Even before I joined UMS, Rekha was my first point of contact with the company. She drew up my contract, answered thousands of queries (I am sure, with those classic rolling of her eyes) and we hit off almost immediately because of a common love for books. Within a year, she and I had read all the books we had and goaded each other to buy more. She would often look at me in disdain when I got another of those chick-lits but would still take them because she always claimed she had nothing to read. Almost every Wednesday, I would get a text message, “Gentle reminder, please bring me some books to read.” I had the upper hand because of my frequent trips to India and she would be the only person I would willingly lend my books to, because I knew her love for them was as fierce as mine. When we began running out of books, I bought a Kindle and later, forced her to buy one too. Just two days before she left for India, I loaded many books on her Kindle, asked her to relax and ‘just read’.
Little did I know, that chapter in my life would have such an unpredictable end. Just like those lunch sessions every day at Nirvana that would be full of sharing, jokes and camaraderie. Through her, I became friends with many of my Advertising colleagues and sometimes, we would all go out together for a meal. That we shared a common name was also cause of much mirth. A lot of my mails would go to her and vice versa. She would get interview requests and I would get last-minute requests for passes to an event.
Rekha was a solid source of strength for someone like me who would get easily worked up over a stray comment or stress at work. She was the only person I allowed to scream at me because she made sense. In turn, I would give her a ‘pleading’ look when I felt she was getting ready to scream at someone. And she would tell me later, “just because of you, I kept quiet. You are a bad influence.” And we used to chuckle together.
During our events, we knew we could depend on her for everything. Right from nominations to table sales – her sense of authority, responsibility and diligence was what saw our events to a wonderful finish. We would always go home together and the conversations on those nights are perhaps the most memorable of all.
Over the past one month, I have been speaking to her every week. Though she would be short of breath, she would still make it a point to enquire about everyone in the office. And she was apologetic too. “Please update everyone on what’s happening as I find it difficult to talk to whoever calls me.” She was making plans to come back next week.
We can call it fate, destiny or the unfairness of life! But this is a void that will remain forever.
Goodbye, my namesake! We may not have written that humourous bestseller together but in my Book of Life, your friendship is a chapter that will forever remain etched in my heart.