All of us have that one person in our life whom we love more than a friend but less than a spouse, someone who is very dear and someone who witnesses our joys and sorrows unconditionally. I call this person as my “FROG FRIEND”.
April – June, 2007:
I was perusing my MBA-Finance and had started interning there for Canada taxation with one of the KPOs and I noticed him there. He used to sit across me but far away, in another team from IT. He was definitely not someone who would attract a second look from girls but somehow he managed to grab my attention. Girls have the innate power of understanding who is staring at them even without looking. So, this guy used to stare at me constantly but in a very natural manner which never made me uncomfortable. You all will agree that not every gaze makes you uncomfortable. Some gaze at you in a really clean way and his gaze was like that. So this “gazing” business continued for quite a few days and we progressed from a gaze to a smile. He had a very pleasing personality. We would exchange 100 smiles a day but neither of us ever felt the urge to walk up to the work desk and initiate a talk. We never even used office communicator to talk to each other. We knew nothing more about each other than the name and that too because other colleagues would often call out our names. This guy turned from a “stranger” to “someone familiar” over two months of time.
Once monthly shutout and best performer awards were being distributed. I was declared as the best performer and I was handed over a cash prize and a certificate amidst of a huge applaud from the team. My eyes were searching that “someone familiar” and there he was standing at the end half covered behind a desk clapping as loudly as he can. His face beamed with pride and I couldn’t help but smile again.
My internship was to last for 3 months and soon the time came to say a bye. It was my last day and I was bidding goodbye to all my team members. Between all the handshakes and hugs I was looking for that “someone familiar” but he was not to be seen anywhere. Not even behind any work desk far away. I lingered around with the hope that he might return from a meeting or a tea break, but no, it didn’t look like he was coming back. I had to leave. I left with a heavy heart and hundreds of questions like “Who was he?”, “Why did we never speak?”, “Why did I want to say him a good bye?”, “Why did I miss him on this last day?” I did not have an answer to any but there was this strange belongingness which refused to leave my heart. I stopped by the pantry to have a glass of water and what did I see? He was standing there with a sad face – as if he was sad that my stint at the KPO was over. Or maybe he was sad that we won’t see each other never again. I don’t know what he was thinking at that time but I was very happy to see him one last time before I left. We exchanged a smile – a last one perhaps and I left. His simplicity and his non-lustful gaze had impressed me. It wasn’t love but there was definitely something between us. Whatever it was, it had ended with the completion of my internship. Or so we thought that day.
The same KPO hired me after I completed my MBA and I was given the same team. However the team had now shifted to another building. That “someone familiar” had carved a special place in my mind and heart but it was very clear that he wasn’t going to be around when I rejoined the KPO because the IT team had not shifted to this building. And who knew whether he was still working with this KPO. After all, IT guys tend to switch companies real soon.
On one busy, while I waited for my food to arrive, I was looking around taking in the usual commotion that is there in the cafeteria during he lunch time. Suddenly my eyes stopped on that “someone familiar”. I blinked a couple of times out of surprise and a wide smile broke on my face. He reciprocated with even a wider smile. It made my day!
Later that day I received and email from him
Are you the same Aditi who was in the US taxation team?”
He was probably checking if he is contacting the right Aditi from corporate directory. Pat went my reply.
Yes, I am the same Aditi. Btw – it’s Canada taxation and not US!”
This communication was an ice breaker. We would wish good morning sometime over the email of course and sometimes we would write about some achievement at work. We didn’t communicate daily and we never used the office communicator or phone for reason still unknown to us. Thus, our interactions were quite rare yet very special.
That was my last email to him from office.
Have to share some good news.
- I got a new job
- I am getting married
Next Friday is my last working day.”
I eagerly waited for his reply but he didn’t revert. Numerous thoughts crowded my mind. “Was he sad that I was going?”, “Why isn’t he happy with my progress?” blah blah blah. I waited for his reply for the whole week but he didn’t revert. On my last day, he called me on my work phone and wished me success in personal as well as professional life. I questioned him what took him so long to revert and he quickly said that he was on a “hibernation mode”. Nevertheless I was ecstatic! That was the first time we spoke.
Later, I got busy with my life but this guy was always there at the back of my mind. By then Facebook had started making its presence felt. I looked up for him on the Facebook but he wasn’t there. We had not exchanged our personal email ids. We had lost touch once again.
One day I had an urge to check on him on his corporate id. Once again I was unsure whether he still worked there or not but I took a chance. The email didn’t bounce which meant that he was still there! Happy Me ☺ I desperately waited for his reply but he didn’t revert. Days passed followed by weeks and months. By then, I had given up on him. I was sort of annoyed that he was purposely ignoring me.
One fine day I received a reply from him and I wasn’t a bit amused. I was angry and wondered what took him more than six months to revert. He was quick to send me an explanation in yet another email stating that he was on “hibernation mode”. It surprised me that he knew me so well and justified his disappearance.
After that there was no looking back. We continued to be in touch via emails. Our emails grew personal in nature. We shared about our sorrows and happiness, talked about our families. We discussed about our careers. We never felt shy of seeking advice from each other regarding anything under the sky. Of course he continued to be on “hibernation mode” at periodic intervals. I sort of accepted it because I knew that someday he will definitely revert to my email.
Time progressed and so did our relationship. Even though our interaction lessened over a period of time, our bond grew stronger. His career took him from Mumbai to Pune and from Pune to UK. Now he is settled in Canada. Emails are now replaced by WhatsApp chats but there is nothing that replaces his “hibernation mode”. Over the years I have asked him many times about why does he hibernate and he still tells me the same reason.
“Aditi, we cannot get used to each other. Our respective families should be our priority. Hibernation is important to stay focused.”
Such pious thought! He explained the most important truth in such a candid way.
At present we don’t talk much, but I know he will always be there for me. I informed him when I delivered a baby last month. He quickly replied that he was waiting to hear that. He was aware of the struggle I had gone through in last six years in order to have a baby. Likewise, he has been a witness to many of my difficult times where he played a role of advisor or someone who had shown me a mirror. He has been a great guide, friend and philosopher! Not to forget, he has been someone who has been happy with the smallest of my joy.
At times I miss him. But he is right. “Hibernation” is necessary. Due to his perpetual habit of “hibernation” I call him my “FROG FRIEND.”
Some bonds can never be described and relationships can never be named. Ours is one of them.