I have been a part of several unusual friendships. From my mid-twenties to my early thirties, my best friend was a 70ish-year-old named Madhukar. Having known him as my Dad’s friend, we forged a friendship that started at the bridge table but extended well beyond that. “Your best friend is younger than your younger son”, his wife teased him. “He is not Madhukar; he is ‘uncle’ to you”, my fiancee (now wife) chided me. Madhukar and I had the same response to our better halves: “Our friendship has a special chemistry”. However, today’s article is not about my friendship with Madhukar; that is a topic for a separate post.

When Swamiji opened the doors of os.me for all to write, I was initially reticent. When I decided to write my first article, I had no idea of all the awesomeness that was in store. I developed the identity of a writer. I had occasion to better myself. One of the most important things that happened to me was the sense of belonging I developed with the community, and the friendships that I forged as a result of meaningful interactions here on os.me. One such friendship was an unusual friendship: I became friends with a 13-year old named Hemanya Vashishtha.

Hemanya was one of the first to comment on my first post 10 Life Lessons from Harry Potter. I then had occasion to read about the poems she wrote for Swamiji in a handmade diary, how she presented the poems to Swamiji, and her experience when Swamiji read out two of her poems. Blessings on Papyrus! was one of the best posts I had read. We then regularly commented on each other’s articles. We exchanged kind words, shared thoughtful ideas, chatted away by creating long os.me comment subthreads, hijacked other people’s threads (in a fun way, at least so I hope), and most significantly inspired one another. Some of her perspectives contained wisdom well beyond her age, reminding me that age is indeed a number. 

One of the most touching books I have ever read was suggested to me by Hemanya : Wonder by RJ Palacio (I had a Netflix account at that time, I watched the movie as well). This book gave me insight into families who have a child with a physical deformity and how this affects everyone in the family in various ways. 

I am a huge fan of Hemanya’s writings. I am particularly thankful to the first Write Choice challenge, for it brought out some truly beautiful (and eclectic) writings from Hemanya. The one that haunted me the most was Bhai – a superb story about two siblings, packed with pathos. Some of her articles provide practical words of wisdom – Taming the Devil is a perfect example, providing three potent techniques to combat irritants – breathing, flipping the script (my favorite), and acceptance. I love her poetry as well – Krishna is a beautiful composition filled with devotional sentiment, written with great elegance. Hemanya most recently experimented with other genres of writing, a slo-mo writeup, Japanese fiction. I can’t wait to see what she will come up with next – something experimental, a slice of life, or a fictional piece, the possibilities are endless.  

In the beginning of October, Hemanya had asked several osdotme folks to write a note for her mother’s birthday, and she made one of the most creative and artistic scrapbooks I’ve seen, filled with wishes and love from osdotme, embellished by Hemanya’s artistry. Now it is Mom’s turn to return the favour, enabling osdotme folks to be a part of her birthday (thank you for this Sonali di), and hence this article (and articles from others wishing Hemanya that I look forward to reading). 

I look forward to many more conversations and exchanges of ideas, Hemanya, and I particularly look forward to see all the amazing things you will do with the boundless energy you exhibit in expressing your talents. It is an honour to be your friend. Happy Birthday Hemanya!

Picture Credit: Calligraphy by multi-talented Hemanya (I hope it was okay to use this image Hemanya, asking for your permission would have ruined your birthday surprise!)