I have always believed that friends are the ones who spend time together decorating the house for a celebration, while others just come for the party. Friends are who you take evening strolls with when the day is over, while others are merely a part of that day. I have been fortunate to have such friends. We have chatted together for hours, laughed, stood by each other, and had amazing times together. These people who were total strangers when I moved to the US twelve years ago, had been woven into the fabric of my life. But just about three months ago, they took it to the next level. That was when I felt that our friendships were much more than I deserved. Friendships where “giving” had a new definition. “Selflessness” had a new definition. And where tens of these nuclear families became a village. For us.

We were blessed with our son in August. Coming from traditional middle-class Indian families, my wife and I were always sure that there would be grandparents around to help us, when this happened. But with the recent COVID-19 situation, we could not invite them from India. My wife had an emergency C-section and something happened that I had not planned for. The surgery made her immobile for a few days. I, who had never even picked up a baby, went from being “scared of a baby” to being “there for the baby”. That is when our friends came in. We had asked for help with food as we thought it was impossible to cook and still take care of the baby. My wife had to eat well as she was recovering and lactating.

Our friends responded. We would get freshly cooked food catered to the needs of the new mother. Without a word from us, my friends coordinated with each other, cooked for us, and delivered the meals to our place. On weekdays. They left their offices midway. Some had an hour’s drive. Some delivered food twice with saying, “You should eat only freshly cooked”. Curries. Rice. Rotis. Dal. Sometimes dessert.

We had made a timetable so that more than one friend did not send us food on a day. We thought two weeks of food from them would be enough to get us back on our feet and start cooking for ourselves. But because a few of my friends did not find a slot within those two weeks, they took the liberty of extending it to a third week. And then one more.

Some of our closest friends were constantly monitoring us, making sure we were doing okay. Hospitals were not allowing visitors but that did not stop them from coming to visit us from outside the door. They were there for us. Day and night. One of them took a leave from the office for a few days. Another said she could not sleep when we were in the hospital. I used to dial their numbers in the middle of the night when I did not know what to do.

Our baby is three months old now and we have lived and loved every day. But I will never forget our “village” that made this happen. Everyone is now family. I swear to stand by them. Come what may. I hope I make every attempt in my life to deserve the love and pure friendship that was extended towards us. In awe and indebted!

To my “Village” : I am not going to get out of your hair soon because this is going to get stuck in my head for a long time. Probably a lifetime!