Heartbreak comes in pink, too


I don't want to sound like I'm
writing the sequel to Men are
from Mars.... but let's take the
 masculine parallel first. When
 two men move back and away
 from what seemed to be a
convivial friendship, for
reasons best known only
to the two, and about which
they will forever maintain
a state of omerta, what is
the fallout? Is there any
soul-searching, any emotional
 trauma, any drunk-dialling
 of aforementioned former
buddy? Are there tears, a
 trickle or flood thereof?
The simple one-word-fits-all
 answer to these
queries is: No.

Men have friends, the old school types, college mates, colleagues from
work, even the occasional odd buddy, as in offspring's father-in-law,
Slow Foodies Club fellow member, basketball team player whose
name they aren't sure about. They meet with these friends on and
 off and usually, it's more off than on. However, when they do
meet, it's all fun and games, pint after pint of draught beer and
 salacious talk (heaven forbid we call it mossip: male gossip).
After which, they go their own way, nary a look over their
shoulder, and proceed to forget all about these friends till
the next time they meet.

And should a fall-out between two such friends happen, the
men keep it simple. They acknowledge the news peripherally,
 they gloss over it when talking (never relating) about it and
should their wives probe, they profess utter ignorance of
whatever it was that drove two good friends apart. The
beauty of it is, this ignorance is genuine. The credo is that
 what they don't know is good for them.

So. No heartbreak, no anguish. Past masters of the move-on
 shuffle, men just er, move on.

Now, let's take the feminine perspective. As a sex, we take our
friendships seriously, very seriously. We have overlapping
circles of friends, we have concentric circles of close friends,
we have a system of classification that starts up at pale mint
 (lukewarm) and moves up the spectrum to cobalt
(a warm friendship but not a close one) to orange
(very good friends) to claret red for our BFFs. And oh yes, the
 first 'F' in the acronym here is for 'Female'.

We have midnight-call friends, 3 a.m. friends, let's-discuss-diets
 friends, gym friends with whom we do the zoomba but nothing
 much else. We have our small air-kiss clique wherein we polish
 our skills at making moues and pretending a casual affection
 for those we actually loathe/detest/envy. We have a band of
Gossip Girls with whom we share the most amazingly
scandalous tidbits in the fullest knowledge that the moment
 we exit the room, it's our character, habits and sex life the
gang is going to dissect in minute detail. We have book club
 friends with whom we share details of not just plot and
character delineation but some interesting minutiae like
 how this author stole her best friend's husband, that
one slept with his valet, and how frumpy most
short-story writers are.

And then we have our close friends. It is always in the plural.
 Because like the clichĂȘ goes, they are all differently shaped
pearls in the necklet we proudly and happily wear. Some are
 True Liars who boost our morale in the most transparent
but awfully invigorating fashion:
Of course you don't look fat. 
She said that, the &^ %$ ? 
What a loser he is, in any case you were about to dump him.

Others are Earth Mothers, as in they pull you down to
terra firma in the most abrupt manner possible. Half an
 hour with this lot and you know what is what, who is
who and where you stand in the universe. These usually
brusque and verging on the rude mechanicals actually
infuse you with enough adrenaline to take on whatever
 comes your way next.

Then there are the Florence Ns. These women nurse you
through professional and personal disappointments, so
seamlessly you are over it before you know you are over it.

So you drift happily through life. These girls have your back
and knowing that, you can face the boorish boss, loutish
colleague, the bitch down the hall and other assorted nuisances.
Along comes the apocalypse. You fall out with a friend. Not
any friend, mind you, a good friend.

What goes down with the friendship is a shared history, a mental
 record of good times, and a cachet of secrets never to be told.
What follows is a period of anguish very like what you suffer
when you split from a lover. First comes the bafflement. What
exactly is happening, why isn't she taking your calls, responding
 to your emails? Then comes denial. Of course she isn't cutting
you off, she's busy, she's travelling, she's pms-ing.

Next comes acceptance, which brings in its wake despair, followed
 by analysis. Was it something you said, you did? Can it be set right?
Will you have to just live in hope that she won't tell people about
What Happened That Afternoon?

This is where the line between romantic relationships and girl
 friendships blurs. Everything causes you to choke up. Certain
 songs of betrayal, a relationship gone bad or even ditties
celebrating days of wine and roses. A less-than-kind comment,
 a draped combination of teal and ochre, a certain cadence.
You trail pasta indifferently on your plate and actually refuse
 the second helping of creme brulee. You've done your share of
drunk-dialling and met with no response. Now, you have to stop
yourself forwarding funny emails.

Of course, you have other friends, droves of them. But just like
the woman wailing for her demon lover, it's her you want. Back.
Her and no one else. You lie in bed plotting and planning
confrontations, reunions, the murder of the mutual friend
who you are sure has played a major part in the split.

And here's the funny thing. Only your Main Man is puzzled at the
 intensity of this post-traumatic-stress disorder. He stares with total
incomprehension as a spasm crosses your face when Mukesh sings
`abhi tumko meri zaroorat nahin, bahut chahne valey mil jayenge.` 
He knows you have a penchant for melodrama but this is too much.

But your girlfriends all know. "She still hasn't contacted you?" they
ask, a worried crease twixt their eyebrows. "Go tell her all what the
other woman said about her, " hiss the earth mothers. "If she won't
make up, she won't make up, " say the pragmatic ones shaking
 their heads in pragmatic fashion. "Move on. "

And then, one fine day, you wake up. It's not the crack of dawn
 and the sun is streaming in brightly through your Chantilly
 lace curtains. Something is wrong... no, make that something is
 right. That piece of lead that was lodged in your stomach all
these days? Gone. Gaga is on FM and she is warbling, `No, I 
don't want to be friends ...caught in a bad romance.` You have
moved on. And you reach for the phone.


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