Dear friend, today in one remote corner of my mind, I remember you my oldest friend. Not that it was a compulsion but it was inevitable. You may find it little artificial as it is just before the Friendship Day. Why is such a day celebrated? If friendship is such a treasured relation then why do we need a special day to remember our friends? Aren’t the friends supposed to be in our minds all the time? Then why do we forget them so easily or why can’t we keep in touch with them regularly?
Today, our busy lifestyle has forced our relations to take a backseat. You know that we don’t even talk to our mother daily. We have become so busy. While we work in cities far away from our hometowns, we even don’t get a chance to take care of welfare of our families. In cities like Kolkata, where I belonged to, jobs are scared, so we had to migrate to other cities. This migration has taken us away from many – including our most precious relations.
Relations are made and are broken or gets faded with time. Some faded relations still keep coming back during most lonely times or at some special moments that make those memories precious. Sometimes these memories keep reminding us about how unique and different the relation was.
As humans, very often we set expectations from a relationship and when the expectations are not met we get frustrated and the relationship becomes sour. Probably our childhood relations are best in that perspective. These are made without any boundaries, without any expectations, so these become precious and divine.
There was love, there was hate; there was sadness, there was happiness, there was joy, fulfilment and mother’s scolding. Our meetings most of the time were secretive; because for my mother it was unwarranted. Really, elders never understand what a child mind undergoes. I had no reservation in me when I extended my friendship to you, I am sure you too didn’t have any. But why were our mothers like that?
My mother used to think that you or your family members might harm. Oh! I forgot ask you ever about your family members. Who all you had in your family? Did you have any family? I have never seen them with you. Or probably I had seen but could not recognize them. For me, only you were different and everyone else from your group was same. You might have seen my mother, brother and father as well – didn’t you? Did they look all the same to you? I guess not.
I didn’t know your age when we met. It was not important to be friends either. We met and we continued to meet because both of us wanted to, because both of us found it enriching for our lives to meet and continue meeting. But you know friend, today I know someone’s age before I try to be friends with that person. We also know gender, religion, race etc. when we get into any relation. Well, some new age reformers may refute my claim, but believe me all these man made differences makes a lot of difference in our relations including friendship. Probably that is the beauty of childhood friendships. We don’t look for any gain from that relationship and because we don’t, we have most fulfilling and most rewarding relation in our childhood.
I was only five. My tiny legs were strong enough to run with you, my little hands were nimble enough to catch you, my brain was developed enough to understand your language. Btw, I have never asked you this as well – which language did you speak? You know what, I wonder how could I understand your language without knowing the same. It was surely not my language, my mother or anyone else in my home didn’t speak that language, I didn’t go to school that time so there was no questions of learning that language in school. It is amazing how I could still understand your language. I remember, I used to speak in my language – Bengali. You still could understand every single word I had spoken – how could you, my little friend? Hehe, silly me, I don’t even know how could I do the same and I am asking you this question.
I remember, that mostly we used to meet at the remote corner of our rooftop and under the big banyan tree near the crossroads. We used to share nuts and at times other fruits. Let me tell you that I didn’t like the stuff that you used to bring. I told you many times, but you didn’t listen. Probably you liked them very much like I used to like fish. Btw, did you like fish? I could never get a chance to get a fish for you. My mother and my grandmom was always around our kitchen. They had never allowed me to steal a fish from the kitchen, and my mom used to separate fish bones and give me only lumps of flesh. I was never allowed to roam around while eating, else mommy beating….hehe.
I don’t know how many days, weeks or months we were like this. I didn’t keep any record of this. Then my parents admitted me to a school. I was wondering if you were also admitted to a school by then, I wished you were.
Then our meetings became irregular. As I hardly used to get any time after my school hours. I didn’t go to any private tuition but my school friends who lived nearby used to take me to the high grounds to play. My parents also encouraged me to go with them. They spoke my language, they shared my emotions, they shared their friends with me and many of us became long term friends thereafter. But I never shared you with them. I never told them that I had a friend like you. Probably I was scared, probably I thought if they inform my parents, they would scold me. So I kept this a secret. You know, this was the reason why I could not invite you to my first ever birthday. But I went to the banyan tree with my birthday cake, I thought you would come. You didn’t.
Then our meeting frequency decreased. It was mostly due to my tight schedule. I saw you a couple of times when my father used to take me to school, you were hiding behind the big tree. Once I saw you on the boundary wall of Mitra’s. Even their son Blitu was my friend. Was he your friend too? I didn’t know.
One day I stopped seeing you. I didn’t know if you simply didn’t come or your parents had taken you some other place, like I shifted my house now to Bangalore. Initially, I thought you would come. I wished everything was well with you, I wished that your mom didn’t scold you, I wished your family members were well, I wished we would meet the next day, I wished….., I wished so many things.
You didn’t come the next day as well. Then I prayed to my god. You know we have crores of Gods. Lord Siva was my favourite. Lord Ganesha too. I prayed to both of them. When nothing happened, when you didn’t come, I prayed to Durga maa as well. Durga maa is the most celebrated God for us. We Bengalis go mad during her puja. Everything in Bengal changes, everyone becomes very happy. I prayed to her that she helped me find you, but she didn’t.
I cried a lot, no one knew why. I didn’t tell anyone. I was deeply sad, no one could help me. Probably, I was at fault. I was so busy with my school and school friends that I ignored you, probably I had taken you for granted. You never told me anything before leaving me.
One day I told my mom about you leaving me. You won’t believe my squirrel friend that she was happy. She told that you would bite me or harm me. I told, you didn’t – never, ever, never ever……She still thought it was good. She suggested I moved on with my other friends who were humans and who understood my language.
This Friendship Day, I remember you my oldest friend. After so many years I want to give you a name – “Squiky”. I don’t know where you are but wherever you are hope you are fine. We didn’t have any custom of taking selfie so we did not have one. In fact, we have no picture together. But as that tiny heart grew bigger, the memories of my sweet little squirrel friend is etched in my memories permanently. All the best “Squiky”.