This is a story about two girls from vastly different backgrounds.
One of the girls, Yvonne, was the oldest of 3 children, a fireball of activity who talked nonstop, ran nonstop, rode her bike nonstop, and in general, did all the things American kids do.
The other girl was nicknamed “Hema”, a shortened version of her given name. She had grown up on the African continent, and came to America under cloudy circumstances not of her making. During that time, she was taken in by a family that Yvonne went to church with. That family provided a warm, loving, and accepting home for Hema. She and Yvonne were about the same age, and as only kids can truly do, they forged a friendship that, for a couple of years, overcame their cultural differences and circumstances.
But Hema was forced to return to her native country. The girls lost touch.
Then, over 35 years later, as Yvonne and I rode the bus to work, I heard her gasp “Oh, my word!” She was checking her seldom-used Facebook account, and viewing a message that said “I recognize the smile of my friend.” Yvonne told me the story, and tried several times to exchange messages via Facebook, but with the time differences, seldom managed to be online at the same time.
Over the next few months, Hema and I friended each other on Facebook, as did her oldest son, Prem Kumar, and I.
One day, he sent me a message on Facebook. “Uncle Scott, I would like to arrange for my mother and your wife to Skype, as a surprise to them both…” And we arranged a day and time.
We were out that afternoon with friends and got stuck far from home. We missed the call.
A few weeks later, on a Saturday morning in February, my phone rang. “Uncle Scott?”, asked the accented voice of a man I’ve never met. “This is Prem Kumar…” I handed the phone to Yvonne, and watched as the disbelief in her eyes changed to a big smile that spread across her face. Then, not wanting to interrupt them, I went to the computer, and called him on Skype.
Soon, Yvonne and Hema were sitting down to chat “face-to-face”, for the first time since they were girls. The smiles abundant, the tear glistening, and the love obvious.
Two friends, an ocean apart, getting to know each other again.