Mumbai. Crowded. Teeming. Packed with possibilities. People. Things to do. Pubs. Theatre. Work hard, play hard.
And then the other Mumbai. Lonely. A vacant seat beside you. An empty apartment. Distances. Pressure. Keep smiling. Look bright all the while.
It’s scary. At eleven thirty on Saturday night my friend, let’s call her X, called me. She sounded like her voice was coming from far away. And all she said was, “ I think...it’ll be nice if you could come home...now.”
My heart sank. All the guilt I felt came rushing back. I had seen X spiral down and down for the last few months. And I had been so wrapped up in my own life that I had hoped it was just a phase.
There have been times when I’ve known this is not looking good. But I just haven’t been able make that connection. You see X and I used to be every close. We’ve been together through many ups and downs. Some times we’ve held on to each other. And sometimes we’ve been in the background, but always there.
Then something happened. And it wasn’t the same again. I knew things were not okay with her. But I couldn’t figure why she would not tell me. Or why she’d just try and brush it off, even when her eyes told me she was lying. I thought about talking to her, but then thought no, she needs her space...give it to her.
But sometimes people don’t need space. They need you to barge in on them and pull them out. Just grab them by the armpits and drag them out of the darkness.
So that night I knew it was my only chance. Not just to get X out of there. But also prove to myself that I wouldn’t let her down.
Anyway, that night I got X home. And this morning when I woke up and walked in to see her in the living room, bright eyed, tea on the gas, pottering about – I knew she’d be okay.
So I’m wondering. Sometimes you just need to talk. To tell someone what you’re feeling. But then we’re so pressurised – if you are not happy, you are a loser. So sometimes you’d rather lie, and try and pretend all is okay. In the bargain, getting more and more isolated.
And then sometimes you just want someone to hug you, to hold you, to tell you it’ll all go away. But then again you think, I’m a grown up adult. I can’t ask for that. The pressure to be strong, independent – sometimes does it get too much?
Finally as friends. You know when I was younger I never though about things like breathing space, barging in, not intruding. So why do I do it now? You are my friend, I think you need help...to hell with politeness...let me just help you, whether you like it or not.
Anyway I know X will come through. We made lists yesterday. And she’s already recognised how she’s feeling, and started taking the first steps to doing something about it.
I’m glad. Because I’ll be watching her closely. Ready to barge in this time.