She was regular companion of my daily walk. A neighbor and a friend. We walked and talked and one hour just flew by. She moved here with her husband few years back and we became fast friends. We had very different backgrounds, very different life trajectories. She was a housewife, she married young and already became a mother in her early twenties, while I was always focused on my career, in my early twenties I never even thought of marriage. She was deeply religious and I am an atheist. She strongly believed in destiny and actually our friendship started because of that. She had noticed me, observed me and sensed that we are meant to be good friends! One day she approached me, introduced herself and told me she would like to join me for walk, if it is okay. I remember her telling me in a matter-of-fact way “I stay at home, anytime is good for me, whenever you want to walk, I can join.” This is how we got started. After a while, whenever either of us was walking alone, “what happened to your friend?” would be a common question we would face.
Last week she went to visit her hometown along with her husband to celebrate Diwali, which is a very big festival here. Before leaving she told me it is going to be a longish break and there will be lot of eating and no walking and she will surely put on few extra pounds. I remember teasing her “Don’t worry. To make you feel better, as soon as you are back, I promise to tell you that you look thinner, no matter what”. This week I got the shocking news that her husband got killed in a road accident in their hometown. It felt unreal, it made no sense, I could not process what I was hearing. I felt so restless I could not stay at home. I went out and started walking down the street. I don’t know why, but whenever I am in shock, I always start noticing small details around me. May be it is my mind’s way of keeping itself occupied, not having to deal with the momentous thing that just happened? I am not sure but I have seen this happening to me many times before. I remember vividly all small details about my surroundings when sitting inside a Doctor’s chamber, I heard for the first time that my very dear uncle who was just 58, has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I remember how the room was furnished, how the doctor’s desk was arranged, how that desk-top felt against the skin of my hand, how the chair felt against my back, how the temperature inside that room was slightly chilly, what noises were coming from the hospital corridor and from the street….everything. For me these memories do not go away and every time I find myself in a similar place, I think of that day.
This time it happened again. It was evening, the same time I used to walk with my friend. There were lot of people on the street. Some walking slowly, in a relaxed pace. Some walking fast in a hurried way. Some are coming back from work, a tired gait. Some are going out, all decked up. Two teenaged girls passed me by, busy in their excited chatters. One lady was walking her dog, a fierce looking german shepherd, who almost ran off with the leash and the lady struggled to gain control. These people had no clue how the world of my friend has fallen apart. Her husband was her whole world. Her son was already grown-up and lived in a different city. Her daily life revolved around her husband. I could not imagine what she was going through. I felt not ready to call her, to talk to her. I myself needed to be steady first. Also, I heard she was not taking calls from anyone. I simply could not imagine what she was going through. I knew that she had many friends and family in her hometown….she told me about them. I knew that these people were taking good care of her. She was not alone. But I missed her terribly and I felt so helpless. When we walked together, we used to talk about many small things…..I would tell her about my day at work, she would tell me about something that happened in her Yoga class. And now something so big has happened to her and we are not even talking about it. Every time I think of her smiling face, her positive, sincere nature, it breaks my heart to think how much pain she is in now. I know she will eventually be okay. She has a deeply spiritual nature and she will find her strength from it.
Will I ever see her again? I don’t know. She has no reason to live in this city anymore. They moved here for her husband’s job. She may not even come here again. May be her son, or somebody else will come here to vacate the rented apartment they were staying in, and that’s it. I know for sure I will never walk with her again. We will still keep in touch with each other, but the day-to-day exchanges will not be there anymore.
Many people are posting condolence messages in social media but I could not do that. I was getting distracted in a sea of RIPs and did not know what to write. Finally I managed to write to her after two days and told her I know she is strong enough to face this. She wrote back that she will call me, and there are many things she wanted to say to me and wanted to cry with me. I will wait for that call.