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The first time we met, she told me about all the things I would need to create a home in her country. She was an American married to an Indian.
I met her when I was 30, in a country that was alien to me. She was 52 I think. There was never a discussion about age between us so I cannot be sure.
I was an Indian, and she, an American. I borrowed so much from her, including my sense of identity at a time when I wasn’t sure about anything, as she reminded me of how strong a woman can be and must be. She was my first contact with the outside world and with an America I did not know, which is just one of the many reasons why she became a special friend in my life.
Navigating through a country new to me, she was the first one to offer me a helping hand and rides to the grocery stores and new places. I even did my first ever furniture purchase with her and watched her in awe as she helped me decide on what would suit us best.
She even knew the “chhalni” we Indians used to filter our tea. Of course, I think that had a lot to do with her Indian husband.
Her ways of empowering me, when I felt lost in a new country, were unique. Coming over to my house even when I was in no mood to get out, taking me out to explore new places, discussing feminism with no effort at all and always taunting the husband if he dared to make a sexist comment in front of her, even if he rarely did it.
I am not sure if she identified herself as feminist but that’s what attracted me even more to her personality. Being opinionated and independent cane naturally to her. She was closer to my mum’s age and yet, she felt closer to me in spirit. Be it her anecdotes from childhood or her stories of working full time, I could always find something to relate to.
She always was full of tales of the America of the past, which I felt she adored and yet, criticized for all the wrongs it did to other countries and its own countrymen.
Once at the supermarket, someone asked if I were her daughter, and we had a good laugh over it for the next two days. (She being a white woman and I a brown-skinned indian!)
But as I later thought about it, it would have been fun to be her daughter. She shared with me how she was never too keen on having children of her own after babysitting so many of her siblings at a young age.
But the motherly instinct in her was hard to miss. Combine that with her strong feminist views, she would have made such a wonderful mother!
She was always asking me about my future plans, even though I didn’t have any at that point in time and was always encouraging me to be self reliant and independent.
Every time I met her, I was filled with a sense of doing something meaningful in life and that’s what made this friendship so extra special.
After I delivered my daughter, our meetings became rare and we started writing emails to each other. I would always look forward to hers and would pour my heart in my replies. Her emails were also just like her. Full of knowledge gained from experience and leading an independent life.
It’s been long since I met her or wrote her an email. I think it’s time to do that. Isn’t it?
She was the first woman over 50, after my mother, who I truly could relate to, and could imagine as a 30-year-old woman fiercely independent with a brilliant mind.
I’ll never forget the lessons she taught me and how she never treated me as someone so much younger to her.
And that’s the story of my first friend in America.
Editor’s Note: #FriendshipDay2020 is on Sunday, 2nd August 2020. We’ll be running a series of friendship stories that break one or more of 3 myths about friendship – that women and men cannot be friends, that friendships necessarily happen among people of similar ages, and that friendships never change. What is your story?
Image source: pixabay
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A former journalist, a freelance content creator and a mom blogger who can be found
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