To My First Friend in College

On the first day, creeping on the stairs
We met, I asked her which class she was
In, she told me we were to be classmates.

We sat, unsure of what to do, unsure of
What to say, taking comfort in each other’s
Insecurity, making small talk, cracking bad
Jokes, laughing forcedly, averting our eyes,
Waiting for Time, the eternal middleman,
To urge the sands to flow quicker, so that
The designated phase of awkwardness
May pass sooner, so that we no longer
Have to attempt our flailing, flimsy tries
At so called normal social interaction.

I can see you are uncomfortable, I am too.
We get interrupted, beckoned, interrogated,
Walking into the classroom we separate,
You sit on the girl’s side, I sit with the boys.
Class commences, empty words thrown
Nonchalantly by hollow teachers bereft
Of wisdom or passion distract me, their
Disillusionment spell works like a charm,
I leave that day, disgusted. Forgetting in
My cycle of hatred that I may have made
A friend. I go home, I break my leg, I don’t
Come back to college for one more month,
And when I do, the sea of faces that greet
Me is one of strangers. I scour the class
For the one face I remember. But you
Are not present. Probably enjoying a nice
Cup of tea and an episode of anime. I sit,
Sighing, resigning myself to making new
Friends. It takes me months, many months
To find them, but in between I catch an
Occasional glimpse of you scurrying off
The moment the bell rings, entering class
Twenty minutes late, never uttering a word,
Phantom like. I glimpse you and always
Remember, for some reason, that you were
The first person I spoke to in this college.

A year passes. Our conversation on the
First day remains the highlight. Since
Then it has been polite hello’s, cordial
Waves, and intermittent meaningless
Small talk. Nothing to write home about.
Another semester gone. Five months on
And we will be Masters. Suddenly Life
Looms before me, large, intimidating,
Merciless. The crowds turn against me,
I fight back hard. They pummel me,
I fight harder, looking desperately around
For friends and support. I find them, they
Never fail me. But amongst the sea of
Angry faces facing me, I see one that
Holds no wrath, no ill will, that seems
To view me, contrary to public opinion,
As almost human. It is you, my first
Friend. I gravitate naturally, in gratitude
And in solitude, and show my thanks by
Cracking a few bad jokes, pulling your
Leg. Testing the waters, so to speak.

The waters are fine. We begin to speak,
For the first time all over again, it seems.
I discover your quirky sense of humour,
It surprises me. I find out you like snakes,
You read manga, you watch anime, you
Read books. Wave after wave of respect
Washes on the shores of my mind that
The negligent Sands of Time hadn’t
Bothered to bring to my notice. And
Always, your chirpy smile lingers, simple
And gracious words comfort me, solace
Comes easy in your wishes of blessed
Sundays and timely reminders that I
Should resume my reading. In the movie
Hall I see the childish delight when the
Superheroes save the world and I enjoy
The movie all the more, not because of
The movie itself, but because it gives
You such obvious glee, it becomes
Contagious. The basis of our new found
Friendship is explored thoroughly: food.

Cheese, meat and Mc Donalds. That
Simple equation to happiness is
Played out again and again, rising
To a crescendo of bliss in a magical
Meal with goat cheese and caramelised
Onions on a rectangular plate of chicken
Topped pizza. Followed up by a wild
Experimentation with mocktails and a
Case of mistaken gender at the mall,
A night of frolic and play comes to an
End all too soon with the realization
That I will never meet this first of all
Friends again. A hug goodbye and a
Parting joke. A corner turned, sight line
Lost. A bond severed for eternity.

I walk home alone, thanking any
Possibly existing deities for allowing
Me the pleasure of your company,
With some regrets that there wasn’t
More of it, but more importantly, with
Only good memories in tow. And as
Your plane flies away today, I, atheist
Though I am, wish you a blessed life
And the simplicity of happiness.



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