I have always believed that people’s lives converge for a reason. Sometimes it’s an obvious one, however many times the ‘AHA’ moment comes years later. Then it suddenly dawns upon you “So that is the reason why the Universe made our paths cross!”
I have known Sheetal for nearly 20 years of which majority of the time, rather unfortunately, we were not in touch. I moved out of India within the first few years of knowing her and during my trips back over the years, we met on some occasions, but not all.
And then the link snapped. Sheetal was my ‘friend my marriage’ i.e. she was my husband’s childhood friend. When my marriage came to an end, I felt it would be hypocritical to keep my friends by marriage. I felt it was unfair to put them on a spot or make them feel compelled to pick a side. So I withdrew. And I would've stayed that way had it not been for another lovely person, Namrata, who took it upon herself to reconnect. When she was in Singapore a few months ago, she called me. So simple. It’s almost inexcusable that none of us did it sooner.
We met. We spoke. We shared our life stories. It was like no time had passed. Let alone over five years. It was so amazing! Namrata told me that Sheetal and the other friends still thought of me but were afraid that I wanted nothing to do with them. I was shocked! I explained how I thought that they would not have wanted to stay in touch with me. Oh the time lost in this fruitless misconception!
Namrata reintroduced me to Sheetal and over the last few months we were in touch very regularly. Thanks to Facebook and WhatsApp we were aware of the various moments in each other’s lives. I saw her kid’s photos. She commented on my son’s pictures. I observed the things that annoyed her. She noticed when I was disappointed. We discovered things we had in common that we had not known before. Like our love for writing and books. Our challenges as single mums bought us closer. Our desire to breakthrough and pen new chapters of our life stories was apparent. Except Sheetal will not have a chance to complete her story. It has been halted midway leaving us all bereft and utterly devastated.
We had decided to meet when I would be in Bombay in December and were debating whether it should be over coffee, lunch or perhaps a girl’s night out. I remember saying “I really don’t care. I just can’t wait to see you all!” And now I won’t. The truth knocked me in the stomach so violently that I physically felt sick.
My last contact with Sheetal was earlier this week when she messaged me on my birthday. I received over a hundred wishes that day. However I was obsessing about that one who forgot. In that state of mind, I replied to Sheetal’s message with a banal thank you. I feel so ashamed and distraught that I missed my last chance of having a conversation with her! And now I never can!
Sheetal was a kindred spirit whose smile enthralled all who came in her present. Her eyes always shined, almost luminous and one could not help but feel joy when around her.
None of us have seen heaven, but I fervently hope (for my sake, as much as yours) that it looks like this.
You had once mentioned that you wanted to visit this book store. I wish you are there now, in spirit, if not in flesh.
A rustling leaf, a silent breeze,
A humming bird, a bumble bee,
Will remind me that you are around
A river bend, a tidal wave,
A mountain peak, a musty cave
Will remind me that obstacles must be faced
A pink rose, a white veil
Blushing cheeks, a fairy tale
Will remind me that love exists
A throaty laugh, sweet sounding chimes
A whistling tune, a forgotten rhyme
Will remind me that you can hear us
A temple bell, a silent prayer
An unspoken blessing, an angel somewhere
Will remind me that life is fragile
You will be the inspiration
To count my blessings daily
You will be my reason
To live my life fully
Rest in peace my dearest
You will be missed… and you cannot even imagine how much.