Life takes different and sometimes surprising turns. In the beginning, you probably spend a lot of your time of your life in making your career. You toil to make some money, keep your family happy, build some reputation and give to the society to best of your abilities. There is not much time for a pause, looking back to assess your journey or take a detour. Very few get to live this way.
As you grow old, and you slow down (or at least attempt to do so), you long to meet your childhood friends and college buddies. You want to share your experiences, your moments of joy and sorrow. You sit in a bar and have a drink for the old time sake. There is so much learning in these conversations.
I have been an avid traveler and love to meet people. In this process, I could connect with some very interesting people across the world. Today, I feel like “searching” them and reaching out once again for the old times sake. But I know this is not possible as we come from different geographies. Some may not be even living today.
You want to see people of the “past” once again, whom you really miss today. You had always adored and admired them, and you have memories to share. May be if you ever meet once again, you would like to say something that you had missed saying before. May be expressing your gratitude or saying sorry. You may want to do something you wanted to do but you didn’t –like fulfilling a promise, buying a wonderful gift or just give a simple hug! All this for the old times sake.
My Professor friend warned me not to go back in time and instead look forward to continuing meeting interesting people. “It’s all over Dr Modak, you have to flow along with time” He quipped. He could be right, I said to myself. But I was not fully convinced.
I decided to make an effort. I wrote on a paper, names of all those people whom I thought I must meet once again. I realized that this was not an easy task. I made an initial long list of some fifty people but as I pondered over, few names got scratched out and I was left with just ten. The list included some of my childhood friends who had stood by me in my difficult times, professors who had taught me and influenced my life, colleagues with whom I had inspiring moments in work and the women whom I adored. I made efforts to reach them out using search engines and social media platforms.
I was successful to some extent. Fortunately, most friends were alive. I could connect with some through emails. I then followed by phone calls. Few agreed to come on zoom and keep the video on during our conversations. Everyone said “what a surprise! how did you find me?” Lots of anecdotes were shared – all for the good old times.
To some, when I said sorry, there was a pause and silence, but I was soon forgiven. “Oh no worries, Prasad” the response was so relieving. For some, I sent flowers on their birthdays with a thank you note and then made a call. “Oh, how sweet of you to remember my birthday”, the person on the other side said. An old friend (or flame!) was shocked when I said that I had a crush on her during our college days. With a little pause, there was a spontaneous laughter – when I ended saying that I must confess this to you before we die (the woman found use of “we” very interesting). I was simply clearing my chest for the old times sake.
I met a friend in Mumbai who is now retired and settled in the United States. He was on a mission to India to meet all his old friends, colleagues and senior age relatives. He travelled extensively and spent good time with each one of them. I asked him about his experience. He said that going back in time was almost an emotional drain and experience turned out to be quite disturbing. He wasn’t sure if experience was really worth it. The personalities and the situations had changed. Life had moved on.
I noticed that few of my batchmates stay away from Whats app groups or such social media. We have simply lost these old time friends. Perhaps, they don’t want to revisit the past. Or they are just too busy with new friends.
I asked Professor for the final word. He was sitting in the armchair in his office with a cigar in his hand. He smiled and quoted from Mahabharata Shanti Parva 12.28.36
यथा काष्ठं च काष्ठं च समेयातां महोदधौ।
समेत्य च व्यतीयातां तद्वत् भूतः समागमः॥
This Sanskrit couplet translates to the following words of wisdom by the great Rishi Vyasa (author of Mahabharata)
As two logs of wood floating on the great ocean, come together and are again (when the time comes) separated, even so, creatures come together and are again (when the time comes) separated.
This sounded rather philosophical to me. It was also something profound.
So what’s your take Professor?, I had to ask.
Professor smiled and said
“Well Dr Modak, I do like the idea of the good old times but I would rather wait for someone to “find me” for old times sake”
I wondered how long will such a wait be, at least for me. But given Professors vast circle of friends and warm relationships, I was sure that a lot will search him to connect for the old times sake.
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