"If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair."
- Samuel Johnson
Shweta could see the Opera House as the flight descended; it looked marvellous in the golden hue of the night lights. It was her first time overseas and that too alone. She was thrilled and apprehensive at the same time. As the flight touched down, she waited with baited breathe to embark upon this new course in her life.
‘To Marsfield please’ she directed the cabbie towards her hotel. The city looked remarkable and she could hardly wait to explore more. But there was something that she would be missing here immensely; her friends. Shweta was too close to her group of friends. They had been together in good times and in bad throughout their lives. It was her first time in a far off place; away from home and more importantly without any friends. She had travelled to Sydney for an assignment from her office and would be staying here for a year; an entire year without her buddies. The ride from the airport was long and all the while she was lost in thoughts of her friends; how they had come to see her off at the airport, the surprise going away presents and of course the tearful goodbye! Finally she reached the hotel but as she drifted off to sleep that night she wondered whether she would indeed be able to spend this whole year without her support system around!
The next morning it was time to start work in her new office. The first few days were packed with meetings and discussions. It was an office without a single familiar face in a country where she didn’t know a soul! She eventually shifted from the hotel to a town house in a residential complex near her office. Her days would pass working and at nights she would stay in her apartment cooking and reading. However in all that she really missed the company of friends. Of course she was constantly in touch with them but it just wasn’t the same as being in the same space together. She wanted to go out and make friends but it wasn’t India. There were more cars then people around. She could hardly see anyone even out of their homes in the complex where she lived.
Two months had passed as her monotonous life in Sydney continued. The Christmas holidays had begun. Apart from a few people in office who would sometimes drop by her workstation for some casual conversations she hadn’t any friends there. The holidays seemed to be a drag for her. But it all changed on the Christmas Eve when suddenly the door bell rang. It was as if Santa had gifted what she needed most!
‘Hi I am Mrs Merryweather. I live in the apartment above yours dear and want to invite you for dinner at my place tomorrow. I am alone here and so I thought it would be good to get together’ Shweta was shocked for a moment but quickly gaining her composure she replied ‘I would love to Mrs Merryweather! Thanks for inviting me!’
Shweta attended the Dinner and found Mrs Merryweather to be a very warm and fun person. She was in her mid forties; a writer by profession. She was short, stout but had the most angelic face ever. In spite of around twenty year’s age difference between the two, they clicked. Gradually they started meeting for lunches; shopping sprees and more. She found in Mrs Merryweather, a friend and a confidant in a land far off from home. From just being neighbours, they became good friends.
In the winters when Shweta fell sick due to the extreme cold, it was Mrs Merryweather who took care of her. They shared a bond, a rapport which grew with every passing day. Never had Shweta imagined finding someone like her in Sydney. All it took was a small beginning, a gesture and they bonded over pots of tea!
That was then and it has been five years since Shweta is back to Bangalore. But nevertheless, Mrs Merryweather and she are still in touch. They meet up once a year during Christmas. In fact she had flown down to India for Shweta’s wedding too last winter. They still have amazing camaraderie. Now whenever someone new moves to Shweta’s building, she never misses out on inviting them for Dinner at her house for she knows how lonely one can get at a new place and how just one invite can get you lifelong friends. I know this as I was invited to her place too when I was totally new here.
In Life we often have to traverse uncharted territory due to work or some other reason for that matter. Often we find ourselves alone in distant lands with no acquaintances. Man being a social animal cannot survive with just the materialistic comforts in life; we need companionship. We need friends and trust me making one is very easy, it just takes a gesture from one side and you may end up with friends for life!
Labels: Short Fiction