Some people walk into your life and leave their footprints on your heart. For me, it was Chitra. I didn’t think much of her when I met her in Net Savant, a web-hosting company in Vizag. It was her first day in office and so was mine. The calm doe-eyed girl used to transform into a gregarious and vivacious girl during lunch hours. She giggled, laughed and never missed a chance to take a dig at somebody in amicable way.
She was proud of her younger siblings and fondly talked about them on our way back home. It was difficult not to like somebody like her who was full of life and saw the brighter side in the gloomiest of situations. Once when someone from our group sulked about the insensitivity of the boss, she said, “Not everyone can be fun-loving like us. Just be happy that this place brought all of us together otherwise, how else we would have met?”
After spending little over a month at Net Savant, I moved back to Hyderabad to work on an assignment with a software company. I kept in touch with her and others as much as possible but as I got dragged into a fairly new field of work, the frequency of calls decreased until one day when I was told that Chitra was unwell. Both her kidneys failed. Concerned, when I called, the chirpy girl sounded just normal. She teased me that I was more worried than her.
Chitra: Can you plan a trip to Vizag soon?
I: Yes but promise me that you’ll take care of yourself?
Chitra: I have so many things to tell you, Sudha. I didn’t think you would leave Net Savant so soon.
I promised her that I would come as soon as possible but then it took me few months. Her brother informed that Chitra was in hospital and I could meet her there. I knew that she was getting her dialysis done regularly, so I wasn’t surprised. I started getting uneasy when I got to know at the hospital reception that she was in ICU and I can meet her there.
I saw my friend, emaciated, looked like a grown-up child clutched in a web of tubes. Clad in a white gown her body was tormented by violent spasms. I was dazed, frozen; nothing made any sense to me. A nurse walked up to me and said casually that she didn’t have much time left. I watched my friend slipping away into nothingness. Everything looked like a crude joke.
I met her mother and brother outside ICU who were waiting for me. Her mom grabbed me and asked if her son was fine; if her son was coming back home? Chitra was the son to her mother and brother to her siblings. While her father washed hands off his responsibilities and left them to fend for themselves, she stepped into his shoes. When girls in their 20s’ spend time in beauty parlours, theatres, shopping malls and with love of their lives, Chitra worked in night shifts in a hotel as receptionist, accountant and other such jobs to run the house. In my 2 years association with her, I never heard her complaining about her father or life in general. When times are not favourable, how many of us wouldn’t think, “why me?”, “life’s no fair”? And blabber about our sorry state to a close friend or family. She never believed in eliciting sympathy or empathy from others.
Chitra never returned home. Even though her life didn’t come to a full circle, it was worth more than those who live long wasted life. She will always be an inspiration to her siblings and friends, and a priceless memory to her mother. It’s been 5 years since my friend’s gone but there’s not a single day when I don’t think of her especially in testing times.