In his allegory of the cave, Pluto sketches out a scene in which some prisoners in a cave have grown up to believe that their shadows are the only substantial thing in the world and that there’s nothing beyond their limited geographical sphere. When one of them (the Enlightened One) is forcefully taken outside, it is difficult for him to conceive all the colors and spaces that exist in the world. Once he comes to terms with it and returns to the cave so he may enlighten his fellow prisoners, their reaction brims with disbelief and disdain.
After you spend a lifetime chained in dark spaces, it is nearly impossible to believe that there’s something like a glorious sun and a beautiful universe out there.
The prisoners killed the enlightened one because they assumed he was mocking their reality and couldn’t take his word for it. What would have happened if they had trusted him for a moment? If they had acknowledged that there are things they don’t know, and they too can bask in light one day? Nobody knows for certain, but it definitely urges me to think about the notion of the trust itself.
In 2018, my life turned into a chaotic mess when I had to adjust to a new city and school simultaneously. For almost a year, I felt distanced from everyone and everything I used to enjoy. Using studies as an escape mechanism, I didn’t think much about extracurriculars, friends, and life in general. A-Level wasn’t a destination for me; it was just another facet of the journey that would lead me to university and beyond. Sure, I had friends. The kind of friends you chat with because you see them every day, but all along, you know there would be barely any interaction once the routine ends.
I didn’t care much for meaningful connections with others because mentally, I was stuck deep in my own thoughts, much like the prisoners in Pluto’s cave. It was a small world inside my head, and I couldn’t wait for it to end. That was before I met her and wished it would last forever, wished we had more time together.
A mutual friend introduced me to Arooba, my now-best friend. It began with a brief conversation in which she wanted to learn about one of the classes I was taking. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I distinctly remembered her patiently waiting for me to finish my sentences and engaging with them thoughtfully. In my experience, it is rare to encounter people who really listen when you’re talking. Since we were both part of the public speaking club, we debated together and against each other several times over the next few months. I came to know her as an intelligent, eloquent, and trustworthy person.
A few months later, we had both discovered that we were literature enthusiasts and swifties, and a new rhythm developed as our friendship mushroomed. I found myself looking for her the first thing in the morning and the last thing before I left school (and any free period in between, if I’m being honest). We would sneak out to different areas of school and talk about our dreams, pasts, futures, and everything in between. I’d lost track of time because topics would naturally spring up, and I found myself sharing everything I had bottled up for years. She told me about all the beautiful things she believes in and introduced an array of exciting possibilities and perspectives, and I’m so glad I decided to trust her.
We were surrounded by a lot of people that were regular parts of our discussion all those months, but now when it has been more than a year, everything else faded into the backdrop. I only remember us, laughing over the silliest things, celebrating our little victories, and grieving the losses. I think a significant part of our bond is based on sharing. Whether it is red Cheetos or blueberry slush from the school canteen, the weirdest 3 am thoughts, or a comfortable silence-sharing strengthens our trust like nothing else.
If I find a cute flower picture on Instagram or imagine different stories in my mind, she’s the first person I want to share them with. And when I’m spiraling down dark places mentally, she always knows what to say-from comforting words to thoughtful solutions. For me, being able to trust someone translates into knowing you can count on them and knowing that they mean what they say. As someone who spends a lot of time dreaming (often unrealistic) scenarios, I know I can “build dreams” with her. I know I can send her cat pictures even though she’s not a cat person, and I know I can share the new music I discover.
Like the enlightened one, she makes me realize a lot of things. That you don’t have to walk on eggshells around your friends, you don’t need to mince your words or think thrice before you talk, the importance of having dreams and goals in life, and that you’re going to disagree on things sometimes (unless we’re talking about clones here) but you can still communicate them like a healthy person. Most importantly, our friendship has made me realize that there are many fascinating things and possibilities out there and that life indeed can be beautiful if you have the right people beside you. People who reciprocate your efforts and hold space for you, people who are willing to grow and improve alongside you. I love her, not only because she’s my best friend that I’ll trust with my life, but also because she’s genuinely a good person. And more than anything, I hope I can be a source of comfort and trust for her, the way she has been for me.