Jam-packed in a car, the five of us were coming down a highway. A stream of freshwater flowed on one side and an ensemble of trees that never seemed to end on the other. It was a day well spent in a small town called Dakpatthar. To us, it was Prateek’s childhood home.
It was important because Prateek was a Horsemen and under the rules of the fellowship of the Horsemen, anything that is important to one Horsemen shall be of utmost and equal importance to all others. It is an unsaid rule like all other rules. That is also a rule. Nothing of importance shall ever be uttered explicitly but be felt naturally.
There was another thing of utmost importance that evening. After a day well spent, the Horsemen had to visit other friends for a feast. It was a feast for my 21st birthday and the Horsemen were late. Ironically so. We gushed through the narrow road as the picturesque landscape turned into the bustling city we’d come to love and adore.
We ebbed away from the slow setting and the stream. The mellow Ben Howard tones that adorned our vehicle ebbed away toward a more energetic Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Before we knew it, our car was blaring with the city and so were we at the top of our lungs singing Can’t Hold Us. In that moment, time slowed for me and I started to go back to our origin story.
I could tell you the story which is like every anti-climactic-ragtag-group-of-misfits origin stories you’ve heard since time immemorial but I won’t because if you’re forgetting, nothing of importance shall ever be uttered explicitly but be felt naturally. So, I’d rather introduce you to the Five Horsemen and any narrative where you see us coming together as friends for life will be the narrative.
He’s the free-spirit of the group. He does things not because they make sense but because he wants to do them. In doing that, he generally rubs that off on all of us. With a love for moving about and in exploring the most obscure corners of the world, he moves about armed with only a backpack. However, he is the spontaneity of the group. At times, too much for his own good. In his constant war with the comfort zone, he will obviously win. It took him some time to internalize that idea but it has started to show on his face and everything that he does. An ounce of the man he is meant to be. To me, he will always be one of those people I can have long conversations on a cold winter day what is philosophy without the stories of the vagabond?
That brings me to yours truly. I didn’t give myself the title. They did, in their perpetual annoyance over my obsession with the bigger and the truly minute things in life. I talk about ideas and I scribble about them. That is my archetype. I don’t know who I am to the group. At least, I’m not as sure as I was for the Vagabond. I am the insight, maybe. When all else fails, I give perspective. However, like The Vagabond before me, I am not fully worthy of the title yet but there is an evident hint of a man who can be wise in the years to come. Until then, I’ll do whatever I do and fight any battle I face.
When it comes to battles, the Warrior is way better than me. He is the cliché of not giving up and doing well with the cards he’s handed. He wasn’t like this though and that’s the beauty of it. When we came across each other, he was very different. In fact, he was the opposite of the man he is today. Like every story, the Warrior is our poster-boy. He is the one who wields the sword not because of the body he has managed to acquire and his constant effort toward his physical prowess but because of the virtues that are instilled in him with or without the strength. He is the kind one. The one who wears his heart on his sleeve and a sword in his hand. That one piece of perfection no artist could ever capture…
…except this one Artist, of course. He manages to capture everything to the innermost detail. Armed with his camera and managing to see what is truly blind to others, he has the potential to direct attention to the unseen. His eye for perfection is as strong as an eagle’s to the point that he can search for perspective faster than an eagle does its prey. Grandiose comparisons aside, he is a living proof of the idea of human progression and of how you can be great at what you love doing if you keep doing it without any real expectations. How does he go about doing whatever he does without looking back or down though? It’s a mystery.
So is he. Every party needs the mysterious one and he is ours. We never know what is up with him and he is great at whatever he does if we ever catch a whiff of whatever he does. No one really knows what goes on within him. If you pay enough attention though, you’ll see his playful side. However, he is great at being the leader and the one who states the obvious steps we need to take. In that sense, he might even be the omnipresent leader, the silent one or any such metaphor on similar grounds. He is the one I look to when I need the truth because that is what you’d expect from him always. Plain truth and nothing else.
But… What About Their Names?
That is the beauty of being one of the Horsemen. Each one of us has a path and focus but we learn from each other. Yuvraj can be as much of an artist as Prateek because Prateek will always be ready and open. Chiranjeev can start penning his own stories down in his own style and I won’t feel a bit of envy because I’d be rather happy about it. If Prateek chooses to, he can be as playfully mysterious as Atal and Atal won’t feel like his mantle was taken away.
Just like that, the five of us switch roles. We offer insight, perspective, help and laughter to each other and get a lot of everything in return. We constantly inspire each other in an environment that is oddly healthy and open but slightly and necessarily competitive. We push each other and we pick each other up. In the last five years or so, we’ve been through cycles of change and we’ve seen each other evolve, constantly. We’ve conquered enough things together to know that we may not always walk the same path but when push comes to shove, the party does come together. I can count on The Horsemen. That isn’t something I say very lightly and I know they feel the same.
Maybe one day, people will talk about the five friends who started from the small town of Dehradun with big dreams in their eyes. Even if they don’t, I know we’ll be sitting somewhere still inspiring each other, exchanging banter and laughing along as life looks us in the eye and we face it like that perfectly rounded-up party of anti-climactic-ragtag-group-of-misfits.