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Friday, October 7, 2016

My Special SIS - Sister In Survival

We were without a cable or dish TV connection for more than 1 and ½ decades. Yeah, my children grew up not watching TV and they are fine, even though I assure you that it was not an experiment conducted on them so see if children can actually live without TV or not. It was just that I felt we were watching TV whenever we are bored without using the time for some creative activity or outdoor games. So, out went the TV from our lives and in came computers.
4 years ago TV box made an entry to our home via my husband who decided it is an insult to his NRI status to not have a TV in home. Yet, we were very skeptical about going for a connection until this April when again the man of the house wanted to watch IPL and went for the connection. Honestly, even though I grumbled and was angry at the change being made, I did enjoy the match.
Finally, the tragedy happened once again. The TV serials made an entry into our home, now through Farheena who even earlier would watch them on her iPad through internet. As my work desk and TV stand side by side, I cannot help but glimpse at the happening on TV at times, especially the ads. When engrossed in work recently, I jumped out of my skin to the word ‘KHAMOSH’ uttered in a boomering voice. When I turned towards the TV, I saw after a long time the now aged Shatrughan Sinha with Amitabh Bachchan on the show. This was a promotion of the new show Yaaron Ki Baraat which promised to put celebrity friendships to test through a series of fun challenges and tasks on Zee TV's chat show hosted by Sajid Khan and Riteish Deshmukh.

When we talk about friendships and friends, there is no way I can escape thinking about my friend Paula Gerding from USA, who was a sister in survival (we both were survivors of breast cancer) who created a bond in my life which is completely different from any other bond I have. It was way back in 2005 that I first met Paula on a cancer support board for breast cancer survivors.
I had been through cancer in 1996a and also lost my sister to cancer the same year. It came as a big shock when my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 when I was thinking we have seen the last of it. Surgery was done, yet we saw a recurrence happening in 2005. Cancer was getting on my nerves and I needed emotional support. Since I did not find any support groups nearby, I logged online and found a support group from USA.
Paula was a member of the group who somehow created a special bond with me in no time. Soon we were discussing our families, children and other things with each other, including some serious discussion on religion, war and politics. I met more survivor sisters on the board and we had a private group of our own called Ladybirds.
Paula was one of those people who was full of life and enthusiasm. There was no mission impossible for her. She made plans and made them work. One of the plans she had was to have us visit her and may be settle down Farheena in USA for better future. She would chat with Farheena on webcam and became her favorite Hi-Bye aunty. She shared a special friendship with my son Rayyan as well. 
More than me, my kids were excited to meet Paula. So, we started working towards our visit to USA and finally one day it happened. We went to meet Paula and other friends in USA. The four months we spent with Paula made a huge difference to all of our lives.

The pictures will give you a peek into the funny times we spent with Paula. 


Paula made this poster to welcome us. 
At Race For Cure 


Demanding and getting her share of toy from Mc Donalds

At Tarpon Springs with Ladybird Kathleen

At Marie's for hair style
Farheena after donating her hair to 'locks of love'

Another Style


Wanting me to experience the hair attention

With a cake to celebrate anniversary of survival

With my kids washing her dogs

A party with Lizzie with a ladybird cake

At church with Rayyan and Farheena in a dress I made for her

Trying to teach Farheena to swim.. that shows one of her mission impossible plans

The great sari party with all survivors

Way of telling me I cook good food

A brick in her garden dedicated to us

The Drama Queens in Disney World.. they were just a bit tired for God's sake!

Trying to show off to Rayyan that she can also stand her on her head....

Roasting Marsh-mellows at poolside

Dressing up in sari .. just for a surprise

I and Paula along with other ladybirds are sisters in a special way, which goes way beyond friendship. Someone rightly mentioned -- "We are not sisters of blood but sisters of heart" and believe me sisters of hearts have the same amount of fights and bickering like the ones of blood do. J
I am glad that I took the bold step of visiting Paula in USA when I did, because she lost her battle with cancer two years later after putting on a brave fight. Losing Paula was big blow to all of us. Love her or hate her, there is no way you could ignore Paula with her grand plans and way of making them work. Even though Rayyan and I have come to the acceptance that Paula is no more with us, Farheena still misses her and waits for her messages on Facebook.
Reaching out to a family half way across the globe and building a bond with them looks like something impossible in our world, but Paula made it happen. Even though I was always a practical person, she made me take a spontaneous decision to visit USA and make my childhood dream of visiting Disney World come true. Without her, I would never have dared to embark on such a journey with my children.
There are so many Pee (as we ladybirds call her) stories stacked in my memory, that I can not only write a blog post but start a blog about her. What touched my heart about Paula was the way she made you feel she cared for you. 
There is nothing boring with Paula around. Every day was fun and different and more than me it was my children who enjoyed her friendship.
Like one of my friend said Paula was full of energy and enthusiasm, whether it was in moments of love and happiness or moments of fear, anger and sadness. I hate saying the word "was" because I'd like to imagine she's still out there somewhere, working on some grand plan or arranging a grand party for her friends. And no, I can't imagine her resting in peace wherever Paula is. Even to this day, she makes me smile through my tears. No one will ever take her place in my heart.

This is my own share of Yaaron ki Baraat with my own very special friend…. 

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