Memories are curious creations— part unconscious perception, part voluntary deception. While you may fumble with names of people and places you have grown up knowing, there are some scenes that commit themselves to your memory, gradually adding nuances with time, details that might or might not have existed to begin with, but details that your mind loves to add as it romanticizes and revisits a past that will never be again.
Finch and I became friends when I moved departments to his in my second year at university. We became friends because it seemed like the normal thing to do given the eleventy hundred friends we seemed to have in common. The fact that my then-boyfriend and him had a mutual appreciation thing going only cemented what would be one of my most lasting relationships of all time. The boyfriend didn’t last, and if I have to be honest, neither did my equation with Finch, the way it was to begin with at least. We grew up, grew apart for a bit, came back together but unlike how they talk about in most coming-of-age stories, it’s not like our relationship didn’t change.
Some of my earliest memories with him are of him dropping me back to my hostel in his car, where we would end up talking for hours parked outside the gate only interjected by the guard who’d keep checking to see if there was any monkey business going on inside. We would talk about our families and their idiosyncrasies, the education system and its many flaws, careers, short term aspirations and how they fit into long term goals. Some days we were partners-in-crime — speculating about the the list of students who’d make it to the exchange program, some others — we took turns playing the older sibling, hearing the other person out, and dishing out advice with all the genuine charitableness of unworldly twenty year olds. Multiple desks in the lecture theatres of mechanical engineering (block II) would still have scribbled on them our existential angst and juvenile caricatures from 2010 to 2013.
I would get angry at him for being lazy in the projects we did together, for losing his mind over a girl who was never meant to stay, for not taking my calls and making excuses when we’d have scheduled time to work on group assignments. And yet I somehow forgot all of that bickering when the submissions were done and the grades assigned, no matter how low. Perhaps having been born a day after me in the summer of 1991, in my head he was always the younger brother I never had.
Things changed after college, of course, when he decided to move continents to pursue a degree in management while I took on a business role in India (with no education or experience in the same, may I add). Our lives and lifestyles continued to evolve (devolve?) till there was hardly any semblance left to each other, let alone to what we had in college. At some point, I had the right to slap his hand if I ever saw a cigarette in it. A few months ago, I sat on his kitchen platform in his 2BHK in the suburbs of Paris, wearing his tee shirt and not much else staring out of the window giving in to several voyeuristic urges, teased out of hibernation by the liberated Parisian and her healthy disdain of blinds, while he stood next to me blowing cigarette rings on my face goading me to have my last one for the night.
Maybe it was when he shook his head and laughed when I told him I’m trying to make things work with a guy several time zones away (“It never works, babe”) or maybe it was when we sat in the Arabian joint, him with his Whiskey Sour and me texting away on my cell phone on my last night in his country, but somewhere between my unanswered questions and his unfocussed gaze, I realized luggage isn’t all that gets lost in those 9 hour trans-atlantic flights.