“Wow, am I the first person you called?” A good friend asked me with an obviously elated tone.
“Umm, no…uhmm,..third maybe?”
“Wow, am I the third person you called?”
“Umm…err, actually, well …yeah, I guess.”
It was a happy day, one of two biggest religious festivals in a year. More so, this was in a year when my confidence was sky-high. The money was flowing in, I had an internship, I was doing well in school.
Over time, and through the hard way, one of the things I have learned is how illogical it is to hide how we really feel about others, from them.
Illogical because letting them know would not reduce one’s standing one bit. Illogical because somehow, to me, it was embarrassing to let this friend know how important he is to me. I hesitated to tell him he was the third person I had called that day. In reality, I lied.
He was the first person I thought of, to call on the happy occasion. And he was the first person I called.
Why are we scared of revealing how important others are to us, to them? I know I am not the only one who does this. Isn’t sharing with them only going to make them happy?
Edit: This post was sitting in my drafts, for months. I would know why this kind of sharing is not always a good idea, months later. Future blog material.
An additional candle was unlit, and another year blew away from my life. I was lucky to have another birthday. A couple of thoughts were swirling in my head since then.
First, the charm that there was in remembering people and their birthdays isn’t the same anymore. When I was small, I used to wait excitedly for mail – for one particular mail – on my birthday. It was an annual birthday greeting card from a cousin. The one year when I was most anxious for it, I waited the entire day but it never came. I was dejected. “Did she forget? Did she not care anymore? Maybe we’re all too grown up for this now?”
These questions do not come up now, and there is no anticipation and elation about others remembering to wish on a birthday, because they would be notified about it through Facebook, Google and the like without effort. I was wished by around a hundred and twenty people this way. I was certainly happy and appreciative of the wishes even if most of them were triggered by online notifications. I realize that as much as I would like to be the closest one to every other person I know, it does not and cannot happen. It would be silly to expect the same intimacy from everyone. In any case, it would be foolhardy to consider birthday wishes as a measure of that closeness, and more so to expect someone like the random person I met at a party the day before, to remember my birthday without automatic reminders.
I received phone or audio calls to wish me at three different mid-nights, over six different time-zones and over two days. My family members were among the first to wish me this time, without needing online reminders. I was especially touched by a friend’s gesture to phone me even while traveling internationally, from a foreign airport.
I would be upset if the people I meet on my birthday forgot to wish me before we part ways, and so, as in previous years, I did not take that risk. It is scary to consider consider the possibility of them not remembering or not caring about it. I reminded them myself without waiting to see if they would need it. I was pleased of course, when my fears were unfounded with a younger friend who had actually planned a surprise party later that day.
The second thing I couldn’t help but notice was how much my friends’ circle had changed over the past year. At both parties I had this time – there was not a single person from the past birthday bashes I had. I had grown increasingly involved with the MSA on campus; I had close relationships with the people on it, and they formed the bulk of my friends now – some closer than others.
However, most of my peers were out of college and had moved on with their lives with only a couple of them taking graduate classes. Most others in the MSA were simply too young for me to relate to closely, except for a few in their senior year and an older friend who still had time to finish. This had pushed me more and more towards a bunch of fellow graduate Muslim students in other departments that I was not always close with, even though I had known them for long. Slowly but surely, we grew closer and formed a very well-knit group that got together multiple times a week. I felt loved and wanted here. I was coddled and pampered; I was allowed to be silly and talkative – perhaps by a combination of being immature and younger than the rest of the group by some margin. We were now like family, and I thanked God for having these people in my life.
The day ended on a slightly sour note when a childhood friend now in the Philippines failed to wish me; I couldn’t reach him either. This was the first time in about eleven years that we hadn’t spoken on this day.
Time flew by between my birthdays sooner than I realized, and brought changes greater than I noticed along the way. Time is slipping away now and there is obviously little anyone can do about it than to make the best use of it. I wonder how my circle of friends changes by next year. But if there is a lesson I have learned, it is to value, thank and care for the people I have in my life.
One of my friends recently remarked, “Hey, do visit your hometown too once in a while” .
Reason ? Another trip to DC (can you believe it?) on the 23rd of April, my sixth in less than nine months.
I had to leave a day’s work and money to go to DC this time but I just wanted to be there, inside the Capitol Hill, and attend the Friday prayer services. The program was supposed to start at 11 AM but with the desi standard time that we follow on our clocks, we started out from home quite late, got lost along the way and by the time we reached the Capitol, it was nearly 2 PM and we could see people coming out from the Jummah. The staff made us run around for some time but reluctantly let us in even though there was no way we could make it to the Jummah event. All the excitement that I was filled with was about praying Jummah inside the Capitol Hill and with that opportunity missed, I felt extremely disappointed with myself and my trip-mates, making no secret of my anger and frustration at them for having been cause of the delay. Once in, we luckily ran into the host of the program who was taking the other students on a guided tour inside the capitol hill. He let us in into his group and gave us passes to the gallery of the House of Representatives. I could hardly enjoy this part as I was filled with guilt for having missed the Friday prayers and was repenting about not having stayed put in my hometown instead to attend Jummah when I was going to be too late here anyway. We were showed around a few places quite important/significant and historical in the Capitol Hill – not that I paid any attention to what was being said by our guide, since I just didn’t feel it necessary to ‘know’ those things. The old supreme court, the library of congress, the offices of the leaders of the representatives, and so on were good places to see but we weren’t allowed to click any pictures here. After we came down to near the entry for the house of representatives gallery, we weren’t allowed by the security to go back up despite trying twice – I wanted to go back up and make amends for not taking enough pictures there earlier.
We finally went in to the gallery after a heavy security check, roamed around in the capitol for some more time and then took a long walk towards the Washington monument and the world war memorials taking a few pictures along the way near the museums too.Since one of my travel mates didn’t want to splurge a princely sum of two and a hald dollars on a metro train back to the union station from where we had to catch a train back to my place, we had to walk for as much as an hour and wait another hour in the historic union station for the train to come. The trains were more like planes with their interiors, microphone announcements and at the stations with all the boarding gates. All in all, it was a good memorable trip that we made I thought, which could have been much better had we made it on time in the morning. Leaving some pictures as I sign off for your viewing pleasure :)
This was a beautiful article that I read on a blog that I follow. I recommend this blog to everyone – I found the posts on personality development and relationships on this website extremely useful . I just made my friend who started the topic of marriage again for the nth time with me to read this. Find the article here
It’s just my poor luck that a lot of people I surround myself with are older than me and are actively looking for the one meant for them for marriage, so there’s no surprise they always raise the topic. Though I always dismiss even the remotest of thoughts on marriage or companionship as soon as it comes to my mind, I do know, that deep inside, I feel the need for companionship with someone close, with whom I can share joys, sorrows and frustrations, and open my heart out. But I am strong enough to keep myself in check – I know I still don’t want to marry for quite some time now and I’m not going to have the so-called platonic relationships with anyone from the opposite gender too as a compromise. Prayers, friends and blogging be my companions till then :)
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Here is a quote I liked so much, couldn’t resist posting it on my blog:
“The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”
– Thomas Merton
Somehow, I get the feeling I have been similarly guilty all this time. Accepting people the way they are and not as we want them to be, is a good start. And then, everyone changes and gets influenced by the company they have.