They are all schoolmates. However, all of them are now seasoned in their journey of life at individual capacities, but the bondage of friendship is still alive and vibrant among all.
Jayashree Chowdhury, Ashok Sen, Basab Bhattacharjee, Amitabha Choudhury – all from the 1991 batch of Netaji Vidyapith Railway Higher Secondary School in Maligaon, Guwahati.
Among the four friends, Amitabha Choudhury is a COVID warrior who along with all his family members, including old parents, got affected during the previous phase of October 2020.
However, this second wave of the pandemic has not only shattered this young group as they came across the sufferings of the COVID-19 encountered families around the Pandu-Maligaon area in Guwahati.
“I was shocked when I heard the sufferings of the family of Ananya Choudhury, my old buddy and a bosom friend from schooldays. She lives in Rehabari area. With a mind to support the family in isolation, I thought to serve them food. My husband Abhijeet whole-heartedly supported me. And now as they all have recovered, I am immensely happy too,” expressed Jayashree.
Witnessing the present scenario of COVID -19 and drastic spread of infection in the community, Jayashree and her three friends, along with her husband Abhijit Chakraborty, decided to do something for the people who are in isolation due to COVID-19 and really in need of food. In fact, that is the beginning of “Friends Forever”- a small group with like-minded people who came out to support the society in the verge of crisis.
Initially, with no idea from where to start, the friends posted on Facebook that “if someone is really in need of food during COVID-19 isolation/ home quarantine phase, then call us. We will serve your free home-cooked meal at your doorstep.”
“Our simple poster has been shared by many of our Facebook friends in different groups. Suddenly in the same evening, on May 12, we got 10 queries. And that’s the beginning of this journey to stand with the COVID-19 warriors of Pandu-Maligaon,” said Ashok Sen, one among the group members.
From the initial number of 10 meals, the friends are now serving almost 50-60 food packets daily with hygienic home-cooked food in the locality. The group has served more than 700 meals till May 24.
With the continuation of the free meal support, the team is hopeful that if everything goes well, they can extend their hands towards the COVID-19 victims in a bigger way in the coming days.
But now, with the understanding of the noble effort of the “Friends Forever” group, many friends and well-wishers not only from Assam but also from neighbouring states are extending their support to carry on the journey for humanity.
Interestingly, with a vision to do something for the people in crisis, this small group has started a journey from zero. Now it has become a mission for them.
“In our school days, we were not brilliant students. But with a good heart we always tried to bring some positive changes at different levels successfully,” remembers Amitabha Choudhury, one among the four.
“Be it for student’s welfare or socio-cultural appraisal or a real crisis like supporting the COVID-19 fighters, the ‘Friends Forever’ is always together with a great bondage of friendship, not only among just the four-five persons. But with a greater vision,” said Basab Bhattacharjee, a teammate.
In real sense, it is a big gang of like-minded friends and their family members who are the backbone of this vision turned as a mission for the people’s welfare at Pandu –Maligaon supporting the COVID-19 affected families with a free meal.