I once had a best friend in school. We were in the same class. She was vivacious, fearless, outspoken. She was everything I was not and I was too shy to come out of my shell. Yet we became good friends in no time. I used to see her in school almost every day and yet we never talked. We were in the same class but we were like poles apart.
I felt like I was intimidated all the time. I was too afraid to talk to anyone. I had a few friends back at home and I felt like they are the only ones who I could be friends with. Like I had achieved a point of saturation with regard to having friends and I could make no further addition to my friend list. Having a childhood deprived of parents and no money to support always made me feel like I was nobody. I was ashamed of myself, so I made myself believe that I was too insignificant to be noticed by anyone.
Then something happened. We were about to begin our session in the fourth standard, it was a brand new class with a new dress code. I was in my usual seat in the school bus, grumbling to myself about getting up early and going to school like every other year, about how things were going to be same all over again, little did I realise that something different had already happened that day. When I got up to get down the bus I saw her smiling at me and to my astonishment she even talked to me on the way to the class.
This was first time I got noticed by someone I didn’t know, someone outside my sacred circle of friends. We talked about everything, family, friends and I found myself amazingly happy around her. I didn’t realise that gradually we became such good friends that we weren’t aware of the world around us. We enjoyed doing stuff together, silly little things, things that two ten year old girls would usually enjoy. She bought me little gifts whenever she went on vacations with her family. I on the other hand couldn’t afford to buy her gifts but I managed to do little things for her like I used to lie about not doing homework just to get punished with her to giggle and chat for the rest of the period.
Earlier I wasn’t confident about anything I did, but she gradually changed me inside out. Soon my other friends began to notice the changes and they tried to explain the kind of bad influence she had on me. So they tried their best to convince me to not talk to her and when I decided not to listen to them, they tried to shun me away. Initially for a day or two, I was really worried as to what would happen if they decided to stop talking to me, but I was this whole new person now. I decided that if my friends really care for me they will come around later and would not give up on me over such a petty issue.
As it appeared, I was wrong about my friends, at least I thought of them to be my true friends but every day I felt that I barely knew them anymore. I understood now that walking alone was much better than walking with people for whom you mean nothing. It was all because of her. I was bullied earlier and I was okay with it. She made me see that being afraid would not solve any of your problems. She helped me come out of my shell and face the world as it is. In her I had found a prized possession, so I awarded her the title of being “ My Best Friend “ , the place which was not good enough for anyone until I met her.
It felt like I was the happiest at that point of time, to others all this might seem a bit overwhelming and difficult to comprehend but to me it was like I owned something for the very first time, like I had earned her friendship. We were about to get over with our final exams and I was excited about a new class for the first time, I had a new hope, that was when she gave me the news. She was going to leave school and was shifting to some hill station next year. I was shattered and it really hurt so much because I was not prepared for something like this. I thought it to be some kind of a joke, given the kind of person she was but she was serious.
School got over and that dreadful day arrived when I was supposed to visit her for the last time for our final goodbyes. After losing my father at a very young age I knew one thing for sure that this was it, she will never come back. That’s how life has been so far, people I love the most leave never to return. That evening when we sat on the terrace of her building she showed me two identical rings saying that each of us have to keep it safe till we met later to see if we really cared for each other and we started to laugh hysterically as it sounded really stupid. So she left, I didn’t have her new address and she didn’t have my telephone number as I never had one so soon we had no contact.
It was my birthday when her card arrived and I couldn’t believe that she remembered. This went on for almost two years, we sent cards on our birthdays with little notes and then all of a sudden it stopped. I wondered if she was okay, if she remembered me at all. With time everything grew faint.
When I started college, I started to look to for her. Social media was only my aid and I desperately wanted to see if she existed there. I couldn’t find her but I never gave up believing that someday I will find her.
College was over and I was working when one day I lost my phone, when I got a new one, I don’t know what happened but I saw an app where you get five attempts to send requests to people so that they can share their contact numbers with you. I didn’t believe that it was any good but I sent the request making a random guess and went off to sleep.
It was around midnight when I saw my phone blinking with some unread notification. I read it and it was her! I had actually found her thirteen years later. I was so excited I couldn’t sleep that night. The next morning I shared my number with her and waited for her to reply. She texted back and we began chatting like old times, it felt as if it wasn’t so long after all. I learned all about her, how she had been all these years, where she was. She was amazed at the little details that I remembered about her.
However I felt there was something missing, it was strange that we only texted each other, neither of us called. I realised that we weren’t ten year old kids now, we had a life of our own, I began to judge her for the kind of person she had become. I started to think how she had changed and I don’t know if it was my ego or not, I never called her to just talk to her. It was strange how much I had waited to find her, to be able to talk to her again, but I guess I exhausted myself in the process of waiting and I wasn’t ready to take a few more steps. I still loved that fourth grade bubbly friend of mine but couldn’t accept the older version of her.
I thought maybe I wasn’t as important to her as she was to me and it was okay to let go. It hurt me quite as much this time as it felt when I let her go many years ago, it was then that the most important realisation dawned upon me: I lost my best friend once to never have found her again. It was the truth and I hope I can live with that.