Living far away from home, has its perks, but on the downside you miss everything, weddings, babies coming into the world, festivals, amma’s food, the list is obviously quite long. Attending a wedding, involves flight tickets, leave and other cumbersome negotiations. Though I have managed to make it to some weddings, I am missing my oldest friend’s wedding tommorrow.
Growing up, I hated weddings, my parents would force me into my pattu pavada, and then there would ensue an almost violent struggle to make me wear gold earrrings and a chain. But this is one wedding I would willingly wear a heavy silk saree and jewellery to, if only I could teleport.
KK, and I met when we were four,and have remained friends since. We were never sworn best friends, but have always been around in each other’s lives and there is just something about a “jetti buddy”, a bond of 25 years, that need not translate into everyday calls and texts, but you know that they will be there for you.
We were playmates and have spent several saturdays in each other’s houses. I distinctly remember his Besant Nagar house, which had a large balcony. He once climbed onto a rickety bucket and tried to reach the bathroom ventilator when I was inside to give me a scare. Though I knew his 3′-0 self could never reach it, I promplty went and told on him, my 5 year old honour was at stake after all. I rather enjoyed watching his mother yell at him. Over the years, I have enjoyed telling this story with “minor” exaggerations, to an amused audience, much at KK’s expense. Our childhood passed, with a bunch of jumbled memories, me taking forever to decide if I wanted strawberry or vanilla icecream as KK and his mother waited patiently, I think I even sent the ice cream back once, wanting the other flavour. A trip to the local bird sanctuary, where my thambi decided to pinch kk all the way there and back, for reasons we still cannot fathom.
Then we became teenagers, and had our first crushes. KK was a painful teenager, he was prone to landing up at my house without informing his parents of his whereabouts. This was a time before cell phones, so a frantic search would ensue, and once he was located, my parents would try to give him a stern talk and his dad would pick him up.
I say my parents would try to give him a stern talk, for my dad has always nurtured a giant soft spot for him. There have been times when he has walked into my house close to midnight, obviously drunk, but my dad would still greet him with a giant smile and a pat on the back. I would like to see anyone else try that. We have planned to use this to our advantage, KK has promised to handle my father when he realizes that I may just marry the other.
Once he cycled furiously all the way from his house with a pepsi can, flopped down on my bed and between gulps of pepsi and air proclaimed his love for a girl in our class. There is something so endearing about a 13 year old’s love, that the memory is very firmly etched in my head and is one of my favourite memories of KK.
Then we moved on to different schools and got caught up with new friends, boy friends and girl friends, but our social circles overlapped a bit, so that now and then we would bump into each other. I dated The Sponge for a year too many, and though the whole world new I was being a blind fool, KK came and told me. He was the one who told me that The Sponge had in fact dropped out of college and was being a sponge. I obviously knew better, and decided I could save the sponge, so I ignored him and threw myself deeper into my mission. He even asked a common friend to talk to me to see if some sense could be injected into my rather thick skull. I cannot express my appreciation enough, to have him care, care enough to watch out for me.
Years passed again, I was a working architect sans The Sponge, he was still a student and we were friends again, back to the old days and old ways. We were out for a drink one day and we met a friend’s friend. She had the most amazing effect on KK, he began to act all strange and weird. Now I know, that is how he acts when he likes someone, but at that time I thought he had lost it. After we left the bar, he called to say, that there was something about the girl, that unnerved him. Something indeed, for tomorrow he is marrying her.
Soon I left for the Uk for my masters and KK left for Singapore for his, but I don’t think he could ever rid himself of the effect this girl had. When we both finished our masters and came back home, they began dating and KK started to change, in subtle ways. He suddenly knew the names of flowers, and was capable of planning romantic evenings. The other often chides him saying, please don’t set the bar so high and is now worried that he has to outdo KK in his proposal.
I was always the nerd, I did things by the book. I studied, got good grades, and knew I wanted to be an architect when I was 13. Let’s just say KK took a different path, a path that was a little more convoluted. But ever since he and this girl became a couple, he manned up. The change happened slowly, but the KK who was lying face down on the grass on my 23rd birthday has disappeared. I don’t know when the exactly the shift happened, but it happened after this girl. I suddenly realized that I go to him for advice. I am sure a 15 year old me would die of shock at this news, but it is true. Whether it is financial advice, or career advice, it is KK I go to.
I do wish I could be there at the wedding tomorrow to share their happiness. To see my friend who I have seen dressed a bunny rabbit at age 4, hopelessly infatuated at age 13, hopelessly stupid at age 18, now a man I admire and respect marry the girl of his dreams.
Since I can’t, I wish them years and years of happiness and lots of joy and a wonderful life together, and no more long distance .