Usually friendships develop over time. But somehow, I always identify one specific day, many years ago, as the ‘starting point’ of our friendship. I was eleven and you were twelve at that time. It was some silly ‘sleepover’ we were at, and I did know you, but we were mere acquaintances at that time. Actually, you were a friend of a really good friend of mine and that’s how we ended up at the same place that night. Everyone slept off at about midnight, which seemed very strange to the eleven-year old me.
After fidgeting and turning over multiple times, I finally decided to get up and find something to do. At the sound of my footsteps, you sat up and smiled and asked me if I couldn’t get any sleep too. I nodded. We both set off to another part of the house, and ended up talking till seven in the morning. And that is how it began.
That was the day I realised that we actually had so much in common. Though we had some differences, our views on things ranging from school to that stupid mutual friend of ours, were remarkably alike. I remember wondering that day about why we weren’t already friends despite living in the same locality for years. Anyway, after that day, we became quite good friends. We met up almost everyday, and talked and laughed while walking around the locality.
As the days matured into months, and months into years, we matured along with that. Somehow, somewhere, we became very close, almost like sisters. All the secrets and the confessions and the arguments and the advice made our bond even stronger. I believe that in those times, not a single day passed when we didn’t speak to each other for atleast two hours. I trusted you the most I’ve ever trusted anybody. Every lie that I spoke to anyone was confessed to you. Every inane thought, I shared with you.
Fast-forwarding some years into the future, we still remain best friends. Through the years, we’ve seen every mood the other has been in, every boyfriend, every crush, every academic achievement, every weird obsession. A few years back when my parents got divorced, you were a tower of strength for me. We’ve been there for each other in every failure, every victory, every event.
So a few months ago when you moved to another city we thought it would be no big deal. Moving away doesn’t need to break our friendship, or so we thought. Our friendship couldn’t be broken by a time zone or a ten-hour flight, we assumed. So, teary goodbyes were said and after making hundreds of promises of visiting each other frequently, you went away.
Initially, everything was fine. Almost as if you had never moved away. Life went on, and I even remember marveling over how nothing had changed. And then, a few months after you moved away, I visited you and suddenly realised that everything had.
I don’t mean something drastic had happened. You were still the same five feet seven inches brunette with brown eyes. I remained the same novel-obsessed daydreamer. But something was different. Like two pieces of glass that didn’t fit together anymore.
There was the same energy and affection in your eyes. Even our conversations ran along the same lines. But on my way back I realised that even we had drifted apart.
Putting into words what exactly was off is not easy. I myself don’t even understand it. It was like a replica of my best friend was sitting in front of me, saying well-rehearsed lines at the wrong cues whilst I struggled to remember my dialogues. It was as if you had talked to me in some other language, a vernacular I used to be fluent in; but now, although the words sounded familiar, I really had no idea what you meant.
I realised that life had changed us both. But somehow, instead of heading into the same direction, we were rapidly diverging from a common point, until the link between us was fast fading away.
And I know, I know that change is good, that nothing lasts forever. I am familiar with all the other stuff about how when someone leaves, it is because someone else is about to arrive. But it hurts.
I now realise that losing a best friend hurts more than a breakup. Because friendship isn’t supposed to have a ‘the-end’. Because when you drift apart from a friend, there’s no clear end. Now, I don’t know what to do. We’ve been friends for so long now that it just won’t feel right without you. You used to be like my extended family, and it won’t just feel right now.
And maybe, this is just the over-thinker in me that assumes that we’re drifting apart. Maybe, this is just a stupid worry of mine. Maybe the things that are worrying me don’t really mean what I think they do. Maybe, we’ll work it out just like we did all those years ago when you fell in love for the first time and I was busy with school and we didn’t see each other for months.
But if it is true, if we are in fact drifting apart, I wish there was something I could do. I mean, I know that drifting apart is inevitable, and we both need to grow. And I know that you are pursuing your dreams in the big city you are in, and I’m happy for you.
But I am scared that the momentary awkward silences that haunted us during my visit, will lengthen and strengthen until there won’t be anything left to say. The inside jokes will be forgotten, the memories will fade, and maybe, a few years down the line, we’ll just be mere acquaintances, like we used to be all these years ago.
It will seem bizarre if you’re not the one I’ll call when something good or bad or neutral happens. It will be strange seeing updates about your life on Facebook when earlier I used to get an instant first-hand account of every story. But most of all, it will just not feel right when a swift wind will blow away the remaining vestiges of our friendship as if it were just a fragile house of cards.