On the day of my friend’s birthday I called him up and started singing the familiar tune, I usually don’t do that as my singing talents are not understood by many, but I have noticed people like it when you wish them like that on their birthday. So I was a bit taken aback, when he didn’t react as joyously as I expected. Maybe my singing talents had heightened even more than last year?
I have a good memory for dates, and like most other girls, I can remember anniversaries and birthdays even very casually (point to be clarified: unlike many other girls, I don’t even try to remember the sillier dates) So I never forget any of my friends’ birthdays. I do not always get around to wishing people, but that’s whole another story (I’m lazy, procrastinating is my hobby, etc etc).
Now, the friend i am talking about is a good friend of mine. And it is not that we are completely out-of-touch (whenever I am out-of-touch I procrastinate, don’t you? Well, I am shy!!) so I expected him to expect my call. But the last of tha last things I expected him to was sound forlorn. Okay, he could have been unenthusiastic, bored (when I call you ain’t allowed to be that but well, can be a possibility) or even neutral but sad? I was surprised. Did I make a mistake? Isn’t it his birthday today?
I couldn’t resist asking him, was anything amiss? How’s every one? He answered normally and everything was good but that underlying sadness persisted. So, given my exuberant character, as usual, I took it upon myself to cheer him up. To hell with the reason.
And I stumbled across it.
We were in our Masters togethers. We had this big group of friends. So my first natural question was, “So, tell me who were the ones who already called/wished before me? Huh?” He paused and replied, “All my friends here (in his para that is, friends in the locality) and S***** and you. That’s about all.” S***** was one of our group.
I know boys aren’t at all good with dates but does that excuse hold when we have reminders on Orkut and Facebook for them. Is it justified when for the last two years we had been celebrating each of our birthdays big-time?
He was one among the few who had got selected to go to Germany for his PhD, and he couldn’t go due to, let’s put it as, red tape. And no one asked how he was holding up.
He had once told me, “Last night I was looking at all our photos. We had a great time didn’t we? And I was feeling down, yaar!”
I had replied, “Yea, of course we will miss the good ol’ days of being crazy!”
And he said, “Yes. that’s true but that wasn’t why I was feeling low.”
He clarified. “We just left college for a few weeks and no one, absolutely no one ever called me up once to ask how was I faring. No one cared to ask about anything that didn’t concern themselves. No one even SMS-ed. Not even _____ (who had been his friend much longer than I had been). Have they already forgotten?”
I felt angry and I felt hurt. For him. For us. Was our cherished friendship so incomplete?
He had no hope that anyone, anyone at all will remember his birthday (mind you, Orkut was still displaying his birthday), remember him. And he had given it up as a lost cause.
I finally did manage to cheer him up with my usual nonsensical words. He was glad that I remembered (I think) but he’s already stopped expecting from anyone and that could and would include me too. It saves him a world of hurt.
Is this what being an adult is all about? Stop expecting? Giving up on people? Where have all the goodness gone?
Is this really true? Is this what life is all about?
N.B. This friend is as emotional as I am but not as introvert or controlled (whichever you prefer) as me, and much more eloquent about his feelings. I understood what he felt and what he thought, that’s why I decided to air all that was in his heart but had no one to share with. Because people do not understand, and they will remain obtuse unless you poke a finger in their eyes.
[Ooopsie, I got very serious today! But when I am marshalling, there’s usually no stopping me! *sigh* What can I say? A purpose in a nomad’s life! *sigh* ]
ADDENDUM: My friend was not sad because no one wished him on his birthday but because nobody had bothered to even stand by him when he was going through a crisis in his life, in his career. Birthdays are for remembering, not wishing. What I wanted to get across (and I think didn’t do a good job of) is that every one knew it was his birthday but no one even used that excuse to ask how he was (he’d really had had a big blow which is a common knowledge among all of us)! If he cannot find support amongst friends where else can he? I reacted more because he is one who has been with any one of us whenever that person had needed a shoulder/support/whatever.
Okay, I’m a poor writer when trying to explain complex feelings! Won’t be attempting it in the recent future! (See I saved my own skin by saying the feelings are “complex”!!) 😛