The halcyon days of near perfection, fights, cackle of laughter, aspirations and leg pulling. Ah! Those silly pranks. The whining about how horrible we (were) are to each other to sit together the next morning and huddled for a common cause. Bitching about each other with each other. The college days where we nurtured rebellion, innocent crushes, falling in love and slugging out, ticklish in the name of thrill or pretending to ignore or not talking to each other.
Time heals or perhaps, we compromise with each other, accepting flaws or differences as a sign of maturity or growing
old up. An entire lifetime seems to be wiped off and memories cherished in a box confined in some ruined corners, looking at the 12 years that flitted. The defining years that made us real and not flinching in expressing emotions, anger, sadness or happiness. For sure, it is a long time. Neraj, his wife, and two kids came down for holiday from Nepal. A reunion where we made new memories for spending two days together, reminiscing about the lost years, laughing and making silly pranks that give the feeling that nothing has changed after all those years. The entire gang who were together in Pune met at the house of Manish, his wife and little daughter. The college get together with many of us who kicked off with dinner and staying over night with Manish’s brother Gaurav and cousin joining the fun.
There was a time in Pune when all of us were students who used to stay together and often crashing-Neraj and I-at Manish’s place. I used to be flatmates with Manish and Kusum for a year and left for a new house but kept spending my time with them. The friendship stayed intact. Human interaction can be quirky and amusing at the same time when I met another guy, a former flatmate with whom I wasn’t in talking terms for two years of my life. Initially, I was apprehensive but glad that the ice was broken as we spoke about respective careers and experience in Pune.
I was in for a shock when he told me that one of our first flatmates during our first year committed suicide in 2007. It made me feel uneasy for a moment when you didn’t realize that fact, assuming people must be getting on their own lives. I mean, we were not friends and didn’t spoke much or saw each other. But, it does take away something from us.
We boozed till the wee hours in the morning. A silly prank was played on me by Neraj like it used to be during the carefree days. Manish called me in the kitchen to choose the whisky bottle to be opened and zeroed on the Chivas Regal. I got the honor to open the bottle and was serving everyone to realize that my iPhone 8 went missing. I almost lost the head, trying to recollect where it was kept but remembered crisply well it was just with me a second away. Neraj was the mastermind who asked Manish’s wife to hide the phone. The only difference was that I wasn’t angry unlike in those days where an outburst would have been my legitimate reaction.
A cigar followed. Neraj was forced to have a second peg that he resisted initially since the wife and children were waiting for him in the room. He turned out to be quite the family man who gave up on the fag and alcohol makes him once in a blue moon type. The best thing is that he is still the same fun-loving man and never shy in making the silly jokes or laughing the loudest, making some bizarre sound with his mouth. The morning, breakfast time and tea session just felt like in Pune as Manish’s wife aptly read my feeling. It reminded me of the wintery morning in the kitchen when tea brew and the near perfect moments when we would be laughing, running and pulling silly pranks on each other in Pune. The only person missing in the picture is Adi.
We recreated memories, accompanying Neraj, his wife R and two kids, Jagrit and his cute little munchkin just 10 months old who simply touched the heart. Lunch followed and I bonded with the son who has turned into such a fine young man. I love his inquisitive nature of exploring things and the thirst for knowledge. We bonded. Of course, his baby daughter is so adorable and the moment you take her in your arms, she will rest her tender head on your shoulder. It’s amazing how a toddler can trust you with her life. It feels divine for a bachelor like me and bizarre at the same time since I am one of the rare ones, unmarried minus children.
The pictures clicked together and there are lots of them on the smartphones. There was a time we all owned a modest camera and some used to have a digicam to shoot all of us in action. Today, at a click, the phone conjures all the tricks. The two days spent and renewing the bonding with friends made me realize that we hardly met and time to catch up more often. Quality time doesn’t mean seeing each other every alternate moment but those two days strengthened the belief what friendship is all about and we can still make memories remaining entrenched in our lives forever.
The way I saw Neraj in college and never in my most crazy imagination would imagine meeting him years later as an affectionate husband, doting husband to his two children and a changed man for good and better. I told him so on the phone and was amazed to see how we can change in more than one ways for life is never constant.
We met in another country and quite an emotional goodbye to each other, hugging and of course, the baby also embraced her elder but new friends. Isn’t it interesting how as babies we may never know the people whom we met or places we saw? Yet, there is an emotional connect. I almost pushed Neraj inside the car before getting emotional. The time I went back home on the day it was raining and realized that we weathered the cyclone and stormy weather to happily hang out together. The positive mood triggered some past emotions in my heart and veering to the day which defined our lives, thinking how some people are bound to meet or overcome conflicts. We had quite a few disagreements but he reached out to me a couple of years back. We decided to close the chapter and moved on to being good friends.
Guess what, he got me some Nepali chai, tokla and a shawl for Mom which is very thoughtful since he never met Mom. I made Mom chide him for not coming home and he promised of making amends the next time. I am dying to visit Nepal and would be a wonderful opportunity to explore not just the place but also the spiritual side of life. Another time, another place…chartering new memories as I have already to miss the days that makes a perfect framed moment.