" Two days ago, for ten days", I said panting for breath. "Water,please"
"You have become more lazy with time. Here" he said, I barely saved myself from getting hit on the face. "Run quick"
I nodded and tried to follow his pace. He was too fast, I was finding it too difficult to even move ahead.
I shouted "Time out bro!", and sat on the bench.
He gave me a 'Are you serious' look, but seeing me he probably realised there was no way I was going to get up in a while now.
After ten minutes of silence and looking around, he finally started 'the talk'.
'So what is happening in your life?'
I started at him, sighed out loud and closed my eyes, trying to focus where to start it from.
I could tell him the good things, make it sound like everything is okay. I could let my guard down and speak, if he doesnt understand then who will.
He nudged me. ' If that battle is over, do I get to hear something?' he winked.
I smiled. He knew, of course he would. He always knew. That is why he exactly becomes the super protective, caring brother.
'I probably blurted out the wrong thing again'. I looked down sheepishly.
He laughed, ' You travelled half way across the world, met so many people, did so many new things, and we are speaking ummm' he looked at his watch, 'Let me say roughly after 2 years and you still start with a wrong thing you did.'
I smiled, I remembered how it was two years ago. I still was going through a lot. He made it all look easy. He said that everything would be okay. He pushed me ahead, when I wasnt willing to move.
And everything was better. Than what it was two years ago.
Except that I found new ways to make my life a mess. I am a self proclaimed expert at this. Seriously.
'Did you speak to him?' he gently asked.
I gave an affirmative nod.
'He didnt respond, like no replies at all?'
I gestured a no.
' So he is still speaking to you?'
I gave another affirmative nod.
I dont know why I was tongue tied. I knew he would guess it as a 'he', a 'he' that I never spoke to him about. A 'he' I didnt have crush or stalked like crazy, but probably had begun liking a bit, a bit more than what I initially planned to do.
And it hurt.
'So it isnt the classic case of you being hurt and wondering why someone is not responding to your talks?'
He stretched a little bit and I could see the worry lines on his forehead. He cautiously asked,
"Did someone hurt you again?"
A chill ran down my spine, I knew the last time this happened. I knew how angry he had been for me: cruising down a lane, that had 'trouble' signed up all along.
I quickly cleared my head and said out triumphantly "No".
I could sense his immediate relief by my side. He slouched on the bench and said, "So whatever is the issue, Ill call it as false alarm in my world, or.."
I piped up curiously, "Or?"
He looked at me and said in a very clear voice - "You are overthinking and ruining it all up, Classic issues, you know."
I felt the lump in my throat suddenly dissolve and finally managed to speak, " I am not overthinking, its just that I.. "
I stopped, God, why dont all the right words come, when you need them.
"You love him, have a crush?" he tried to fill in.
I sat up, it wasnt making any sense to him.
"I got feedback, negative feedback."
He gave a half amused look. "Negative feedback? Thats what happened?"
I nodded in affirmation. Where are all the words when you need them dear God!
He chuckled , "Shall we?" he said slowly jogging.
I dug my head amidst my knees, took a deep breath and jogged along.
It was silence for a while, after which I spoke "Dont you want to know what it was about or who?"
"Does it even matter? From what I can see its someone who hasnt known you long enough to judge and honestly." He panted for breath
"Honestly?" I piped along curiously.
The sunset was breath taking, the whole place seemed to light up from the ambience of the evening rays. I could feel the warmth reflect on our faces, with such a bliss of optimism.
I smiled. "So, honestly?"
"This would be brotherly word and you should know I hate doing this." I knew words of wisdom would follow this statement. I smiled, motioned him to carry on.
"Each of us no matter how old we are, are bound to meet new people. For instance you are 25 years old, you will definetly have 25 years of memories - some good, some bad, some worrying, some embarrasing : But altogether thats your trot till today. In the 25 years of your life, there might have been a zillion small incidents, that moulded you the way you are today. People who call someone too social today, wouldnt know a phase when they chose to dwell in silence, You change. You change for good. You change for bad. You change because of the things that happen to you, the people you meet and the choices you make."
I dared not to interrupt, but when he paused, I quipped : "The point?"
He patted on my head, I smiled, That was a 'my good girl' pat that I used to get as a kid. I had that same sheepish smile.
"The point, my dear, is to get new perspectives from new people in your world- Assess them and if you feel they are right: change- Else discard. You do not have to justify to the person who gave it. He judged based on a day or a week of interaction with you , and my dear you have got to realise that passing judgements is easier. Creating barriers to stop it from getting to you is a challenge. You have got to realise that no matter how much you care for a few people, they can be blunt with what they think is right, Am I right?"
I scratched my head, it seemed to make sense. Whatever he spoke, wasnt something I didnt know. I just needed someone to tell me all of this. Out loud and damn clear.
" Am I right?" He questioned again, seeing me look lost.
"Yes you absolutely are, as always", I finished.
"So the issue isnt the person, it is you. Stop painting people the way you see in your head, the colors fade fast. And dont let everyone affect you."
"The problem is just that I think I give way too much space for people way too quickly."
He quickly interrupted. "Which is correct, since you never used to." I could see him tighten his fist. The last thing I wanted at that moment was him to go down the memory lane and pick up the shambled and weak image of mine, which both of us loathe to recollect. I touched his shoulder and could sense him easing a bit. "You never used to, since your trust was broken. I know this. I know what you have been through. I told you let your guard down and trust people, Still hit the fine balance. Dont let everyone stamp over you."
I hid my face - "I'm a mess."
He chuckled "We all are to be honest. You are acting on way better on it, than any of us. I can tell because I have seen your short tempered phase. Had it been three years ago, the guy would have got some bones broken for giving any kind of feedback." He laughed and I joined along. How does time change one so much!! A rebel to weakling to a sane person.
"And how come my negative feedbacks arent taken seriously?" He winked, giving me a playful punch.
"Negative feedback? Really?" I said pushing him away. We laughed.
"The world would be such a better place with less judgemental people, I see it now."
"Less judgement and more compassion".
"Right to compassion! " A Hi-5 and we were back on the jogging trail.
Twenty years from now, do not regret the only twenty minutes you got to spend with a person, and you ended up hurting them like twenty thousand times. If the paths are going to cross only for a fleeting phase, try to make the best moments instead of being judgemental.