Friends Reunited6 mins 353 6 mins 353
It had been a good 4 months that Sanjeev had met any of his friends. Earlier he used to hang out every weekend with friends in the cafe, go for short tours, have lots of fun and frolic. But with the latest guidelines from authorities, he had to be bound to his home, only going out for necessities.
While this kept him safe from the ongoing pandemic it had taken a toll on his psyche.
Even his 6 year old son would constantly nag him, asking when he could go out and play.
"Papa I haven't been to the playground in ages, it seems!"
"It cannot be helped son, this is an extraordinary situation we are living through. Don't you see how people are going through absolute hardships in these difficult times?"
"But then you go out too regularly?"
"Yes I do but that is only so that you and mummy do not have to stay hungry!"
"Thank you papa!" and the little one suddenly hugged his dad.
No matter how much he would try to convince his son, deep within Sanjeev felt a similar pinch but he had no one he could raise tantrums with.
He decided to call up Aswin his school friend after a long time.
"Hey Sanju, buddy, how are you?"
"What can I say, buddy! Difficult times!"
"Of course, but then gotta adjust to changing times. Remember Darwin's theory?"
"Yeah yeah, don't you think it's bookish?"
"It is not, of course! Make the most of what you have! Why cry over what you can't change, rather look at what you can?"
"Man, you know I need that dose of good vibes.. that's why I called you! You somehow always inspire me!"
"Haha! Now cut out the crap. Hey why don't we go for a reunion with all our friends?"
"Reunion? Now? Are you crazy or what? Don't you see the restrictions all around?"
"haha! Of course I do! Did I tell you to book bus or train tickets or even venture out of your home?"
"Listen me out, mate! Send a message to the entire social media group of our school friends to share their video chat IDs.. we will have a mega video conference this Sunday at 7pm with family and kids and everyone!"
"Wow! What an idea!!"
It didn't take long to set the ball rolling. Both the friends got active in the group and in a matter of an hour, comments started pouring in with email addresses of all their school friends.
After a long time Sanjeev felt excited. He had not met some of those friends in like 20 years. Though he saw their pictures and all on their social media profiles, talking to them live meant a much more enriching experience.
On Sunday, at 7 pm, he logged in to the video conference along with his wife and kid. Gradually friends started joining in.
Rakesh, Aswin, Pragya, Madhu, Suresh, Lily, Abdul, John, Sam, Rahul...
And wow! For many of them, he had to recognise by their screen names, the appearances had changed so much!
The agenda had been published before. Each friend had to perform an act live. It could be as simple as reciting a poem, or singing a song, or displaying their creativity in terms of art and craft etc.
Everyone was ready and they started performng one by one.
It was now Smita's turn. Although she had been very vocal so far, she had not turned her webcam on.
"Hey Smita, turn the cam on! All of us are alive. We haven't seen you in years!"
"You wouldn't be able to recognise me. I have changed a lot."
"No way, reveal yourself. We all have changed."
Pragya said, "Hey Smita! You don't ever put any profile picture even on your social media. Just some scenery or flowers! I don't even recall how you look any more."
Madhu quipped, "May be she has turned into a model? She needs us to pay a premium just to see her face?" ...and she laughed aloud!
Sanjeev finally said, "Look Smita. See we can only request you. We are all friends right? If you don't want to come live still, what can we say! Aswin should we rather move to our next buddy?"
Smita had been silent all along.
But now she said, "Wait..."
And she finally turned her cam on...
She still had a veil on her face!
Aswin said, "Finally! Curtain raiser moment!!"
And as she removed the veil, there was suddenly silence. Everyone was thunderstruck as if.
In front of all of them was a girl whose face was disfigured beyond recognition.
Smita started sobbing.
"See I told ya all..." and started crying.
"Guess they didn't like my face anymore..."
She went on to tell the incident of how she had been attacked by a guy whose romantic overtures she had rejected. Everyone listened quietly as the mood turned somber.
Evil in this world was real, one friend observed. Sanjeev felt bad too but he was wondering how to change the mood.
Aswin chipped in, "Cheer up buddy. We'll find you a new job. And guess what, remember our very own Mohan? He could not join today. He is a renowned plastic surgeon now. I'll connect you with him."
"Oh, that's great!", Smita did not hide her elation. "But what if I say I want to wear this scar?"
"I mean, well, if you don't want to..."
"It wasn't my fault buddy. What is there to hide?
"True that!", someone quipped.
Sanjeev could sense the determination of the little girl he had known in school. He silently appreciated her.
"Smita, I don't know what to say. But really, kudos to you. I really admire how determined you are! And totally support your view on being yourself."
"Hey, it is okay, guys. Enough of me anyway! Who is next?", Smita sounded cheerful now.
Gradually rest of the folks started performing as well and the mood improved. Lots of stories were shared along with music and jokes and unadulterated fun.
3 hours went by in a jiffy. 3 quality hours. 3 productive hours. 3 highly entertaining hours. Right at home, but with friends!
They bade goodbye to each other as it was time for dinner.
After dinner, Sanjeev called up Aswin again!
"Thanks, buddy! For a great idea!"
"Hey thanks to you. An idea is only as good as it's implementation! You arranged everything so perfectly!"
"Hehe.. no man, thanks also to all of our friends. Damn! How could I even forget them. Guess, it's 'out of sight, out of mind'."
"It's okay buddy. Distance invariably creeps in when there is a lack of communication."
"True. So many means of contacting people, but no one likes to contact, it seems. People are accustomed to living in silos."
"Yeah, the human connect is essential for a healthy living."
"Guess, we can do this more often then. Will just change the agenda a little so folks don't get bored. By the way, I was really moved by what happened to Smita! What kind of people do that, man, seriously?"
"Not humans for sure... it's good that she contacted us and we are in touch after so many years."
"Each person is a story in himself or herself. Isn't it?"
"Of course! It's just that we don't have time to read."
"Let's call it a night buddy. Have a good rest. Excellent time spent tonight, thanks again!"
"Yes man, take care! Good night!"
And they disconnected the call.
After a long time, Sanjeev felt so fresh.
He needed this badly!
Being able to adjust in every situation is the key to health and happiness, he thought.
And of course the support of friends...!
The ideal icing on the cake!