Happy 5th Birthday! You are a big girl now. On this occasion, I would like to tell you a story about two friends.
I first saw her in the summer of 1993. She passed me in the school corridor. She had long hair which was neatly tugged into two braids. I wondered who the new girl was. Few days later, I came to know that the new girl had shifted into our school from Delhi.
I and her becoming friends was out of question. You see, we both belonged to different divisions. There was some kind of politics between our class teachers which led to a cold war between the two divisions. They were good in sports and we were good in academics.
Over time, our paths crossed on a number of occasions: recital competitions, different exams, exhibitions. I secretly thought that she was quite clever and smart. She also excelled into sports, something in which I was a big zero. I don’t know what she thought of me. But never once did we talk to each other. The cold war only worsened over years as we beat their class by scoring over them and them defeating us in every sport.
Two years later, we appeared for the SSC board exams. On the day of the result, I was overjoyed. You see, I had scored good marks and stood fifth in the entire school. My marks guaranteed me admission in a good college. I was completely unaware that I had beaten her by merely one mark. Had she secured that extra mark her name would have been displayed on the school board.
I still clearly remember the first day of college. I went well in time for the first lecture. In the college corridor, I saw a big group of girls. They were busy introducing themselves and making small talk. I gingerly walked over. Imagine my surprise when I saw her in that group! A thousand questions raced my mind. How did she land up in the same college? What should I do? I wanted to back away, but before I could do so, a really chirpy girl asked me to introduce myself. I told my name and told which school I was coming from. The chirpy girl pointed to my school mate and said “This girl is from the same school. Do you know each other?” We both nodded our heads. The chirpy girl was very happy on hearing this and exclaimed that in a new college we at least knew someone familiar. Little did she know that our familiarity was the cause of our awkwardness.
Over the next few months, we did everything we could to avoid each other. We sat on different benches; we tried to make different friends. We soon became part of the same group. Still, we tried not to gel with each other. I purposely attended the lectures that she bunked and she did the same. However, destiny had something else in store for us. Slowly, we got to know each other. We discovered that we shared the same beliefs and had the same values. I started liking her laughter, her jokes, and her nature. I think she liked my simplicity. We started travelling together, talking on the phone after college, and hanging out more with each other. The rest, as they say, is history. We became the best of friends.
We were inseparable. We would spend hours visiting each other. Our parents knew what we meant to each other. When college was over, we found new ways and reasons to meet each other.
We are both die hard junkies and always found new places to satisfy our taste buds. All these years, she has dragged me to all the pathetic Salman Khan movies. I remember how I had tried my best not to laugh out loud on Salman’s over acting in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. How could I laugh when I saw tears streaming down my best friend’s face when Salman didn’t win the love of his life?:-)
Our friendship also had a twinge of possessiveness. When I thought that her new friend might take my place, I would express my concern to her. She did the same. I can surely say that she’s one friend who totally understood me.
Over years, our talks have changed from who’s the cutest boy in college, choosing the right career, what to look in a life partner, and now on how to discipline our kids. We both found good life partners and were blessed with beautiful daughters. Our daughters now video chat and talk to each other in their British and American accents.
She is one friend who has literally supported me through thick and thin. She has firmly told me when I did something wrong. Today, we both live in different countries and fall in different time zones. It’s not that we speak daily; it’s not that we share each and every secret. But we remain very close friends. My voice always cracks up when I tell her that I miss her; her eyes always fill up when she sends me an e-greeting telling me that she misses me. Sometime back, I told her that I wished we lived near each other. I told her that I wished I could see her doing her every day chores. And she said that somehow she pictures me in my house, talking to my family and doing my chores. I believed her and told her I knew what she meant.
My best friend, Bhagyashri, is none other than your mother. This is the story of how I met your mother and how we became the best of friends. So much so that one would never believe that we started out on the wrong foot. As Bhagoos rightly says, our story is how prejudices can keep you away from the best things in life.
The reason I told you this story is that if you ever meet someone in your life and you think that the person can never be your friend, keep your mind and heart open. You never know when you might meet your best friend: a true gem.
I am looking forward to tell this story to Sayali when she turns five.