In March this year, as India prepared to go under lockdown in its war against coronavirus, Sony had another challenge at hand. In and out of veterinary clinics every day, her pet dog cradled in her arms, she was desperately trying to save his life.
On March 22, the day of the Janata Curfew, however, Akki lost the battle against age-related ailments, leaving a bereaved Sony with 15 years of fond memories. Forced to remain indoors in the following months, Sony coped with the grief with few distractions and fewer friends to share it with.
One day early in May, Sony received a call from a dear friend and colleague, Mira, asking her to step outside her Andheri residence for a few moments. “The lockdown has been tough on all of us. With our social lives reduced to nil, I went thinking she wants to meet, even if for a few minutes.” What awaited her was a surprise she could have never anticipated.
Mira had brought for Sony, Angel, a cute little pup who had been rescued off the street after an accident.
Friendships with girlfriends are intensely therapeutic for women. These relationships see them through various stages of life, from moving out and getting over toxic relationships to moving into new homes, through illness or weddings and then childbirth.
From physical pain to trauma, women often find girlfriends to be the best listeners, the most empathetic critics and a whole support system. With the pandemic unfolding, the lockdown, the fear of the unknown and at times the crushing burden of work, lack of space and domestic chores, girlfriends have showed up for their women friends spectacularly, and have been their primary coping mechanism.
OF HEARTBREAKS AND HEALING
“Having known my bond with Akki, she had understood how much I was missing him. She thought having Angel around would help me cope with the pain,” recounts 34-year-old Sony.
Sony eventually had to turn down Mira’s gift as she needed time to get over Akki’s passing but the friend’s gesture moved her immensely. Angel has since been adopted by Mira, who did anticipate the possibility. “One pet cannot replace the loss of another but dogs have the power to help in healing.
That’s the thought I had on my mind when I got Angel for Sony. The lockdown had only made things tougher for her and I had hoped Angel would be able to help Sony through it while the puppy also gets a loving home,” says Mira.
According to clinical psychologist Sujata Sharma, each one of us has had to struggle with a sense of loss during these gloomy months of lockdown. “For some, like Sony, the loss is personal. Then there are others who have lost their loved ones to coronavirus. Many have lost their jobs or are having to learn to live with reduced pays. And then, in addition to all of this is the loss of normalcy and sense of community that as humans we thrive on,” she points out.
What makes it worse, Sharma adds, is that we are having to deal with it alone as we try to get on with life while cooped up inside our houses. “At such times, even the smallest unexpected gestures uplift our moods. The intimacy felt in these gestures give us a sense of normal.”
FOOD FOR THE HEART
On her birthday earlier this month, Janaki’s friends — a Mumbai-based journalist — had a breakfast of butter croissants and tea cake delivered to her residence early morning, which she feels was the best gift she received that day. “It’s been more than three months of lockdown and every single day seems just like the previous or the next.
There is nothing to look forward to, really,” the Mumbai-based writer said. So when after days of housework and making her own breakfast, something as simple and warm as breakfast food landed at her doorstep right in the morning, Janaki was elated.
For Megha, however, her friend gave her memory that she knows she will cherish forever. Megha was excited about the success of her directorial debut What Are The Odds? which released on Netflix in May but had no one around to celebrate with as she has been living alone.
That is, until her friend Sugandha dropped by with a bottle of champagne to mark the occasion. “She lives right around the corner but her driving down to see me and make a celebration out of the evening was very sweet.
It was a lovely, socially distanced evening in her car to mark the important milestone in my life,” says Megha. In fact, the care her girlfriends extend, with their regular video calls, keep Megha cheered up through the lockdown.
Janaki believes that more often than not, girlfriends “get you” better than anyone else. “The girlfriends you are close to will have seen you without any filter. This means they have seen you at your worst and know what will make you bounce back,” says the 38-year-old.