Skip to main content

An Unlikely Friendship - Writing Workshop

I arrived for my interview, adrenalin charged and yes, nervous.  I wanted this job so much I could taste it.  But would I be able to convince the powers-that-be that I was the one they were looking for?  I'd been told to be there by 9 a.m. and no-one was answering my knock on the door.  Then I saw her.

She was the same age as I was,  just twenty two.  But she looked about sixteen, with wide, innocent eyes and an engaging friendliness.

"Seems like everyone's late today," she laughed, as the 'one with the keys' arrived, then the office manager, one of the ones who would be interviewing me.

"I'll make you a cup of tea," she said brightly, indicating that I should sit down.  "Feeling like death.  I was last night....."  I could tell she was quite a character.  That was her.

I got the job.  I joined her in the office and we got to know each other really well.  We were polar opposites in some ways.  I was the 'good' Catholic girl who lived with my mother and wanted to 'do everything right', including not have sex before marriage.  She was the archetypal 'bad' girl who lived in a flat in Dublin and had her mother down in the country village convinced that she attended Mass every Sunday and neither drank nor stayed out late.  Of course she drank and stayed out late.  Otherwise, what was the point of living in a flat in Dublin?  She used to go mad checking out the time for Sunday Mass when her mother was due for a visit and accompanying her mother to Church as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth.  In fact, I used to love staying over for the night in her flat because I could drink and stay out late myself.  Such fun!

We got paid on Friday, and Phil was very often was penniless by Monday.  Then I had to bail her out by bringing extra sandwiches to work during the week.  Her rent and weekend revelries usually swallowed her income.   Usually, on Friday nights she drank a fair bit.  Combine that with burgers and chips and it wasn't hard to understand her vomiting the whole lot up on the way home.  That explained her often malnourished look.

"I never knew vomit could go so high," was a common description of her Friday night escapades.

She was very good at making up rhymes.  She would scribble them down at odd times in the office.  Once, there was an uproar in our office because an invitation for the boss to atttend a function at Trinity College in Dublin had been mislaid.  I found this rhyme scribbled in a notepad on her desk.

"The letter from Trinity

Has disappeared into infinity

This has us in a state

It could decide Maria's fate

So until it's relocation

I'm going on vacation........'

"What the heck do you mean, decide Maria's fate," I enquired indignantly, I being Maria.  "It's not necessarily my fault."

"It rhymes," she replied.  'Nuff said.  Anyway we found the invitation and all was well with our world again.

She smoked forty cigarettes a day and was like an irritable old woman until she had her first cigarette in the morning.  I actually saw her sellotaping two halves of a broken cigarette together again, on the grounds that 'you couldn't waste a good smoke!'

She was my guide to social manners.  She showed me how to drink and act as ladylike as you please.  When it was safe to overdo it and when it wasn't.  These are the type of skills you don't pick up in school or college.

She had a lot of fun with relationships when she was younger and broke quite a few hearts.  As she got older, it was her turn to get the heartache.  I could sense a certain desperation about her.  I could sense that maybe, as she neared thirty, her biological clock was ticking.

She was with me when I met Yash, my husband.  We both used to giggle together over his archaic Indian manners.  All that stopped abruptly when she realized that Yash and I were falling in love.  She stood by me solidly when everyone was telling me how wrong I was, as a western, Catholic girl, to marry a man of a different culture and religion.  And as for going to live there.....

"Do what makes you happy!" she said.  I did.

We both got new jobs in the year before I left Ireland.  The bond between  us was very strong.  We'd worked together for eight and a half years after all.

"You're like the sister I never had," I used to say to her.  "I mean, I have sisters.  But none like you?"  She knew what I meant.

Before I left, she took me out to lunch in a top restaurant.  I met her once when I came back home from India with my first child.  But alas!  I haven't heard from her in fourteen years.  I've searched for her, but can't trace her out at all.  I have no idea where she is.  I just hope she's happy.  She had an uncanny ability to fall on her feet whatever happened, so wherever she his, I suspect she's doing well.

So my old friend, wherever you are, I just want you to know I miss you!  Get in touch, it doesn't matter how long it's been, we'll pick up where we left off.  I know we will.

I've been participating in the Writing Workshop over at Sleep is for the Weak authored by Josie George.
This post first appeared on Write Away on WordPress on 7/10/2010

Popular posts from this blog

The Climate in my Hometown LBC Post

I am originally from Dublin in the Republic of Ireland. We have a maritime climate, neither too hot nor too cold. Cool, wet winters and warm summers.  We get the odd freak weather condition, like several feet of snow, once in a while to make life interesting.  Pretty ideal really.  

Now I reside in Lucknow in north India. In the Indo-Gangetic plain.  Cold dry winters, roasting hot summers and a humid rainy season.  It seems like it's always too hot or too cold. Or too humid. Humidity is something I dread.  It brings itching, rashes and all of that.  Okay, too hot will work for me. So will too cold (although I hate dry cold, that's energy-sapping). But humidity is .......not at all good. And that's a euphemism if ever there was one,. 

I wish to dedicate this post to my beloved and erudite rakhi brother Rummuser, who suggested this topic.

And thanks to freedigitalphotos.net for the above illustration, 'Paper Weather Icon Illustration' by SweetCrisis.

The Loose Blogging C…

Impatience

Many years ago, when I lived in Dublin, I met someone nice and started dating. I wasn't serious, I just thought we could have nice interesting discussions about India, which I found absolutely fascinating, as I was working in the Embassy of India back then. I had no intention of getting attached with a foreigner, with all the attendant cultural problems. I was happy living in Ireland and the idea of marriage couldn't have been further from my mind.

We both thought we could just keep things in control. One day, after a lot of emotional turmoil and denial, it hit us both that we were in love. Truly. Madly. Irrevocably. To the point where we couldn't live without each other. I'd known about the Indian system of arranged marriages and when it occurred to me that he would probably be married off by his family as soon as he returned to India, I felt physically ill at the thought. We are both tenacious and patient people. We realised that bringing our two worlds together would…

Kipling Got it Wrong! Or Eastern and Western Culture - Reflections

What Is Culture?
I’m opening this blog post with a question. What is that elusive concept which is commonly known as ‘culture? Culture is way of life. How we live. What our values are.  Our customs, attitudes and perceptions. And also, I suppose, how we express ourselves in art through, such as music, dance, theatre and cinema.  It’s quite a comprehensive area and not too easy to define, really.



The Journey
I was born in what is commonly known as ‘the west’. I lived in Ireland for the first thirty years of my life. When I was thirty, I married my husband and came out to India to live here with him. That was the beginning of an interesting journey, which is still evolving. I must have had some east/west comparison stereotypes in my head. But in India, I found that the people I met had huge stereotypes in their heads about what they called ‘western culture’ and ‘western way of life’. Not long after I arrived in India, I was struck by the number of people who said things to me like ‘in the …