When we were growing up, there was no concept of ‘play-dates’. There was no necessity. A child had ample playmates in her daily life – neighbors, cousins, and often school mates who lived nearby. One habitually spent time with one’s peers without mothers having to synchronize complicated routines and spend hundreds to enable their children to ‘have fun’ in expensive malls and restaurants. Our ‘fun’ came free – in playgrounds, terraces, balconies and cozy bedrooms. What also invariably came free was the bonding with our friends’ mothers – who, over the years, became both surrogate mothers and friends to us. When we met in each other’s homes, we chatted with/in the presence of our mothers almost as much as conversing by ourselves. It was not customary then to slot adults and children into mutually exclusive rooms with the assumption that their worlds are different and can’t meet. Uncles and aunts were an integral part of the joy of our lives, and sometimes the favorite aunt happened to be one’s bestie’s mom.

I have had aunts galore in my life – doting aunts all, whom I am very fond of. But there are two other aunts whom I’ve loved dearly since my teenage – my two closest friends’ moms. Our trio is no more a trio: one is lost to us… strangely… even in a world teeming in communication. Two of us remain bosom pals – clinging to each other, virtually, across continents. All our mothers loved their daughters' best friends, and each shared a distinct relationship with the girls. They had different trajectories as individuals and wives, but as mothers they grew old and lonely in exactly the same way, as their daughters left them to seek new lives in other cities, and then countries. Two of the mothers have passed away, in quick succession. Only one remains. She is very precious to me – not only because of her unfailing love and concern for me for over three decades, but also because she is the only bridge to an aspect of my girlhood that would otherwise have been lost forever. Happy Birthday, Kakima! Thank you for being there. Love you.