“Hi Ruchira. How are you doing?”
The message popped up on my Facebook Chat window from – wait was I seeing things? NOPE! It was her alright! Kajal Sinha – a school friend of mine from a very long time ago.
I was at Suryajal VidyaPeeth (SVP) for around seven years. But they were the most important ones, being the formative years of my life and all.
Actually, it was there that I had started my schooling – kindergarten to grade 5. Normally, a child does not remember much from those early years, as newer memories are formed. But somehow, SVP was very special to me and I seem to have quite a rare collection of memories from those days. But the conversation with Kajal from SVP, kind of left me gagging. It went like this:
KS: Hi Ruchira, how you doing?
R: Heyyyy!!! I’m doing good thanks, you?
KS: Ok…not too well today
R: Err..oh dear. Why? Whats wrong?
KS: Have been running a slight fever…so I’m a bit low on energy
I’m confused. The woman messages me after nearly 18+ years and what I expect are updates on stuff she’s been up to in that time. But the first thing she says after ‘hello’, is that she’s feeling unwell – I feel a little zoned out. I don’t know what to say. I stick with the conventional words of empathy and support that one offers a friend stricken with the flu.
KS: Yeah…it’s been a few days now…
R: (severely searching for words now) Awwwwwww
R: (Trying to sound less foolish) Don’t worry you’ll be fine in a few days. Make sure you take your medicines on time.
KS: Thanks. The fever made me think of you actually. That’s why I messaged you.
Errrrrrr. What? Now I’m thoroughly flummoxed. People get sick and think of me? That is not a good sign, Ruchi, I tell myself.
R: U thought of me? How come?
KS: When we were in school, I remember a day when I was running a very high fever
R: Oh is it? (waits for more info)
KS: Yes, I remember because you gave me your sweater to wear that day
R: Really? Wow I have no recollection of that
KS: I remember clearly. It was a pink sweater. And it meant a lot to me that day, because I was really cold
R: (Embarassed) LOL You have such a vivid memory – I don’t remember any of this!
KS: That was very sweet of you. I haven’t forgotten it. Thanks a lot.
So, here was a woman thanking me for a simple gesture I made 18+ years ago. I had nothing to give her back, as far as memories go. I felt stupid.
R: Aww gee. Please yaar! No thanks and all! Happened so long ago. J
KS: I was burning up – don’t you remember? Don’t you remember your pink sweater?
R: uh..no…you have a freakishly good memory. Though I’m sure it was pink! I love pink!
KS: Haha..yeah me too…
R: (tries to get back in the game) Oh wait wait! I remember something too!
KS: Yeah? What?
R: You were very fair complexioned as a young girl and you had the chubbiest cheeks I had ever seen on any one. (She guffaws.) I mean, I used to look at you and think…wow! Would be cool to have cheeks like that! I also remember you used to have your hair in pigtails and red ribbons – it was quite the fashion then – hehe.
KS: He he yes yes, but I liked your hair more
R: You remember my hairstyle?
KS: Yep. Shoulder length hair, fairly straight – you used to keep your hair shorter than the rest.
R: You remember my hairstyle??
KS: Yes I do! It used to really suit you! Very few people could pull off a hairstyle like that with confidence and poise. Hm.
KS: Hehehehe… Also, you used to do charity work with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity, no?
R: Ok Kajal – this is freaky! Is there anything you don’t remember?
KS: (smiles) I do remember that you were very kind, helpful and generous as a child. It was a pleasure knowing u so early on in life.
We chatted for about five minutes after that, but the sweater conversation left me with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. One act of helpfulness by a child, had made an indelible impression on another. Because of it, in some small way, we were both better people. Something like that influences a life – even as one progresses from childhood to adulthood, possibly even old age.
The pink color of my sweater was etched in Kajal’s mind, because as a child, I chose to give it to her when she needed it.
Thank you Kajal - your graciousness and grateful warmth (not easily seen in an adult) won’t let me forget the sweater either. After 18+ years, we’ve come full circle.