I have always believed that friends are the ones who spend time together decorating the house for the festival. Others just come to the party. They are the ones who you take evening strolls with when the day is over. While others are 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 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. This is when I felt that our friendship was much more than I deserved. The one 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 a traditional, middle-class Indian family, my wife and I were always sure that there will be grandparents around when this happened. To help us with everything. With the recent COVID situation, we could not invite them from India. My wife had a C-section which made her immobile for a few days. Me, who had never even picked a baby ever, went from “scared of a baby” to “there for the baby”. That is when they 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.

And they responded. We used to 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 it to our place. On weekdays. Leaving their offices midway. Some with an hour’s drive. Some delivered food twice so that “we ate only freshly cooked”. Curries. Rice. Rotis. Dal. Desert sometimes.

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

Some of our closest friends were constantly monitoring us. Making sure we were doing ok. 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. One other said she could not sleep when we were in the hospital. I used to dial their number 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! And 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!