They say Aquarians collect friends of all shapes and sizes. But that bit of astrology didn’t work in my case because I had no close friends all through my school.
I noticed her on the first day of college. Spectacled and serious, she was collecting the names of all the new entrants to the class, as she was the class monitor. The first thing that I noticed about Thangam was her voice – deep and reassuring.
I was then shy and socially awkward while she was outgoing and popular. But we became friends nonetheless. We would sit for hours after college discussing books and characters that we have admired and loved and time would speed away. For the first time in my life, I had a friend who would understand why I had a massive crush on Mr. Darcy or why I admired Jane Eyre.
After college she went on to do her MBA while I pursued Journalism and Mass communication but we stayed in touch despite distance and gruelling schedules. When she moved to Dubai after marriage and I made my home in Chennai, we stayed in touch through emails and hurried phone calls and met each other whenever she came to the country. She is my best and the worst critic ever and these are the lessons that I have learnt from her.
Resilience in the face of storm: Thangam is the most resilient person I have ever known. She has battled many weird health problems, numerous operations, and emotional turmoil to stand forth brave and unflinching in the face of pain and agony.
Brutally honest: She is brutally honest about everything. Right from the state of my hair to the first draft of my novel, her feedback was always straightforward (with many choicest swear words that I wouldn’t repeat here.).
Go get it attitude: One could learn many lessons from her about how to achieve anything that you want. She juggled many roles as an entrepreneur, a mother, wife and as a amateur poet quite successfully. All through this journey she had only one mantra to pull her through – ‘I can do it if I put my mind to it.’
Be there when you are needed: A very important lesson that I have learned from her through example. She was always there for me as a sounding board for decisions, as an anchor to pull me through storms and as a friend who would listen to anything that I had to say be it complaints about Raks’ naughty behaviour or weighty things like the plot of my next novel. She is there whenever I need her.
Today is her birthday and even as I write this I get a message from her husband reminding me to call her and wish. So here is a tribute for you Thangam. Have a fantastic fun-filled day and a great year!