My friend

Swati flipped open her laptop to check her mail. One caught her eye, tears flowed down as she read through it again and again. However it was too late.

Swati was flying out of the country with a new assignment to the US of A, her home for the next three years.

Leaving India was not an impulsive decision, it had been her dream to live in USA ever since she started watching ‘Friends’ on Star World. She loved the easy camaraderie among the people, she believed that it was only possible there.

Swati grew up in a big housing society. She like many others in the complex went to a nearby school, so Swati had lots of school mates living there. However she only loved and cherished one friend ‘ Rupa’.Rupa was Swati’s best friend and classmate. They played together, went to school together and practically were inseparable. As days flew by they grew up together and watched the same soaps on TV and dreamed the same dream.

So, Swati and Rupa, two very intelligent girls dreamed of living in the USA.

After finishing their school, Swati and Rupa decided to pursue separate streams of education. Swati enrolled for a science graduate program in a reputed city college, while Rupa joined an engineering college. Their friendship was however intact as they still lived in the same place.

Rupa joined a big MNC after her graduation and her dream of living in the USA seemed like within grasp, Swati was still studying, she was doing her post graduation in biotech and was looking for a scholarship from any of the prestigious universities in the US.

Soon the time arrived when Roopa’s parents started looking for a groom for their daughter. Roopa had a list of attributes , she wanted in her husband, among them one big thing was that he should be willing to settle in USA.

Match fixed, Roopa finally got married one day. She left the country soon after to live in San Francisco, USA. Both she and her husband had found suitable jobs there.

Roopa’s marriage left Swati lonely, she cried and cried her heart as she saw her childhood friend leave her side forever and move out of sight completely. However they held on to their pact and Swati promised Rupa that soon she would join her in USA.

Years flew by as the two friends kept touch through mail, video chat and phone calls. Distance could not create gap in their hearts. Swati finished her education and got her scholarship too, but as luck would have it, her mother fell ill and she gave up that opportunity to be by her side. She started teaching in a college and studied on to get her doctoral degree. Marriage was not her forte she claimed and persuasion from her parents did not help.

Rupa was very happy with her new life, after few years she got pregnant and looked forward to motherhood. Swati was instantly happy for her, they chatted everyday. However complications developed and Rupa had to be hospitalized. What followed was traumatic, Rupa died on the operating table due to delay by the doctors in responding to her condition and the baby inside her was dead too!

Swati broke down and was inconsolable, she could not imagine her world where her bosom friend no longer lived. The issue drew a lot of media attention and was condemned by the Indian press. This did not help matters as Swati’s life spun out of control, her mother’s condition worsened and she was unable to control her emotions.

Then came a mail in her computer, Rupa’s mail. Rupa had written that in advance, reminding Swati of their dream, urging Swati to move ahead with her goals. Rupa had sensed it in spirit that her condition was critical and in the lurch was this one friend of hers who would be alone without her mental strength.

Swati slowly got herself back together, got back to her life. Her mother’s health however took a toll and she quietly passed away one day. A year after, her father passed away too. Swati finished her doctoral degree with fine accolades and got a job to teach in a foreign university, USA finally!

So now there she was on a plane with a one way ticket to California. Last minute she opened her laptop to check the details of her university and sitting in the mailbox was this one mail from Rupa. The subject line said “Welcome to USA”….The mail was a congratulatory one and was of course dotted with all the activities that Rupa had planned to do with Swati on her arrival.

It was too late! But now at least Swati knew that Rupa had never left her side, she lived with her in spirit and every moment. With moist eyes Swati read the mail over and over again, tears spilling over, she could only smile through them.

Crazy Rupa, meticulous Rupa, loving Rupa…..Swati missed her! She was her one and only true friend in life and in death.

“What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”
Aristotle

 

 

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