Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The dice was loaded from the start...


On Saturday night I went for my college reunion. Engineering revisited - 4 years of my life spent in the nooks and crannies of a (then) raggedy old building. Its now new and funky - the run down shed like laboratories replaced by a new age modernistic look. Floating amphitheaters, a dinosaur ribcage stairway and a canteen that looked more like the food court of an expensive mall. I sure was wowed.

I found myself missing those hallowed shoddy walls - that makeshift look, and those dull grey corridors. These clinical precisely painted ones felt like they replaced my memories - hushed the secrets and caved in my relationships. 4 years is a long time to spend, and I had the biggest metamorphosis of my life in these years. I grew from being a tomboy with sideburns and anti-fit beer t shirts to being a "woman" who finally acknowledged breasts as a privilege and not an irritant. I had the biggest heartbreak of my life - one that in many ways shaped the way I love now, forged and lost some of the greatest friends I could possibly ever have. I failed miserably academically, realized engineering is a tough nut to crack, got my act together and redeemed my slowly declining self esteem.

Still, going back to college that day was a surreal experience. I met 2 friends, each my best in someway or the other. One, an ex-love. I can hardly say 'ex' when the never left that part of my heart right? Emotional investment in ways I dint know possible. Knowing I was coming to face him, nearly 3 years since made me unsure of myself, scared, uneasy, excited, a stew of multifarious emotions playing havoc. Nothing could have prepared me for the evening that lay before me, not even my best dreams about our eventual face off.

The actual function at college was nothing to write home about. I felt 50 years old, since the other "Alumni" were batch of 2009 etc. (Should they even be called Alumni?). After the "reunion" the 3 of us went to Soul fry casa at Bandra and 3 large pegs down, for one night, 5 years after graduation and a million changes in our lives later, we took time off to be the people we used to be. The same 3 fools talking random incoherent disjoint conversations. Changes, if any were only subtle. I took a few drags from a smoke, so there's a revelation, given my anti smoking tirade thus far.

These 2 people, changed in their own ways in the past 3 years felt like home to me. There's a certain comfort in being around people who knew "that" me. The naive foolish romantic one before stoicism and a general all round cynicism took over. I had no defenses, no walls, nothing, and this very sense of vulnerability, which I had denied myself the pleasure of feeling was exhilarating in itself. It was wonderful, and surreal.

Thats the thing with an ex-love. an old friend. everything about them reeks familiarity - the perfume brand you know, the contours of their body, the feel of their fingers, the curve of their smile, the undertone in their voice, that look in their eye, that wrinkle on the sides of the lips which give away the identity of a smirk, smile or sarcasm. They are like that dusty old armchair you can snug into whose touch make you feel better already, which understands your long sighs and pregnant pauses, that warm fuzzy ray of sunshine which creates a halo of elevated feelings that eclipses all else.

We couldn't even lie about how much we've changed. Structural changes aside - new jobs, promotions, going to school etc aside, on the person front, there were just no discernible changes. We just knew we had missed each other. There wasn't even a point denying it. Sometimes hugs and handshakes say more than words do, and we were smart enough to realize the futility of pretense.

We sat at the helipad in my building, 37 floors high on the highest point in Mumbai till 4.30 a.m. - long silenced interspersed with nostalgia, randomness and sighs, alternating between being with each other and alone. A dichotomy of singularity and togetherness as we transcended space, time, distance and change to be who we were 5 years ago.

Maybe one last time, maybe one last us.

9 comments:

Roy said...

Its true, you make friends in college who know the real you. the idealist, the extremist and the realist and among them we are free to be ourselves...

Piper .. said...

Wow!! I mean...wowwwww!!
I havent read such a heartfelt post in ages..and such a beautifully written one at that! I sit here smiling at the familiarities you so poignantly describe, knowing I`ll never ever be a part of that anymore..
But I hope - I sincerely hope, that you find those lost notes once again.. Hugs

Utopia said...

And I know how that feels.

mêlée said...

'nostalgia' one of the great topics, very well expressed indeed....so well expressed by you actually that one doesnt end up with sighs and yearnings alone..there are re-living all those good times too. :)
i had a great time reading this one.

The knife said...

The header, one of my favourite songs, drew me to the post.

Loved reading it. Brought back memories of walking into my college a few years back when I had gone to Calcutta on work. And meeting a batch mate for drinks last year. A full memory rainbow.

Prianca said...

This is a beautiful post. A delight to read it was...I know times changes all once they move out of college and all...its both scary and exciting and getting a chance to relive all those college memories would sure have felt nice!

Tamanna Mishra said...

College friends do that to you, don't they? They are the ones who can actually claim to have seen you "grow up"... Could SO relate with this post. My engineering got over many years ago - I think the same time as you... 4 years? :-)

Damn all this growing up!!

perplexed said...

Love this post!! 4 years is a long time, so much changes and so much of 'growing up' happens. Thank god for friends who remain after all that..

Aniket said...

It was one of those weekends for me too minus the 37 floor high building. Ours just has 16. :)

But you're spot on. I think I am incapable of making new friends now. There's that whole other me from the past they know nothing about. Talk about feeling old... every girl from school/college I am in touch with is either married or soon to get married!