Sanjay was staring at a ceiling of his room. The background played songs from a movie “Rehna Hai Tere Dil me”. This was the only cassette the boys had and it was ritual to play this every night while all of them tried to snuggle in one room with cotton mattresses spread on the floor. Sanjay along with his four roommates lived in a cluttered one bedroom apartment in an old building. The roof would start dripping when it rained hard in Pune. When everyone went to sleep, his mind would rush from one place to another. Sanjay and Viru would weave dreams of their future and how it would look. As his dreams started taking shape, he said “Brother, we are to live and work in a more professional environment. This place does not deserve us and we deserve a better place.” In all his desirel to do more Sanjay spoke quietly to his friend Viru. He nodded in affirmation.
“Passport please”! Immigration officer at the New Delhi airport enquired in a loud voice to get Sanjay ’attention. As usual his conversation with Viru would always play in his mind. Today was no different but even more special as Sanjay was about to board his first flight to “United States of America” after four years of that conversation. “Yes” he said to himself and with another louder “yes” he took his passport out of the bag and handed it over. “Have a safe flight!” officer said while giving the passport back. Sanjay with a string of happy thoughts was to embark upon a journey of his life. All of his friends were in different parts of the world. He had to take this journey alone and make new friends in the process, meet and connect with people who would then share the same spirit.
As Sanjay settled in his seat in Boeing 747, he realized that when this plane took off, not only his but dreams of many passengers will also get wings in the process. He smiled at his co-passenger and opened his bag with immigration documents. He went through the papers and realized that Sunil would be his co-worker who took this journey 3 weeks before his. He would share his room with him. “Why just room and not dreams” Sanjay smiled and thought to himself as he tried to catch some sleep.
As future would have it Sanjay and Sunil shared a great camaraderie. They decided to take their apartment in the same neighborhood. “I want to have our wives stay in the vicinity” Sunil said to Sanjay. He nodded yes and said “yes brother” at the same time. Sunil’ wife arrived few days earlier than Sanjay’ as they settled in their new life. Sanjay had a kid who was 2 years of age at that time and he would instantaneously become heart-throb in his new-found friends. As their friendship grew they started creating memories together. Sunil would suddenly drop some weekends and would ask Sanjay’ wife Shweta to cook “Paav-Bhaji”. He and his wife Smriti loved the taste of what Shweta would cook for them. Then on another day they would call Sunil for a special dosa dinner. As their dreams were taking shape their friendship began to grow as well. Planning a trip to DC or going to movies together became a part of their life. While things were content Sunil had separate aspirations. He found another job and said to Sanjay “I will be moving to Florida next month”. “I will miss you brother but FL is not far. We will continue to meet”. “Yes” said Sunil as they shook hands and started walking towards their own houses.
“Smriti and Sunil are planning to a have a baby” Shweta muttered in a low voice while chewing dinner with Sanjay that night. “Wow, exclaimed Sanjay”. “They are moving to FL by the end of this month” he added. “Really, we are going to miss them” exclaimed Shweta “but I am sure God has plans for them as he has for us”. Sanjay looked at Shweta and smiled, basking in Shweta’ purity of heart.
Finally Sunil had everything planned and Sanjay decided to throw a farewell dinner. Shweta would cook Sunil and Smriti’ favorite food Paav-Bhaji and to celebrate Sunil’ success Sanjay had also invited few other friends. When Sunil and Smriti walked in, they looked tense. As everyone at food was sharing life experiences and cracking jokes, Sanjay’ mind was not at peace. “Something is not right” he said to Shewta. Finally Sunil opened up and said “Smriti needs complete bed rest for a month and I have to travel to FL immediately”. “If I don’t leave, I may lose this opportunity but I can’t leave Smriti here alone. I am in a fix and don’t know what to do”. “I will ease your problems Sunil” said Shweta. “Smriti is like a sister to me and she can stay with us while you are in FL”. Sunil immediately accepted the offer and was at peace. Everyone started cracking jokes with even louder noise as Sunil’ was the loudest.
The days passed as Smriti stayed with them. She was family after-all. Sunil would come over the weekends and time just flew. Smriti was better and in her last visit to doctor he agreed that she was fine to travel. Later that year she gave birth to a beautiful daughter.
As years passed, Saloni, Sanjay’s sister and her husband Dhruv visited USA to stay with them. Dhruv was a doctor and pursuing his attempts to secure residency in USA. Months went by and multiple round of interviews and exams, Dhruv will have to make one more visit to USA. He decided to leave for India while Saloni stayed with Sanjay for a while. She was also pursuing here aspirations to secure a Clinical Psychologist place. Continuing her training at NLP she also started sending her applications at various open positions. “Wow Bhaiya, I have an interview call from a hospital in Florida.” Saloni erupted with joy. “Isn’t this fantastic Shweta” said Sanjay. “Sunil is also there. Let’s plan our trip. When is your interview scheduled for”, he enquired with Saloni as he started dialing Sunil’ number.
Here they were, meeting their friends after a long gap. Smriti had cooked an amazing dinner and Sanjay was checking with Sunil on how to plan for next day for Saloni’s interview. Who knew that night would become one of the longest night everyone’s life. Saloni started to have severe stomach pains. Her condition was getting worse every minute. No one had any idea what was going on. Sanjay’ called his father who was a doctor in India. He recommended few steps and asked to give her spasmo proxyvon for the pain. Well in couple of hour’s thing stabilized or so they thought and everyone went to sleep.
Next morning Saloni was up early in her anxiety and excitement. After a quick breakfast Sanjay and Saloni drove but last night continued to play in Sanjay’ mind. “Is everything ok” asked Saloni. “No” replied Sanjay as he pulled the car. Sanjay’ pulse was racing and he was sweating profusely. He couldn’t see his sister in pain and thought of anything worse was making him nervous. Even Saloni was not at her best at the same time. Only thing that was driving her that morning was the excitement of getting her first interview in USA. She was pale and seemed out of energy. They decided that once this was over, they would immediately take a trip to an ER.
“Madam, please give your passport details” a lady at the ER reception asked Saloni. Saloni provided all the details to her and later she was admitted. As Sanjay waited outside, Sunil came rushing. “Everything will be ok”, he said to Sanjay as he laid his hand on Sanjay’ shoulder. “You seemed to have started working out again. Tough from outside but not from inside huh pal”. Sunil cracked. As he saw a smile on Sanjay’ face, he said “I will wait here and why don’t you got home and get something to eat.” Well Sanjay stayed and Sunil made many trips back and forth to make sure that needs at home were also taken care of. After 12 hours in ER and a thorough examination Saloni was discharged from the hospital. Doctors said that she would need complete bed rest for at least a week.
Confused Sanjay wasn’t sure what to do. He had an office to attend next day and he couldn’t leave his wife, kid and sister. It was a responsibility that was his. Thoughts started wandering his mind. “I would drive slowly and take my sister home” he told himself. “But what if something goes wrong in the car?” He wasn’t in stable state of mind when he finally blubbered “let’s go”. “What are you saying” jumped Smriti. “Saloni is not going anywhere and you can also call your boss that you are working from home because of a situation. Saloni is a family and unless doctor clears her to travel, she is staying here” said Smriti. Somewhere in his mind Sanjay wanted Saloni to stay. He couldn’t refute Smriti’ authority and Saloni stayed there for a week. Smriti took care of her and when it was time to go, Sanjay, Shewta and Saloni had tears in their eyes. With moistness making its way downward creating a trail of salt on everyone’s cheeks, they hugged each other. In the land of unknown god had sent his angels.
Saloni started feeling better as days went by. She finally took a flight to India and was also blessed with a baby girl at the end of that year.
God has his ways of creating bonds. He has his own ways of repaying kind actions with interest and wealth of love as years pass.
Sanjay – Shweta and Sunil – Smriti live on two opposite coasts these days. But the distance in their heart has only grown smaller every passing day. Every incident in their life weaved a fine but strong thread of love, respect and friendship as if life was a spider weaving the web of togetherness. The threads transpired and Sanjay now receives two sets of rakhi’ from Saloni and Smriti as the family has only grown bigger in number.
*This is a true story and dedicated to dearest friends of mine.