I remember vividly my very first day, even my very first moment in big girl school. I also clearly remember being heartbroken, because school wasn’t all best friends, and sharing lunches and colouring books. I see everyday in my mind that scrawny little girl, hiding behind her school bag everytime the lunch bell rang in hopes of melting away or disappearing before the bigger girls came; but they always came with their better pencils, and better friends and better grades.
My dad always said to me, “friends aren’t even important”, in hopes of making me feel better. But I always saw that sympathetic glint in his eye, and it never made sitting alone everyday during lunches and classes any easier. And so he gave me post its. For two years everyday I sat by myself, scribbling little doodles on office post-it notes instead of eating lunch with the other girls, or playing tree-to-tree with them.
But then one day I befriended this girl with thick, long hair and hazel eyes. She always spoke animatedly, and with the funniest accent I ever heard. She invited me to my first ever birthday party, a thing I’d only seen in movies or on Disney, and elation isn’t a strong enough word to describe what I felt in that moment. And so I rushed home and pounced on my dad, and told him this was my big break- I finally made a friend and I finally get to actually get out and live the life of fame I was destined to. So, papa, will you pretty please drop me to Pizza Hut, can I pretty please go to my first ever birthday party? He hugged me tight, and said no.
She left school the next year. I was all ready to go back to my lonely life, but then I made a friend, and then another. And then another. And then my first enemy. Followed by my first fight, and first make-up. Before I knew it, my darker blue pinafore changed into a lighter one, new pens replaced my pencils, black clips replaced white, and marks replaced grades.
I repeatedly play those moments in my head where lock and key wasn’t cool anymore, and falling for boybands™️ became a thing. So when I made my first real group of friends, I didn’t realize the value of it until one day Saroj was draping my saree and holding my hand as I struggled to walk in heels. Graduating for the first time (yes first time, @ all you sophiates who graduated in 4th grade) prompted to me think about things I had never before. I understood, what a friend is, and what worth the term holds.
And so naturally, when I first joined Sophia’s, I was not ready to play the role of a new girl again. But I told myself, ‘it isn’t going to be the same’, and 11th graders don’t steal pencils or scratch in your notebooks or pull your braid. Atleast not with the same intentions as 1st graders do.
Making friends all over again wasn’t a process, it happened so naturally it almost felt like it was meant to be. What with the Hotel Maharaja Classic Inn, and the step-motherly treatment, the legend of shannu&nannu, marco polo, and it’s all about the $$$$ honey, it didn’t feel like I put in any effort to make friends.
It’s the first time in my life where I genuinely don’t know what the future holds for me, and for the first time nothing is planned out and laid on a platter before my eyes. But I guess that’s where life begins. And I know, for sure, that despite my initial hesitance, and my perpetual resting bitch face when I first joined, I’ve made friends that I cherish every moment with. I hope ten years down the line we’re still making arts class taco bell plans and playing coin toss, and also saying stupid shit like ‘Will.i.smith’ and ‘yeah, he got naminated for a grommy’ and ‘patent’.
And as Saroj drapes my saree yet again, I walk a little taller, a tad bit more confident in my new pair of heels, I sit at my desk and take out shriya’s pen from my blazer pocket. I pull out a post it, and take a moment to feel the satisfaction of the perfect tear. Then I write.
‘I’ll always love and remember you, and remain grateful for all the memories you have made with me, and for me’.