We agreed to talk once a week chatting before her birthday in September. It took two months to make it for next fifteen minutes conversation. One of those that earlier we would have sipping Gluehwein and hiding from Kyiv October chill under woollen blanket with her cat in between. Or in bustling Bun Cafe next to Golden Gate, where as students we used to study finance over the cup of yummiest hottest cocoa and plate of buns with potatoes, onions, cinnamon and cherries.
In the crowd of freshers wandering around campus during orientation, the first thing I noticed was huge red-and-peach flowers on her white cotton knee long dress, emphasising waist. After classes we walked till University metro station, recalling school years. Slender and without makeup she radiated confidence and natural beauty. Tania Fomina, whom we simply call Fomi, since college days became a friend for life. Shared notebooks, skipped classes, first dates and career decisions started our women’s friendship over a decade ago. She was the one to take me home, when i had nowhere to go. Her mom would talk to mine, when i couldn’t. Fomi was the one to console me, treating with ratatouille followed by coffee and sweets in her kitchen. She was always there for me, and I – for her. Till i packed my bags and went to India, moving into the mist of unknown, i wouldn’t imagine before.
Our now parallel lives intersect in my yearly short visits to Ukraine and infrequent Skype calls. I’ve missed her bachelorette party and the wedding day. Me and Mr. Sharma went to Sri Lanka, where newlyweds were on honeymoon. But they left the same morning we arrived. We met again in Kyiv, when i was struck with my mom’s death. Unquestionably she was there for me. I wasn’t there for her so many times, i wish i would. This is what happens when you live abroad.
I’ve learnt that distance either kills friendship, or makes it stronger. When you’re oceans apart and two and a half hours ahead, there’s so much to say and so little at the same time. Enjoying, imbibing, sharing, advising or just making some fun together would light the day and ease life hardships. It’s not easy to carve out time for each other, which is very little but more content.
She messaged me post lunch in India while making her morning coffee. I’m caught up with work so call got postponed till 6 pm, when, pinky promise, I’ll reach home and have about an hour before me and Mr. Sharma leave for birthday party. When I’m there to talk, she’s on phone call with client. We’re back home after dinner, she’s still wrapping up her work, so i get 15 minutes to have bath and switch into comfy bed-time mode with a book in hand. Sudhir talks to his friends from Turkey in the living room. Finally my iPad is buzzing with the Skype tone. In colourful blouse with straight ash brown hair tied up, Fomi sips pre-dinner tea at tiny white dinning table while veggies for Vinaigrette are getting cooked. Laughing and crying at the same time, we bridge the gaps between our lives.