I got into this thinking mood – well, when I have never been in a thinking mood – but let’s just say I got into one that made me want to write this down. I met a friend after ages. We had a falling apart and then he returned and I talked to him again and whenever he wishes to meet me, we do. I am not one to call people and ask them to meet me… unless I really feel lonely or I want to celebrate with them an occasion. So he came over and we got to chatting about our lives.

He talked about how my world view has altered and it has, I’ll be the first one to admit it, but I don’t think I have changed except for the fact that I have understood things better. I may still want the same things but I know now they either come with a price or a compromise. I have learnt that people are flawed and it is their flaws which make them who they are. Flaws can be relative too. I may have a flaw which others may think of as a virtue. Now I am not calling myself virtuous, in fact, if there was one thing that I believe is all subjective is virtue.

Now that being said, I had a heart to heart about a lot of things and I realized in our conversation that I have no patience for unilateral thought. I want to associate myself with people who have minds and who are willing to look at the world from another point of view. I have always been proud of the fact that I can do this. The moment someone is talking to me about a particular situation or person, I tend to look at the other perspective. I am the classic Devil’s advocate.

This tends to either irritate or broaden the mind I am conversing with. If the other person cannot seem to gauge what I am trying to convey, I pull back. I don’t malinger with my point of view because I have realized that I cannot have a conversation. It will be a monologue. Once that has been gauged, I am afraid I lose hope. In that moment in time, I withdraw and I make my own judgements (which I am aware of, but I am human, too) and I make a mental note to either avoid the person, or the topic of conversation – if the person cannot be avoided.

Fight or flee, they taught me in college. Well, I tend to do both. But with people I fight with, they need to be doubly aware that I do not fight with all and sundry. Fleeing is way better option with people I know don’t really matter in the larger scheme of things. Flight has helped me many a time, in fact, I envy Superman for this reason more than any other. I fight or rather, lay down my point of view, only when I know it is necessary for the person I am giving it to, understand, because I would like that person to be a part of my life and by that demarcation, have an understanding of me. I would have said an appreciation of me, but that would be pushing the buck.

Over time I have also come to realise – and which this conversation I had tonight with my long-lost friend – is that I used to want to be appreciated. I wanted people to like me. I used to go out of my way to be more than who I was – and with all modesty, I can say that that is quite a lot. People came and people left with alarming population. My home became a thouroughfare for almost a decade.

Through the age of 24 to the age of 34 – give a take maybe a year or two here and there – I met with thousands of people. After my mom went through cancer treatments, and after I lost my daughter, Zoe, I came to the healthy realization that all who come into my life were not meant to stay. They came into my life, played their part and then they left. There were a few, a number that I can say still accounts for a large one to most recluses around the world, who chose to stay in my life because of who I am and what I brought to their lives and minds.

I was just saying how I used to think that the world was my oyster. Through school and early college, I was landlocked. The bell was tolling for me, because I was insecure, self-conscious, horribly shy and crucially aware of my homosexuality. I wore all these things on my sleeve and I was tossed about – literally – even by my own father. But I came into my own, in my final years of college and yet, I couldn’t perceive that the world came to me because I was still accepting it on its own terms.

I believed what it told me. I read books and chose to live how the characters lived. I watched Julia Roberts in movies, and thought that somewhere there will be a millionaire who would climb up a fire escape for me, too. Of course, there was no millionaire, or anyone who made love to me on a piano, but I did have relationships with lovely men. The realization that I didn’t have to find Richard Gere, but become Julia, came much later in life. Even later, came the dawning that Harpreet could be Harpreet and still get someone to climb a fire escape for him – and for that matter, even if no one climbed up the damned stairs, Harpreet could climb down himself and get into that limo.

There are these concentric circles of our lives. The innermost circle has the ones I can turn to when I need love and help. There is a circle beyond that, and another, with people thriving in them, closest friends, closer friends, close friends, friends, acquaintances – all coming and going. People choose to move inward or they can choose to move outward. I don’t barricade this, I have let things remain fluid. It needs to have a life of its own. But I do know the innermost circle is unfailing in its boundary.