the way, I had this idea a while ago - to try and rewrite your comments my way and see how they turn out (no offence meant; purely an intellectual exercise). So here goes -

People change, you move on. The memories you're left with change depending on your interpretation. And no two people have the same memory of the same event. So you could be happy about something while the same thing would make someone else sad. So you see, happiness and sadness have no meaning by themselves. Sigh. (Word count - 55).

Now, responding to your comment -

"The underlying motif being
"Things change,people adapt,priorities change and more importantly wavelengths dont match"." -- ah, how did I not see that? Brilliant. Maybe I would write this in the future.

But then my point is that despite all that, the bond can still survive and that maybe I'm just complicating things by letting my ego come in the way. I know because I have other friends with whom my wavelengths don't match, people I've known for a period far lesser than the time I've known KK, and I'm still very good friends with them.

So, I'm just saying that that motif of yours needs some refining.

And oh, that argument about how memories twist themselves has been beaten to death already - case in point.

"I know" is always a dangerous thing to say.

karthik

Maybe you should call him :-)

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

@Karthik: Actually you are corroborating my point rather than negating it with your anecdote...:)


Musafir:

ha ha....good attempt but you see we both use a different literary' technique' to drive home the point.
Mine is largely rhetorical (off late ) and interrogative. So tautalogy is inevitable..

Anyway I am all for cynicism,sarcasm,narcissism (?),orgasm ..and pleonasm...:)

As Woody Allen would say with that party slogan I could go on to win in France :P

As for the 'bond' I think it's largely psychological. The cynic in me suggests it is probably the 'idea of childhood friend' and the implicit assumption that 'we grew together so we know about each other the best ' and the illsuion of 'comfort' in most cases (which need not necessarily be true or more often than not is not true )

But then it is closely linked with
one's perception of 'nostalgia' and of things auld lang syne :)

The Man Who Wasnt There said...

...or perhaps one shouldnt try to 'raitonalize' nostalgia as any ruthless analysis would make it meaningless...

We should be safer and use the ratehr vacuous phrase
" Do what your heart says!"

Sadly that technique didnt work for me...mine didnt say 'anything'. It is contented merely pumping blood.
Sigh...

The Soliloquist said...

Bah... i m tired of sighing... So here goes ...

musafir:

"maybe I'm just complicating things by letting my ego come in the way."

Perhaps thats the way you want it to be. Could be a change in you which your not able to point your fingers at.
I, for one, more often than not, do it out of fear, i guess..(m still not sure about it.) I am afraid i might discover some change that I wont agree with , something that would tarnish (however slight) my memory, and image of that person. It neednt necessarily disturb the rapport, but i wouldnt want my discoveries to diminish the cozy comfort that I seek in the nostalgic sojourns that i take.

TMWWT:

"Happiness,sadness...what exactly do they mean? "

Do we always need a definition for everything? Why cant life go on, (as it does),without the necessity to make "sense" out of it all??


"Does pur present 'context' define the interpretation of a 'past event' ?"

Well, I feel its like this... A past event is percieved in a certain manner in the past, and the perception goes into storage. Then when the present provides a trigger, the past event is retrived, and ofcourse, some amount of processing happens, with respect to the present, and past either is embellished,(nostalgia) or is made monstrous (bitter memories back to haunt with a vehemence). With so many detractors in the present, this event eventually loses significance, and is put back into cold storage, with the above said headers attached, either over writing the previous record, or by creating a new entry (as the then present has now become past). Guess this is how nostalgia works. But, then again, who is bothered about how stuff works, as long as it works ?? ;-) Till date, nostalgia has never failed me... :-). And I ve never wondered how it works...;)

Girish S said...

the soliloquist :
I, for one, more often than not, do it out of fear, i guess..(m still not sure about it.) I am afraid i might discover some change that I wont agree with , something that would tarnish (however slight) my memory, and image of that person. It neednt necessarily disturb the rapport, but i wouldnt want my discoveries to diminish the cozy comfort that I seek in the nostalgic sojourns that i take.

How is that not an illusion?? That's exactly what I said in my last comment..it is an 'illusion' of comfort...and interesitngly enough you want to cling on to that illusion inspite of knowing it is one...

Well I cannot do that. That's the fundamental difference between our thought processes I guess.

"Do we always need a definition for everything? Why cant life go on, (as it does),without the necessity to make "sense" out of it all?? "

See again there is the difference...I have hardly claimed that 'knowing' how things work will make a difference to it's existence.. things exist. What is aught will be aught. But I cannot rest in the knowledge that the fact that the cognizance of the thing is not going to make any difference.I simply HAVE TO KNOW. Period. :)

Anonymous said...

Quite humourously put. My sympathies are with your ex-friend!You wanted him for pleasure and you still do - only that your definition has changed over time. You've resorted to the option of choosing whats best for you. It'd be a pity if your friend chooses otherwise!

The Soliloquist said...

Girish,

I know this is not the place to have one on ones... but still u have this knack of pulling me into one..

"things exist. What is aught will be aught".

What do you feel describes ( m not using the word "define" ) existence ? And how do you(or should we) see "what is aught" ?

"I simply HAVE TO KNOW".

When do you "know" something ???

"it is an 'illusion' of comfort..."..

yes, it is an illusion of comfort , but the comfort lies in the illusion itself. When it comes to the question of emotions, everything is an illusion. Pain,happiness, satisfaction,greed, jelousy, everything can be an illusion.(may be thats when we are able to over come them.)And reality too. Probably some funny dual state.

All of us live with both illusions and reality, whether or not we have the choice.

As they say.. Its all in your head.. ;-)

And btw, the lines you quoted werent addressed to you... Perhaps I m fully aware of the differences in our thought processes .. ;-)

Brood Mode said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brood Mode said...

"It's always that way with me. I wake up and I know it's someone's birthday that day. Just that I don't know whose, and I spend the day frantically trying to remember. Sometimes I get the feeling a couple of days earlier and I keep telling myself not to forget and end up forgetting anyway. This happened quite recently too."

Did u do this on my bday too?

Meera said...

I never remember birthdays. Not even those I haven't cut off all (most) ties with. Am I a bad person?

I know your birthday, though. But that's a totally different reason.

Anonymous said...

PADICHU SEMMA FEELING AAYIDUCHU DA

Anonymous said...

loved ur blogs, the sweltering sun conquered coz of u...enjoyed the rain and the ligtning...ty...good writing teleports i suppose and urs did...

musafir said...

anonymous1

Thanks!

anonymous2

Oh well, "teleport" is too big a word for my writing, but then I try :)

Thanks for visiting. Appreciate the comment.