Tuesday, March 17, 2015

A letter from Manushree

A few years ago, I got this email from Manushree, my school friend who had relocated to London for a job. She and I had not kept in touch for a very long time and I happened to meet her via facebook once again. Here's what her email said...

Dear Suni,
I am not a regular on facebook. But today, on a whim, I decided to open my dormant, friendless, facebook  account. That’s when your friend request came at the most appropriate time. A spot of sunshine in my lifeless, colourless world.

Living in this cold, grey country, I had been wondering for the past week, if I would ever feel the heat of the Indian summer again. The memories of our old days in India brought back some of the warmth in my blood…something which had been lacking for a very long time.

Today, at work, a few of my colleagues went out for a drink. As usual, no one asked me. There I was sitting right in the middle of everyone, like a piece of old furniture. And everyone simply bypassed me. I’ve never felt so bad ever in my life. But I cannot blame them. I am after all, an outsider. Taking up their job opportunities, trying to outwit them in their own space, trying to climb up the ladder they should be climbing!

I went to the washroom and cried and cried. Let me confess, many a times in the past few months, I’ve also felt like downing the entire bottle of sleeping pills. But then I remember my parents back home, who are living in the wonderful illusion that their daughter is living a comfortable and cushy life. How ironical, isn’t it? Nothing could be further away from the truth.

It is a horrible feeling to be alienated and friendless especially in a foreign country. I’ve been so busy with my work over the past few years that I missed making any new friends. Plus, it’s a foreign country where I need to work harder to prove myself. Making friends was not in my list of priorities. Perhaps I was wrong!

So many times, I’ve wanted to leave this job and return. But I am bound by contract, failing which I will have to pay a huge compensation of money…money which I don’t have. So I am stuck here for the next three years.

Anyway, please keep writing to me. I cannot even begin to tell you how good I felt hearing from you. And also if possible, send me the email addresses of all our girl gang. I will love to hear from them again. I know you will all accuse me of being that girl who left and never bothered to keep in touch with her friends. But let me tell you, I am not that girl. It is the circumstances in which I am which has made me so.

Please write back to me…your words are my connection to the world I left behind.
Love you forever,


I was stunned to receive this heartfelt mail from my childhood friend Manu, who I had thought lost forever. Obviously, this email started a thread of emails on an almost daily basis. At first, Manu’s letters were filled with complaints about the place she lived in, her loneliness, desperation and more. Eventually, as the weeks passed by, her letters got more hopeful and she began to see things in a lighter vein. She began to chat with her colleagues and she made some good friends. Sometime later, we began to video chat…along with some of her office friends. Later, Manu began to like and even enjoy the country she had chosen as her future home. Her emails became a bit less frequent but even to this day, we make it a point to chat at least once in a fortnight.

I am happy to tell you all that Manu met a lovely Englishman in her office who she eventually married. She is now happily settled in a lovely house, not far away from where she first lived…and is a mother to a lovely girl and three dogs. So much for the girl who once wanted to down a bottle of sleeping pills.

The moral of this story is very simple.

It can get bleak oh so often. The humdrum of daily life. Everything you had done, seems wrong. Everything you had wanted, seems unachievable. It happens to the best of us even in the best of circumstances. The skies seem to be filled with thick, dark clouds. And then the magic happens…out of nowhere, the rain begins to pour down and the skies begin to lighten up. It’s only a matter of minutes when the skies begin to look blue once again and if you are lucky, a rainbow makes its rare appearance.

This rainbow of optimism comes disguised in different forms. An unexpected windfall, a job opportunity, if you are lucky, a rich uncle’s inheritance. But at other times, it takes on simpler forms… as in this case, a facebook request from an old friend.

Image: Courtesy the private collection of Roy Winkleman
This image can be found at http://etc.usf.edu/clipart/24700/24714/letter_writi_24714.htm

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