here’s to friends…

Here’s to friends…the family that you choose to be with, the companionship that you cannot help falling into, the support system that surprises you with its unrelenting strength and wisdom.

There were friends I made when I was little…ones I had a sleepover with, where I promptly went off to sleep, only to be woken up by one of you spanking me with a hairbrush. We shared laughs, secrets and horror stories, lying on the floor and staring at the dark ceiling, fighting sleep just because it was cool to stay awake till late. We ate jujubes, watched films, cried and bonded. We promised to be friends for life.

There were friends I made when I was in Junior School…it was a huge group that I never really felt part of. We played games in recess, swapped gossips about other people from class and attended birthday parties together. We drifted away when we hit puberty, but those games we played were some of the most uninhibited fun I had.

There was a friend I made in Middle School…you were my best friend, my inseparable companion throughout the next three years. We were so close, I once wrote your name on my answer sheet instead of my own. In the class election for monitors, I got zero votes, while you got two: yours and mine. You were the person I came back for after I left School. It’s been around 7 years, we’ve drifted apart, but even now, when I talk to someone from School, they ask me about you, and, it saddens me to say, I don’t really know, we haven’t been in touch…

There were friends I made when I joined my new school…you guys were amazing, we used to “hang out” all the time, gossiping, giggling, letting time fly by. We became a group, a gang that had fun together. I remember the potluck lunch we did once, and the radio show that we did for an assignment, brainstorming for which is still one of my favourite memories of us. I remember the dirty jokes we shared in between classes, discussing boys, and the pains of growing up more than our “studies”. I remember meeting with you over the years, struggling to find ways to connect and to recover some of the fun that we used to have.

There was a best friend I made in tenth grade…you were my intellectual friend, my guide to what’s in and what’s not. You made me “cool” and taught me about so many things. I remember the day we spent at your place, watching movie after movie. We bonded over our love for Harry Potter, sarcasm and reading. We fought. A lot. But, it took us a minute to get back together. We used to sit together all the time and when we discovered that our siblings shared their birthdays, well that was just another lucky coincidence. I remember co-writing the script for a short play with you…we imagined ourselves to be superheroes who were bored to death at the School debate. We laughed ourselves silly at our super funny jokes…they make for such beautiful memories now.

There was a friend I made in eleventh grade…you and I bonded unexpectedly. We imagined either to be a studious person but at the end, we realised that behind that seriousness lay someone old-school, someone who had a love for the nostalgic, bygone era, someone whose idea of a wonderful day equated curling up by a windowsill, with a book in hand and a cup of coffee by the side. We drifted apart over the years, struggling to stay in touch, but one sudden day, you called and we reconnected, rediscovering our shared love and passion for all those things and realising just how much we still could teach each other. In so many ways, we’re still so similar.

There was a friend who I made in the ninth grade…you were someone I never thought I would become so close to. You hid all your love beneath your sarcastic demeanour and yet, when the time came, you came to my aid as my shield, ready to fight off the world for me. That’s when I knew you cared. You were my educator, giving me new songs and ebooks to discover. So, when I introduced you to Bartimaeus and you were hooked, I felt proud to have been the one to do so. You were always family, the only person my parents trusted more than me, the one person I was allowed to stay out late with. Being in separate cities may have increased the physical distance between us, but whether we meet or talk after a week or a month, it still feels like the same old days. We just pack up the conversational pieces as if we never let them fall. You have made me learn to trust in the strength of friendship and have faith that some people are never meant to let go of.

There was a friend I made in college…you were my first friend here, we lived opposite each other and connected the first time we met. We shared secrets with each other and when you got drunk at Fresher’s, I remember feeling worried and confused and like a complete newbie at handling it! You made me make my first prank call. It was to a smoker friend of yours whom you told me to lecture about the harmful effects of smoking. And when I was stressed about work and weeping at the scary newness of everything, you came to my rescue. You wiped away my tears just like I did yours, even though you said you hated people doing that. We maybe strangers now, but that time will always mean something to me.

There was a best friend I made in college…you were the senior who took me under her wing, and in the process, found herself a soul-sister. We’ve been through so much together, that recounting it in one para seems unfair. You were my late night work buddy, my person. You became the most important friendship of my life and even now, when distance separates us, I know that I just have to reach out and you’ll be there. I started out as your foundie, but we became indescribably more than that. So much more…

Old, new, forgotten, remembered…all of you have been an important part of me in some way or the other. In every moment we shared together and in every memory we built together, something beautiful was created. A bond that while not always permanent, held us together in the toughest of times; gave us the ability to laugh at silly jokes, knowing that there was always at least one person who could see and understand your pain, even when it was hidden from the whole world in your smiling eyes.

And this is for all those beautiful, wonderful friendships made from the strangest of connections…bonds made from the heart.