I learnt what patience means when I got to know her. She taught me how to be devoted and live life to the fullest. She is a very humble person and an ordinary woman for the world, but she is my first friend after my marriage. I met her some more than 15 years ago. I was newly married and had shifted from the metropolitan city Ahmedabad to Baroda. It was a new experience living in a new town amidst complete strangers, including my husband and in-laws.
I took up a job in the mortgage department with a multinational bank wherein I had to deal with numerous builders and cooperate with lawyers and technicians. She, at that time, was working as a customer care executive with one such renowned builder. We had been talking regularly regarding documents for a couple of months. Finally, after much delay, our meeting was fixed one day. By then, I knew her by her name and her melodious voice, all because of our telephonic conversations.
One afternoon during peak summers, I was waiting for her at her office. When she walked towards me, I saw her for the first time and was utterly amazed to see her’ aura’. She was indeed as beautiful as her name ‘Manisha’! Moreover, she was polite, listened to all the queries patiently, and helped resolve them.
Though she is an introvert by nature, we gradually became friends. As time went by and I started knowing her, I realised that she was elder by age and experience. She lived in a vast joint family with her parents and siblings.
She had dreams like any other Indian girl and wanted to pursue them. But I guess God had other plans for her. With so much struggle and compromise in her personal and professional life, I have seen her shattered and broken, but never once did I see her complaining or giving up. On the contrary, I felt turmoil inside her, but she maintained her calm and composure. No one, including the people who lived with her, was aware of her struggle. She lost her job a couple of times, but her spirit always stayed high.
She became my first mentor after my marriage. At that time, mobile phones were luxurious and not affordable, and there were no features like complimentary incoming and outgoing messages, Internet and WhatsApp. So we used to communicate through letters and STD calls. She became my light in the darkness. She is always there for her family and friends, but I hardly know anyone solely there for her!
One fine morning in 2004, I had just reached the office and got a call on my landline. The conversation left me in a shock, and before I could gather my sense, the receiver had dropped from my hands. The call was from Manisha’s friend, who said she had an accident and was admitted to the hospital. After collecting the hospital’s address, I rushed to be near Manisha. When I entered her room, I was shocked and shattered to see her condition. She was severely injured and had multiple fractures in her hand and leg. There were bandages all over, especially on her head. Her face and eyes were completely swollen.
I came to know she met with an accident the previous night and was rushed to hospital with an emergency ward. The doctors had already performed the operation to save her life as she had suffered a major injury in the head.
It’s the worst experience of life to see the person you love, adore and respect lying in the bed of hospital with bandages all over her body. Everyone from her family was around her. I started praying for her speedy recovery and waited impatiently for her to open her eyes. It was the most challenging time of my life. Doctors had told them she would be admitted for around 15 days, followed by complete bed rest for two months.
Finally, she opened her eyes by mid-afternoon, and the first thing she did was smile and thank God for saving her life. I was amazed to see this gesture. She gave us the courage to fight with the situation, assuring us that this time would pass soon and everything would be alright. She had the strongest willpower, and that day, I learned the lesson from her that no matter what, never give up with your confidence, willpower and determination. Face everything in life with positivity and a smile, and surely you will conquer everything. It took a few months to recover entirely and a few years for her scars to vanish.
But as said, life goes on. I left India in 2006. And despite the vast geographical distance between us, our friendship grew stronger with each passing year. I have the best memories of my life with her – the fights and debates, the laughter and celebrations, our shopping sprees and movie sessions. Even today, our morning starts by giving each other missed calls, which means ‘Good Morning’. It’s been 14 years since we began this friendship ritual, growing stronger with each passing day.
Thanks to advanced technology and gadgets now, helping us stay in touch despite miles apart. Looking forward to the next visit to meet her and hope to celebrate our friendship.