March 8, 2001

happy birthday, viji varghese…

“and wherever you are,
and whatever you do,
may the best things that are,
all be coming to you”

remember our tenth-class farewell party viji…?
but when i wrote this on your autograph book, i never imagined i would really never see you again.

we were together since class eighth, when you opted for french and came into the ‘a’ division, and we became friends. we always shared the same bench, spent recess sharing each other’s dabbas (in fact, i remember it was mostly my dabba, and you often bought samosas from the school canteen…you loved the food that my mom used to send and i loved seeing you enjoy having it). i did not have many friends then, and i still haven’t been able to figure out why akshara and anupama always objected to my being with you. i did not care, perhaps that’s why i never let you know.

school was so much fun. remember how i used to complain about my big nose, and you about how you disliked your long fingers? but i always said that they were long so you learn to play the piano someday. you loved to talk, about your sisters shiji and reji, your uncle in dubai who you hated so much, and your huge palatial home at ulhasnagar, where you went every weekend…”there are SO many rooms radhu, i’ll at least need an hour to take you around all of them,” those were your words viji, and how i loved to listen to you. i promised you i’d come, and i haven’t forgotten.

after our ssc exams, which were held in different schools, i tried to get in touch with you, so many times…thirteen letters, and about seven or eight greeting cards…i continued to send them to your palace in ulhasnagar. a card for every and no occassion, and letters, because i loved to write to you, hoping you’d reply some day. you never did.

it was only after almost two years, when i coaxed my father into taking me to your home all the way, that i realised why you did not reply. we looked all over ulhasnagar, asked at least 20 people about the palatial bunglow that was the only one of its kind.

we finally went to enquire at the post office itself. and they said there was no such place. that huge bunglow was all your dream viji!! you never received my letters. because you never lived there.

i fell sick after we came back that day. i still feel empty when i think of you, and the friendship we shared. did your “bad” uncle take you to dubai? are you married now? are you working somewhere? are you safe viji?

no i’m not angry with you for the lies you told me. because they were where you wanted to be. i want you to know that i still haven’t forgotten you. i look forward to seeing you some day, i have so much to tell you, i’m sure you have too.

and hey i also wanted to wish you a happy birthday, and wherever you are, and whatever you do, may the best things that are, all be coming to you.

March 23, 2009

the big picture

i never forgot this journal, like i would never forget an old friend.

priorities changed, that’s all. the fibromyalgia is worse, stubborn as ever. my toddler keeps me busy all day – except for the two hours that i force him to sleep every afternoon. it is the only time i have to fill blank pages with words. it is painfully slow, considering the limitations. but i have got up to 17,000 words so far. another 60-63,000 and i might have the manuscript for a novel. my first. in the meantime i hope, that i can finish the thesis for my phd as well. i move on from one word to the next, from one day to the next, grateful for every thought and every moment. and of course, thankful for the miracles, and life’s many surprises. one of them happened last week.

she found me.

after 18 long years of silently waiting, not knowing where she had disappeared, last wednesday, my inbox contained an email with one half-line that said: viji here, you remember. reply if you remember.

it was 6am when i read that line. athri – who is now being potty-trained – was dancing without unlocking his knees, amma kakkooooos…remove nappy pleeeeaaaase…waiting for me to put him on his potty-toilet-seat. the milk was on the gas ready to spill over. praveen was in germany all week. i acted fast, not-feeling, numb. but wherever i moved, the line followed. viji here, you remember. i had thought it was just me, not able to forget her, narrating to people… i had this best friend in school you know. we used to sit on the same bench, for almost three years. after the tenth standard, she just disappeared. i don’t know what must have happened…i wrote her many letters. something must have gone wrong. i just hope she is safe… and then out of the blue, to hear a voice that is telling me: she knew! she knew! all these years, she also didn’t forget.

despite the five-and-half-hour time difference, we exchanged about 16 emails that day. we laughed and we cried. we spoke on the phone and realised we didn’t really remember each other’s voice at all. we laughed again. five days later now, i feel humbled. strangely at peace. from my big window, i see the clouds floating gently, without a sound, making way for the sun. and i know why.

we are but a tiny speck in the universe. our lives, tiny jigsaw puzzles. like the clouds in the sky, the moments in our life are the pieces of that puzzle, suspended in space and time. and sooner or later, like the words on this journal, like good old friends and soulmates, the pieces will all come together again. they just have to…

it is all part of the bigger picture.