Identity

I have known Shubhendhu for a long time. In my mind, he is one of my oldest friends. And in a way, he is my first real friend.

Shubhendhu has always been in the backstage of my life. I doubt any of my friends know that he exists. He is like one of those pen pal friends you make on the Internet because you have so much in common and have great chemistry with. Except, he is a much better friend than some of my actual pen pal friends. You see, what differentiates him the most from all the other people in my life is the fact that he is always there for me. He always believes in me. There have been people who have been more present in my life than him, who I love, who I adore. But Shu, in spite of not being physically present, has always supported me regardless of everything and anything. And that’s true friendship.

So, in an abstract sense, it sucks. Because I haven’t been as much a good friend to him as he has been to me.

It’s weird really, when I try to figure out what changed. I look around me, and All my friends are different. They act differently. They treat me differently. They treat THEMSELVES differently. And I have always wondered why in the back of my mind. But today, it hit me. My friends aren’t different. It’s me who is different.

Leaving the comforts of your home changes you. Life changes you. You can try to hold onto your past as much as you can, that old version of you that you have always been. You can pretend to be that person, that old person in that old city where you spent most of your life as a dependent individual. But sooner or later, you will have to be independent. Life will abuse it the hell out of you. There is no choice, you just have to adapt. You have to grow. You have to change. A new city will bring about a new you. That’s how it works.

And so, changing yourself means you will see things a little bit differently now. Shu is probably not reading this, since he is more of a talker than a reader. That was the dynamic of our friendship. I would tell him my problems, all of them – barring no secrets whatsoever – and he would patiently listen. That’s what made me respect him more. A talker by nature, who always loved to explore conversations in a goofy way, would turn into an excellent listener when his friends or family were in trouble. Or if they wanted to talk. In a way, I was like that as well. Maybe it was this singular similarity that brought us together as friends.

He would listen. He would advise me too. As a person who was impartial to the core, he would provide expert opinions on all my problems. I would smile, accept these opinions that made complete sense, and then do the complete opposite anyway. Yeah, I was a dick to him.

You see, in my mind, I always thought that if he was advising me that way, then it had to be the wrong way because that also always happened to be the way I would think. So I would go to these mess load of other people – my family, my other friends, my girlfriend, etc. – and take opinions from them. And in spite of all those people being completely different from me, their way would make more sense.

Whose way was better, at the end of the day – his or the others – is up for debate. Sometimes it would work – the opposite way would do magic. But sometimes, Shu’s way worked as well. He was very diplomatic and always believed in the more calm and logical way. Violence wasn’t his best suite. Neither was mine.

One thing common though, in every situation, was that he would be disappointed. After asking for his opinions, I would do the opposite and he would always be angry at me. Of course, not for a long time, but sure. I would be too. If someone asked for my advice constantly and did not use it, I would be pissed. It’s not because they didn’t take my advice. Its because they wasted my time. If you’re not going to use my advice, don’t ask for it!

Oh I am such a hypocrite!

Look at me, drowning in nostalgia. This was a long time back. We were young and stupid. We had our share of fights like most friends. But we always came back. We always spoke to each other. Of course, being in a whole different place made it difficult to physically talk face to face but we made it work. Ours was a true friendship.

Was.

That’s what brings me here. 23 years old, living on my own in another city, far away from family and familiarities of my life, the walls of my comfort zone already rubble…… It’s hard. And without friends, lonely.

People don’t like me much. At least not in the way they used to like me in my old city. And as I said before, I have changed. I am different now. And the new city is not a fan of me.

Watching shows like Friends (1994) had already warped my mind about the expectations of living on your own in a city. But its a lie. That show, and all shows like that are lies. Real life doesn’t have Monicas that are genuinely nice and caring. Real life doesn’t have friends that laugh at your sarcastic jokes. Real life doesn’t accept your weirdness like they do with Phoebe. That’s not how life works. Or atleast that’s not how my life has worked.

Shu and I don’t talk anymore. Maybe sometimes, one or two messages get sent across. Maybe we talk cordially. Small updates on how the other is doing. But being adults, and mixed up in their own shit, it comes with baggage. And while you might feel sometimes that you are done with shit, and you want to go back home to your comfort zone, staying and dealing with shit – lifting your baggage and throwing it away – will make you stronger. Keeping expectations will only disappoint you.

At this point, everyone except that one person in life (my dad) has disappointed me. All the friends I called true, were actually just using me for my company. That sounds weird – I can already hear people shout “that’s what friendships are, you dumb fuck!” but I feel friendships are more than that.

You want me in your life, but also take no effort to keep me around. You text me with things like “You have changed, you have forgotten me, you never reply” but conveniently leave out the part where you didn’t send me any messages or give me any calls. In a fight, I end up apologising, yet I do not get an apology from you, especially when it was a mutual misunderstanding or mistake. I am your second choice, a backup. You forget me sometimes. And finally, you call me a freak. That’s not how friendship works.

Shu knew that. And he never treated me like this. And yet, I took his friendship for granted. I am to blame for it. I alone am to blame here.

Additionally, not being friends with Shubhendhu has also always been in the background. I have always taken that for granted as well. Not anymore.

In losing him, in losing his point of view, I also lost myself. Or at least, I lost my previous version of self. I lost my original old city personality and adopted a new, sadder, more depressing new city personality. I lost my identity. I don’t want to be different. I was to be me. I want to be a newer version, but still be me. I want to listen to my own heart, make my own choice. Yes, people will advise and I will listen to it. I will act on that advice if it makes sense to me. And Shu will continue to hate that. But you know what, he will still be a part of my life. And I will be my own person as well, right?

No, I won’t sit around hoping everything goes back to normal between me and Shu. I intend to not give up; I intend to do something about it.

Shubhendhu, I am sorry for what happened between us. But I am not giving up on you. Just like I am not giving up on myself.

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Swimming pool of chai

Imagine this scene: you are on your comfy bed, wrapped up in layers and layers of blankets and in their warmth. Your worries are nowhere to be found. Next to your bed is a tall, ornate frame of window, separating you from the outside. It has been left a crack open for you to enjoy the snug atmosphere. Lashing against the window, making therapeutic sounds of melody is the rain. You are oblivious to the rhythmic chaos outside that the sound precedes.

In your hand is your favourite book, a book that creates an aura of safety and comfort around you. A small reading light brings clarity to the words on the pages in your hand, even as darkness engulfs the pedestrians outside. You sigh in bliss; there is no way you can get more relaxed than this… unless… someone brings in a hot bowl of Maggi for you. That someone happens to be your mom. Piping hot, the bowl warms your hand, while the steam wafting from the bowl mingles with the cold breeze that the torrential downpour outside has created. The aroma of the masalas lifts your spirit, it satisfies your soul… and stomach.

And now, finally, you are in heaven.

Loving it?

Now imagine you are on the other side of the window.

Your shoes are wet and your socks are soggy, soaked with muddy water. They are making a distinctively irritating pachak-pachak sound with every step you take. Your umbrella is inside-out because of the strong winds. Your hair is a mess; sticky and moist, it sticks on your face and smells awful. You have something in your left hand, something else in the other, and your shoulder balances the umbrella that is doing a poor job of keeping you dry. The one thing it is supposed to do, and it can’t even do that properly.

There is no way to cover your arms. They are exposed to the chilly drafts of air that graze you, tickle you and make your nipples pointy and sensitive. You might be getting sick as well, and the hunger that is starting to build in your stomach only adds to the shitty-ness of it all. You have to reach your destination, a few kilometres away, and the only way to get there is wading through brown, lumpy water that reminds you of roadside chai.

And of course, the rain has put a stop to all kinds of public transport. So you have no choice but to walk – oh sorry – swim through the swimming pool of chai (but we all know it’s not really chai…) trying to go where you want to. And then you happen to drop your deliciously sexy phone you were desperately clinging on to, from your right hand. Of all places, it happens to fall with a dull plonk into the muddy puddle. Yay you!

Dreading it?

Good. So you are just like me.

Because today, in a span of a couple of hours, I happen to experience both… while I was sick, tired, hungry and sleepy!

But more on that later…


Heya Bleedsters!
A short post for you guys. If there are any regular readers left, that is. Those in Mumbai, stay safe from the rains!
Love,
K

The Urban Hill

Clicked by me!

Sometimes in life, and I know this might sound very typical, you get lost. You look around, and everything seems different.

Its weird in a way because things look familiar, they sound familiar, they even taste familiar. And yet, they don’t feel the same.

Friends do not feel like friends. You start seeing them in a different light. All the things you relied on for support seem to not work anymore. You feel confused and overwhelmed. And you say to yourself, something has changed.

You look around, and desperately try to find the reason behind this change. You analyse your life, you analyse the people you interact with, you wonder whether you have done something wrong…

You introspect your personality, you doubt yourself, you try to find someone to blame for your problems. You look for comfort in the comfort zone. You look for some kind of familiarity. You try to find some hope to desperately cling on to.

And it doesn’t work.

And then, you find yourself wandering through the streets of Pune, alone and deep in thought, thinking – why has everybody changed?

And then it hits you harder than a punch in the face: you are the one who has changed.

Of course, by now, you must know that this is all about me. Not you, not him, not her. Not the reader. But about the writer. This writer, in particular.

It wasn’t all that bad, but it was something new. The feeling of being lost, truly lost, was something I had never faced. I had faced feelings similar to this, but not completely like this. And recently, I had the pleasure to finally do so.

And as a result, I found myself on the Urban Hill.

It was a cute little hill, carved out of a sea of mountains. At the edge of Pune’s urban boundaries, it lay quietly and delightedly. Poised at the perfect location, it stood welcoming and tall, yet comforting short.

Bhakti Shakti, it was called. They had turned the hill into a park. A beautiful, clean, nice and simple park. From afar, it seemed like any of the hills and mountains you see while passing Lonavala. But as I came closer, I saw the fine, intricate pathway woven into its grassy skin, the tall statue of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and Sant Tukaram and the tall flag pole. I sat there, in my own thoughts, oblivious to the beauty around me, at the start. I was so lost in my own thought that I did not notice the bronze sculpture.

Behind me was one of the greatest Kings of all time. Behind me was also one of the most popular saints in India. Behind me was Bhakti and Shakti. And all it took was a selfie flash of some school going girl, to make me turn and marvel in its beauty.

Now, I could lie and say that the statue is what made me realise the true nature of life. I could claim that somehow, the towering frame of Chatrapati Shivaji bathing in the glory of the melodious Sant Tukaram was what brought me back to my senses. And made me realise why I felt lost.

But it wasn’t.

All the statue made me feel is more lost! Because by looking at the statue, the real complexity of life hit me. I sat there in the cool breeze, with the pointy grass making my ass itchy, just staring. And only when I turned away did I finally realise what was going on.

That one feels lost in a strange new world. But one has to carve out a new way in this new and unknown world. One has to change, one has to adapt and one has to grow to survive in this new world. Thinking about past, stewing in your own thoughts or thinking on and on about why, how or when, will not help. You need to focus on the what. On what you are going to do about it.

You need to accept the fact that while everything and everyone around you feels brand new, it is only because you have changed. And you get to decide if this change is for the better or for the worse.

Peace!