Monday, August 6, 2012

A green scarf

Thank you my friend (you know who you are) for inspiring me to write this post.

Years ago, when I went to India on vacation, I shopped for silk scarves, to give as gifts to friends here in the US. I had bought quite a few of them, and over the years they had come in handy as a last minute gift when there was no time to get anything else. The scarves were about 3.5ft x 3.5ft square, soft, colourful piece of silk cloth with paisley patterns printed all over except for about a two inch plain border. They were all handmade and were in different colours  - red, green, turquoise blue, brown , orange, black...They were intended as thank you gifts, birthday gifts and christmas gifts. Last year, the stash of scarves dwindled to just a couple. All that was left was an emerald green one with black patterns and a mustard yellow one with red patterns.

One night, I was in a pinch to find a gift wrap for a couple of books I got for a friend, for her bridal shower the next day. Out of some rare creative flare, I used the emerald green scarf to wrap the books. I placed the books in the middle of the scarf and tied the opposite ends together. It looked pretty and stood out among the table of gifts at the party the next day. My friend loved the scarf very much and I was happy. She thought it was a neat idea to have used it as a gift wrap. I felt proud.

A few weeks later I was thrilled when my friend told me that she was going to wear the green scarf with an off-white suit for her wedding. When I saw the pictures of the event later, I thought she looked beautiful and noticed the green scarf wrapped around her neck. I felt wonderful that something I had given her was part of her special day.

She was a special friend to me. She was also my mentor at work. She was intelligent, kind, generous and compassionate with a wonderful sense of humour. Everything interested her. There was nothing that I couldn’t talk to her about. From arts to computer programming, to books, movies, gardening, cooking, education, travelling, philosophy, cultures, nature, health, name it. Whatever she did, she did with all her focus and energy. Her integrity, character and attitude amazed and inspired me. She lived life with zest despite her troubles and burdens. And yes, those, she had plenty of. She took them all in stride. When things got overwhelming and stressful, she never moped around. She was a doer. As the seemingly insurmountable odds piled up against her, she trudged on with determination and more importantly, she did it with a smile on her face. She wanted no pity. I am sure she had her moments when the going got rough, but she fought hard, never let on and appreciated every moment she had.

I can only aspire to be like her - to be genuine, in words and deeds. To care for nature, the way she did. To work hard, to live well, to love, laugh and live life as it comes. I can’t think of anyone in my life who was such a wonderful example to live by. Five months ago, the prognosis turned bad. She didn’t have much time. I wanted to tell her how special she was to me, but couldn’t. I was afraid that I would get emotional and didn’t want to make it harder for her than it already was. And it would also imply that I was giving up hope. Days wore on and our hopes were in a state of flux. Then it was final, time was indeed running out and we had to say our goodbyes. I grabbed the last opportunity I had to see her.

When I visited, she looked tired but peaceful. When nudged and prodded by another friend to say what I felt, I managed to mumble incoherent words through much tears about how much she meant to me. Her eyes closed, she softly said ‘You meant a lot to me too’. I clung to every word. My hope that I was able to give back even a little of the immensely beautiful moments I received from her friendship was some consolation.

The next few days were rough. Every thing reminded me of her. Every conversation eventually turned around to her. When she lay in state, I went to see her one last time. I saw it then. It stood out amid the off-white suit she was wearing. There it was - the green scarf, wrapped around her neck. I didn’t know what I felt - sadness at where the scarf had landed when it had been intended purely for a happy occasion or a feeling of connection that a rare thought of mine made it on her form as she bade farewell.

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