Three Strikes?

I wonder what is the breaking point of any friendship. I mean, I am no expert on friendship as such, so I am curious. I have fallen in love (platonically) with my friends, only to have my heart handed back to me broken. Where exactly am I going wrong here?

[I have already come to terms with what I am about to narrate, so I guess I am used to dealing with this now. Of course, everyone is different and has varying priorities in life. C’est la vie. Allons-y.]

So, I have had a good friend from back in the day. She joined my school in 8th grade, and we became firm friends from day one. She is a Parsi girl, and grew up in a sheltered and rather strict home. I was notorious for bunking school (because my mum thought my teachers were a waste of space), and famous for being the highly intelligent under-achiever (my teachers’ words, not mine).

We connected over a mutual love of all things boys, and being Aries-born. Silly things, of course. I could confide all my deepest darkest desires to her, and she to me. We spoke for hours, and found much comfort in each other’s company.

Then, we moved to different schools, her to one in Dubai itself, and me to one two continents away.

Although we were far, we did keep in touch via email. We met up the few times I came home to Dubai to visit my folks. Generally, we never lost touch. But, as my last semester was ending, her family decided to move to New Zealand. Permanently. I was heartbroken. When would I see her again?

My life took a strange series of turns in any case, and we moved back to India shortly after. We still kept in touch, but the emails became more infrequent as college life and new friends came into the picture. But, she was still my best friend, and I fondly imagined I was hers.

I wasn’t.

Lots of turmoil was happening in my life, as I adjusted to life in India. New people, new paradigms, and new problems. I tried valiantly to keep in touch with old friends, but sometimes I just couldn’t. This is perhaps where I went seriously wrong.

She fell in love with someone, and was in a long-term relationship with him for years. I fell in and out of (puppy) love, and had a string of boyfriends. She always felt my life had unbelievable amounts of romance, and I always thought my life was fraught with inconsistency. I imagine that the relatability factor plummeted at that point.

Soon, we moved on from college and into the workforce. She decided to marry her boyfriend, after much opposition from both families was patiently dealt with. (And after she had a brief crisis of confidence, where she thought she “needed a change in life”.)

Now, before I launch into the strikes, I must say that she is a lovely person. A little wishy-washy and flaky, but still lovely. I sometimes think that stuff just doesn’t occur to her, and she will do practically anything to avoid confrontation. Also, I just don’t figure very prominently in her life. So yeah, my expectations should be appropriately reconfigured for that. Even when we were in school together, she would flake out on me all the time.

Strike 1: I tried to keep her up to date on my life, but it was a fast-paced one, with several complicated twists and turns. Trying to explain all that in an email? Impossible. Plus, I didn’t have anything figured out for myself; how was I meant to explain it to someone else?

But, in spite of these deficiencies, I tried. I did tell the salient parts: who I was dating, who I dumped, when my grandmother passed away, etc. She? Not so much. I get one email saying: “I dunno. I want a change. I’m bored. Not too happy with my guy. Dunno how to break it to him.” I try and be supportive. Next thing I know, 3 years later she is engaged. To whom, I ask with lots of excitement. The same guy, she chortles in disbelief. Who did you think of?

Right. Because I was supposed to know that your imminent breakup was just a thought?

Ok, so maybe I overreacted. I was happy for her, and swallowed the unease, the vague inkling that my days were numbered.

Strike 2: After she got married in New Zealand, she came to India to have Indian ceremonies with her whole family. I was in Goa, and the wedding was in Mumbai. I wasn’t actually invited for the wedding, because not important enough, but for both receptions. I went. She kept me by her side the whole time, because I was the only friend who turned up. Our other school friends didn’t bother to show, and her NZ friends were too far away. I was ok to be there for her, and we had fun.

Fast-forward a few years later, and she was back in Mumbai. I had moved back, so I was in the city as well. She was there for her sister-in-law’s wedding this time, and she was very tied up of course. Plus, her first son had made his appearance, and was not doing well in Mumbai’s harshness. I understood and I was working too, so she told me a time where we could talk properly at least. Something incredibly specific, like 2:00 pm on Wednesday, or the like.

I called at 2:00 pm on that Wednesday, only to be told by her mother that she was on her way to Sri Lanka. Probably had reached by then actually. Ok?

Ok. Ouch.

Strike 3: She lives in NZ now, after a brief year or so in Doha. NZ is very far away from India. We are in touch on Facebook, but barely because I am not the best at Facebook. She occasionally pings me on Whatsapp, and I reply with news, because again, my life seems to be more happening overall. [She has a husband, a job, two kids, big extended family, loads of friends, in-laws, and works; but MY life is more exciting. Sure.]

The other day, I was feeling a bit guilty about always being the party to respond, not initiate. So I pinged her: “Hey! How’re you? What’s up?”

Only to receive this in response:

Friend: Hey babe
Friend: I’m good
Friend: I’m in pune
Friend: Attending a wedding
Friend: Lol
Friend: How’s u?

Pune. A city 3 hours away from Mumbai. Same country though. Same state too, as a matter of fact. I thought she was in New Zealand. Also, she probably had to fly to Mumbai first, to get to Pune at all.

Clearly I don’t warrant even a call. Apparently it is three strikes, and I am out.

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