41/100. This is a special one. So special that I will probably not find the words to say all that is in my heart.

I wore my 41st saree of the #100sareepact on July 14, my birthday. The birthday I share with Roshni, a friend who is so much more than a friend. She is, in fact, the twin sister of my heart…

Fraternal twins, though! Because we are nowhere alike in disposition, at least apparently. She talks little, while I talk way too much. She is patient to a fault while impatience dogs my every step. She is inherently gentle, while I can (and do) roar with just a lift of my eyebrow. But, this is just the surface. She gets me – the times when I retreat into my shell – when others cannot imagined me having a no-talk day. I get her – the strength underlying the gentleness that others often miss.

A shared love of books, of food and most probably the most important, an elemental, almost searing need for the hills has brought us more shared yearning, joy and contentment than I can put in words.

Our lives have been markedly different, yet eerily similar… A diverging, merging and diverging of stories almost… And in this ebb and flow, we – and I know I speak for her as well – have forged one of the strongest relationships in our respective lives.

We have this little ritual – if we are both in town on our birthday, we do breakfast together. Come rain, snow, hail or an avalanche of other commitments, this stands firm. This year, we were both in town after a gap of two years in between. So breakfast it had to be, along with sarees and stories.

I had anyway decided to wear the saree she had gifted me last year on our birthday. And I wanted her to wear a gift from me as well.

So, here we are. She is wearing an unusual pink Balarampuram cotton – essentially, a rare, hand-dyed Kerala Kasavu. I bought this saree for her because to me, this epitomises Roshni. Gently striking and strikingly gentle. Roshni wore her saree with a golden blouse and dainty pearl and ruby jewellery. I am enveloped in the six yards of love that is the saree she gifted me on our last birthday – a beautiful wine coloured handloom saree with a silvery-grey resham border and palla. I wore this with a grey blouse with purple piping from Byloom and my usual, happy stack of silver bangles and silver earrings.

Birthdays are always about reflection, about taking stock. This year, I realised yet again how rich I am. If you will excuse the flowery analogy – pun intended – I have a veritable garden of good friends. All beautiful in their own ways, all bringing me joy in unique ways. And Roshni is my steel gardenia…

Here’s to you, Rosh. Here’s to us. And happy birthday, once again. 🎂😊