Life has mysterious ways of helping a writer. I’m not talking in terms of money, no, no, no… I’m talking about giving a writer his content! Sometimes it comes in the form of a dream, on other occasions it so happens that in middle of the maths class you get so frustrated that to distract yourself you start writing something
(trust me on this, 73% of present-day writers are indebted to maths for their success but, unfortunately, maths doesn’t find a place in their award-winning speeches). But this time something different happened to me, I found a friend. An Old Friend.
As a daily ritual, I went to the park to jog and to pretend to be the fastest runner on the planet, but just as I had started running I felt as if I had crossed paths with someone I knew, couldn’t have been the Prime Minister of India, he has a private lawn to workout and make videos, couldn’t have been my maths teacher, he was too fit to come to the park, so who was this guy? I turned around and the nostalgia of the ‘Palat Scene’ (Turn Around Scene) from Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge kicked in and he turned around, and we were face to face.
I swear I wouldn’t have been able to recognize him if I hadn’t recalled his latest picture on Instagram (social media at least has some advantages), and there he was, My Old Friend! This was the guy who I was friends with for as long as I could remember. He was one of the earliest friends I made at school but in the 8th or 9th grade he changed his school and we never met after that, until today.
We both smiled at each other and came closer to shake hands. I was still to come on terms with the way he looked now, nothing fancy but he had changed. A lot. I am the kind of guy who has to prepare for such encounters but in this case, the time I had was just one second, the period of me turning around, which had already been used up. But I had to make a conversation, you perhaps guessed it right – I couldn’t! So he started.
He acted like a long lost relative in the beginning and remarked that I had grown taller, after hearing my reply he made yet another long-lost-relative-remark by saying, ‘Your voice has also changed.’ I couldn’t help but be proud of how fast I was growing.
He looked so different that I asked him, ‘How much time has it been?’
‘Two years,’ he said. I thought it might have been at least five years, I was surprised.
We talked some more about various things but I was comparing him all throughout with the guy I had known. These were two completely different people. The only reason I accepted him to be the same guy was from the few nuances in the way he spoke, which had become almost unnoticeable, but I could, anyways, catch them (people don’t call me Sherlock just like that).
We talked for no more than five minutes and it was again time to bid our farewell, and while leaving he said ‘Good luck’ to me, I laughed and responded with a ‘Good luck’ to him, and went my way. I didn’t understand why he said good luck to me and why I responded with the same.
He had changed…
Earlier his fascination was with cars and bikes, it was good to know that it was still intact, but now the question he asked was, ‘have you started to drive?’ instead of, ‘why don’t we count the number of Santro’s and Wagon-R’s on the way to school?’ (Believe it or not, we actually did it)! What made me wonder even more was that he still remembered the car I had.
There were small talks about what subjects we were studying, which school I went to now (even I changed my school later), how I went to school, how was it all, how bad maths was, etc, etc… but nothing very personal, nothing that you would expect two people to be talking about who used to sit together on the school bus for at least five-six years.
His language had changed, the person who frowned upon each kid who used swear words was mildly swearing (for those of you who aren’t from India would perhaps not be able to comprehend what the phrase ‘mild swearing’ means and I find myself profoundly incompetent to teach you this phrase so, “Hail the Internet!”), he was asking me if I had any girlfriends which felt kind of odd coming from this guy as I could only remember the old me and the old him, he had grown a beard which he was boasting about which wasn’t quite necessary because I had eyes, but that part again reminded me he was the same person, he had this habit.
I crossed paths with him twice later while running, the first time I hey-ed him and he waved at me, the second time he asked me how long I was going to run, to which I replied by using Shah Rukh Khan’s famous dialogue, ‘Jab tak hai jaan…’ (‘Till there is life’), and he laughed and walked away. I didn’t bump into him after that.
But all throughout I wondered, was he the only one who had changed? Was I the only one who was feeling this way?
If he were to write an article about his experience of meeting me would not be surprised if I found him writing the same way about me because everything we look at, we look at it from our own glasses and the only thing that inevitable other than you liking my article is – Change…
P.S.: While coming back home from the park I was in a crowded area and I found a guy coming my way, I thought that I had known him, but I couldn’t see him properly because of the light from the car behind him, so I bent towards him and started inspecting him only to realize that he was a complete stranger and I cannot express in words how awkward he must have felt.
So, don’t try this at home, school, or anywhere!