The starlings murmur just for me

Last month, I met a friend I hadn’t met in almost exactly five years. The circumstances of our reunion were an echo of the past – we went to the same restaurant we ate at five years ago, she still lived in the same area, we didn’t look too different. But much had changed too.

The years had been kind to us, in spite of a distance both literal and figurative, and sometimes a distinct lack of empathy on my part.

At one point, when sitting at the dining table in her home and drinking tea, my friend suddenly turned to me and said,

“Remember those pens you were obsessed with in school? You always refused to write with any other pen!”

I hadn’t thought about these pens in years. She was right, of course. There was a certain Uni-ball gel pen that was my trusted companion through high school. Even if the ink ran out, I wouldn’t want to borrow another pen. I was a bit surprised she remembered that. Later, I felt moved.

When I think of her, I see the girl I sat next to in school, the dreamy one, the one who doodled, who sang under her breath, and who I feared might walk into walls because it always seemed like her mind had wandered off somewhere more pleasant. And maybe when she thinks of me, she sees the moody and slightly weird teenager with whom she shared lunches. This is the gift we give, the ability to see in each other a girl, sometimes a woman trying to figure out life, but always an individual; not a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother. In some ways, we may be frozen in time, but the frost is unexpectedly warm.

On my way back home, I had an urgent need to call up my grandmother and tell her I’d finally met this friend. I wanted to hear the smile in her voice as she recollected details about my friend. She would be faintly proud, telling me that her memory wasn’t as bad as we made it out to be. She would ask me if I ate. I would tell her it’s beginning to get cold, the trees are losing their leaves.

Then I remembered that you can’t call a person who isn’t around, a stranger might be using that number now. How do you reach out to someone who exists in a photograph? You speak to them in your mind and believe they can hear you. Maybe they do, maybe they are responsible for the magic that mundane days reveal.

I just have to look carefully.

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28 thoughts on “The starlings murmur just for me

  1. Such a beautiful write up.Recently a friend had posted in Facebook, what we remembered about her and I wrote, “Pens”. She was obsessed with pens, keeping things organized etc:)

    A few months ago, I managed to spend a day with two of my closest friends from college after almost 13 years. It felt so good and fulfilling. One of my friend has a son who is autistic and the 180 degree change in her was painful to watch.

    I don’t know why but I watch way too much time on YouTube watching pregnancy announcement videos and I happened to watch a video where this woman announces her preganncy to her mom who is no more by releasing balloons in the air with a note for her mom. I got all reared up. Grandmoms are the best, especially if you are close to them:)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the comment! Your friend sounds like me!
      As I read your comment, I started thinking of how the near constant connectivity almost doesn’t allow us to feel the pleasure of reconnecting with a friend from long ago. Maybe I belong in the old world sometimes, I find much happiness in delayed gratification. Waiting for a letter, waiting for years to meet someone..these moments are beautiful and painful at the same time.
      And yes, I do think my grandmother was the best. πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. My favorite line is: In some ways, we may be frozen in time, but the frost is unexpectedly warm. It’s great to have a shared history with someone, particularly from our younger days. I love reconnecting with people.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful! I constantly think of the conversations I would have with my father if he were still around. It’s equally hard realizing how different your life is when you see a person that was so much a part of your previous life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. These lines!

    “it always seemed like her mind had wandered off somewhere more pleasant.”

    “but the frost is unexpectedly warm.”

    Beautiful.

    I loved the juxtaposition of reconnecting – being both able to and unable to.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww! That is sweet of you. Tea sounds perfect. But virtual tea for now? ❀ I read your review of ‘The High Priestess Never Marries’ too. I loved it. Your piece was as beautiful as the book.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Of course, not. 😁 Tea with just a spoon of sugar for me please?

        And I read your story on ‘Lakshmi’and ‘Meyadha Maan’ too. I haven’t watched the latter though. While I had a lot of feelings about ‘Lakshmi’, I found the song soulful. I think I will remember that short film just for the song.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This was marvelous! Sorry for the laaaate response. I checked this after seeing your Twitter DM. This segment was just fantastic:
    “This is the gift we give, the ability to see in each other a girl, sometimes a woman trying to figure out life, but always an individual; not a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother. In some ways, we may be frozen in time, but the frost is unexpectedly warm.”

    Liked by 1 person

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