Five years ago, I reconnected with a bunch of my high school friends, – some of them, I had been in touch with on and off, some through college and a few years beyond and some not at all. But this re-connection, if I may call it so was the first time we got together as one cohesive group. A garrulous group of ten women who albeit their different dispositions and occupations were all going through the same trials and tribulations that characterizes mid-life. Girlfriends, if you are reading this – don’t despise me for this rather public announcement of our years – it really was necessary to communicate the essence and maintain the integrity of this piece.
And so it happened, this re-connection thanks to some of the more enthusiast members in the said group of ten and thanks to the wonders of technology that armed each one of us with a palm sized device and the ability to communicate real time, all the time. While I have often cursed the mania that surrounds us all in this age of always on pings and dings, I have to stop and acknowledge how the same technology has helped me renew a circle of friendship from over two decades ago. Luckily, we didn’t limit our tell-all sessions, friendly jibes and banter to the virtual world alone and decided to organize an actual, in-person meet-up.
We celebrated our 5th annual reunion earlier this year in the historic city of Lucknow. And as has become characteristic of all our short yet extremely memorable reunions, this visit too was marked by late night talk fests, sight-seeing, feasting on local delicacies and shopping binges. Not all ten could make it to Lucknow given looming deadlines at work, a sick child, an all too recent move and other such pressing concerns. In fact, the only time we recorded a perfect ten in terms of attendance was for our very first reunion. But missing a reunion now and then hasn’t weakened the bond we sought to forge and have nurtured over the past five years. We visit each other when in the same city, WhatsApp to discuss the important and the inane and are always there to extend help or just listen, which oftentimes is infinitely valuable while trying to get through a rough patch, a tough day.
I see a ton of articles lately on the importance of maintaining one’s social network as one becomes older and of female friendships in particular. Psychologists, physicians, professors, authors and even rock stars are all extolling the virtues of having a support system of close women friends. Hollywood and more recently Bollywood has made female bonding a genre in its own right. The genre, however has a long ways to go given how most of these movies portray female friendships as consumerist fantasies or a rallying cry for going against the norm.
I for one have discovered the sheer joy and comfort of having friends who I can turn to in good times and bad. Friends who I can confide in and be downright stupid with. Friends who support me, encourage me, praise me, compliment me and do not hesitate to chide me. These are women who have known me from when I was a gawky, pig-tailed school girl. These are women I once shared my lunch with and now feel comfortable sharing my daily struggles and triumphs with. A group of ten is a fairly large group and our group is significantly diverse. Each one is certainly closer to a few and yet as a group we seem to connect and click and have a certain vibe, a certain je ne sais quoi. I am grateful for our collective selves and can’t help but relate to this quote by Rebecca Wells – author of the bestselling Ya-Ya sisterhood series.
“Some women pray for their daughters to marry good husbands. I pray that my girls will find girlfriends half as loyal and true as the Ya-Yas.”