By the time we reached second year of college, twenty-five remained in our batch. In third year, we were reduced to twenty-two. There remained only eight boys, in a predominately girls class. Mine was a group of five girls, though we tried to keep all the other girls together. We had many local college trips. However, an entomology trip to Simla was the highlight.
I was a high-spirited, over-enthusiastic, very friendly person. A walk from the college gate, at one end, to the science block, at the other end, would be interspersed with at least 1000 greetings, and then some more.
Of those eight boys, I would tease the two shy ones like a bully, making them blush. I heard that one is in the USA. The other is in the Indian Air Force, an officer and a gentleman. We met in 2006, when I was a guest at his station. However, my buddy was this thin boy, son of a scientist, a topper. He sang like Hemant Kumar, and he sang all my Dev Anand favourites. We were like too naughty teenagers, always up to mischief. Our labs were the time to sing songs while sketching the specimens or dissecting them. He would sing, and I would add my off-key notes to that singing. He was an artist; I remember forcing him into participating in an inter-college sketching competition that got him a third prize.
When asked to tease a tissue with needles for slide mount by our lecturer, we would be making hand antlers, tongues out, ‘teasing’ the tissue. He ran for a marathon once, and had sore feet the next day. So, I went around telling people that he has heavy feet. Only, it was in Hindi – ‘paer bhaari ho gaya hei’ – which is a way of informing people of a woman’s pregnancy. *Snigger*
Gender difference never figured between us. We were just two pals, having fun. My pseudo-protests at him giving a rose and attention to my girlfriend would result in him reciting poetry for me. More than three decades later, we still cannot stop scoring on who is more aged. We still laugh and giggle. That’s what pals do.
Then there was this senior in college, who joined the army. I started forecasting to my husband that he will join flying eventually, and will have to come to us at the Air Force for training. We were posted to the helicopter training school, my husband being the flying instructor. Sure enough, there he was, part of the army team of trainees. He found me, though we have not stayed in touch. That was in 1993. Then he tracked me down again in 1997, after my personal tragedy, and a decade later, he searched for me again for the third time on social media. Boy, am I glad for his diligence in staying connected. These days, he is running and cycling more than flying.
My two girl friends, my BFFs, one a neighbour and a senior, another, a school friend, have been with me through thick and thin. When we say best friends forever, we are not sure of its actual import, until such time we are lucky to have unbroken friendships through decades. My bond with these two is record of more than three decades of unbroken contact.
Social media, in the last few years, has connected me to some of my close friends from school and college. It was such a reward.
People, who know friendships, understand friendships. My husband did. He knew the value enough to take me to Press Enclave, to meet my senior school class teacher and invite her to our wedding. He understood and bonded with my college buddy. He ensured that we visit my army friend and his wife, when in Hyderabad. He put me on the train to attend my school BF’s wedding. He took my other BF around Hyderabad, sightseeing Salarjung Museum, and Birla Mandir. He knew the significance of friendships to be there by my side, befriending my friends. He could do all that, because that is what best friends do.
I raise a toast to all my friends for enriching my life. Blessings and embraces to all the friends who are forever. It is said that having one true friend is good luck. What would one say to luck multiplied many times over? Touchwood, and amen!
Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.
When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
Khalil Gibran – The Prophet
||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||