Simi and Anu were the best of friends right from childhood. They lived in the same neighborhood, went to the same school, and were in the same grade. Their parents were members of the same neighborhood club, which provided additional glue to their bonding. But their friendship was one of its kind.
Anu was the intelligent, studious girl who topped the class, got trained formally in music and dance and took everything seriously and sincerely. She was focused and a perfectionist, never leaving anything to chance. Simi, on the other hand was the carefree bird whose least concern was the rank she held in class. Though bright, she would not put herself to the trouble of being with books unless there was an exam next day. Her interest was in the latest fashion trends and in Bollywood. She could watch movies back to back (if allowed) and could tell every story to the minutest detail.
The only common quality that was visible to the others were their melodious voices. They both sang, one classical and one contemporary. But they were themselves oblivious to this commonality, for they were the best of friends without a reason or need for common grounds.
They walked to school together everyday discussing anything and everything under the sun. Anu would talk about the law of thermodynamics sometimes and about entropy; how entropy increases and things move from order to disorder and Simi would listen spell bound; no jealousy or inferiority in mind for not knowing. Simi on the other hand would talk about the latest trend in the fashion circles, how the actresses were rolling up the shirt sleeves those days just two folds and they would both try that on their school shirts feeling trendy and fashionable.
They would rave about the spring blossoms, pink and yellow that lined up the road to school. And sometimes, they would imagine the clouds with their myriad shapes and hues, talking to them. Sometimes, Simi would hum a tune from a latest Bollywood flick. And they would continue singing together till Anu too had learnt it. Sometimes, Anu would teach Simi a raga, which she had learnt in her weekend music class. Their joy of sharing and being together knew no bounds.
Time went by and school got over. Anu left the town for higher studies and Simi decided to remain in town to explore her options.
Life flows with massive force and people cannot hold on to things even if they want to. One thing manifests after another in the present and the grip of the past slowly gets loose. Anu and Simi’s friendship was no exception.
Years went by. Anu landed herself a big job and carved out a good career as everyone had expected. Simi too left town, but had to struggle for some time before she got a good job. They got married and started their own families and in a way set sail in their own new directions hundreds of miles apart.
Juggling career, home, cultural and social responsibilities though seem charming from a distance, can get burdensome and suffocating at times. Anu was exactly at such a juncture in her life. She had been pursuing all her passions with equal zeal and commitment without compromising her responsibilities. She wondered whether her passion was burning her out. She needed to refuel herself, she wanted to rest in the expanse beyond her own horizons but she didn’t know how.
One morning when the FM radio played a familiar tune from her school days, she remembered Simi. She instantly and instinctively knew, she needed to get in touch with Simi. She called her and told her how she suddenly remembered the old days and felt nostalgic. Simi was surprised by the call after so many years but reciprocated the same nostalgia. Anu did not know how Simi was placed in her life but without much ado, asked if they could meet sometime next month; she offered to visit her in case it was difficult for Simi to travel. Simi agreed readily and suggested that they meet on a Saturday, 2 weeks after. Their conversation could not last long over the phone, having no bridge of common events or circumstances over the last decade to walk over. However, miles apart, neither could contain the excitement of the meeting planned.
Anu’s family was supportive and knew that she needed this break to be her old enthusiastic self again. She boarded the flight two weeks later, happy at the thought of meeting Simi but at the same time apprehensive, whether the meeting would spoil the sweet memories of school days. As the flight took off, she let her mind spread wings to the past. She wondered how she and Simi were not only different but were unaware of their difference. In fact, they complemented each other in a way, which no one understood, not even them. She, with her mind occupied with studies and music most of the time, found an escape in Simi’s carefree world. There seemed to be no hurry, no worry in Simi’s world and she felt rested in that territory. Simi on the other hand, might have found the thread of sincerity and commitment through Anu, much needed to get through life.
Anu tried to think what she would talk when she met Simi. Her mind was blank. Perhaps her friendship with Simi was independent of events and circumstances. She hummed the tune that had reminded her of Simi after all these years. And with music in her heart, and thought of good old days in her head, she dozed off.
Simi’s family in the other part of the country was curious as well as eager to meet the visitor of whom they have rarely heard. Simi left for the airport early, eager to see Anu after all these years. She wondered how she shared such a close bonding with the girl everyone admired in school. She did not feel admiration then but today in hindsight, she did.
Simi fell into introspection...
How in the recent years, she has been trying consciously and unconsciously to associate with people who fit into her concepts; with people, who have the same wavelengths. But she neither felt belongingness nor at total ease with these people. How her spontaneity like everyone else’s was lost. Meeting Anu would be so different. But what did she have in common with Anu anymore? Or for that matter, what did she have in common with Anu during school? Probably nothing, except unconditional acceptance. Their ideas about life were fluid and could easily flow and mix with each other’s and expand unconditionally. They did not try to impose or interfere into each other’s mind space. They only shared and helped the other expand horizons. Being complete opposites, the sharing gave wholeness to their existence. That was soothing, that was liberating. Perhaps that is what their friendship was all about.