‘Friend’ is a word that is so simple in meaning yet understanding which is so very complex. It’s a word which evokes rare emotions which are powerfully real in a manner that their illustrations are so abstract leaving one spellbound and powerless. It is a word on which I’ve longed to ramble since the day I took my pen and started to bleed and today I would. Forgive me for not attempting sooner for my incompetent writing skills back then and also forgive me now for the indecency to believe that I’ve become skilled enough to pour my heart onto paper. Most of the people I deal with believe that I’m an extrovert person and that they know me inch by inch; maybe they’re right or maybe they’re wrong but here’s what I believe: I believe that I am a person who slips in and out of the extrovert-introvert masks in line with the demands of the situation or just raw instincts. I believe that I’m an introvert at heart and do not share much of the ‘important’ details of the actual life I lead and thus accordingly, to different people, I might lead different lives or at least hope to. This is what I believe and this may also be right or wrong but I’ll stick to it. Sticking to my words, what I consider ‘important’ is, however, relative and may not be a universally important thing, and this will be for the very first time that I’d be opening up before the whole wide world, or the three people who’ll read this, about an ‘important’ thing directly. I’ve hidden behind the clothes of poetry and fiction for far too long, it’s time I got naked and had a look at my queer self for once.
Back when I was little, on almost every long holiday that I would be allowed by the school, I’d drop at my beloved grandma’s place. She was an old but a feisty and powerful woman; people double checked their words before enunciating them timidly before her and her aura was authoritative but for me, she was my doting ‘Aitaa’ and I was her favourite grandchild. Whenever I would visit, it was a ritual for me to sleep by her sagging warmth and it was during those nights that a tired but intent grandmother listened to her grandchild rambling upon all kinds of nonsense a kid could muster. It was on those nights that she’d ask me about my friends and I’d name almost half a century counting on my little fingers trying to make sure I have not forgotten one and Aitaa would be stroking my hair and moving on the next question. Now that I’m grown up and had lost Aitaa to wrong treatment at the hands of a stupid stupid doctor, there’s a void in my life that could never be filled but in some horribly weird way, I’m glad that I won’t have to answer that question anymore because if she would have asked this question now, my list would have been the most minimal and hazed. Minimal because I am sure of the fact that I don’t have many and hazed because I am, sometimes, not sure of whom I have.
In my tender years, I presumably didn’t know the meanings of the words, ‘acquaintance’ and ‘friend’ but now physiologically an adult, I’ve learned the distinguished meanings and also notching up a few other fancy words on the way, I could testify that I have had a lot of acquaintances, schoolmates, classmates, colleagues, crushes, rivals and enemies but a very few friends. It’s not that I’m an unsocial animal but just that tagging some person a ‘friend’ so casually is just not ingrained in my personality. Friendship for me is not a charitable commodity. I’m selfish in this regard and do not regret being so. As a matter of fact, I’ve so few people that I’d call a ‘friend’ that if most of the people who are well in touch with me would ask me for an honest answer, it would create an awkward scenario; one which I intend not to face. Friendship is a complex emotion and for different people, it takes different forms. In my case, I believe that I uphold friendships by being genuinely concerned about them and acting accordingly. It is, in fact, a laborious task and I’m definitely not interested in doing it for anybody but for the ones I do labour, it’s a labour I relish. However, the persons whom I do tag as ‘friends’ might already know this about me or they may not and I have no qualms there; moreover, it’s not mandatory for them to tag me as a ‘friend’ in return and I have no qualms there either. It would be dishonesty, of course, if I say that I don’t expect anything in return at all; yes, I do buts it’s neither materialistic nor to be treated as a friend in return. The only thing I expect in return is their knowledge of the fact that I care and they concern me as a whole. Ironically, I would never blurt it out before them directly but I expect that they would miraculously be aware of this little piece of information. Maybe I’m asking for too much in return when I state such or maybe all of it sounds too silly and ridiculous but this is who or what I am and I’ll never lose my identity. It’s the good, the bad and the ugly that makes me whole and these are the little things which make a friendship so important to me in general.
Sometimes, it’s just a matter of minutes before I bestow upon them the title while sometimes it takes me years. It’s not them but it is because of my perpetual need of an epiphany to happen for me to bestow the title. The thing with me is that I never try to understand neither life nor the people, even those whom I call friends, completely because doing so just sucks away all the surprises and isn’t the magic always in the surprise? Having said that, sometimes, the surprise transfigures themselves into shock which I could or could not sustain and makes my list hazed momentarily. The ones I could not sustain have become distant memories returning to haunt me every once in a while and the ones I do sustain, they become even the brighter and bigger than their previous incarnations.
Summing it all up, I am an unideal person who seeks friendships ideal to the meaning I’ve come to associated with the word. I’m a horrible creature, in fact, but let’s keep that for another day when I’ll be ready to bare it once again and more profusely. I might be a devil in my doings but I’m a grateful one; I thank, from the deepest caverns of my hearts, to all my friends for tolerating the madness that I am and to the ones who satisfied my selfish need for idealism, thank you a lot; lastly, to the ones that didn’t, you’re not getting rid of me soon because I know no other away: forever and always.
Thank You For Reading
A. D. Konwar