...that thing that happened in high school that pretty much changed your life forever.
I lost a friend.
In Grade 10, she sat next to me. She was a nice person, always smiling, always ready to help. But you know how high school kids can get, I was snooty about how much she talked to boys (trust me, I want to go back and slap myself too). But we still were good friends, we got through our first hurdle in the academic world, board exams, together. And in Grade 11, she shifted to another section but we still had lunch together, all of us. I loved the alu sabzi that her mom used to send with her lunch and she always put a little extra in my dabba while it was being passed around.
I think she had always liked me more than I liked her.
I remember the day clearly, classes had been cancelled and three of us were sitting there in the last bench and laughing our heads off without any reason. You know, one of those times when you start laughing at ANYTHING and you can’t stop even though your stomach hurts - two straight hours at the end of the day we laughed.
That’s when three other friends came and said that this girl had passed away, nobody knew what happened and why. I sobered up like someone doused me with cold water but I didn’t believe it. I thought someone was playing a big, fat, sick prank. Then her Class In-Charge confirmed the news.
I won’t go into any more detail but to this day none of us know what happened to her, all we know was that she had asthma. I just never saw her after that, like she never existed except in my mind and memories.
The absolute worst part is that I didn’t remember the last time I spoke to her, the last conversation, exchange we had. I still can’t remember.
Her mom came to see us when we passed out of school and it was all I could do not to run away because I kept thinking how she would feel seeing all of us decked up and happy when her daughter wasn’t around.
I remember feeling incredibly guilty for being alive when she wasn’t.
And it subtly changed a 16 year old forever. From then on I have always kept a certain distance from people. I have made but one friend who is super close, everyone else was and is dispensable. I know it doesn’t say much for me as a friend but when I love, I love wholly without restraint, without any kind of self-preservation and if I lose that person, I know I won’t be strong enough to handle the devastation.
It took me a long time to work out why I never made the first move to make friends (because otherwise I am not antisocial and I love to horse around with everyone), I never keep in touch completely, I never put my all into keeping my friends together like everyone my age does. It might not be the lesson I should have learnt but yeah.
Dharani, I will always remember you for that million-watt genuinely happy smile that you were so ready with.
P.S: Sorry about kicking off on a sad note.
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