4 April 2013.
An almost curly crop of hair, bent over his books is how I first met him. Because every time I turned around in my desk, his hair is all that greeted me. Occasionally a pair of curious eyes looked up at me, through a pair of glasses that always perched atop his nose. I admired the way he was so intent on poring over books…in a class packed with 56 noisy teenagers, I always marveled how he remained unfazed.
Perhaps the window seat in the corner row of the classroom suited him. Perhaps my bench partner being his friend and us sitting just a desk ahead was enough for him. His drawings of various Pokémon characters and the very special Dragonball Z enthralled me, and yet I was kept at a distance. Just entering our teens, we were all still getting used to the fact that the opposite sex is not as ‘Eeew’ as it appeared a few years ago. There was scope for friendship, there was a definite advantage in that. But adhering to peer pressure, I maintained my safe distance too. I didn’t want my name doing the rounds with his, for that would have killed all possible chances of a friendship that may blossom in the years to come.
It is weird how some relations are just meant to be. Throughout the remainder of school life, that distance was constantly maintained. A smile was more than enough acknowledgement. But out of school and ‘marooned’ in one of India’s finest jungles, I discovered the face behind that curly crop of hair. The eyes behind the glasses now told me stories; they had me intrigued, they kept me captivated. Beneath that hair was a head that understood everything I blurted out. Not just that, but what he spoke back made me delve deeper into my own thoughts. With him, I found myself challenging my own intellectual limits and the results were amazing!!
The distance was bridged and he became a common name in my daily life. No matter where I went, a part of me stored up information to tell him. Things I could discuss, exclusively with him!! In our friend circle, he was the only one who looked beyond my ‘cute’ face. Way out of our teenage and heading into adult life, the topics of our conversations became intense. We exchanged fears and we boosted each others’ morales. In his achievements, I hold pride. His technical brain complemented my dreamy literary thoughts.
I floated in the clouds and he held the string tightly, so I only ever drifted but eventually landed back on the ground. Today we are no longer a desk apart; and yet we are closer than ever. I now laugh over that immature fear of being teased as a couple in school.
For years we have been close, and yet we are ‘just good friends’. As you become used to a person, you start to take the relationship for granted. And yet sometimes, the wave of nostalgia crashes hard upon the shore of reality.
The sand flows back with the wave, but feet still stand on the same spot firmly.