From an acquaintance to a friend


When a year ends, I always have trouble remembering to write down the correct year while mentioning the date. It’s usually few days before it cements in my mind.

That's an impressive cover up!
That’s an impressive cover up!

Worse still, I have the same problem at the start of every month! As I sat for one of my exams at the beginning of this month, oblivious to the fact that the 6th month is already here, I mentioned 5 in the month field. Oops! Thank God 5 can easily be turned to 6. Think about 6 and 7! ha!

Being the dreamer that I am, I was immersed in thoughts already-How swiftly the days are moving and how 2014 is going to whizz past me before I know it. An exam hall is just not the right place to lose oneself in thoughts , so after begging my mind to concentrate on the task at hand, I got back to writing.

After finishing my exam however, my mind took the dive again into the ocean of thoughts. I started looking back and conjured up a picture of all that happened since January.

I had an interesting start this year as I traveled to a hill station,Yercaud, a highly scenic place in Tamil Nadu, India. I was part of the youth leadership training program organised by the Rotary Club. It was a great opportunity to meet new friends from different places of Tamil Nadu. I had several amusing encounters during my stay there.

Clockwise from top left: our room, the entire team, view of the resort, meeting hall
Clockwise from top left: our room, the entire team, view of the resort, meeting hall

Before our trip, all of us participants were sent an information e-brochure on all that we will be doing. It also included a list of all participants this year. Most of us were engineering/arts students. There was a single medical student in the list. In our college group, I was the only one from Class of 2015, all others were either seniors or juniors. So I was quite afraid of being left alone, so when I saw that there was just one medico, (who for the blog’s sake, I will be calling Lucita)which meant no one else to accompany her, I thought maybe two lonely people can make a team 🙂 So all I had to do was survive the road trip and then I’ll have a new friend. Sounds like a plan.

Fortunate enough for me, I met another girl, during my journey, so by the time I reached the venue I wasn’t feeling lonely anymore. After washing up and getting ready, my new friend( let’s call her Charu) and I headed to the dining room for breakfast. There was another girl there finishing up on breakfast , who I quickly recognised as Lucita. Her dad, a Rotarian had accompanied her. She looked completely different from what I saw in the photo. The photo had her looking darker but she was fairer in reality. She had let her hair down in the photograph but now she had it in a ponytail. So yeah, even though it was easy to say it was her , she sure looked a lot different. I also learnt she was not a medico anymore, she was officially a doctor having earned her license just a few days ago. Most of my friends who are elder to me are doctors or doctors to be, so I smiled and thought here’s another one! We introduced ourselves and as Charu and I had our breakfast she gave us company. She wore a casual jean and a red shirt.  All three of us were getting to know each other and when there were moments of awkward silence Lucita would look into her phone and her bangs would cover her eyes which she slightly brushed away. I love to have bangs but since my hair is quite scanty in the front it doesn’t suit me, so when I see people with bangs, I go “So cool”.. She had a kind of serenity about her which I loved. She would fit into a lot of “C” words- cool, composed, calm. So on our very first day, I developed much respect and admiration towards her.

Most of the time, Lucita, Charu and I would hang out together but sometimes it was just me and Lucita. We stayed in opposite rooms, so we would get ready and go together to the meeting hall. We were put in different teams, so except for the time we had our team events, we would almost always be together. Some of the other participants were quick to make friends. They would talk, laugh, roam together, hold hands and take photographs like they had been friends all their life! But Lucita and me were not so. We had conversations, most of them short. We had our laughs too but not the ROTFL kind. It was a very delicate and subtle friendship we shared. Every morning as we came out of our rooms we would just smile at each other and get going. No shouts of excitement, no details on how the night went, just a smile and that sufficed. This simplicity I loved.

She was the eldest participant, she had a different mother tongue than all of us and she was a doctor, so naturally everyone would want to talk to her but still were quite intimidated to do so. So some would approach me and ask me about her which I found quite funny. I would tell them she was nice and not to hesitate to go speak to her. One even asked me if I was a doctor too because she was sticking with me all the time! 😀

During meal times, she would always go check on her dad to see if he needs anything. That was really sweet I thought. It was a self serving system so everybody helped themselves. Her dad had other senior Rotarians who gave him company but still she wanted to make sure her dad had what he needed. Speaking of her dad, he’s also a wonderful person. He is a psychiatrist and he led a session for us which I should say, transformed us to a totally different world.

Lucita had many other traits which I admired. On the last day I had a “team crisis” and I was afraid that our team was going to cut a sorry figure in front of everyone. We were trekking and I was unusually silent because I was worried on the inside. Luci didn’t give me the “don’t worry,everything will be fine, nothing’s wrong, what good does worry do” speech, she just told me it’s ok and that we can think what can be done after getting back. After that she gave me silence. The silence I needed. Had she given me a long talk on why I shouldn’t worry or if she had pointed out why it all went wrong, then my mind would have become so disturbed and more tensed. But as she silently walked with me, it was so very comforting and my nerves soothed. It’s funny how we hardly need words to make someone feel better and I learnt it from her. By the time our trek was over, I was optimistic and wanted to set things right rather than crying over the predicament. Things did go well.

When it was time for us to leave, I was a little sad that there won’t be much chances of us bumping into each other because she lived in a different state. This was Luci’s second camp, so she was already used to this. As we observed everyone running around to collect phone numbers, email addresses, she told me how the same happened last time but hardly anyone kept in touch. We smiled. And I wished silently that this should not be the case with Luci and me.

The next week was spent accepting Facebook requests from the fellow participants but Lucita was right. With exceptions of two or three, I didn’t have real conversations with any of them. We were just “facebook friends”. But Luci and I continued our conversations. We text now and then and we are no longer acquaintances but friends. We pray for each other, we share little things and cherish the subtle friendship we first started out with.

She’ll be the most important person I met in 2014 and one of the most important people I’ve met in my life. Grateful for this encounter.

 

 

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