|Varsha was from India and she was my best friend in the 1st grade. Her father was a visiting professor from India, teaching at the University of Oregon. She lived across the street from me, and we became instant friends. In the summer, of 1972, we would play all day until dark. We would play in her backyard garden. Her mother had planted herbs and cultivated her own spices. That was the summer I fell in love with India and Varsha.|
Her father was very, very strict. Varsha was not allowed to chew gum, and had gotten into trouble when I gave her some. Her older brother, Veejay, had told on us. She wasn’t allowed to play with me for a week.
Cradled Wood Panel
Varsha was exotic and opened my world up past the borders of Eugene, Oregon. We would play with dolls, and I always used lipstick to put a red dot on my doll’s third eye. Went I went to her house, I was introduced to Sandalwood; The earthy sweet smell was intoxicating to me and I still love it to this day.
Her mother would cook meals I had never seen nor tasted. It definitely was not Hamburger Helper. I loved the food, and was always invited to eat with them. Everything Varsha did, I did. Her mother would give her warm milk for breakfast - I, therefore, drank warm milk for breakfast.
I wanted to wear a sari like her mother. Beautiful, vividly colored silks draped her plump body. I began to wrap a sheet around myself when I played in the playhouse in my backyard. Next to my playhouse was a small jungle of bamboo - and I would pretend I was in India.
The year went by quickly, and Varsha went back to India. I never saw her again. I don’t even remember her last name. I have no idea what her life has become. I think of her often and I am grateful for having her in my young life, if only for a year.