It was a perfect evening for taking a stroll. The paths leading to the Reserve were a rustling carpet of golden leaves and the air hung heavy with the smell of dry bush and bonfires. Perry and I walked in the direction of the meadows and continued keenly in our lighthearted prattles.
“My Goodness, you’re such a funny bone,” she would intermittently confess, tugging my shoulders with a mild punch.
We communed in hushed tones and sometimes gave way to profoundly hysterical gales of laughter. Perry is a talkative girl. Unlike some talkative types with whom one could “ummmm” and “ahhh” without paying much attention, Perry’s talkativeness was of the intense variety that demanded concerted responses. Oh well, the evening was for a walk with a bit of funny jibes and repartees and if one thing led to the other, some moment of heart-to-heart talk. Given to our dalliance, we spent several minutes as we cavorted, paddling our feet slowly through the paths, cracking dried leaves and twigs that coloured the ground with its fragrance of beauty and spoils.
It was 7:14 PM. Perry was wearing a midnight blue sequined dress that clung selfishly to her body, dribbling mildly to her ankles where the material spread out in a circle hiding her shoes. The night blossomed with her sweet smell. Her beauty was a tonic for my tired eyes. We had discussed about my imminent departure from the college and how she’d noticed I loathed talking about it whenever she brought it up. Deep into twilight, we had begun to discuss her friends. Her heart raced with bitterness as she narrated how she’d become the polestar of her friends’ petty animadversions. I tire of them.
“I feel I don’t have friends. I’ve always had reasons to believe I had to drop them at some point. I just feel they don’t pay attention to me as I do to them. I call, I text and I feel like I’m screaming to be heard, listened to or even noticed. This moment it’s like Damon and Pythias thick as thieves and the next moment it’s a sorry story of exquisite agony,” she lamented.
I could understand how she felt; not exactly because I’d been privy to such occurrence but her complaints were not exactly different from her other female counterparts. Women aye!
“Oh Perry, what would you have of people when you’re a beautiful lass?” I teased. I saw her middle finger in the coolth of the dusk; she had an opal encircled with sapphires.
“Such a beautiful piece of craft”, I said in passing and she correspondingly let out a tender smile – such grace!
“What about your friends? Do you ever get uncomfortable with them?” she quizzed.
“Of course, it’s a phenomenon everyone experiences at some point”, I retorted. Now, Perry may be a shrinking violet but she sure knows how many beans makes five and this time, she knew just how well to express her dissatisfaction at my rather terse response.
While we bimbled down the road, Perry kept on with her copious questions. She was pained by something I could scarcely place my fingers on; her friends, perhaps family? The seamy remarks from a characteristically chummy lass were unbelievable. She wasn’t cussing but she was hurt and it had to be her friends.
“People just don’t care. Perhaps I should just stay alone and forget the whole friendship thingy. Right Dez?” she kept asking.
We cross-carpeted from one end of the cozy road to the other side to take a pew. She sat close to each other and she, weary after minutes of grouchy commentaries, dropped her head on my shoulders while we held hands warmly continuing our dalliance.
“What’s your idea of friendship?” she asked this time wanting me to take a whirl at some fulsome discussion. It had become parky in the lonely paths of rusty leaves and the heavy air clambered right through and nibbled our feet. I pulled out my jacket to comfort her. Her eyes had risen like popsicles waiting eagerly for my response, and so I began.
“As we grow older, it is true that life makes more sense to us. We see clearer our flaws and we appreciate our strengths as well as the strength of others decisively nudging us to become the best that we can. I’ve been where you are Perry, been there done that bought the T-shirt. I know exactly how it feels like to be feel like an unnoticed little kid sniveling in a circle surrounded by several people abuzz and lost in their excited passions. But, the truth is we might not need all of them to be happy. We perhaps only desire a few of them to share in our pains, as they would our happiness. Now, friendship is greatly misconstrued. Friends are simply people who always have your best interest at heart. It doesn’t matter whether they don’t call you just as much as you call them or text after all. Calling them may be all you have to give them at some point. The question should always be whether they’ll be there for you when push comes to shove. The test of loyalty is only when the chips are down. For anyone who would make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear just for your sake, that’s who a friend is and when you have such people, trust me, calls or texts would only be like owls in Athens. They don’t have to be the persons you talk to each day before you go to bed. Now Perry, don’t you believe that consistency changes people? I remember when I was a kid. I had some cool fellas who visited me more often than I could possibly visit them. I loved them a lot. We’d play all day and it never stopped. They kept paying the visit and all I did was to set their hearts aflutter. We were happy friends until their parents got tired of their visiting. ‘If he cannot leave his house to yours, I don’t want to see you go there anymore!’ Parents would warn. Visiting them became awkward. I couldn’t do as much as they did not because I didn’t desire the friendship; I perhaps got used to be at the receiving end. In the end, what used to be compulsively exciting became strained. I think the true measure of friendship should be that each person’s keep the interest of the other so much at heart, in loyalty and in kindness. I stopped thinking my friends don’t care because they don’t get to ask after me every time or get finicky about me, the moment I realised that whenever I needed them to be with me, to fight for me, they were always there. The truth is everyone has their own demons. You never know what your friend is going through if you don’t ask either. Deciding to drop their problems and take up yours when you need them most is what marks them as friends. I stopped being angry with my friends for speaking ill of me behind my back. I understand passions may be high and tongues may be unbridled. Now, I’m stuck with friends who have wronged me behind my back, apologised, and as penance, refused to let others speak ill or work against me. We may complain about our friendship with people and we forget sometimes that they are only humans like us. Sometimes, it’s not about what they do, it’s about what we don’t do. I’ve seen true loyalty in those I did nothing for and I’ve seen disgust in some I did everything for. Friends after all are those who had me in their hearts and carried me like a yolk seeking only to fight for my interest. Perry, you must not lose people because they don’t call you as much as you’d desire, they don’t text nor visit just as much. Appreciate their little efforts. If despite all these icebergs in your sea, they remain true and loyal, keep them. You never know how much you’d pay to get loyalty when you lose them thereafter. If they can’t show loyalty without questioning, fight for your interest and nudge you to be better, be at peace with them but they cannot be your friends- such affiliation is push-and-pull, like revolving doors it will end as it starts.”
Just when I thought I had said something to whet her uncanny disapproval of friendship, she looks at me askance… “This is a whole lot of histrionics. I probably shouldn’t bother anyway. Why do they care? I could live without these people after all.” she prattled, only this time, really impetuously.
I smiled at her innocence. Her voice was swallowed by her sadness yet her pain was grace. I had her firmly hidden within my arms – my fluffy jacket and her silky sequined dress did save her from the weather which was already brass monkeys.
“People in your life are just as important as your very existence” I retorted. “And why is that? People are boorish and insensitive these days. It’s unhealthy to mingle with sharp anvils with red hot ends” she snapped.
“We hate to admit it. We want people in our lives. We desire to be noticed in no small degrees. This is because we’re wired to need people and our happiness is connected to others in really mystifying convolution. It is often said, that Life’s like a journey on a train with its stations, with changes of routes and with accidents. At birth, we boarded the train and met our parents and we believe they’ll always travel on our side. However, at some point, our parents will alight from the train and leave us to continue this Odyssey alone. As time goes by, other people will board the train and they will be significantly concerned – siblings, friends, children and our lovers. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum; others will leave so unnoticed that we don’t even realize that they vacated their seats! This train ride will be full of joys, sorrows, fantasies, adventures, expectations, goodbyes and hellos. To succeed, we must have a good relationship with all the passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves. The mystery to everyone is that we do not know at which station we’ll step down. So, we must live in the best way we can. Love, forgive and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seats empty; we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life without us. Give lots of love. Be thankful each day for life. And Perry, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train.
I stopped talking. She seemed glued to my shoulders already. She wriggled out of my arms and cracked her teary cheeks with a smile and a tear broke at her jaw.
“It’s 11:00PM already. We should go now,” she whispered. I must have been a boring raconteur… Or so I thought, not after she calmed by worry with a lip full of sweet ‘serenades’!
© Mr. Possible