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Perfect strangers

By Uttama

Written at age 22


This is a simple story, rarely told. Of a magic that began when I was first created. Of a rainbow that leads to eternity, one that will remain long after I have left. This is the story of the depths of my being. And of the two strangers you will meet there.

When I board a plane, I put my mid-sized purse under the seat in front of me. I immediately take it back out again and look inside to double check something. Inside a brown leather passport holder lays my passport and boarding pass. He is relieved.

Six hours later, three more painful ones to go, my stomach grumbles and emptiness fills me with hunger. I look at the lady sleeping next to me, and think to myself “it’s safe now.” I open the zip lock bag that is hiding at the bottom of my purse and quietly munch on the biscuits. She smiles.

I arrive safely at Chicago O’Hare airport, and after spending no less than two hours in immigration, I wait at the taxi stand in minus 30 degree temperature, the tips of my ears on the verge of falling off. I turn on my mobile, and there is a message from him: Hope you reached ok. Call when you land. Love you.

I stay awake that whole night, a harsh victim of jetlag. I am the first one of my friends to come back to the dorms, and the silence of the hallways is deafening. The phone rings and breaks the peace like a shrill. I hear the voice on the other end and realize that there is never a moment when I am alone. She asks if I remembered to take my medicine for the soreness that is starting to knock at my throat.

The next morning, the hallways start to fill with friends and foe alike, and I begin a routine of university life. The moments, the days, the years go by – and I find that I am constantly struggling between two people.

When a friend is in need, I run over to their rooms, my heart open to their sorrow – my mind ready to fix whatever is broken. You must give of yourself entirely, she reminds me. No matter who seeks your help. To help those that don’t deserve it is the most worthy of acts.

When I am in need, and that same friend has not given me a second glance, I cry. I ache with pain. I sob with the thought that even the best of friends can be selfish. You must find the strength within yourself, he says. If you helped with the thought of being rewarded, you did so in vain.

When I find that someone has done grave injustice – the two voices argue. Go tell them what they did was wrong, she says. Stand up for what you believe in!

No, there is no need to fight ignorance with ignorance, he retorts. If you truly believe otherwise, practice your belief in your own life before preaching how others should live theirs.

On the nights when I find myself in a nightclub, lights flashing against each other, faces hidden in clouds of smoke, feet dancing on alcohol-drenched floors, I still manage to hear them through the blaring music.

Don’t accept drinks from strangers, she says. Stay close to your friends. Don’t go home alone in a cab.

But don’t forget to have fun, he reminds me.

On the many evenings that I have been lucky enough to walk down the streets of Paris, Prague, Venice, or Zambia, I find myself looking at the world through their eyes. I notice the hungry man, painting a beautiful landscape, huddled in the corner of a cobblestone road. I taste the scent of freshly baked bread, and smile at the baker as I pass by. I stop in front of a small and crooked church. Go inside, they say. The Divine power exists in all places and all forms. You have only to believe to find that it holds your hand wherever you go.

When I sit here and type this, tempted to go back and erase every line I have written, for no words can ever explain what I feel, they stop my finger from hitting the delete button.

If you feel love, show it. We have one life to live, and why live it in fear of failure? Follow your heart – because it is hidden in there that you will find all things – including us.

I have traveled far and beyond from the comfort of their touch, their laughs, their hugs. I have learned to live alone, to cry alone, to smile alone – and to realize that I am truly never alone. They sing the songs of their lives in my soul – and every day I hear them. In every footstep, in every breath, it is the dust of their own lives that sprinkle out of me. In every tear, and every moment of heartfelt pain, they are there to remind me that no hardship can go unconquered. They buy me presents they know I would never ask for myself. They clean my kitchen because they know I will be too tired after work. They put some extra money in the bank – just because. They encourage me to do things even they doubt I will be able to do – anything is possible.

For every tiny piece of their love I have written here, multiply it a million times, send it to the infinity power – and you will still be short a lifetime. They are two separate people – two amazing minds. But once joined together, many, many, years ago – they were trapped in the heart of a little girl. A little girl, who even now, looks up at them as if they have the power to save her from the whole world. A little girl who has learned that people can be cruel, that life can be painful, but that no matter what, she always has inside her, two special strangers who became her lifelong friends. Her parents.

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18 Responses to Perfect strangers

  1. Apeksha April 11, 2010 at 9:02 am #

    Amazing!!!! All that is written is so true and from the heart!! Thanks for sharing this as it teaches all to love their parents even more.

  2. High School Student April 20, 2010 at 5:34 am #

    Parents, the two most important people in everyone’s life. Many people may not realize this now, but I think this article sent a very important, touching, and memorable point. I love how throughout the story, it doesn’t actually say who she is talking about until the very last sentence. I was thinking about who it might be, friends, siblings perhaps. But then by reading the last paragraph, it made the picture clearer and less-vague.
    The word choice in this article is also very good. Not too hard to understand, but at the same time the words used give images in your head rather than just being words on a screen. Great fluency, I really felt a strong voice while reading this.
    It also explains many very true points that I have never actually been able to explain to people until I read this, and I think she made a great job at pointing it out. Even the best of friends can sometimes be selfish. It shows you that parents both want you to have fun and be careful. You can search the world and never find someone that will care about you as much as they will.
    I learned a lot by reading this essay. It is very memorable, especially the conclusion. Good job.

  3. anonymous April 20, 2010 at 5:52 am #

    interesting article< THANKS FOR SHARING

  4. Anonymous April 20, 2010 at 5:55 am #

    A guiding hand. A hand that helps you through your pain, grief, happiness. A guiding hand that will never leave your side no matter what wrong you have done.
    They say, “Friends come and go, family stays forever.” It’s significantly true. Family does stay with you forever. But at the same time, friends can too. Your parents are there for you from the second you’re born. They help you find your purpose and your strengths. They make you who you are and without them, your life wouldn’t be complete. Many teens do not believe this because they think they know everything and that they don’t need their parents’ warnings and rules.
    But they do. Without parents, the children would be lost and alone. Parents are most of the time a child’s role model. They help a child understand what they are doing in the world humans live in. But sometimes, parents think that they will always have full control of their child’s decisions.
    This is not true and it is for the most part selfish. As a child grows older, he starts to have his own interests and opinions. And he or she should carry out his/her wishes and a desire in a way he/she believes is right. Not what the parents think. I’ve had many problems like these with my parents. They think that my life should depend on what they want and this forms many disagreements. But now they are starting to realize that they are not always right and slowly they are letting me step out and speak for myself. It isn’t easy to convince them though. At times, it would take weeks of arguing until they see that I’m growing into an independent person with her own mind.
    Parents will always be there for you. They may not always have the same point of view as you have but they will always try to do the best for you so that you can bloom into success. Every parent’s goal is to be the best parent you can ever have. Sometimes it isn’t like that though, and when they know they aren’t doing their job right, they feel guilty and try to fix they’re mistakes. They will always do what they can to make you feel pleased and grateful.
    Each one of them is a guiding hand, who will always keep you in their hearts. They’ll be on their side fighting with you through difficult times and praising you through wonderful times.

  5. Anonymous April 20, 2010 at 5:56 am #

    The whole article is touching and true!
    Great job!<333

  6. High School Student April 20, 2010 at 7:25 am #

    “To understand your parents’ love you must raise children yourself.” This Chinese Proverb underlines what family love is. No matter how much we “feel” the love of our parents, we will never fully understand it until we become parents. Our parents will never stop caring too much even when we grow old. They will always be there either physically or as our most emotional memory when they pass away. As time grows older, we’ll begin to mature from teenagers into adults and then fathom the meaning of parental love.
    Being raised by a Kashmiri mother and a Pakistani father, I know how we can find our parents love to be too overwhelming. Every time I go out my mother constantly wants me to call her to see if I’m ok and the only thing that makes those moments less exasperating is the thought of my dad being a little more “open.” Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents more than anything but at times when you think they start caring too much, that eternal love can change instantly and remain only for an instant. After that, you go on living just like you would thinking that if you tell your parents to back off once in a while they might think you don’t love them. I’ve never done it. But honestly, our parents are much smarter than us when it comes to family. We are growing and everything around us feels like change. Parents will never stop caring from the inside even if you tell them to. And you’ll be glad that they didn’t. I get it, there is a dominant stereotype saying that South Asian parents care a lot more than other parents. It’s a stereotype, it can always be defied. My parents are partially open to other cultures and they know that it is inevitable I will meet people that aren’t from South Asia. I do it every day. They know too that at my age I will be exposed to new “things” my dad says and that I will have to learn how to deal with them. That’s what I love. That independence is finally telling you that your parents think you’re mature enough to start making decisions on your own. Soon in our late 30s we may wish that we never matured.
    It’s a tough thing to comprehend. Some teenagers may stay opposed to it all times, thinking that they don’t need help because they’re “big enough. I think you’re never big enough in the eyes of your parents. We have to see things from their perspective to understand their love. When we do, nothing will seem complicated.

  7. Trinidad and Tobago April 21, 2010 at 3:14 am #

    You will never understand your parents until you become a parent. No sane parent wants anything but the best for their children. If your parents abandoned you as a child then you wouldn’t have been still alive. They shelter you from all the evil of this world and provide you with everything you need to live; food, water, clothing, shelter and an education. You should start appretiating your parents because if you don’t you’ll regret it once they are gone.

  8. ais-r student April 21, 2010 at 7:18 am #

    This story touched my heart. Although I wasn’t going to comment because of the length, this story kept on yanking on my soul and calling to me. I had to go back to this story sooner more than later.
    This is a story about two strangers from long long ago who one day have their lives, their morals, their stories, their souls intertwined into one girl. They brought her into this world and they brought her up. They bring her up for they will forever be with her. Whether in the biscuits on the plane or the text in the biting cold. Whether surrounded by the drunk or sorrow. Whether she consoles a fake friend or a baker, painter and church pass her by. She is the sum of two.
    This is my story. This is the story of my parents. This is the story of how they’re in me, how they follow me and how they love me. This is the story of how I hear my mother when I’m faced with a decision. This is the story of my father’s corny jokes. I am the sum of their experiences. I am who they made because they made me that way. I am the daughter of my parents.
    This is your story. This is how you parents raised you. Whether they’re good parents or bad. Whether they loved you or they didn’t. Whether they taught you and nourished you or left you to yourself. You are the way you are because of them. You are yourself because of them.
    This story is one I won’t forget lightly and I commend the author. I know this was hard for you to write that day in the church because I know how by not being able to write it the way you feel it you think you are doing an indecency to your thoughts. (As I feel I’m doing and indecency in that sentence). I understand how you wanted to start from the begging or to not start at all. But I’m sure when you were writing this you were experiencing the magic and rainbow of you and those two strangers of long long ago.

    • Preetam March 12, 2011 at 5:48 pm #

      Hey there….I am deeply touched by your response to this article….Apparantly, you seem to write incredibly well yourself…if you are an avid writer which I guess you are..could you write and share your BRILLIANT thoughts with the world?….This world needs GREAT writers….trust me

  9. Megs April 22, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    This article is beautiful. I’m still stunned by it’s impact. You’ve written it so well, and every single thing you mentioned is so true. Wow. Wow. WOW. (:

  10. Cynthia May 5, 2010 at 1:25 am #

    Beautiful and sweet story! I loved it.

  11. Narmin September 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    You are such an amazing writer Uttama :)

  12. Jesika September 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm #

    I love it. Very well said

  13. Vinay Gandhi September 30, 2010 at 12:45 am #

    Very touching…. really written from the bottom of your heart…

  14. Alexandra September 30, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    Such an amazing article! Your parents must be so proud!

  15. Nikita Gandhi September 30, 2010 at 7:07 pm #

    I read this article THRICE…and still couldn’t get enough of it! It’s way too good! So true and touching! Loved it! :)

  16. Leann October 2, 2010 at 12:53 pm #

    Thank you for putting words to our thoughts…so beautiful and well written.

  17. Preetam March 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    BRILLIANT!!!!….I fall short of words to explain how I feel about this article. Nonetheless, I completely endorse your views about the fact that no individual can be a substitute for parents, for they are the ones who genuinely care for their offsprings no matter how many times they might have been wronged. They want the BEST for them and toil hard to place all the luxuries in the lap of their wards so that they may be able to lead comfortable lives. “PARENTS”….
    the most priced possessions in an individuals life are representatives of ‘GOD ALMIGHTY’ in the disguise of humans.

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