Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit, wrote Aristotle. How true!
I am not talking about the Gandhian era, but just three decades ago, no one in
ever dreamt of pressing a key on the computer
to ask a relative or friend in India about the breakfast he or she had. To call up
my brother in Mumbai, my father had to wait for hours in a Chennai post office
for trunk call booking. Sustaining a long-distance friendship was a challenge
as they were days of snail mail. America
The fun concept, however, was Pen Pals. People made friends through handwritten letters on postal mail. Some magazines were famous for free Pen Pal ads. I also connected with a few, among whom I remember one vividly.
She was a pretty girl from
and I was working as a sub-editor in Mumbai. We discussed a lot of subjects. In
a few months, we were such close friends that we exchanged decent photographs
to know each other. Calcutta
She tried to teach me Bengali language and I talked to her about the ever-lovable Mumbai city. Everything went well until one day I received an abrupt mail from her saying that she was getting married and that I should return the black and white photographs she had mailed.
A double whammy! She was getting married and she wanted some snaps back. My first worry was whether I had safely stored the photos. Mumbai rooms were so crammed that we often threw things away.
Seeing my startled look, my senior colleague, who is now in
, asked me the reason. Singapore
When I explained he had a hearty laugh and coolly said, “Send whatever photograph you still have and mention, “’let’s part as good friends.’”
I did. And, she thanked me.
We parted as good friends.
Thanks to memory, that friend remains a friend forever.