I was ten years old when my dad god transferred to Cuddalore.I joined fifth standard in a school called St.Mary's Matriculation School. New school, new environment . I was clueless about making friends. Just like me was another new girl called Poornima in my class . She was very cute and pretty. Her smile attracted me towards her. She was so chubby and sweet. The smile was the bridge between us for the first few days. Then slowly we talked to each other and became friends. For the first one year it was just that we were friends. When we moved to sixth standard our friendship grew even more stronger and we became best friends. We used to be always together other than the language class , when she went for her Hindi class and I was in my Tamil class. Between us there were no secrets, no gossips. We just enjoyed the innocense of the age by giggling at every damn thing which others would call nonsense. (Now I see the same giggle in my daughter's conversation with her close friend). Those were the sweet nothings which we shared together .
Life was so wonderful till we completed our 8th standard. Both our parents got transferred. I moved to Tanjore and she moved to Trivandrum . We were seperated . At that time we didn't know that we won't be meeting each other after that. We told each other that we will be in contact by writing letters once a week. (Those days we neither had computer to send emails every day nor did we have mobiles. Phone was a luxury then -----these days kids are so lucky they can keep in touch even with their kindergarten friends and mobiles are a must-to-have gadget for them). As promised ,we were in close touch with each other. We used to write letters once a week to each other. From the day I posted my letter I kept waiting for her reply. I remember using postcards, and inland letters. If something very personal then envelopes were used so that no one will know the content inside. Greeting cards for birthdays, deewali, pongal and newyear were a ritual. I used to collect all the cards and letters from her .
Though miles apart we both knew what was going on in each others life. Once I finished my undergraduate I went to Chennai to do my Masters. I stayed in a hostel. Life is a wheel. One day I got a letter from Poornima saying she was visiting Chennai and that she would come to see me. My God!! I just couldn't believe that. I was soooo excited jumping around with the letter in my hand. Then I started thinking how she will be looking because it has been years since we both saw each other. "How will she look in person, Will she recognize me? Will she still like me the way I look now?" because pictures dodge you a lot about the way one looks.So, many questions lined up in my brain. And those days we didn't have digital camera to select the best picture to send to someone. All we could do was just send the picture you had develped from the filmrole.And filmroles were expensive that you have a ration when you take photos-- not hundreds of pictures in different poses as you do now.
I couldn't wait for the day of her arrival.It was a Saturday and no college for me. I got ready early than usual . Dressed up in my best clothes. Wanted to present myself very beautiful infront of her( just an attempt to impress her though I knew about my beauty???) . She came around 11a.m to my hostel. When the security called me to inform that I had a guest I ran to the door to see MY BEST FRIEND. There she was waiting for me with the same branded sweet smile of hers with her hands wide open to hug me. We both hugged each other. I cannot express the happiness I felt that moment. I was flying high in the sky.Thousands of butterflies seemed to fly inside my heart--usually it is the stomach but this time my heart was only fluttering.My heartbeat was hundred times more than the normal. Not even during my exams have I experienced such a rush of blood inside me. She had not changed a lot. She had become quite tall and thin. Her cheeks had a few pimple marks. I too had the same.The only difference was I hadn't grown that much from the time she saw me. I was and I am a shorty till date. No scope of growing hereafter I know. I would be glad if I don't skrink . I wonder how all the complan I drank didn't help me atall . May be if I hadn't drunk that complan I would have been even more shorter. Ok, now let me stop drifting away from my way. Me and Poornima went out that day and had a very nice time. She had come there to attend a function in her relative's house. She invited me for the function which was the next day. I accepted the invitation immediately because I wanted to be just with her those two days. Next day I went to her relative's house. She was waiting for me there. She introduced me to every one in her family. I was feeling a little odd because I was the only outsider in the family . But to make me feel at home she didn't leave me alone for a second . I had a lovely , memorable time. The next day she was to leave. Again I won't be able to see her for how many more years I didnt know.
After I finished my college I went back to Tanjore. Still our letter correspondence contiued. One fine day I got a wedding invitation. Yes it was Poorninma's wedding invitation. She was getting married in Chennai. Wow!! another opportunity for me to see her I thought .More than feeling happy about her wedding I felt happy that I was going to see her. The day of wedding arrived and I was in Chennai to attend it. When I went to the marriage hall my eyes were searching for her. Luckily her sister spotted me and took me to the room where Poornima was. During the whole wedding process I was sitting just behind her on the stage--- the best gift she gave for me for her wedding. Non of her relatives got that privilege. I could be seen in all her pictures I guess. I never got a chance to see her marriage album though.
After the wedding I went back to Tanjore not knowing when I will again get the chance to meet her. In a girl's life , life after wedding is different. Mostly you loose contact with your friends. Life starts revolving around your husband's family and friends. But My Poornima was different . She continued writing me letters. When her first baby Megha was born she sent me her picture. Megha was soooooo cute just like her mom. After two years, my wedding was fixed. I sent my invitation to her. I was not sure whether she would come for my wedding with her small two year old child. She gave me a pleasant surprise by coming with her husband and child. I saw a little maturity in her face as a mom. We took pictures. I still treasure those pictures in my album. I introduced Ravi(my husband) to her and her husband. We couldn't spend much time together . When she left in the evening I didn't know again for the fourth time that I won't be seeing her for many more years to come. Each time we seperated we thought soon we would be seeing each other. We were very optimistic.
I moved with my husband to Singapore. We maintained contact till we were in Singapore. After two years in Singapore we moved to the US. That is when we lost touch with each other. I was too busy with my daughter , and getting used to the new country and its life style -- ofcourse the American accent too.Even English language seemed to be unfamiliar to me when I heard the American English. Life suddenly became too complicated and started revolving around new set of friends. I felt I was far away from all my dear ones. After that there was absolutely no contact between me and Poornima. I always remembered her. I told all my friends about her . I prayed for her everyday and wished inside my heart for her birthday every year. I was engrossed in so many other things in life that even when I went to India I didn't try to write her any letters, though I used to stay there for two months. Do I call this laziness or carelessness or deliberate procrastination?? Priority changes as we grow older isn't it??
Now it has been almost 11 years since I am not in touch with my best friend. Since we moved back to Singapore again I started thinking about her more often.As you get older you wish to relive your childhood days. I am in touch with all my other friends. I felt guilty for not having attempted to contact Poornima. My search began. I started asking all my friends from Kerela whether by any chance they knew my friend. I was never given a positive reply. I lost hope but something kept ticking me inside saying one day I will get in touch with her. I was still searching for her. I became a member in facebook with a hope I will be able to find her. No, it was in vain. My daughter used to say ,"Mama you never allow me to use the face book but how come you seem to be addicted to it these days?" This February on her birthday I was praying to God that atleast this year I should be able to locate her. Out of the blue I got an idea. Instead of searching her name in the facebook why not search her daughter's name. I tried .. I saw two Megha's in that name. I was so happy to know that one girl was from Trissur. When I saw her friend's list I could see that all were teenagers and most of them were from Kerela. If she is Poornima's daughter then she must be in her teenage now. My gut feeling said "just try" . I sent a friend's request to the girl named Megha. I got a reply immediately accepting my friend's request.I sent her a message saying that I was looking for my friend Poornima with whom I had lost touch several years back. I couldn't believe when she told me that she was my Poornima's daughter Megha. I couldn't accept that immediately because I didn't imagine things to take such a smooth turn so soon. Being suspicious a little I asked her to send her family photo. She sent me her grandfather's photo and Poornima's mobile number.Still at the back of my mind I had a doubt "what if this is not my Poornima?" I got the message at around 11am on Sunday the 28th of Feb. Ravi was even more excited than me. You can imagine how much I would have talked about Poornima to him that he was much more interested in getting a reply from Megha. He asked me to contact her immediately. I was in the kitchen --my place of worship --doing the daily chores. I told him I would call her after finishing my work and having a bath. You know why I was postponing to call her? I usually call people when I am doing my household chores. Somehow this lessens the burden of my work. But this phone call I didn't want to make in a hurry. If I talk to her immediately I won't be able to enjoy the thrill of just hoping to talk to her. When we go on a trip the most interesting part is how we plan about it before the travel . You enjoy every moment thinking about it. How the trip is going to be, what are you going to do, how you are going to enjoy etc etc. Like wise I was just enjoying the thrill of making the phone call. Once I call her I knew that it would be a different kind of jubiliant momet. Before that I wanted to experience the thrill of holding on to the moment I was going to make the phone call. Am I not crazy? I finished all my work , had my shower, had my lunch leisurly just thinking about how I would feel when I talked to her and found out that she was My Long Lost Soul. Even when I am typing about those moments my fingers are shivering. Such was my nervousness cum weird feeling.
I called the number and I could hear a lady's voice in the other side of the phone.Here I humbly accept that we have become ladies now . No more the sweet young girls. I asked whether it was Poornima. You know what was the answer I got? "YES I am Poornima , who are you speaking?" I told her it was me Geetha. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!! Just laughter, laughter, laughter for few minutes . We both couldn't talk anymore other than just utter each other's name. Hearing my laughter my kids came running asking ,"Is that your friend Poornima aunty?? " We talked about all the bygone days. She told me she has three children. Two daughters and one son. And her son's name was Sai Ganesh. What a co-incidence? My son's name is Rishi Ganesh. Friends though miles apart talk through the heart I think. God is great ! My search was rewarded. And this could happen because of her daughter Megha to whom I owe tons and tons of thankfulness. Now we both are so sure that we will always be intouch with each other till our last breath. If only my age and body co-operated I would have done atleast a few somersaults then because I was at the height of happiness. Nothing in this world is equal to getting back a good old friend.I still and will cherish the moment I got to speak to her on the phone.
Who ever is out there searching for their long lost soul keep searching. You will find them one day because "TRUE FRIENDSHIP IS NEVER ENDING WHERE EVER YOU ARE."