Friends for life

Best friends are a blessing.

I am probably gonna tear up somewhere in midst of this random piece of writing. Because, today I am taking a leap of faith and finally putting on page the story of my two best friends: Shaniz and Arosh.

I know its not a story without an ending, whether it be good or bad. I hope with all my heart that this story does not end, because that would mean separation or…death. (Fuck, I’m morose today) But it’s a story nonetheless, for having a timespan of two long years and with its own share of happy and sad moments.

Let’s start with Shaniz.

A friendship takes time to develop. In middle school, we use terms such as ‘best friend’ or ‘boyfriend’ too flippantly, throwing it around like it’s an identity or a claim over another person. When I met Shaniz in Class 6, I was in awe of her. She was everything I wished I could be: friendly, social, easy-going and blessed with an amazingly rare quality to be able to strike up conversation with just about anyone. I wanted to be her friend, possibly her best friend. I wanted her to like me.

And so, without knowing I was doing it, I changed. I changed from sticking my nose in books all the time. I started talking more, making new friends and acting less snobbish. Shaniz liked me, I could tell, but not enough to consider me as someone very close to her heart. This was not surprising. I could talk heart-to-heart really well (even then I was a good listener) but my sense of fun was limited with books and drawing pictures.

I think that, as time passed, we both changed. She started being less insecure and more serious, and I began to look beyond my narrowed world of academics to the bigger picture: making the most out of life. We helped change each other, and I’ll forever be grateful to her for that. If I hadn’t met her, and we hadn’t become friends, today, I’d be a much different person than I am.

Our friendship strengthened and bloomed, aided and abated by little ‘bestie’ rituals: passing notes in class, writing ridiculously off-topic letters and having long, drawn-out phone conversations in which we talked about everything and nothing all at once. We read story books during class, hiding them under our benches, did school projects together and fought over woefully trivial matters, like an old blind married couple.

People thought we were sisters. We certainly acted like it. We bickered over a calculator in algebra class, played mind games with each other just to make the other person say ‘sorry’ first, and then sang Katy Perry songs during tiffin break. And if we judged people, we judged them together.

Then, in Class 9, we ‘met’ (or shall I say, became reacquainted with) Arosh.

Arosh…was different. For all our antics, at the beginning of Class 9, me and Shaniz were still pretty innocent. But Arosh was like a shooting star, burning bright and blinding every pair of eyes in sight. She was a whole different level of badass, something we couldn’t comprehend in our tamed, civilized mindsets. She was sexy, confident and mature…not to mention, she had a real boyfriend, not some silly made-up fantasy to appease the wild imagination of a teenage girl. She had smoked previously, then made herself stop, listened to Lana del ray and Curt Kobain like she was addicted to their music and was all kinds of moody and fun to be around. She was also rudely pessimistic and harshly opinionated…which isn’t as bad as it sounds, trust me.

We became friends over shared music, a shared proficiency in writing Bengali and English essays…with me being completely spellbound by her innate ability to compose poetry, and draw cartoons.

Shaniz took some time getting used to her, but in a month or two, our friendship was set in stone…by playing truth-and-dare with Mahir and Safir during Biology class, and singing ‘Animals’ together during chemistry class. I expanded my horizons and my friend circle…squeezing it outwards to include Naureen, Anisha, Nafisa and Bushra. But they were just background noise when it came to the three of us. By Class 10, we had evolved into a group of three, with a common ground in the fields of music, art and eating fuchka after school with our devastatingly meagre pocket money.

I remember school being this place where I could just escape. If things took a wrong turn at home, I’d step inside our classroom and just forget. I’d get this brief reprieve of 6 hours or so before returning home to deal with the issues at hand, after finally gathering up the courage to make my stand. We talked about everything, from family troubles to the stark danger of O Levels looming over the top of our heads. We studied chemistry, sang ‘Hotel California’, ‘Sweater Weather’, ‘Stitches’ and many more. Fia joined in to remind us of Mariah Carey and Pia Mia, to eat our tiffin and entertain us with her utterly hopeless number skills. I remember us ambushing Shaniz with repeated verses of ‘Oops I did it again’ until she resorted to pressing her palms to her ears whenever we opened our mouths.

I had a great year.

Is it a surprise, though? I fell in love. I gave my heart completely to every single aspect of our shared friendship. I fell in love with our crazy routines, to the sight of Arosh’s bag swinging across the hallways, to scrambling for her tiffin box between crowds of flabbergasted juniors and to morning rituals like claiming four benches in the second and third row, and then switching seats to our liking.

We discussed boys, bands, Biology (how none of us would never even consider taking it after O Levels) and badminton. We were a dream come true. (At least, we were my dream come true.)

What was the end result, you might ask. As an answer, I’ll say this. Today, I look at myself and I see a girl who’s too tall to fit in just right, but embraces it and all other defects she might have (like rabbit teeth) to just cope with everything that comes her way. I don’t have to adapt or change to perfection, but I’ll cope and keep going. And I like that person, this person I have become, enough so that I can hope and try to make myself better, enough so that I actually give a fuck who I turn out to be.

That’s important. And that didn’t happen in a day. That took years, two absolutely gorgeous people and many others in between, to get me where I am. And maybe after twenty years, we’ll be as estranged as the Russians and Americans, but you’ll still have played a part in shaping me up. You’ll still be a part of my past, my history, a part of who I am. And I thank you for that. I love you for that.

I can’t give you anything to express my gratitude/love, so I’ll just go on and hope that I changed you a little bit too, that I made you better or more grown-up, like you have made me.

This, I’m saying at the start of a school year which promises to be dull and tenuous compared to the one before, more huddled up in studies, no doubt, but not as fun as it used to be. College life, so ordained as it is in supposed respect and independence, has been off to a bad start. I hope things improve with time. I miss you always, love you always. Wish me luck.

Yours, Nishat.

Never forget this day…