I learnt an important lesson in life from the pretty lady smiling in the middle. I think we all can learn.
It is just over two years since I met Shanty Rajendran . We were classmates in #MACE. I had quit my 3 year long IT career for an excuse to write. And the name of that excuse was MTech in #MA_College_of_Engineering .With just 20 students in a class, everyone was sitting just an earshot away from each other. With no tag around my neck and no dress code, I was lavishing out the new found liberation from corporate world. It was only short lived though. The pressure of doing a post-graduation and writing a novel virtually chocked the life out of me during the latter stages. But in those initial days, I was cracking stupid jokes (challi) as any proud back bencher would do. Made lots of friends or I thought so. Shanty would sit and laugh with others to every joke that we guys cracked. There was nothing to between us to be defined as friendship. We were simply classmates. A simple ‘Hai’ ‘Bye’ was all that we had in offer to each other on most of the days. Maybe, it was during the 2nd Semester Network Simulation Lab that we became friends. Shanty had to put up with the immense torture of being put up right in the middle of devil and the sea (myself and Riyaz Aahil).We used to make so much fun of her, poking and pulling her leg in her native Kollam slang. As usual, like with everyone else, tried my best to irritate Shanty by imitating her. But the only response I got was an innocent smile that trully portrayed her love for our jibes.
Once I asked her ” Don’t you feel like killing me for making so much fun of you Shanty?” All she said was ” you are like my cousins… they too make fun of me Kali akuva enne . Still we never chatted for anything other than regular college stuff and that too, once in a blue moon. Forget uploading a pic in #Facebook, we never, ever clicked a single snap. This is probably the first and maybe the last selfie we ever gonna take together.
Well, coming back to the story. With the end of 3rd semester classes in December 2014, we hardly met…we hardly spoke or pinged and we forgot that the other person even existed on the face of Earth. Days flowed to months and months went on become an year. I remember the ritual of wishing her ‘all the best’ during two university exams that followed ‘coz my roll number followed her’s. That’s it. That’s all. Were we friends? Were we family? Nope. Just classmates. I knew she was reading my blogs through the links I broadcasted through whatsapp. I thought it was more of a punishment than a delight to read my blogs. Well, somewhere in the middle, she got engaged. I do not remember dates, ‘coz my memory was short circuited during the period as I was busy with the publishing of my novel.
In November, #Hope_We_Never_Meet_Again got released. I casually sent her the Amazon link to buy the book and what I got in return was a picture of her broken leg, totally tied up and heavily bandaged with plaster. She was bed ridden and was unable to do even basic chores without someone’s support. I wished her a safe recovery and left it at that. I never thought she would buy the book or read it , let alone review it. In the middle of marriage preparations, in the middle of final MTech thesis evaluation and with a bad, broken leg…no way.
After all, what’s there in a silly book. And what am I to her? Friend? Not really. Family? Too far.
So, I left things at that. I was tensed in the beginning since reviews on my novel were very few. Even people who were associated with the book did not publish reviews. I felt lost and gone. And then, one fine day, I got an update in Facebook that someone had tagged me over a post. I checked and it was a beautiful review from Shanty. I was shocked. I rang her up and asked:
“How come you wrote a review without reading the book yar?”
The reply that I got was the best I ever heard: “I was not well enough to order a copy. There is no Amazon delivery here. So, I asked my brother to order your book in Trivandrum. My leg is a miserable mess of pain and there is a lot of commotion in the house as a part of my wedding preparations. But, lying in the bed, I read your book over the weekend. Non-stop. It’s a good one!”.
She not only wrote a Facebook review but gave a beautiful review in Amazon as well. A dedication and commitment much greater than I myself have shown towards my work.
Are we friends? YES
Are we family? YES
Friendship is not about chatting all the time, hanging around, taking selfies, uploading and then tagging those pictures over Facebook. Friendship is not a relationship to be shown-off. The true essence of friendship is to sincerely be there for the people you love and care for.
Family, is not being related through blood. Being family is to be ready to sacrifice and bear pain for one another. Being family is to love and support wherever you are…whatever you are. Being family is the willingness to spend quality time. Thank you #Shanty for teaching me this big lesson in life.Happy Married Life to you and Bimal.