Her name was Sherri Peavy. She was a nurse by profession and worked as an administrator in a health care organization. Since then we would speak to each other sporadically, and I think we were both happy when it happened. The conversations were lively because of her extraordinary liveliness and curiosity. The friendship became close enough for us to meet outside of the train a few times. She came to our place for dinner a couple of times, and once she came to one of my art exhibitions. I think it was just three times that we met outside our train commutes.
Eventually we moved back to the city, and my commute stopped. We exchanged a few sporadic emails here and there, and few birthday-wishes. Finally, that too faded away, as it always does. I knew she also moved to the city, and in spite of our mutual promises to meet again, it never materialized.
Yesterday, in the middle of the Corona Isolation, I went out for our weekly grocery shopping. While waiting in front of the checkout line, my phone rang. Trying to be careful not to touch anything with a potentially unclean hand, I let it go to the voice mail. As soon as I reached home, I washed my hands and looked at my phone. To my utter astonishment, it was a call from Sherri.
I called her back, and she said she just wanted to know how we are doing. She remembered that Nisha’s 90-year-old mother lived with us, and she was also concerned about us as we also belong to the high-risk group. It was a very pleasant conversation.
Later on, I was thinking of this conversation, and remembered something that Sherri said. She said that in times like these you gain a certain clarity of thought that tells us who and what is ultimately important to us. With all that is bad, this is probably the biggest gain that comes out of a crisis. It gives us the ability to see through the fog of everyday life, and the important things and important people comes into clearer focus, and they are often not what we expected. Let us make the best of this unintended clarity and pay it some deliberate attention. Something wonderful may come out of it.