Dealing with people makes me feel all kinds of things. Full-on head-full-of-feelings, heart-bursting-with-emotion kind of feeeeeelings. And last week I felt something I never have, as far as people fee-fees go. I discovered (quite by accident) the joy of unburdening. I want to say it felt like a weight off my chest, a worry out of my head and all that. But really it just felt like that sweet, sweet transition from pain to happiness, except on fast-forward. Like jetting through the awkward phase into easy acceptance in 3 seconds.

I had a spat with a (former) close friend last week. It was most unexpected, and over the silliest thing — shared domestic help – not something I thought I’d ever lose a friend over. More so because there was no fight, or fall out, just behavior that gave me a pretty big clue about where this relationship (and I) stood in the eyes of said friend.

The way people behave towards you is usually significantly telling of where they’re coming from, their state of mind, and mostly how they feel about you. So when I was faced with an absurdly rude and uncalled for text message that sought to “clarify” a misunderstanding, I took a quick moment to think about what I might have done if tables had been turned.

My sense of integrity towards the friend would have made me pick up the telephone call and have a conversation, not exchange text messages. So I did. I dialed her number, I cleared up the misunderstanding, and that was that. But I couldn’t shake off the feeling of having received that message, out of the blue. Even in the biggest of misunderstandings with a friend, I have never resorted to that kind of blinding rage, and unleashed it without any warning. The message was terse, but harsh. Confrontational, yet totally lacking the balls to face the issue (which in my mind was pretty non existent, nothing friends couldn’t get around). And the way in which it was just thoughtlessly typed out and sent to me, without a chance to talk it out and hear my side, told me how much this friendship was valued. And I didn’t deserve it.

So I clarified my stance, sorted out the misunderstanding and realized it was my cue to walk away.

I snapped it. Again. And this time, there was zero rethinking. No feefees, no awkwardness, no regret. And it made me realize maybe I too held the relationship at very low value in my mind. If it was that easy to sever and move on, perhaps its time was really done.

It’s never just been about the straight and narrow, as far as people in my life go. I’m always watching people, always curious about what makes us all behave the way we do. Balancing out the good and the bad vibes, weeding out negativity, trying to stick with relationships that work, feel good and genuinely withstand the pressures of time and distance is an ongoing background activity in my brain.

Cliche as it sounds, I really do believe people come into our lives for a purpose. That purpose some times lasts a really long time, and people can some times grow on you like beautiful fresh vines on a naked wall. Wrapping themselves, inter-twined with your life in the most imperfectly perfect way.

Some friendships stay in the wings of your life, never taking centre stage, but appearing now and then like a sunny monsoon day, with sweeping pink skies that temporarily shine through dark cover, make a spectacular short-lived show and recede back into the wings, waiting for the next cue. Their purpose is to hang around and step in, unannounced.

Some the purpose is short lived, and relationships end. Some times over a long-drawn period of time, like a painful black stormy night punctuated with crackling lightning and thunder. Tumultuous and refusing to go down without a fight. Some times they linger around, in the background, occasionally making a noise – but nothing that can’t be swatted out with a swift thwack of a tightly-rolled newspaper.

The relationships that remain, are there for a reason, and the ones that fade away, slowly, like inky stains on old clothes that bled away gently but never fully disappear, they linger with good reason. But I learned last week that there’s also those relationships that come with an expiry date so close, you never know when its coming. Like snapping a dry twig, unexpectedly. Crack, and its over. No strings attached, no over thinking, no hangover of whys and ifs and buts. Just clarity that it was meant to be. And with good reason.

It would be really fabulous if there were an easier way to draw a curtain over an old friendship, hit delete and wish it all away. But there isn’t and I used to be the person that would spend a lot of time, thought and emotion over broken relationships, good or bad. This some times led relationships that ought to have ended linger on in my life, making periodic comebacks, only to spectacularly fall apart all over again. It was kind of like never learning from my own experiences.

I have a subconscious social pruning cycle that hits me every 6 months or so, almost bang on track, and this time it’s had a new conclusion. Snap, like a twig, and I felt lighter. Unburdened. By accident.


19 thoughts on “Pruning

  1. Pingback: In between | hAAthi

  2. I recently made friends with two girls and before we actually got to know each other, we planned a big trip. I loved the experience but came back with one friendship fractured beyond repair over something trivial. Now when I think back, I don’t regret what I have lost. In fact I’m more intrigued by the fact that I became friends with her in the first place since we didn’t really connect at all…


  3. Dude .. Very nice post man. I find that I always subconsciously filter when it comes to friends. Never just send impulsive texts or emails. I am shocked when someone takes that sort of liberty with me and says something nasty. I am like you in that I just snap the twig off .. Maybe it’s a self protection mechanism. I haven’t ever let a friend too close to see the real me .. That freak show is reserved for my dear husband and my family – the rest can hear about it from me. So the least I expect is for them to protect me from their impulsive, moody spells.


    1. I dont really filter myself with good friends.. But I definitely watch what I say to ensure I dont inadvertently hurt them. I think thats the least we can expect friends to do right?


      1. Maybe filter is the wrong word here – What I meant to say is that when it comes to conveying to them how I feel especially when it comes to the state of the union :) I’ll be more careful and use my words carefully. After the words roll out of your tongue it’s almost impossible to take it back without losing some power and respect in the relationship.


  4. Meera Parameswaran

    “It would be really fabulous if there were an easier way to draw a curtain over an old friendship, hit delete and wish it all away. But there isn’t and I used to be the person that would spend a lot of time, thought and emotion over broken relationships, good or bad. This some times led relationships that ought to have ended linger on in my life, making periodic comebacks, only to spectacularly fall apart all over again. It was kind of like never learning from my own experiences.” Ditto!

    And the rest of the things you said, I feel can be summed up into this quote I heard long back – Friends come into your lives in three ways – for a season, for a reason or for a lifetime. I feel having all the three types of friends in life are essential because there is always something to learn from each, about life, people and sometimes yourself! I have been fortunate to have had all three kind of friends and this quote came into my life at the right time when I was mourning over a friendship that got sour an year ago and I was trying time and again to get it back. I learnt to let go, let it slip and move on.

    Many a times I have also felt my feelings for a friend just vanish – may be because we haven’t been in touch for long. But since no ‘incident’ has happened, I quietly prefer to unfriend them on facebook and make them disappear from my life. (Of course it works for those who you don’t meet often and who are intelligent enough to understand your cue and not send you another :P)

    Anyway, these kind of things always come as a shock no? When they are out of the blue – they blow you away and you are you minus someone you thought as your good friend. But its good to know your learnt something from it. I feel that’s what matters the most.


  5. Scarlett O'Hara

    I have some of those, friends who are friends with whom I have nothing in common except memories of a nice time.
    And since then I’ve believed in this – We have some people in our lives only because there is no break-up script for friends.
    And I do just that, treat them like exes. No bitterness or any sort of emotion. They just exist, like 7B other people in this world.
    And yes, on my FB friend’s list, coz you know, unfriending is rude, and I don’t hate them! :)


  6. Deepa

    You write prose like a musician would write his music, it’s so pretty and lyrical to read even when it’s about a subject thats a tad tender like this one. Loved all the analogies.

    I recalled a similar incident or perhaps not similar but involving domestic help between my mum and her best friend at the time many decades ago that led to my mum finally snapping her long, long chaddi yaar types dosti with this friend. In their case the so called friend poached my mum’s help(who she desperately needed exclusively because my father was bedridden at the time and needed round the clock care) by offering her double what we could pay her. For months my mum didn’t know until one day she visited said friend and found her former help working there and the friend casually mentioned she’d gotten her to leave our place with a higher offer. My mum, I recall, came home burst into copious tears because she hadn’t been able to replace that help and had worked herself to the bone looking after her work, my Dad and us and made a quick decision to have no contact with friend thereafter. And stuck to it. It always surprised me that a woman who was otherwise always willing to let it be, compromise in her relationships, was soft spoken and gentle hearted decided to just go snip-snip.

    I also, like you, believe very firmly that people come into our lives for a reason and to sometimes serve just a short term purpose, whether good or bad so when they do leave and no longer serve a kind purpose to let them go. It took me ages to learn to let go and for years I agonized over whether I could’ve made amends or been different to just keep the relationship status quo. But now I do know better and am mostly peaceful when it does happen. I do tend carefully to the ones I do have though.

    Oops, awfully long comment. Sorry da.


    1. Gosh, that sounds AWFUL, what your mother went through. Incidents like this make me wonder where just basic empathy and sensitivity has disappeared to. I would probably have burst into copious tears and severed ties and gone thru much upheaval over it too, if that had happened to me. But this wasn’t half as bad, in that the issue was SO trivial I was actually amazed there was any scope for misunderstanding. Even more amazed that her way to deal with said misunderstanding was to lash out at me, in a way I never would to a close friend. Maybe if this had happened even just one year ago, I would have not been able to react with such simple action and move on so easily, but I too have learned that sometimes you just have to let go, and when you do its fabulous.

      Also, I like long comments. Please do not apologise. And thanks for the comment on the writing. I try, and sometimes its hard to say it all without going overboard (as I do so very often) especially when its a matter so close to heart.


  7. Since a child, I was a fairly emotional person when it comes to relationships and sometimes invest so much of time & effort only to realize couple of months down the line that it was all a waste. I used feel terribly bad and keep wondering what have I done wrong to loose such a friendship. As I grew older and wiser, I have come to understand it is not just me. People change. Circumstances change. Priorities change. There is nothing to feel bad about the ‘change’. Life goes on and we meet other interesting people who will brighten up your day. A lesson I ought to have learned a long time ago! :-)



    1. Same here! I’ve learned that things change and sometimes there’s little you can do to fight/undo it. But what do you say to plain old rude behaviour? I can’t attribute it to change. I think bring civil and respectful is a basic requisite in any relationship. And if it’s missing its time to move on.


  8. Guess, that’s so true and M so done with hanging on with people who doesn’t deserve my love in the first place. Now, I have learned to back out and the burden is too much to carry. I mean, you feel so light when u let things go. I am slowly learning to disconnect with unreasonable people and let them do whatever they wanna do with their life.
    I, too, believe, everyone comes in your life for a reason or purpose.
    Keep faith coz there are still some good people around:)


  9. lately I am also having second thoughts about a friendship which felt like the best one I could ever have considering the circumstances few months back. I am not able to pinpoint the reason … So I am kind of hanging on..

    It is great that you could feel unburdened sans the emotional upheaval..


    1. I think the difference is there was no time for second thoughts or a brewing fall out.. It all just happened so suddenly, for a change, that I felt so relieved instantly. Like I was carrying around a burden without even knowing it. So when it was lifted, I felt good. Not having the emotional upheaval i am so used to facing when this happens, was a refreshing and very good change.


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