“Where are you, my friend?” -Letters to my friend (1)

I don’t remember if I have ever told you this…

When I was in my early twenties, I was living in a house with some people whom I know from the university. Right across this house, there was a boy who was spending his time behind the bars of the balcony. Sometimes I woke up to his voice. Most of the time he was on the balcony, calling out to an unknown -never responding- friend; asking “Where are you, my friend?” till he was tired or bored of shouting. Although he was repeating this question over and over again, his tone never changed, always waiting a few seconds for a response: “Where are you, my friend?”.

I have never responded to his call.  While his voice was echoing in the silence of our street;  I was already too grown up to realize that it was a call for play, I guess. But sometimes, I accompanied him in different games. Especially, if he was out with his plastic toy gun, he used to open fire on the adults he came across. Those times, I used to join the game,  got shot, knocked down on the floor, and crawl around trying to take shelter. Of course, this game would end when there was no one left to shoot, then he would remember his long-awaited friend, and the refrain would start all over again. “Where are you, my friend?”

We were living in buildings facing one another, in the middle of a steep street that goes down to the seaside. I have never seen my friend playing out in the street. Moreover, I have never seen anyone who accompanied him on the balcony. I have to say that I have never seen any spark of life at his home except for the curtain moving slightly from time to time when he was out, on the balcony. He was very much isolated behind the bars of the balcony. He was convicted of childhood. His imprisonment was really heartbreaking to see but I used to think that there was nothing I can do for him, and kept on watching him silently from behind the curtains.

I guess he was reacting to my inaction by opening fire on my balcony. I thought, his reaction was right; so I  got shot over and over again and groaned with pain. I think this game emerged with a feeling of revenge on the adults who sentenced him or who did not help him to be free. So, it felt like, the more I groaned in pain, the more fun he had, and even more relieved. Still, I have to say that this revenge is very much naïve in his situation. In the end, I was pretending to be shot, but he was literally isolated.

It is very painful when we are not seen or feel invisible, you already know this. But what is worse, is being a child, because if you are a child “not being seen” is an ongoing experience that you start normalizing. But unfortunately, this continuity or normalization does not make it less painful. We just try to find out ways to cope with the agony.

So, my friend made up this game to get rid of his agony which was too painful for him to handle. All in all, his loneliness could not last forever, there should be someone like him, someone who also has a longing for a friend, who would hear him and accept him as he is, who would accompany him… There should be -at least one person-  out there, in this huge world, among all these crowds of people. That’s why he carried on playing, pretending that there is someone out there, waiting to hear from him.

“Where are you, my friend?”

Pretending makes it easier to endure. If you think that your “never-responding friend” is in some difficult situation, or couldn’t find you yet, or looking for you with longing and patience; then you would stop feeling pity for yourself and be concerned about your friend; while wishing him best luck to get rid of his difficult situation. Or you would think that he is hiding somewhere around the corner or chilling on a park bench then you feel and share his joy. Therefore, you walk up to any corner with excitement or keep your eyes on the curtains to catch the slightest movement and carry on playing.

And at this point, the magic of playing enters the scene. When you really believe in whatever you were pretending,  it becomes real. This is exactly what happened in our story. 

After all those days and weeks and months, without having any response to his never-ending call, asking “where are you my friend”, a little girl responded:

“Here I am, my friend”

I could not see where the girl was, but I can say that the voice was coming from the right side, probably from one of the buildings next to mine.

There was no one on the balconies and she was probably shouting out behind an open window. She sounded about the same age as my friend, both were 5 or 6.

The game was no longer the same, they were taking turns.

“Where are you, my friend?”

“Here I am, my friend”

“Where are you, my friend?”

“Here I am, my friend”

They kept on calling out to one another with a curious and joyful tone for days and weeks. I thought it sounded like a chirping, singing, or a serenade. It made me so happy; as if  I was the one who was waiting for a friend and finally found her.

I can not tell the rest of the story, because I had problems with my home mates and moved. I never went to that neighborhood again. I don’t know how long they kept on calling out to one another. Did they ever meet in the park? Did they make a picnic? Did they talk about how they had waited for one another? I have no idea. But I think these are trivial. The end of their story is not that important, because, to me, the important thing was their encounter.

Do you say,  “So what?  Why did she tell me all these?” 🙂

I know not, I just wanted to tell you; because even today after many years, their voices are still singing in my ears and I listen like my favorite song on repeat. Actually, I know what it is like to wait for a friend, who would hear me and understand me (and I know how difficult it is.)

And I guess, I was struck by the miracle of the play, which went on for months without a response, and the magic of carrying on without having any reaction…

Well, just like the sun, which does not need any spectator to rise…

Or like a blossom, which does not need anyone to bloom. Something like that.

And also, it feels good when I tell you anything that comes to my mind, my dear. 

I say to myself that, in this huge world, among all these crowds of people, there is someone who hears me and understands me, at least one person.

Fortunately.

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