Sometimes you come across someone, start a casual conversation, pass some idle time. Sometimes that meeting, that conversation is the end of it. Sometimes it just spirals out and forth into something new as certain pieces seem to fall into place and then, that conversation is the just the beginning. It happens in the most innocuous places, in unchartered moments, randomly, like travelers meeting at a similar checkpoint, where by simple happenstance both are present at the same place at the same time.
It happens in a waiting room at the dentist’s, at the airport or on a bus-ride. May be you happen to sit next to each other in class of a hundred, or end up being study partners or roommates by the luck of the draw. Or it could be the stranger assigned the cubicle next to yours, or the one in the cafeteria at the lunch table with the only empty spot.
Some conversations begin as circumstantial, some are born out of common courtesy while others simply develop as habit. And conversations- the small talks, the outpourings of the seemingly mundane, even mindless, some forced, some natural- curiously enough, evolve. Even the smallest interaction leaves an impact, most may be forgotten but some are never too far from the mind. It makes us who we are, as humans, as individuals, each and every instance varying in their contributions and effects, but at the end, remain indelible.
But intriguing are the ones that are not fleeting, over time and with their impact. Sometimes a person simply grows on you. The most annoying neighbor is simply a tad bit eccentric, you intone fondly. That co-worker with OCD is not maddening anymore, and you make that extra effort to give a semblance of order to the things you are putting back on her desk. That messy roommate is just one of those creative persons who cannot be bothered with the mundane, and you reshuffle your errands so that he has it a little easier. The instances could be endless but the outcome remains. You make a relationship, a friendship and a connection, one that survives, one that has crossed over from the initially assigned relation you began with. It’s a gift.
And then there are years that pass between you. The conversations are not mundane anymore. Mindless takes on a new meaning, when you don’t have to don on the garb that you need when you confront the rest of the world. The conversations turn deeper. You share. Your innermost fears, your smallest joys, your struggles, your peeves- you share all that is you, secure in your heart, free from the dread of condemnation or judgement. You share knowing you are safe.
And eons pass, and you think it is indestructible, it is eternal. You forget the reason why you were forced under the same roof, in the same air space to begin with. It almost is like destiny. So who cared what the reasons for coming across each other were?
But then one day, that initial, trivial reason is taken away from you. You are not co-workers any more, you are not classmates any more. All you have to go on with is what you cultivated over the years with each other. And in that one moment, when that compulsion is taken away from you, when there’s no more practical reason left to hold on to- some times, sometimes you realize helplessly, as the chasm looms and widens right before your eyes, and the frost begins to form and harden into ice, that you were only ever what you began as, forced together by an unpredictable turn of fate. It never evolved- that part was all your imagination, or maybe just fanciful thinking. It was simply propriety and kindness. Never friendship. And you realize you were only ever roommates trying to coexist. Never were you friends. Never that.
N.B. On hindsight, it doesn’t seem a big step away from what I had wrote almost a year back, “Take no prisoners”. That this still occurred as a discrete revelation, means I give undeserving humans much more credit than they are worth. ~G.