“Don’t let the Good go…”
We met in Delhi for a project. He was – still is – a Creative Strategist & represented the other party involved. I was – still am – a culinary researcher & food stylist, and represented the chef.
My team handled a myriad things and our profile looked confusing. It needed sharpening and polishing. He was helping us do just that.
His name is Sudip. He must be about 15 years my senior in age, definitely more professionally. Over time, we became friends and Sudip introduced me to his family: his Mother (the epitome of my version of the ideal, loving, homely matriarch whose biggest joy is her small happy family), his wife Anu (a wonder woman who flawlessly balances work, home and hobbies) and his son (the sweetest, most well-brought up boy I’ve ever met).
Ours became a special friendship with Sudip & Anu giving me glimpses of a home away from home. They’re an interesting couple. Sudip is into brand designing, Anu is an award-winning advertising guru. He loves trying new food, travelling to remote corners just to enjoy a dish; she’s a brilliant cook – many people visit her house only to be able to sample her fare. He, a devoted non-vegetarian; she, a staunch vegetarian. He, someone who forgets that a surprise party is meant to be a “surprise”; she, a meticulous soul who goes great lengths to make sure any surprise remains a fiercely guarded secret. What I love most about them is that both love books! A love which they have gently, lovingly planted in their son.
That’s how we bonded – over books. They not only read books, but also think of them as friends. This literary love isn’t limited to a grown-up, “intellectual”, arty selection. An amazing painter & illustrator himself, Sudip has an equal respect for illustrated children’s books too! He once told me dejectedly how his son (all of 8) has “already outgrown picture books”.
I visited them often. We’d chat till quite late, laugh lots, bounce quirky ideas off each other, enjoy Anu’s excellent cooking and come back refreshed. They’d always insist that I spend the night with them, and I’d always promise, “Next time definitely!” There was even a time when my friend had a bit too much vodka and had a frustrated outburst, to be consoled expertly by Sudip. When I called the next morning to apologize, he calmly said, “Sorry for what?! I’ve had emotional outbursts in other people’s houses so it’s only fair that I should host one too. Chill! People only do these things when they’re comfortable with someone, so I’m happy that he’s comfortable in my house.”
Once he’d walked into the restaurant with a friend and I’d pretended to be a fan and asked for a picture. After blushing with embarrassment, he’d met me just before leaving and we’d laughed about the prank till we almost cried. When I next met Anu, she told me, “I heard about your “fan moment”. You don’t know, you did Sudip a big favor! His friend walked away so impressed!” And again we’d laughed till our sides hurt.
Then something went wrong. Like every project that has numerous brains working together, this one had it’s ups and downs, heated moments, arguments and the project fell apart. My friend and I walked away. More than the loss of the project, I was saddened at the loss of my friendship with Sudip & Anu.
Immediately after that, following a series of unfortunate events, I had to change my contact number. I was blissfully off the phone for a couple of months and when I started reaching out to people again, I contemplated reconnecting with them. But I stopped myself. The project had had a bitter ending. Sudip being a close friend of the other party, I wondered if he’d still want to keep in touch. Or even if we did, would things be awkward between us? For months I struggled with the thought.
Eventually I confided in my sister and she said, “Why’d they not want to keep in touch? Besides, how will you know till you tried?” So, after 8 months of sudden silence, I sent him a message… “Hi Sudip! Mugdha here… How are you & Anu? This is my new number”.
The word “typing” flashed on the top of my screen and I waited nervously. Would he say hi? Or would he ask “Who Mugdha?”…
“Hello miss! You may not believe it, but yesterday itself I was thinking of you. Been such a long time!”
My heart leaped with joy and relief! We were still friends!! All I could think of was “Thank You! Thank You! THANK YOU UNIVERSE!” I told him I’d been thinking of him for long too.
He told me he’d found some good books and thought of me. Also he’d wondered how come I hadn’t asked about his son for so long. I apologized for having kept out of touch, also admitting my fears of things being awkward if we reconnected.
His reply, “Did we ever have a bad moment on the personal front? What made you think like that?” I asked myself the same thing. What made me think like that? After months of silence from my end, owing only to the demons in my own mind, Sudip was chatting with me like we’d never fallen out of touch in the first place.
I was immensely grateful. Grateful that some things remained unchanged in life, no matter what. Grateful that there were people in this world, who looked beyond commercial relationships and valued friendship. For someone who has very few friends, a friendship like this one was almost surreal.
In the evening, I messaged him again, telling him how thankful I was that we were still friends.
Sudip: “You’re stupid! To put yourself through this. Learn to chill. My only two bit to life is don’t let the good go because of some bad moments”. He signed off by saying “let’s meet up for a nice meal when I’m in Mumbai next”.
As I signed off with a “DEFINITELY!”, I just couldn’t hold the gratitude inside anymore. It flowed out through my eyes.
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