There is a saying: “People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person.”

My friend Arpan came into my life for all three purposes. The reason was that she was the push I needed to get my life back in order...become independent...become stronger. The season was the worst time in my life for my marriage had crumbled and I lived within the walls of hell and worse. And yes, a lifetime as even though she is in a better place now, there will never be another friend like her in my lifetime and neither can I ever forget her in this lifetime.

It is now seven years, since I lost my best friend Arpan Rao tragically. Yes, the good ones go too early... Why must the good die young? They leave a void that is irreplaceable. I miss her all the time of course but there are wonderful memories that keep her alive within me. She was the perfect friend that anyone could ask support system, a shoulder to cry on; my sounding board and most of all would kick my butt really hard when I needed it. I am so very grateful to her for giving me the courage to do so much in life and be what I am today. She gave me the ‘push’ I needed and the faith that I could do it.

We had some absolute whacky times together and when we used to get into our crazy moods and subsequently into endless giggling fits, her husband Narayan would just roll his eyes and look helplessly at us.

This morning as I strolled to pay my bills, I had Arpan on my mind and was admiring all the plants and greenery around... The onset of spring is the best time and brings forth the happy chirping of birds and flowers in full bloom. She had green fingers that girl, and would revive even a dying plant and have it thriving in days. On our evening walks together, very often we would end up walking back with a shrub or clipping or cutting for her pots. It took me back to a hilarious incident that happened to us.

Both of us were on an editorial board of a magazine and monthly meetings were a part of the work profile. One morning, sitting in a senior ladies drawing room, waiting for the rather late ‘boss’ to appear, Arpan’s glances fell on this beautiful potted plant that took centre piece on an ornate table. She whispered, “Rashmi, I want a cutting of that plant. It’s gorgeous. Do you think we can ask Mrs. Crabby?” Ok, so we had names for the ‘funny’ ones in our lives. I vehemently shook my head for I knew just how crabbity the ‘boss’ could be.

I glanced around, quickly strode up to the plant and started to yank off a tiny part of it. But it wasn’t as easy as it looked. There I was pulling the wretched thing and trying to free it from the roots and Arpan got into hysterics. I finally got hold of it and shook it loose of the extra mud and boy; it was one long plant with even longer roots.

I was suddenly standing with an uprooted plant in the middle of the boss’s drawing room. Hilarious sight! I still get the giggles when I think about it!! Both of us didn’t know what to do with the damn thing as it was too long to fit into our handbags. We could hear footsteps approaching, both of us panicking and giggling at the same time. Finally Arpan folded the plant very gently and shoved it into her bag. I made it back to my chair just in time before we were greeted with a cheery ‘Good Morning.’

We made it through the meeting with great difficulty more so as every time Arpan and I exchanged looks, we would get the urge to giggle. For me it is really tough to suppress a laugh and I think I nearly went blue in the face trying to put on a ‘serious’ expression. Post the meeting, Arpan and I burst into laughter till we had tears rolling down. And that ‘sinful’ plant... it thrived and grew into one of Arpan’s favourites.

She would be so proud of me now... To see how I’ve grown...changed...become self-reliant and independent. It would have made her blissfully content to see me and the children happy and doing well. That is what she wished for me and her wish did come true.

Rest in peace my friend but you are missed sorely by all of us.