About a time when friends were real and life was simple
One of the most vivid memories from my early teen years is of my best friend at that time and me, sitting outside his building near the pavement, drinking Coke and eating sandwiches. I used to take a cab from my house to his and then we would sit outside on our usual spot and talk.
We used to talk about nothing in particular and yet, we had so much to say; so many ambitions, dreams, goals, small and big challenges, love affairs, infatuations and yes, personal philosophies and beliefs (even at that age) to share with each other. We were inseparable; we were a team.
Our conversations would always start with,
And then continue to,
“What if we had a chance to perform as a pop band in one of the private, most happening parties in town? Which song would we pick? Vital Signs or something else?”
“Zara soch. What if I get a chance to see her again? How will I tell her that she is the one?”
“Zara soch. If we had a car, we could go places, faraway places (like Abu Dhabi and Al Ain) with friends and we would not have to take cabs to each other’s house every day.”
“Zara soch. What if we are invited to a Valentine’s Day party, what would we wear to look elegant, yet different, from all the other idiots in school?”
I remember when we were in a sombre mood, we would get up from the pavement and say:
“Chal, trailer pe chaltay hain.”
(Get up, let’s go to the trailer.)
This ‘trailer’ used to be parked in a nearby parking spot. It was one of those that carried large containers and cars. Without those cars, containers or usual load, it was always a great place to climb up, sit and observe. It was the ultimate place to sit and watch the skyline of the city. Albeit, it wasn’t exactly the tallest building in the world, it made us feel like we were ‘on top of the world.’
However, the best part about going to the ‘trailer’ was the pit stop we would make at the nearby bakery to get a fresh chocolate pastry and soda. This used to be an integral part of the ritual in which we would drink, eat and talk about love, girls, future, girls, money, girls, God, girls, life, girls (I think you get the gist of it!)
Then one day, we hit the jackpot and discovered the most awesome place to take our ‘deep and profound’ discussions to. We found an abandoned building near my friend’s house which was left half-way through construction due to some land dispute. But we used to tell everyone that the building was abandoned because it was haunted. Our favourite hobby was to bring other friends there and spook them out.
We named it “Khandar” (ruin). From mere ghost story-telling sessions to Ouija board and spirit-calling sessions, we did everything to get a sneak peek into the mysteries of the world, and although our stupidity never allowed us to call the real spirits ever, we did conjure up enticing mysterious images in our own minds, that were sufficient to tell in future stories.
The most amazing and creatively fulfilling time was when we would turn off all the lights in my friend's room, while distant lights of the city created shadows on the walls. We would sit and create stories and screenplays for our future movies and skits. This was always done with a strong belief that with talent like ours, we would soon be recognised and someone somewhere will finance our projects and let us make a full-fledged movie where we could cast any star we want - of course, apart from the lead characters, because chances were high that we would also be the actors.
Years later, when I was trying to remember the line-by-line details of those stories, I was astonished to find that they were indeed good and not as juvenile as I would have believed.
The point is that life was simple and fun.
Friends did not need anything from you other than you being there for them. There were no fancy clubs and bars to go to; there were never grand weekend plans, no expensive dinners, no extravagant travelling across cities. No Blackberries, no iPhones, no WhatsApp or BBM messengers. ‘Chatting’ meant sitting across each other, face to face and talking instead of meaningless emoticons. Sitting on the pavement, on the street, sitting on an abandoned truck and sitting in the ‘ruins’, we were happy in the knowledge that we had a friend to bank on.
Now, we have everything except true friends to rely on.
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