A love story of the platonic type

Madhu Chawla

Dr. Madhu Chawla, a medical professional, graduated from Institute of Medical Sciences, Benaras Hindu University over 40 years ago. Her husband retired from active service last year, and the two adult sons are settled in the USA. Having satisfactorily executed domestic and professional commitments, Madhu now works, on a charitable basis, with three NGOs. Giving back to society, for Madhu, is a dream come true. She also worked with underprivileged children with Times of India, in their Teach India programme for two years.

An eerie silence. Or at best an uneasy calm. Unexplained. Two friends, as thick as thieves, almost polite strangers now. A change that she cannot understand. A friendship she refuses to give up. And, for which he gives no answer.

The story of Mehr and Abeer.

Flashback to a few years ago.

He arrived in her life with a social media request. She was undecided. His name sounded very familiar, but she couldn’t quite place him. Passage of over four decades had somewhat blurred her memories. Compounded by the fact that she was a fiercely private person. Not quite the mixing type.

A couple of months later, she gathered some courage, and accepted his request. After all he had been her classmate for many years! A few months later, enroute to foreign shores, he visited her. Arrived at her doorstep with wide open arms and a warm smile that reached his eyes. Her smile conveyed both surprise and joy. In a flash forty three years were washed away!

Their backgrounds and upbringing were poles apart. He came from a business family. Not much education there. Especially; amongst the womenfolk. He had professional education, and was successful in his career. That was the long and short of her knowledge about him.

She was lucky to grow up in a pampered and protected environment. Liberal minded and educated parents made her believe in an open minded and unprejudiced society. And then she grew up.

Left the comfortable confines of her cocoon for higher studies. The outside world was not quite what she expected. In fact, in several ways, quite the opposite!

Exposure to Campus life and Professional college, left her wide eyed, though they widened her horizons.

The now grown up adult experienced a sea change in her life after she got married. She weathered the ups and downs of family life to the best of her capabilities.

In fact, probably, overused her reserves. To keep the family requirements on track. It was a full time occupation. To the extent that she willingly put her professional career on the backburner!

And then he arrived in her life. Like a breath of fresh air! His infectious warmth and endearing spontaneity washed away all her questions. In a split second, in the sixth decade of her life, this meeting laid the foundation of an unconditional, precious friendship. That grew exponentially.

They graduated to becoming sounding boards for each other. Small things, insignificant sometimes, were shared and debated. Gender, background, upbringing, different cultures and distance all slowly and silently melted away.

She enjoyed this new dimension in her life.

And then, barely perceptible, but surely, something palpable made its appearance. Difficult to place a finger upon, but nevertheless present. Their interactions, apparently unchanged, gradually became few and far between. Punctuations became the norm in this friendship. Till it came to a standstill. A BIG full stop!

He all but disappeared from her horizon. Many thoughts filtered through her mind. A differential diagnosis, so to say. None seemed to explain the situation. In the beginning she laughed away the blues. Believed that her imagination was running riot. Till it finally sunk in. It was for real.

For her, who did not make friends easily, it was akin to a bodily blow. Too severe.

Happened for the first time in her life. Reason unknown. Perhaps, would never be revealed. Proved that she was as naive and foolish as she was in her adolescent years. Acceptance being her mantra in life’s difficult situations, has also pulled her out of this one. She has given up trying to resolve, or find an explanation. She was sad that even a crack could find its way into what she thought was a cemented friendship. It brought to mind some lines from her childhood autograph book.

Friendship is like china. Precious, costly and rare. If broken can be mended. But the crack is always there.


What's next in her life?

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