Shikha loved to have friends. The more the merrier for her. Any new place for her meant a whole new set of friends. That obviously did not imply that she forgot her old ones. She clung to each relationship tenaciously.
In this way Shikha spent her years growing up and transformed from a teenager to an adult. Then the day dawned that Shikha finally got married and moved with her husband to a new city.
She was looking forward, as a new place implied more opportunities and more friends. All her life Shikha had grown up in one place, most of her friends had left the city and so this change kind of excited her.
She settled down in the new city, they had rented an apartment in a big apartment complex with over six hundred families living there. Joy knew no bounds as the prospect of meeting new people excited her. The first opportunity that she got was the Diwali celebrations in her new place. The celebrations were organised by the community people and everybody thronged to attend them. All the women were vibrantly dressed and the menfolk too looked very dressy. People mingled all over and there was a lot of food to add on to the festive gathering. Shikha attended it with her husband, however both of them being very new, did not know anyone. People did not smile, they huddled in their groups, they seemed wary of newcomers. In spite of all this Shikha managed to strike conversations with a few people, however the next moment they again went back to being someone you didn’t know. All this seemed very strange to her.
Her husband consoled her by saying that time would help her make acquaintances. Time came and went and Shikha was still unable to open up and strike friendship.
Now, she knew many people but it was always limited to exchanging a few words on the move, either in the lobby, inside the lift or in the pathways.
Shikha put all this down to the fact that maybe something was truly wrong with her but her efforts persisted.
Then one fine day she got a call from an international number, her very dear old friend was coming to India and wanted to meet her, could she make a trip to her home town?
Friendship starved Shikha got all pumped up and drew up plans to visit her hometown. She even persuaded her workaholic husband to take a ten day leave and join her for the trip.
The tickets were bought, the days sealed, she called her friend up to discuss her plans.
Her friend had no plans, she was going to be busy with her family and actually that itinerary did not accommodate Shikha. She would meet her, she said, but there is no plans.
Shikha felt terribly let down, here she spent a small fortune in getting her last minute air tickets, had cajoled her husband to take a leave and there is no plan in place?
She drafted a mail , pouring her heart out but she could not finally send it as that would mean the end of that friendship. It takes a lifetime to build one and a second to destroy it.
Then a chance conversation made Shikha realize that friendship is like a mirage and in most people’s lives, today, that is always number 6 or 7 in the priority list.
Reality dawned and that event taught her such a lesson that today Shikha is like one of the odd six hundred families in her complex, she has done away with befriending people.
New entrants amuse her and the old ones pave her way, shows her the modicum of behavior.
Atleast now she is at peace with herself, knowing the fact that nothing is indeed wrong with her but maybe something is wrong with the society at large.