I have been very fortunate to have friends in my life that make special seem an ordinary word. How these friendships grow are perhaps those areas of magic we hold in our lives that do not get explained by logical means because perhaps they defy norms. One such person whom I hold close to my heart is my friend Divya. Only twenty-eight years old and previously a student of mine, she could be called the antithesis of what people imagine me to be - but in fact we have many similarities that we share.
Our delight of travel has taken us as partners in crime to cities and counties which have given both of us the scope to imbibe and learn about the world outside of what is familiar to us. But perhaps it is our love of similar literature that underlines the feminist space of our belonging which has infused our conversations with enquiries of common concern and connected us to the world with a shared map of hope and belief.
There is a story Divya shared with me that I carry as the spirit of what determines her journey to know herself. When she first came to Baroda and applied for her admission to the painting department, she did not get the seat. Instead of calling it quits or being influenced into taking another stream available in the fine arts college (which was offered to her), she chose to stay on and worked through that year and got in the painting department the following year. But hang on….that's just to contextualise the story I wish to share. Staying in the university hostel was a nightmare yet she decided to just dig her heels in and not complain about it. And when she would speak to her family they never knew that she was silently crying through those conversations with them on many occasions Around the end of that first year her mobile phone packed up and so she took it to get it repaired. When she went to collect it they informed her that salt water had seeped into the machine so deeply and completely destroyed the mechanism within.
To me this story epitomises my friend Divya. Stoic and quietly determined, she makes her own journey in the image of what she comprehends is meaningful for her. Today she is an artist whose work holds the attention of her audience through the meticulous details she embellishes her art work with. Both Surendran and I have always valued her natural ability to paint which appears as though effortless. She takes from her everyday world and transforms the most mundane to give to you parables of personal insight and reinvented fables from the realities of her urban existence.
What marks our friendship are those silly things that only perhaps matter to the two of us. We both have the tendency to have tears stream down our face when we laugh uncontrollably, both love to cook, both love to eat, both pay the price of loving to eat with having to keep an eye on the weighing-scales, both love saris, both love dancing, both love tattoos, both enjoy soppy films that are tear jerkers, both hate the heat, both love turkish delight, both think Begum our cat wears a bigger attitude crown than our dog Miss Lily, both roll our eyes over Surendran's bad malayali puns and even more painful P.J's, both love solitaire diamond rings….and both enjoy beating the other in ludo!
Divya has lived with us in Suaparnika and been a permanent resident of The Collective Studio for many years. We are in the exciting phase of helping her in her search to purchase a flat for herself. As we trudge in the heat from one building site to another we chatter like old ladies looking at things within the premises with a checklist that sometimes goes crazily out of the budget….yet undeterred we march on with this wish-list because it once again defines the individual Divya desires to be, where she sets her own agendas and finds a way to make it part of her life.
No one can ever be sure of how life pans out and where circumstances and situations place us. But I know for sure that the delight of this friendship is precious to both of us and will be fiercely protected for longevity. From my end I have selfish reasons for always wanting my Divya in my life….Oh didn't I tell you why? ….Ok I will keep you in suspense no more. Whenever I am low I get what I call my "Divya hug"….It is warm and encompassing and lets all your hurt and sorrow drain away. It is an embrace where in an instant you feel whole and complete again…. and she doesn't say a word at all when holding you close in her arms. She just hugs you and lets you know you are loved. She has it patented I think because its not replicable anywhere. So Divya's friendship is something I will always hold close to my heart and cherish forever, and will go knock on her door wherever she lives to get my comfort hug whenever I need it.