“Who’s this guy? A friend of yours?”
“More than a brother to me. Let me tell you about this time when we were out with all the other friends …”
Nobody ever chose to go anywhere knowing what would be out there. It’s strange that those noises and those lights meshed together so perfectly in our minds that they still invoke emotions like nothing else. Infinitely significant, and yet so distant now, the friends we make invariably shape us in ways that parents, school, or anyone else (Shaktimaan?) ever could.
We are busy with our lives now, but every time we slip away from reality - a drink alone, a sleepless hour, or a moment of deep introspection (why write a statement of purpose, when life has no purpose?), the dam of memories shatters. Thought after thought, smile after tear, we are all slaves to our nostalgia. In those few moments, we are truly who we are, and not a face made to face the world. It doesn’t seem like it, but those friends make deep grooves across our venous, fucked-up minds. They were there when nobody else understood what you were going through - yes maybe they led you to do the things that you now regret, maybe they made you cry in a way that no Nicholas Sparks novel ever can (I don’t endorse such behaviour) - but they were there, in the renaissance of your life. Some held your hand, some pushed your back, some (maybe) kissed your lips, and others lifted you up on their shoulders. The amount of awake time we spent with them was significantly greater than the usual
“How was your day today?” (This cliché question needs to die).
“Why do you talk to them so much? You spent all day in school together!”
“You won’t get it. They understand me, like you never can.”
“We are your parents, we know everything about you.”
If our parents knew us the way our friends did, things would be a lot more different than they are now. It may be something as simple as loving an artist, or hating Justin Bieber; it could be the kind of girls or boys you come to like, or the idea you have of right and wrong. How could they be wrong? They saw life as we saw it, and they told us what we wanted to hear. Even though adults have many years of experience, we had experience of that specific time and culture in a way that none of them could have. As times change, ideas do too. What was a very relevant topic of discussion in 2011 may be boring in 2015. And just like monkeys on a tree, those on top see monkeys below, and those below see assholes on top. But at our level, we see ourselves in everyone around us - what we would have been, what we can be, and what we never want to be. With little stimuli, we respond and imitate, grow like creepers on the plants we are placed next to, and eventually find our own path, become a unique mixture of everything around us with something from everyone and something for everyone.
“Why do you care about him so much? He hasn’t talked to you in years.”
“He’s more than family. What can I say, I could do anything for him.”
The bonds we make are closer than blood, and the memories are stories we can tell word-to-word a thousand times and never get bored of them. As much as we want to say we didn’t bend into peer pressure and made our own choices, one cannot deny the fact that peer introduction and participation led us into trying out many things (not necessarily toxic things, you sick-minded plebs). The quotes, the dialogues, and the jokes are all carried forward from friends like STDs - you might cure some of them, but you can’t cure all of them. And although some may be embarrassing, you are still internally proud of how you got them.
“Dude, you listen to that?”
“What can I say, I got onto listening because of my friends.”
“But this band sucks.”
“You think I don’t know? It’s the memories that cling to it bro.”
We danced, sang, laughed, cried, fought, loved, and promised. Although all those promises of staying in touch crumbled with time, every now and then in their ruins we are refunded those memories we sold for the price of moving on. The friends may come back, and their promises will still be new and more convincing. It’s not about the promises, or about telling each other that there is still love (brotherly, sisterly, or otherly). It’s about knowing, remembering, smiling, eyes watering, and picking up that phone. Nothing will be this lasting, this deep, or this undisputed. The truth is bitter, painful, and yet soothing (like a strong swig of absinthe) - we are never going to be the same as we were, and that is a beautiful thing in itself.
Photography By: Karthik KS