When I was about 5 years old, I used to play with the kids from the houses opposite my own. ( Not so much play as sit around with them and pretend I had friends!)
It's 13 years later and lots of people have shifted and moved away and I don't know most of my neighbors anymore. However, two of the kids I used to play with still live in my neighborhood.
One used to be a pathological liar who got me into a lot of trouble and made me lose every game I ever played with him because he used to cheat till he won. Now he's doing some fancy course in some fancy college and we happily greet each other whenever we run into each other every six months.
I had a more complicated relationship with the other one. I think I genuinely believed that she was my friend at some point of time because I remember spending a lot of time in her house. She didn't believe in physical sports all that much so we played the "Teacher" game and "Doctor" game with a lot of imaginary students and patients. She got beaten up by her mother a lot, so she was constantly making evil plans on how to get her mother in trouble with her father. I don't remember if I ever had fun with her, but I remember spending a lot of time talking to her about many inconsequential things.
We used to fight a lot. And when I say fight, I mean it quite literally. I remember this one time when we got into a heated argument which led to us trying to pull each other's hairs out. And when someone finally broke us apart and we got away from each other, we started pelting each other with stones. One of the stones she threw missed me and broke a window in my house. I think it's safe to say that my parents were not too happy with the proceedings of that day.
And still, we were "friends". We'd easily forget incidents which caused destruction to public and personal property and would continue to play our banal games because it gave us something to do in the evenings. She was at all my birthday parties (the last I had was when I turned 10) and we spent most holidays like Diwali and Christmas playing at each other's house.
As we grew older, We stopped playing games that involved imaginary people and hence, I saw very little of her. We'd probably visit each other's families over Christmas and Diwali because our mothers would force us to. I'd ask her what she was doing every Diwali when I'd see her, even though I didn't care and knew I would forget within a few days. I think she did the same when she asked me about my life too.
We were never friends and finally, we had stopped pretending otherwise.
Today, her father died.
The news doesn't really bother me much.
It doesn't disturb my day or anything in my life.
But I can hear the sound of the conch that's been reverberating through my house the whole day.