An Unexpected Friendship
With the past being grim, the chances of befriending Abdullah looked as unlikely as Amir returning to the national team of Pakistan
The eyes were fixated on the watch. Guilt was running deep inside, knowing you are five minutes late from the decided time. There is not much difference between 2:00 and 2:05, but since it was the first time, you could not help overthinking. You once heard him say that he doesn’t like waiting, but you don’t know how long the wait was and what were the circumstances back then. But when you are committed to making your life miserable by overthinking, rational and logical thinking evades your mind. So what to do while one waits for his friend to leave his office and come to the parking lot? I scampered across a corner and found a concrete slab and despite the light color of my pants, thought that it was appropriate to sit and gather my fragmented thoughts despite the risk of dirtying my clothing.
A few moments lingered, and Faaiz began to prepare the speech he had mapped in his head. You start with a good introduction, then ask about his well-being, and generally talk about how you miss some other mutual friends. That should cover most of the ground and the period during which my shyness and overthinking peak. As the analog watch on my arm kept moving, tick tock tick tock, the nervousness which had on numerous occasions, let me down, resurfaced like seasonal cricket fans during World Cup. You least expect them to matter or be aware of their existence, but since their arrival is sudden and accompanied by overpowering opinions, you cannot ignore them as your team plays match after match. The same case with nervousness, unfortunately. You believe it is a thing of the past, a fear you once overcame. But why be nervous in the first place? You are meeting a friend, not a foe?
A chill went down my spine, stomach churned with blood turning cold. This one question dug up the memories you think one should forget ever existed. Like a distant house in a heavily fogged city. You know it exists! Somewhere beyond the vision of your eyes, but since you cannot see it, ignore it. There was a logical reason for the prepared speech, consultation with a friend on call, and hours of reassurance that you would not freak out. Despite everything, the past acts like the elaichi in the biryani. Very little in quantity but equally capable of ruining the taste for you. Despite the resistance, the mind finally addressed the elephant in the room and willingly revisited the embarrassment from the past.
“Faaiz, why aren’t you talking?”
Why would you put me under the spotlight like that? Was it too hard to ignore a silent guy sitting at the edge? Do you not know that this mere question has sledgehammered the little courage I was gathering to break free from my shell? The inner war that no one gets to know about kept revolving. Do I tear down the walls of shyness and overthinking and strike a conversation with the lad sitting in front of me, or do I pray for time to go faster and be on my way back home quickly? With my mind spellbound in its own complications, I had my resting face with not a single word coming out of my mouth.
When everyone noticed the muted version of Faaiz, the mind screamed that IT IS BECAUSE I AM SITTING IN FRONT OF A STRANGER WHOM I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO TALK ABOUT!!!! But clearly, you don’t speak out your unfiltered thoughts and instead choose to shrug them away with a lousy excuse.
With the whole episode played, the flashback was interrupted with an abrupt “Hi Faaiz”, as Abdullah started descending the flight of stairs. Wait! I still haven’t finalized what to do. Go and meet in my robotic, formal tone or be natural? Like a kid unprepared for an exam, I walked with Abdullah, knowing that I either may not meet him after today, or have the best time of my life.
“Goodbye, Dost!” waving my hand, looking at the parting friend after an hour of constant chattering!
A small note to the audience, that the word “dost” is only used by me when a person has suddenly made a place in my mind for being someone I would like to meet again. And why wouldn’t I? Turns out that the minutes invested in planning a perfect conversation were worth nothing as Abdullah was just like another friend whom I used to chat with regularly. The overthinking was as useless as the police department in Gotham as that was only pulling me back. And my confidence was like the cabbage guy in Avatar the Last Airbender, getting wrecked for no reason. The road of friendship with Abdullah has just begun, and if you let your layers of doubt and overthinking get the better of you, you are likely to find it tough to forge new meaningful bonds.