Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Best Friends

Today, as I was introspecting on various aspects of my personality, I realized that loyalty is not my strongest virtue. I am not loyal to any city nor have I been faithful to a lot of people, in particular. As a child, I remember having a new “best friend” every academic year. There were times in my teens when I often questioned if something was wrong with me – I kept discarding people from my life more easily than I would discard my clothes! While I was a prominent figure in most social circles, I was not really close to anybody at a personal level. For a long time, I had a lot of people with whom I could hang out and have fun but there was hardly anyone in my life with whom I interacted at an intimate level. I always believed that if there is something that I cannot tell everybody, I should say it to nobody.

Of course, beliefs are not permanent and I am not the person I used to be. I trust easily. I have no qualms in displaying my affection. My secrets are no more just my own – I am alright with the idea of baring my soul in front of a select few friends. Of course, there have been let-downs but I choose to focus on the good experiences. The bad experiences – even if they are in the form of people who betrayed my trust - are tossed in the waste-basket. I guess some things never change – the ability to wipe people out of my life just as one rubs off the marks of chalk from a blackboard still exists; but today, it is exercised exclusively on those who, I feel, are undeserving of second chances.
I have always been close to my family, especially my brother. Perhaps, that is the reason why I never bothered making friends – I did not really require them. Then (you may be wondering) what caused things to change?

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to a new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never ever the same."
- Flavia Weedn

The answer is simple. I met someone. Someone whose ideas were very different from mine; someone who was from a very different background; someone with whom I had, and still do have, nothing in common. 
Before your mind wanders off speculating who this special “someone” is, let me just stop your thoughts from meandering right now! That special “someone” is nobody else other than my best friend.

Yes, I am twenty-three years old and I still believe in the concept of a “best friend”. Some of my friends (including my best friend) argue that as adults, one can have many “good friends” but the concept of having just one best friend is bizarre and juvenile. I disagree. I do not feel it is possible to ever love two people the same amount – people just have an issue with openly acknowledging another person as the “best friend”. However, even if we choose to do away with the labels, in my opinion, the sentiment remains intact.

My best friend is a man. He is the first person I think about when I want to make plans. He is the first person I want to consult regarding the important things happening in my life. He is the person I want to go to when I am upset because he will know how to take care of me. There are a lot of speculations about whether the relationship is restricted to just friendship, as is the case with most man-woman friendships. However, what people assume has never been a subject of bother for either me or my best friend. In the end, it is about how comfortable you are with each other and how clearly you have defined the relationship for yourself.

I am not a very girly person. Having a man as a best friend has its advantages. I do not need to engage in discussions regarding the latest fashion trends or make-up! I can gossip without being too venomous – I do not mean to stereotype but it is my personal experience that girls tend to be very catty when they indulge in gossip. Boys gossip despite all their claims not to but they can never match the bitchiness levels of girls, in my opinion. Having a man as a best friend ensures that you can drink as much as you want without worrying about anyone taking advantage of your drunkenness. While same-sex friendships also have their benefits, there has never been a time when I thought I could not share something with my best friend on the grounds of him being a man. In the end, friendship is not based on a person’s sex or gender. It is beyond all those parameters.

This post is dedicated not just to my best friend – he knows who he is – but to all those friends who have made a difference to my world by accepting me for what I am and  for never giving up on me even though I show no signs of improvement!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

The Conformist

The flight was ready for take-off. She proceeded to Gate Number 2 for boarding. It was commendable how she had managed to fit three years of her life into just two suitcases. No longer was she the girl who needed three bags along with a colourful purse for just a week-long vacation. In these three years, so many things had changed...It is easier to travel light when there are so many things you want to let go off, she realized.

As she neared the gate, the briefcase of the gentleman, walking beside her, slipped out of his hand and fell open. He had probably not locked it. All his files and papers were strewn on the floor. Normally, she would have stopped on her tracks, bent down and helped him gather his belongings. Today, she just walked past him. No one had helped her get back on her feet when she had been down. She saw no reason why she should bestow anyone with such generosity.

She looked at the young mother standing in line. The creases on her forehead were proof enough that the not-more-than-four-year old twins were quite a handful. The mother was having a hard time separating the two from each other – they both seemed to be engaged in a mock wrestling match. Once upon a time, she had been extremely fond of children but not anymore. She could no longer look at the world through the eyes of a child and elude the harsh reality. The time had come to dispel illusions and boldly face the harsh world.

She made her way through the aerobridge, curtly nodded at the air-hostess who smiled at her, and sat down at the seat by the window. It was just a matter of some moments now. She would soon be leaving this city forever. As she fantasized about her life in the new city, the air-hostess tapped her on her shoulder.
“Excuse me, Ma’am,” the air-hostess began. “There is an old lady who gets air-sick while travelling. Would you mind exchanging your window-seat for one on the aisle?”
She rolled her eyes. She knew that the old she would have graciously agreed to the offer. But she wasn’t her old self anymore. She was done being nice to people!
“I am sorry,” she said. “But I really prefer this seat. I do not like being disturbed.”
The air-hostess gave a nod and went ahead making the same request to another passenger on the window-seat. Meanwhile, she reflected on what she had just uttered. There was a time when she loved being in the company of people. Being alone in a place used to terrorize her! Today, she felt claustrophobic around people. The movements of the pendulum from one end to another were indeed an amusing affair!

She was sitting next to a middle-aged woman. “Hello, how are you?” the woman tried making polite conversation. “This is the first time I am flying! I am a little nervous.” She tried smiling at that lady but the smile did not reach her eyes. She, once again, stared out of the window, pretending to be blissfully unaware of the woman who was struggling to buckle her seat-belt. Once upon a time, she used to go out of her way to help anybody in need. Today, she did not see the point in assisting anyone – it did not do her any good.

As the captain announced that the flight was taking off, she breathed a sigh of relief. She was finally leaving everything behind – her old self, her old job, her old “friends”, her old life – forever. It was now time for new beginnings. She would be in a new city; in a place where she knew nobody and nobody knew her. Life had given her another chance to collect her dues. In these three years, she had inadvertently been taught the ways of the world. She was determined to put life’s lessons to good use. She had successfully been conditioned to become a conformist…

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Hey, It's Your Birthday, Bro!

Your birthday, in my opinion, should be the most important day in the year for you because it marks the celebration of the most significant person in your life - YOU! While I love celebrating my birthday with my friends and I like receiving calls from all my near and dear ones, my brother is quite the opposite. He is someone who likes keeping to himself; and birthdays are a rather tedious affair for him because he is expected to answer calls and respond to messages. For my brother, his birthday is just like any other day of the year. "I do not need one particular date to know that I have become older and wiser," he often used to argue with me. There were times when he did not even bother wishing me at midnight despite being in the same house because he did not think it mattered. I found myself getting, both,  exasperated and amused at the way he functioned. However, since his birthday always fell in the middle of holidays, almost every year, we planned a vacation around that time, and escaped the humdrum of our daily life. 

This is the second time in the last three years that my brother is not in the same city as I am for us to celebrate his birthday together. We aren't even in the same country and it feels funny wishing him at midnight (as per the time-zone in the country he inhabits). It is at these times that I realize the proximity created by phone calls, messages, Skype are nothing but illusions. Nothing can beat the actual physical presence.

It was one fateful day when the word "sibling" came into my existence - the day when peace, privacy, secrets and the undisputed right to the remote control vanished forever! I think my brother holds a rather peculiar place in my life. As a child, I think there were days when I declared that I would be so much better without him; yet I could not really imagine what my life would be like if he hadn't been a part of it. There are times when I wish my brother would leave me alone and then there are occasions when I need my brother and appreciate his company. He is someone with whom I am comfortable sharing almost everything about my life - he is more of a friend and my partner-in-crime than a pain-in-the-neck in the form of a brother. Now, when I think of it, life would just not be the same if I did not have my brother to share it - no joke would seem so funny, no mistake so droll. 

Although I love my brother very much, I have never said this to him on his face even though I have meant it every single day. I guess that is the way with siblings...On his twenty-first birthday, however, I want him to know that he is one of the most important persons in my life and I absolutely adore him! 

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Star (Flash Fiction)

She was envied by all the other stars for she was the most radiant among them all. She met the glances of her admirers with a rather tired look in her eyes. Beaming at her fans while they smiled at her; hiding behind cloudy curtains when certain facets about her life she was not supposed to reveal; being a role-model and infusing a sense of hope and solace in the darkest hours of the night for the “commoners” –  as she called them - she was bored of it all. 

The mysterious life she led was not really as glamorous as others imagined it to be – being a goldfish in a bowl had its price. Every step she walked, every action she did was noticed and talked about. In order to keep up with the changing trends of the industry, she was always having make-overs. She no longer recognized herself in the mirror – she looked different after every few days. On most days, she got it right and shone brightly before the world. There were a few goof-ups on some occasions and she had to retire to the darkest corners of her private world so that no one had any means of reaching her. Life wasn’t perfect but at least she was a “somebody”. Even in her wildest dreams, she could not imagine herself trading this life for any other. She looked down at all those beneath her. She was indeed a wonderful actor for no one could guess the ugly feelings she masked behind that angelic face. They continued to write verses and sing songs in praise of her even though they had to put up with her tantrums. She never appreciated anything. 

Blinded was she, to such an extent, by her own beauty, that she failed to see the ominous future that lay ahead. She kept walking with her head held high and nose in the air, not realizing that the number of people looking up at her was soon starting to dwindle. She was oblivious of the new star that was starting to rise from the other end of the horizon. Everyone now flocked over to this new star and looked forward to seeing him reach greater heights. His gaudy charm brought her fall. It was too late even to repent. The world had moved on. She no longer needed to hide herself behind that silver veil because it no longer mattered what she did. She cried as she realized that for every moon that boasts about the radiance it exudes from another source, there is a blazing sun in the sky to overshadow its glory...

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The 'Fool' Speaks!

April Fool's Day came and went. As children, my brother and I utilized this day to play pranks on one another and see who would be the bigger "fool" between the two of us. As we grew up, like other childish games, this tradition too fizzled out. Today, when I look back, I smile as I think about how foolish we were! Or were we really?

Life was simple. We used to fight but quickly make up. No one harboured any ill feelings. Neither of us liked the idea of having to share our favourite chocolate but we still grudgingly gave a piece to our other friends in the building. We were happy in our own world and there were no cares or worries on our shoulders. We did not bother about what someone else thought about us nor did we fret about not getting something we wanted.

Today, when I look around, everyone seems so dissatisfied. The job is not right, relationships are not working and everyone feels that no one cares for them!

As a person, I am quite sensitive and I have a tendency of, sometimes, putting others before self. My close friends often feel that I am taken for granted and they often advise me to refrain from believing in the best of people. I admit that there have been people in the past that I have helped, and the consequences of that have not been good for me, but that does not really affect me beyond a point. Whenever I have explained this to people, they find it difficult to understand what I mean. Sometimes, they just dismiss it saying that I am, probably, very “sensitive” because I belong to the “helping profession”. Others just label me to be an "emotional fool". I find myself getting exasperated each time I hear these statements.

I feel the problem lies in the fact that we are always doing things with the intention of reaping benefits for our self. We join an organization because it pays well, not because we want to take it to great heights.  We shower a person with love hoping that, in return, the person will bestow us with the same amount of affection, if not more. How many of us actually engage with people with the intention of making them realize their true potential?

At some level, all of us are hungry for love, acceptance, and some amount of recognition. The Universe is wise. She ensures that we enter a person’s life not to receive all the things that we are craving but to give the other person all that it is that he or she desires. Whenever we enter any external space, I feel our motive should just be to nurture and love. We’ve all, at some point, wanted someone to lift us from the ground where we’ve fallen so that we can continue to move ahead in life but how many of us are ready to be that person for someone else? If helping a person get back on his or her feet makes that person build a special bond with you, it is wonderful; but is it really a good idea to make that the most important motive?

At the end of the day, it is always a good idea to reflect on why is it that we are doing what we are doing. Are we doing something with the hope of getting something for ourselves in return or are we doing something solely with the intention of helping the other person out?

Aren’t we all fools then to think that we have entered another person’s space to make them love us? Instead, it is the other way around – we are there to make that person feel that they are worthy of being loved. It’s not about making another person love you or see how important you are! It is about helping another person get in touch with his or her own inner light that ignites his or her soul - he or she is going to be grateful for it always!

Only if we are a blessing to someone, will that someone be a blessing to us one day. That is the law of ‘karma’. The true purpose of one’s life should be to touch the lives of others in a way that could not be achieved otherwise, if one wants someone else to make a difference in one’s world.

Fool’s Day is over. It is now the time to adapt a wiser perspective to life. What is your outlook?