Saathi. I have spent some time in talking about a bondhu. A term that has very specific meanings in Bangla, a language that is spoken in the state of West Bengal in India and all of Bangladesh. Another similar sentiment is encoded in another Bangla word - saathi. The partner, the companion. Perhaps. A word that is infused in meanings that cross across many relational definitions. The English words partner, and companion begin to scratch the surface of the word saathi. The saathi holds your hand as you traverse the maze that is life. The hand holding signifies that one leads the other. Taking turns. There are moments when the saathi knows the way, and there are moments when the saathi is lost. Yet we all have saathis whose hands we can clench and be assured that we will never be lost. You trust the saathi with your life, knowing that this is the person who will rebuke you when you cross the boundaries of safety, will pull your hand and center you back in the safe place, who will press your hand ever so slightly reassuring you that you matter, and in the romantic sense, will entwine the fingers with a touch of sensuousness reminding you that there is a promise of a tenderness. The saathi never lets go of your hand. Even if you tire from someone holding your hand, the saathi will gently let go, but keep the soft touch on the fingers, awaiting your invitation for the clasp. A darkness surrounds us when the saathi lets go. Even in the brightness of the midday sun, when you realize that the hand is no longer there, you know you have come to the end of a journey. The hand has disappeared - drawn away in contempt - and you are left on your own. One can survive the loss of a bondhu, but the disappearance of the saathi is tantamount to a death by despairness. The one you relied on to walk hand in hand has just disappeared. The memories of the hand linger. Going for a walk now becomes a solitary journey through darkness. And this happens all the time - as hurt bodies walk around aimlessly through the catacombs of life, seeking to find the saathi whose hands will start them on a new journey. Some are fortunate to find the hand, others just continue alone, hands clenched, stoically knowing that the rest of the journey will be lonely. Perhaps they will find another one who too is walking, hands clenched, and two hands meet, and a new journey begins. It is not just the companionship that matters, but the way in which it is expressed is equally important amongst those who call each other saathi. Having a saathi to walk with makes the walk worthwhile, the gentle touch of fingers on fingers is the reminder that you are not alone, just as the withdrawal of the hand tells you deeply that you are on your own. The cruelest moment of all is when the person you thought was a saathi, a partner, a companion, lets go and pushes you into the abyss of despair; on the other hand the memorable moment of all is when you gently press down on the hands of the saathi and you are given the gentle press back. That is when you know life is good and you soar to new heights of hope. Being a saathi is all about holding hands and saying what the Beatles said, "And please, say to me/You'll let me hold your hand." Find your saathi and never let go, even if their clasp loosens, hold tight even more. 


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