I bought my friend a pink balloon.
It was 9:30 pm as I got off at our bus stop, hot and sweaty and cursing at the vile woman who was trying to throw me off the bus. I hadn't been able to get out early and meet Sabi for coffee. Incidentally she is my only close friend I have no Orkut/Facebook pictures with. Lots of those stuck inside photo albums--me on her birthday 1994, in my first salwar kameez. Us on her school farewell, she in a sari and me in salwar kameez. Saraswati Puja-both of us in a sari- she prettier. Again. Lots of birthdays, farewells, Christmases and pujos. No random coffee shops. No posing over alcohol. No sleepovers.
Not that it ever mattered, but we both suddenly realised that there was no online photographic evidence of how close we are and intrinsically linked our lives are. There is a stupid testimonial on orkut that doesn't mean anything. But that's it. She has her glam pics with her hotel people. I have those not-so-glam ones with my college gang, and my work gang, and many extended groups. But we have none of us together.
No pictures of waiting till late afternoon for Uncle Alvin(her uncle, now mine as well) and aunty (her mom) to finish cooking so that we could finally get our hands on Christmas lunch. No pictures of nearly dying because the pork curry (and once vindaloo) was way too hot (for me). No pictures of me valiantly carrying on despite a runny nose, and tears and sweat. No pictures of falling asleep post-lunch, smug, full and very happy. No pictures of just lolling about on our terrace talking endlessly. No pictures, of what I now recognise as my best memories.
This time now that she was in Calcutta we would photo graph it all. Us in shorts and chattering aimlessly. Us with our going out faces. Lots of us. But that didn't happen. There was always far too much to talk about. And we were never satisfactorily pretty enough for pictures. At least not both of us together. So the plan was to meet at a coffee shop and randomly take lots of pictures. Thanks to my work schedule that too didn't happen.
I was walking back, thinking about all this and considering dropping in for quick hello when I passed by the sad balloon seller. Sabi and I became friends after I joined the school in the fourth standard. She was in the fifth standard then and mother had dragged me to her place during the holidays to borrow books. Anyway the point is, we haven't seen each other through balloons and Barbie doll stage (although no, she was over barbie dolls. I loved her Barbi'e's kitchen set. I was a domestic 10 year old).
But I digress again. Sad baloon seller. Hot sultry evening. Horrid day. Pretty sad balloons. Even the heart shaped one was wonky. So I settled for the big pink round one (by the way isn't 5 bucks a bit much for a balloon?). I walked to her place, bag, phone, press kit and balloon in hand.
Sabiiiiiii, see what I got!!" said my fake whiny voice.
"You gwot me bwaloon!" she said.
"Accha no hugs, far too hot," I protested. Obviously no one listens to me.
"Mommy I got bwalooon," she showed aunty, who rolled her eyes in reply. "Bwaloooon," she said for extra effect.
I got my friend a pink balloon. Just because I can.
(Clarification: We don't really have an IQ below 75. We just like acting that way.)