There are friends who evoke old memories in you and then there are friends who remind you of what friendship really means.
Prasantha and I go back to my pre degree years. We met when we were both staying at the Sadanam, a boarding place for girls who studied at the SN women’s college in Kollam or Quilon as it used to be known then. I could have commuted daily from home, but Achan was having none of it. He felt that the travelling to and from college would tire me and I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on my studies. By the time my sister started her college two years later he relented and let her travel from home.
We used to live in adjacent rooms and there were four beds to each room. All that you had for yourself was that one bed, one table and a chair. Anyway it meant that I had plenty of time to study every evening and if I was going to mess up my career choice, it would be my fault. There was only one aim in life those days and that was to get into medical school.
Both of us got into medical schools, but Prasantha’s one was in Calicut, which meant we lost touch for a couple of years. During our third year at university she was lucky enough to manage an exchange and came back once again into mine and my friends lives.
Prasantha’s older brother used to be a senior police officer in the city in those days and this meant that when we went out for our weekend cinema trips, we literally had big brother watching us. Most of the traffic policemen knew her and so by the time we got back to our hostel there would be a phone call from her brother enquiring about what we had been up to.
I lost touch with Prasantha after I left for London. She went to Sharjah and we see each other occasionally at friend’s children’s weddings these days. I couldn’t make it to her daughter’s wedding a few years ago.
The other day when she found out that I was here for a couple of weeks, Prasantha rang and insisted we meet up. She wanted to come all the way to Perumpuzha to see me, which normally would have been fine, but this is not easy for her.
Not only does she not have any other reason to travel all that distance, she also has mobility issues brought on by childhood polio. In the olden days she didn’t need any help, but now pain and arthritis means travelling long distances is not easy for her. She wanted to come and see Amma as well, but I was going to Trivandrum anyway and so said that we will meet up there instead.
Today she prepared a feast for me and Kavitha and insisted that we have lunch at her house on our way back. Kavitha knows all my other friends, but didn’t know Prasantha and asked me why that was.
It made me realise that there are some genuine friends in your life, friends who you take for granted, someone who will always be there for you in your time of need. Someone who bears no grudges even if you have not kept up with your side of the bargain and yet will happily do everything they can for you. Over the past year I have found out that I have many such friends. I don’t have to look too far or too hard to find them and Prasantha is one of the gems among them.