A “Friend” in Need

I have been taking a friend from Roorkee to various tourist attractions in Delhi for two days now. Not a friend really, but he calls me one. So I have to resign myself to the fact that I am his friend. And it has its pros and cons. Pros: none. Cons: I have to revisit every conventional place in Delhi once again, burning a hole through my pocket and that too with a guy I barely like to see (or smell).

Yet his presence is good because he flares up old, forgotten insecurities in me. Am I the same like him? Do I embarrass my friends too? I am not beautiful to look at, or smooth to talk with compared to the people I see nowadays. I don’t like getting a haircut because suddenly they have become so complicated. I am still flabbergasted by “posh” restaurants that have these unwritten rules that only come by experience. I am not a good dancer. I am not quick with my responses. I have neither a nice tanned body nor a sharp tongue.

But then people seem to like me; I have heard, a girl in my class has a crush on me. One of friends is holding on to me praying I shouldn’t go to IMT in France else she would die in that city all alone (I do the same to her in case she cracks CAT exam for MBA). I have a lot of people who tell me that I am a “good” person with a “golden” heart but is it enough if I find myself competing with a guy with vocal fry and magnetic eyes? Yes, mindless paranoia.

But back on topic. So this guy is from a small town and is a self-professed simple man. He is. It means he has some mannerism that is a little rough on the edges — like throwing paper plates on the road, moving to and fro continuously when bored, gaping at romantic couples sitting together, smelling like a fish and so on. These are minor things that I never react to but are things that I can’t ever ignore when I see them happening. And it humbles me because it means people notice my faults too but ignore them. It is a nudge for me towards a better, more refined way of life.

To say the truth, my dissatisfaction is intensified due to a fact that unfolded at the very start of the trip when I picked him up from the ISBT: his train that I thought departed at 27 Nov actually had to depart at 28 Nov. So it wasn’t 1 but rather 2 days of him in my house. Yes, Guest is God and all that shit but 2 days are just too much for a guy whom I am forced to call a friend. He is nice and I do talk to him much more than any random acquaintance but my sister has her TIFR exam just 10 days later. She has never complained of the alien presence in the house and has always been ready to clean the house and serve the food. But it is obvious she needs quiet for her studies given how vast the syllabus is that she is trying to catch up to. (PS: She wins my coming-out for all her TLC as an elder sister over the years once her exams get over.)

So my friend and I visited Connaught Place yesterday on short notice because he arrived in the afternoon and then Akshardham, Red Fort, Chandni Chowk and NSP today. It is 0157 hours right now. He will wake up two hours from now. We will reach bus stop 3 hours from now and I will be coming back from Anand Vihar Railway Station after bidding him farewell at about 0650 Hours. Yay! However much you may love a person, if you know her/his departing schedule, it is time for them to just pack up and leave.

I did everything till now as a duty: inviting him to my house, agreeing to go sightseeing with him, seeing to his comforts et al. But then, as I have realized, it is something all of us have to do once in a while. He feels alone in Roorkee and I am his crutch, someone in whom he can confide everything. But it is a burden to me, I say it openly here, and a waste of time too (WOT as one of my professors likes to abbreviate), a time which can be spent productively and unproductively in so many ways that makes my head spin. Yet I know I can’t do any of those things when I see him come from a faraway place among strangers and kill his time listening to Bengali songs in nostalgia. I can’t let him be self-destructive and if all it takes is a few moments of my life and nothing else, I will happily agree to it, even if I reserve the rights to crib, bemoan and nitpick here. And also make self-choking expressions if I learn that he is already actively planning to visit me again in the future to cover the rest of the city that we didn’t get time to see.

Oh. God.

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