Priyanka lives in Kolkata and is an MBA student Image: Instagram/ Priyanka Dasgupta
I was a super talkative kid and always on the lookout for company. I was just five or six years old when I started making up imaginary friends who would entertain me when I would be on my own at home. While my friends went back to their moms after school, I was welcomed by an empty house as my parents were both out for work most of the times. I didn't have anyone to confide in or share my daydreams with.
There were times when my elder sister would be home, but that didn't take away my loneliness. She was happy in her space — watching television and reading books. I had no one to be with. It was then I befriended Bondhu and Riti — my imaginary friends who made my life better and less lonely.
Umm, what did they look like? TBH, I didn't really picturise them with any particular physical characteristics. I faintly remember, Bondhu was a boy and Riti was a girl. We had a specific corner to ourselves. It was the space under the teakwood dressing table in my room. Immediately after coming back from school, I used to discard my uniform and make myself comfortable under the dressing table. I used to wait for Bondhu and Riti, who generally entered the house through the windows. Yeah, probably they entered like Casper the Friendly Ghost (laughs). The three of us talked about everything and anything under the sun. At times, the two were like my commandos on a mission.
My father used to make me watch patriotic movies. Moved by such films, I used to think that the world would soon come to an end and it was my responsibility to save it. I used to chalk out a mission for Bondhu and Riti. This is how I would plan it out. In case of an emergency, Bondhu and Riti would be ready with their tanks and guns and save the world from destruction.
Come to think of it, I needed someone to share my thoughts with. My mother was generally back by 5 in the evening. And my school ended around noon. So, that stretch of 'alone' time seemed really difficult for me. But thankfully, Bondhu and Riti came to my rescue. I feel both of them were a representation of my alter ego. Or probably they were the reflection of personality traits/qualities I wished I had. They made me feel complete.
I remember sharing Bondhu-Riti anecdotes with my sister. But she was way too mature to pay heed to them. It was my sister who put an end to the makeshift world of mine. I must have been 10 when she made me come to terms with reality. She just shooed them away from my life. "Get real, there's no Bondhu or Riti" — that's how she dismissed my friends, my imaginary world. A world that wasn't real but was an escape from reality. An escape that helped me create some other sort of tolerable, comfortable reality. It did give me some perspective.
Now at 24, I still believe moving out of the real and into the realms of one's imagination can help one go through life's many miseries. And I miss Bondhu and Riti a lot.
(As told to Sreyashi Mazumdar)