The ghosts called lost friends

Photo: Orchid Chakma

We lose friends. Often, not to something as grand as death or disaster, but to subtler things like misunderstandings and misbehaviour. Things the two people could not agree on. Something that seemed agonisingly wrong to one but the other never understood why.

When we remember these lost friends, memory comes in layers. But the first layer generally comes unexpectedly – like a mirror flashing right in front of your face. A specific mirror in the specific place where you and your dear friend once took a selfie. Now, you see only yourself there. But for a fleeting moment, you saw that lost friend too, posing beside you. As they say, ghosts get caught in the mirror.

Their ghosts sit with us at the tables we used to dine in together. The moon makes us remember conversations we had under it. Perhaps, those words still hover in the wind, distillate into fog, and evaporate into mist.

Memories condense into dark clouds, too. All the times they were wrong, they wronged, and didn't feel sorry. Times when apologies were made but not accepted. The times you discovered the circuitous lanes of their betrayals. The awful things they did. And the cruel twists of fate that left you not in speaking terms anymore.

Some memories morph into a question mark. We ask ourselves if we were right in pushing them away or letting go. Maybe it is not possible to ever have the right answers. Hence, we avoid the question altogether, saying, "We were just friends, after all."

But "just friends" might be what we mourn the most. The simplicity and light-heartedness our friendships started with. When expectations were low and disappointments rare. Is it unusual to wish that the friendship never reached the depth it eventually did? Is it abnormal to want to evade the weight that ultimately brought it down?

At some point, maybe we just grew tired. Tired of resolving conflicts. Tired of carrying the weight of our deep emotions. And when feelings become too much to be accommodated into the narrow space of practicality, we chose not to feel at all. But it's not as if choice had ever dictated the heart.

So, when paths collide and eyes meet, do we smile at them? Perhaps we do, almost as a reflex action. The muscles in our faces are not yet adept at holding grudges. The gap, comprised of years of separation, closes in an instant. But for an instant only. Reason kicks in like thunder and summons back the black clouds of all the things that were wrong.

We don't stop to greet. We walk on, on our own. After a while, we even get better at it. But this walking alone might just be an illusion. Because we reach the mirror again and spot the ghost.

Noushin Nuri is an early bird fighting the world to maintain her sleep schedule. Reach her at [email protected]


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