Before I begin, forgive me if this post appears as nothing more than an emotional meltdown, but I simply felt the need to try and expel something of what I feel right now in actual words, that is, if I’m to get any sleep tonight, and if I want to save myself from simply dissolving in to a never ending pool of tears!
I’ve said it many times, but for good measure I’ll say it again: the best days of my life happened when I worked for the BBC! I was young, ambitious, driven, and passionate about media: my creator had blessed me with a career I never thought I’d ever have in my wildest of dreams: and there I was, working on a radio pilot project, making and shaping radio programming, meeting and rubbing shoulders with those at the cutting edge in programme making, people who, up to that point, I’d only admired from a distance or fantasised about, and here I was, in the thick of it, living my dreams and making new dreams happen!
The director general of the Beeb at that time had made that very catchphrase “make it happen”, his very own, and that’s exactly what I was doing, in every second of the day! Each moment held new opportunities for me, there was baraqa in all that I did, even though to a certain degree I took those moments of rapture for granted. Each apparent co-incidence held new promise and purpose for me, and that’s why, when I heard an Asian presenter on a little known Sky Satellite station presenting his drivetime show, (and was blown away by his phenomenal wit and skill) I knew I’d stumbled across this for a reason. What I didn’t know though, was that when I would subsequently summon enough courage to call the said presenter and share my admiration with him, that it would change both of our lives forever!
For the purposes of protecting his anonymity, we shall call him Sangeev (his own pen name). Sangeev and I were to hit it off instantly, and to become soul mates in a matter of moments! Caught up together in a connection so beautiful and so intense, neither of us were to understand it. Many people experience momentary infatuation, desire or other related feelings close to that, but this was something different. There was a sense that we had known each other forever, and more than that: there was a force that held us together: a drive and a passion that was greater than both of us, and greater than what we believed we felt for each other, and that was radio! Unless you work in radio, or are something of an anorak in this area, you will find the passion that governs the lives of radio producers very complex to understand. You may meet some of the most influential writers, TV staff and film producers of the world, but you will for certain struggle to see the spark in them that just emanates from a dedicated radio presenter. Radio has the power to reach out to people regardless of their age, race, state, class, religion and so on. It has the power to stretch the deepest darkest recesses of the idle mind, turning it in to something creative and active once again. Radio has the power to unify people, through audio pictures painted eloquently and with intricate delivery painted on the canvass of the airwaves, in a way that neither television, nor the written word can ever hope to convey. Both Sangeev and myself shared this passion in more than standard measures of enthusiasm: we could debate the inequality that governed the licence process, the decline of quality Asian radio and the hilarious idiosyncrasies displayed in our so-called seniors at the BBC! We became best friends, yet we were so much more than that: perhaps we were soul mates, perhaps we were just overactive enthusiasts lost in a bazaar mutual admiration ritual: I don’t know: and we didn’t know then either! At the time when we first met, there were many truths we omitted to share with each other, Sangeev “forgot” to tell me he was married, and I subconsciously created an identity for myself: who was beautiful, from a background other than my own, and certainly not visually impaired!! The later revelations of these truths sent our unique relationship in to disarray, but not ending it: rather it revealed just how intimately our lives were connected! We discovered that what we felt for one another was more than just friendship, was more than the facade we had tried to create around it in order to save face. The challenge however, was how to make that work in reality: we knew we could not be together: Sangeev had a wife, a young child and a strong moral code and a stronger Asian family! My own ethics did not allow me to ask him to leave his wife or to divide his family! What we soon realised was that we had to find a level at which we could retain the good that was in our connection, without upsetting his family, or unbalancing my own life’s journey. As you might expect, this became almost impossible! We spent nights on end debating, crying, breaking up and making up, but through it all, the sun seemed to shine, the days seemed full of joy and laughter, and the nights were long, decorated with love, longing and introspection (of the helpful kind this time), a powerful angry debate which left us both disagreeing passionately and making up aggressively!
Its true to say we were desperately in love, but desperately holding on to something so fragile, so great, yet so infinitesimally small, that containing it was like trying to hold the sky in your arms: trying to gather the sands of the world in the palms of your hand! Our moments of pleasure were somehow beyond the earth: it was as though we were living a Hindi film: complete with our own songs, our own laughter and tears and sayings: and those moments when it failed were like falling from the highest star in to the depths of the deepest hell!
But, as all juggling acts do, ours too fell apart! We went from being deeply in love, to regularly in love, then to indifference, and later to resentment! The resentment its self usually came from stupid things, but as every thing about us was so finite, so intense, that an argument about generic political issues or religious difference would usually result in us going our own separate ways! After all, when I met Sangeev, I was young, foolish and certain that I knew it all: and was stubborn enough to eternally hold my ground, even when I knew deep down I was wrong. Some of our arguments saw us out of communication for a morning, then a day, then a few days, then weeks and later months! I think in the end the longest we stayed without talking was 2 years! Usually I’d be the one to finally walk away, despite Sangeev indicating that he’d had enough: but just as I was the one to call time, I was also the one to call a truce: I was the one who’d call and make amends and the one who would try to put the past behind us and try again.
Until last Thursday, we’d not been speaking for around 18 months, after another non-descript row, the origins of which I still can’t recall precisely. In all this time, I’d never forgotten about Sangeev: how could I! He was my best friend and more! We’d shared what felt like a lifetime together, and more than that, we’d shared what I still believe were the best moments of my life, moments that will never come my way again! I often recount to friends those silly yet sweet moments we spent together, and they all comment on how sad it is that we parted ways, though they all seem to think it was for the best: I don’t know if its my arrogance, or just the way I tell it! but they always conclude that Sangeev was a complete waste of space: a no one that I was better off without! Though deep down I know differently!
As I said above, until last Thursday, we hadn’t been talking: it sounds thick, but it was ‘the family, on Channel 4 that finally broke the proverbial camel’s back! The hilariously funny eccentric Asian family from Southall featured in the documentary reminded me of Sangeev, his stories of Asian life, and all the fun and laughter that we represented: and before I gave myself time to think, I sent him a sms expressing the same! At first, he did not recognise my number, which in reality gave me time to pool out, but my heart was moving too fast for me, and I replied before I knew what I was doing, sharing my identity with him. Subsequent news filled messages were exchanged, filling in the gaps that the last 18 months had brought about! Sangeev ended by promising to call me this evening, and he did! His voice brought tears to my eyes (which I of course held back from him!), but there was joy too: all week I’ve fretted over how this conversation would take place: in the past, when we’ve made up, there has always been bitterness on one or both sides, and a knowledge that whatever we say or do now, it all only serves as a patch-up job till the next great bust-up! But there were no such feelings this time! There was a formality, combined with friendship, and above all, a sense of resilience that was new to us! The passion seemed as though it had gone, and despite my logical self telling me that’s good, I find it sad, (hence the tears). One thing we did talk about was how much we both seemed to hold on to from those days: for the first time, I told him that I believed what had ultimately broken us apart was our mutual earnestness in trying to hold on to what had gone before: a time, space and state of being which cannot be relived or recaptured, no matter how much we crave it to be so! The present is where we are, it might not be as we wished, but such is the reality and the irony of life. I heard my voice speaking, telling him that we must be content, give thanks for the fact that we ever had the chance to live those moments: we experienced friendship, and love too, (or something higher than love its self), emotions that very few in this fleeting world ever do! But deep down, I felt torn, lost in a space between what I know I should do to make our relationship work this time, and between what my lower self wishes would happen. Part of me cries, yearns for the past, another chance to love, live and be happy like I did back then, while part of me fears for the repercussions of sending that text message last week. Part of me analyses over and over what we said and didn’t say, while another part of me smiles hopefully, preparing to get out the nineties Hindi songs and smile just one more time: just for a moment, if only to depart the sadness that the last year has brought with it.
I really don’t know if Sangeev and I will ever find our place in this world (if we even have one!). Some relationships are to be cherished, others are to be thrown out with the trash: and in general terms I’m not very good at working out the difference! But as I was writing this post, ‘kabhi alvida na kehna was playing on the radio: I rather think that sums us up perfectly: too people who are not, and cannot be together, but despite the barriers of love, and life and family and circumstance, just can’t bring themselves to say the final ‘alvida!