There are friends. And then there are friends. Some who are fun to be with, so you always like to call them over for a drink and have a good laugh. There are the long distance ones – friends with whom you can take off where you left the last time you spoke. Then there are friends who are selfless and genuinely loving. Who do things that touch your soul, without really expecting anything in return.
This here is my tribute to a few of these wonderful people. Some who are, sadly, no longer with us in this world. And some with whom we have lost touch, yet we remember them everyday and wish them well wherever they are.
Sujatha Rao. A terrific human being. A great cook. Cheerful, caring, loving. They don’t make them like her any more. We met during a holiday to Masai Mara, Kenya. Sujatha’s warmth and big smile drew me to her. We spent 3 exciting days with Sujatha and her husband Kiran. They were such a great couple, full of life, love and laughter. Kiran had a witty repartee with everything we said and there really was not a dull moment with them around.
After the holiday we kept in touch. I still remember the happy dinner invitations to their house. In fact, I can still smell and taste the most amazing Bisi Bele Bhath made by Sujatha. Also, once I travelled alone, and had a wonderful overnight stay at their home. They made me feel loved, wanted and so very safe. It was like going home to mom.
We lost touch thereafter. A baby came along and life got into a regular routine. On 1st May this year, we got a call from Kiran saying Sujatha is critically ill and may not live very long. She passed away peacefully in her sleep a few days later.
I hope you are happy wherever you are Sujatha. I know we did not keep in touch. But I can never forget your smile and the warmth you exuded. You are one of the few genuinely nice human beings I have met. I will miss you.
Giri. When I think of you Giri, I remember your happy chuckle. The smile that lit up your face. Your roly poly walk. Your fascination for watches and fancy gizmos. Your love for simple food. Always rasam with raw banana curry – diced into small cubes and roasted to crispy perfection. Or your second favourite – ladies finger mildly spiced and roasted to perfection. I love the time you spent with us in Muscat. You helped me pack and shift my home. And pampered me with great food and attention. Those were happy days for you too when your health and your family were with you. Life was not kind to you thereafter. Your failing health, your bad luck with jobs and your agonizing personal life may have taken away that happy chuckle. I don’t know. And in a way I’m glad I did not see you so ill and unhappy. In my mind now you’re always happy, chuckling and smiling. I did not know how ill you were and it came as a shock when I got a call one morning saying you are no more. What really broke my heart was the sight of your mother smiling bravely and telling us that she was glad you will not suffer any more. Perhaps she is right. Life here was not kind to you. I like to believe that you are happy wherever you are. Surrounded with people who love you with the same selfless intensity as you are capable of.
Izzy. I remember those days when you were young and penniless. When you came to live with us because you could not afford to pay your room rent, I was suspicious of you. Turns out I was so wrong about you. What an amazing human being you are! Extremely intelligent, caring and capable. You surprised us by marrying a French girl and then further surprised us when your marriage survived many years despite all odds. It was amazing to see you handle your two boys. You really are such a great father to them. I would be such a bitch if I forget how you took care of Ravi when he was convalescing in Gurgaon after an ankle fracture. You kept him on a diet of spicy gongura pickle, rice and beer. It did wonders to his spirit (yes, pun intended). He had such an amazing time with you and I’m eternally grateful to you for taking such great care of him when I could not be there. Now, sadly, we’re not in touch. I know your fragile marriage has finally broken down. I know that you are somewhere in Paris, hoping to release your first book. If I know you well, you will beat the odds, surprise everyone and rise up beyond expectations. I hope you are out there living your dream and I hope one day soon we will meet you again…
This one’s for you dear friends. Your love and friendship holds a special place in my heart. This one is a prayer that you are happy, living your dreams and spreading joy, wherever you are.