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Aishwariya Laxmi 


I have received many gifts in my life, but the ones that stand out are the ones that are connected to the ethos of a place and given with love. My dad, who is well-travelled, has been to nineteen countries, many of them during his work as a rubber technology expert. He always bought something for us from the places he visited, which represented the culture or place. For example, from Japan, he brought back lovely stationery and frocks for six-year-old me, and a camera and a hair dryer for my mother. However, gifts received from friends have a unique appeal.

I was a part of a clique in college. It happened in the second year of my three-year undergraduate degree in economics in Chennai, India. The clique consisted of seven of us. I had been introverted and kept to myself until I became a part of this sisterhood of extroverted, fun-loving girls. It transformed my college days into memorable ones rather than a mundane array of days, each resembling the other in dreariness. In a broad sense, their friendship was a gift. These bonds were strengthened when an appropriate gift was given when least expected. 

Fourteen years after we graduated in economics, the seven of us were in different parts of the world. Three of us remained in India, while three were in the United States and one in Africa. My friend Remya, who lived in Tanzania, Africa, gave us each a lovely painting when we met in Ibiza, Spain, for a grand reunion. I received a beautiful large painting of the Maasai under a tree with Mt. Kilimanjaro as the backdrop to be framed and displayed on my wall. It is a gift I treasure. Representative of East Africa, it was a thoughtful gesture. It has now been ten years since our reunion in Spain, but the memories of the trip remain, and we have lovely photographs of our time together in case memory fails us (God forbid).

A lot has happened since then, chief of which has been this godawful pandemic, but now, with a sliver of hope that we are at the end of it, I recall better times, happier times, when I was surrounded by love and laughter. And, of course, gifts.  With gifts, one always remembers the great ones and equally the inappropriate ones. But we are taught from a young age never to look a gift horse in the mouth. 

Through this essay, I’d like to highlight my friend Remya’s perfect gift, her gift of friendship. She has been one of my most patient and kind friends. She talked me through a horrible time when my dad was hospitalized for his cataract operation and faced complications just at the start of the pandemic. If it hadn’t been for her call from Africa, I would have gone berserk in the hospital, my mind wandering to dark places. 

So, dear Remya, know that you mean a lot to me, even if I’m not always this expressive or effusive. I will always value and cherish your friendship and steadfast support in times of need.

First published by Sweetycat Press by Steve Carr. Reprinted here with minor edits.

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Aishwariya Laxmi

I’m Aishwariya. I’m passionate about writing, reading, marketing communications, books, blogging, poetry and editing. I’ve donned several hats, such as freelance journalist, copywriter, blogger and editor.


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