We reached the temple in the late afternoon, the sun playing hide and seek behind rain bearing clouds. Having done our rounds, we found ourselves at the door to the Navagraha sannidhi. Looking up, a rainbow beamed across the sky. Stopping to take pictures, I hurried inside. Falling in step behind my cousin, I walked as she did, nine times around. Sitting for a minute before we left, I was transported to another era. One in which we were young school girls. She would always stand in front of the deity, head bowed, eyelids fluttering, a picture of earnestness as she prayed. I would watch as I did, with wonder at her unquestioned faith. My faith was sporadic, often brought upon by impending events. Hers was a constant, ebbing and flowing but never gone.
Snapping out of my reverie, I followed her yet again into the rain washed evening and a sky brimming with promise. Evening fell and leaving kids tucked in their beds and our respective spouses glued to their phones, we stepped out into the humid darkness. Watching for creepy crawlies, we set out on what had become a ritual of sorts. A walk around the development. An hour of ambling along. An hour of talking about our lives. An hour devoid of the stresses of everyday life. An hour without thoughts of meal plans or menial chores. An hour to replenish our friendship stores.
On the flight back home with kids sleeping at unnatural angles in their seats and laddu ensconced in Saathi’s lap, I let my mind meander between decades. Our friendship has been one based on being family but nurtured by two people willing to put in the time and effort that goes into cherishing these bonds. Postcards from exotic holidays, pictures every new year, emails every week, phone calls every once in a while, confidences big and small, advice when solicited, chocolate covered strawberries on milestones, visits when possible.
Much like the rainbow, she brightens my life by being in it. Even if from afar.