Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Curse of Friendship

The lady comes back with prophecies made long time back only to prove that she was right. For all the hours and minutes spent trying to challenge age old wisdom it was a battle I was destined to lose. The only critical factor was time. At thirteen, the world is different. Realism hardly sets in at that time and vision is limited to the next 100 yards.

At that age, relationships appear to be everlasting. Love is sacred. And the pledge of friendship beyond question. The lady in a fit of exasperation at my obsession with friends had warned me of a junk investment, if you were to look at one purely in terms of return. If it was a question of riding over the next few years, about sharing some time and space together, she was fine. What she objected to was the over emphasis and the price tag I put on it.

Of all the time I have spent on this wretched planet, I think I would have been well served if I had nomadic relationships rather than the ones which continued to defy time. Old friends are like old wine. They ought to be exploited and brought out once in a while to let you remember of 'those days' where life was uncomplicated and promises were meant to be kept. More often than not friendships are based on unspoken contracts which require no law to be executed but are more sacrosanct than any other legal document you can create. It is those unspecified and unwritten clauses which when honoured make friendships beautiful. It is when those are consigned to mere corollaries and overlooked which renders it useless. And as per the lady in question, such renderings are just a day away.

Life is beautiful but the action of living it is what makes it a drudgery. It is at those times that you need the return on the incredible amount of time and energy and emotional quotient that you have invested. And it is precisely at that moment that life hits you with its greatest weapon and numbing force - reality.

The reality is startling and quite devastating. Maybe, it was always like that. Maybe I never took the sunglasses off for fear of being blinded. Or maybe, I never thought that it had the capacity to blind. In hindsight, those idiots who stunned us simply by their unapologetic superficiality, were not idiots after all. They understood that in time, friends might be there and might not be. What we do and make and what we are, are questions that is best answered by oneself. Finally when you stand and look around, you will see your friends - basking in collective glory if you have made a success out of your life or looking at you with forlorn eyes and paying lovely lip service if you have not. What would be sadly missing is the honest intent of feeling either of them or even depressingly is the intention to honour those pledges. That is when you feel the sense of wastage.

I guess that is what my mother used to warn me of.

Monday, July 06, 2009

The Smartest Man

Mark and Steve did not have an illustrious father. Thankfully, the same cannot be said of us. It has taken me a pretty long time to understand that of the three men in our family, given a different time and space, he would undoubtedly be the most successful considering that he is the most talented and definitely the most intelligent.

It took me about five and a half lakhs and two years to understand credit crunch and derivatives (I still don't though!). It took him possibly a little more than half an hour to conceptually understand both. He was never a doting father but one with whom I never had a problem communicating. Contrary to my mother, with whom I can never seem to be on the same plane, he was simply outstanding. Precise, to the point, utterly pragmatic and truly objective, conversations with him would range from being enlightening to stupendously enjoyable. My girlfriends, much to my chagrin, always pointed out that I could never have the sense of humour he has. And reluctantly, I have to agree.

It is said that who you are is a function of what you have done and how. If I take that to be true, then there cannot be a better role model to emulate. Coming from a financially dire background and making it through to the IIT by winning scholarships all through an excellent academic career without the luxuries we enjoyed would surely qualify as exceptional. Add to that a mix of the ability to paint, ability to take photos, ability to radically energize a gathering by sheer wit and you have nothing except a genius who is totally oblivious of it.

As far as his effect on my life is concerned, sons are expected to be better versions of the father. Maybe not as much accomplished but surely better as human beings. Whether I make that cut or not will be a question time will answer. But the fact that I am not exactly a boring company to be with or the fact that I have seen what it is like to start from a modest beginning and make it good or to be positive about things and never lose the practical element of life can be attributed to him.

Never the one to dish out unnecessary advice but always there should you need one, never once intruding upon personal space - in fact, encouraging us to have one, never for once imposing anything or burdeninig me with his expectations and always being supportive by tacitly trusting my ability when there was no evidence that it could be - I could not have expected a better support base. I vividly remember an incident when after my pre-board exams, where I was pummelled by all subjects, I was sitting disappointed having lunch and he casually came to have a glass of water after his siesta and said "It will be alright, not to worry". And he went off. Whatever self-doubt or lack of confidence I had was put to rest. Not for that fleeting second. But for life.

The only logic to faith is love. He had that in plenty. As I try to make sense of this utterly nonsensical life today and I see the same intensity of life and passion in him I am stunned by what an incredibly outstanding human being I had the opportunity to witness in my formative years. Whether I do justice to his legacy or not and whether I finally live up to being a worthy son, the pure joy of being associated by lineage to him was worth it.

If only I had a bit more of that intelligence and talent...