It was one of those random school years when all of a sudden, new kids flow into your school as a fresh year starts, and there's tonnes of excitement about the new faces, the cute ones, and the smart ones. And no matter how old we grew, there was always this thing about looking forward to school just cause you made an interesting new friend.
He was that. That random new friend who didn't talk much but was somehow someone you wanted to figure out. His silence was a constant indication that there was something going on in his head, which was a constant mystery. When he spoke, he spoke soberly, calm and composed. Never was he in a rush to make the other person hear what he thought. And when he listened... You felt like you were the most important person in the world, waiting to be heard.
My attraction for him was completely platonic. However, the few words that made out of him compelled me to try and trace where they came from, and which cobweb of a thought's part were they. When I spoke, the way his eyes fixated at my face was almost like he's peaking deep into what's in me, and reading in between the lines to what my voice tried to deceive.
We didn't talk much in the beginning. I decided he wasn't my type the moment I realized he wasn't a chatter box like me. He chose to sit with the dorkiest guy in class. The fact that he didn't like tomatoes was the final cherry on the cake.
Ciao New Guy, not very nice meeting you.
Every day at school,every class, I'd be looking around bursting bubble gum balloons rebelling and expressing boredom, and he'd do a better job of it by drawing hate cartoons on the back of his notebook sitting on the front seat in front of the teacher.
Now that, I liked.
So slowly, I started finding things I liked. Things I hated. And slowly I started finding him. He never let out too much quickly. So every time, I was left trying to find the latter end of the story.. The more frustrating it was, the more I got hooked to it.
With time, I realized he wasn't all about silences. He spoke so much. So very much. We started exchanging emails, texts, phone calls, and then finally started meeting up in the evenings. It was strange, cause we didn't really talk much in school. He didn't have the time, he was in the student council which leaves you with nothing but the classes to attend. Every other spare second would demand you to be out of class.
But probably that was the beauty of it. Probably that is why, I could talk so much to him. Maybe that is why, that space was maintained.
He being a Gujrati had a totally different upbringing compared to my Punjabi upbringing. He had crazy curfews at home, while I.. I couldn't get tired of roaming around the streets at odd times, singing loudly with friends, clicking photographs, and all sorts of time-killers.
He and I belonged to different worlds. Yet, there was so much beauty in the very fact, that it was always a pleasure to read each other and where we both come from. It was always fun to over react a little and go "wtf that stuff happens at your place?!!"
It was always fun, to realize that a person who has no idea about my roots cracks up with me in the middle of the night laughing his rear off trying to picture a funny tradition- not making fun of it- but laughing at the funny "nice-ness" in it [as he liked to put it].
We did our share of craziness for the two years that followed. We did our share of making every teacher hate us while still getting staright As. He had his first time night-out partying, thanks to me. I had my first time to a Kumb Mela, thanks to him.
Four years later, after school and graduation finished, Those photographs I clicked in the Kumb Mela were selected in an international Photography Exhibition by the UN. And my career took a new turn from a boring HR job.. And he.. my gujrati best friend- left for Manhattan to follow his call for singing.
We're no longer in touch, it's been years I've heard anyone speak of him now.
But it hasn't been long enough for my old self to forget how a random new gujrati school boy taught me a lesson- A lesson to realize that memories are in abundance.
It hasn't been long enough for my wrinkles to forget when he told me sleepily,once upon a time - "Your imperfection is perfection to me" .
Each an every wrinkle of mine, carries a smile. A smile to a memory a gujju guy taught me.
Waiting for all your feedbacks!
Ckear skies and memories,