It’s the middle of the night and I am besieged with that peculiar hush one gets to experience on a winter night. The hot chocolate my mum placed an hour ago on my side-table has now gone stone-cold.
A storm is approaching. The smell of sand in the air is easily distinguishable. The swinging door leading to the terrace is banging, creaking on its rusted hinges, producing a stridently mournful rhythm, matching the crescendos of grief undulating inside my heart.
Exactly four more months left. And then the world — my world, the way I have known life since I was a mere toddler of four — will undergo a substantial shift. A phase of my life, finished; a chapter closed forever. It is this, Dear Diary, which brings tears to my eyes. The realisation that time has passed and, even as I write, is ticking away mercilessly, leaving me bereft, cruelly snatching from me what I always took for granted — my school, my friends and the incredible moments we make together. A perfect trio.
But, life is intent on robbing me of it, a betrayal of the worst kind. ‘Grow up, pick up the pieces and move on,’ everyone preaches. Except it’s difficult. Easier said than done.
This year is going to mark the tenth anniversary of our friendship. I still remember the day when the introductions were made. I had immediately warmed to the lively, vibrant spirit of one; the intelligence and kindness shining through the eyes of the other. Meeting the fiery, passionate third was easy; befriending her, another story entirely. The humour of the fourth was irresistible. Hence, the seed of acquaintanceship was planted, blossoming into the flower of friendship and ripening into a fruit whose taste is known only to the very best of friends.
We laugh, we share, we care, we argue, lend the other a shoulder to cry on, support each other, study together, do heart-to-heart stuff, buy the same lunch at the cafeteria, text 24/7, tease each other relentlessly — all the things friends around the world do. But our friendship surpasses the more conventional ones. It’s gotten to a point where we can communicate by the lift of an eyebrow. An infinitesimal twitch of a facial muscle is enough to convey all.
The way we talk is itself a subject of discussion. We talk at the same time, loud and rapid, creating a racket, yet miraculously managing to understand every word. While deep in conversation once, we had the privilege of being asked by a total stranger — very politely, mind you — whether we were fighting.
None of your business, dude, but to answer your question, no.
We’ve grown up with each other, physically and intellectually. The years have sobered us. Where in teenage, we used to laugh buoyantly on every other thing, in our twenties, we make do with demure smiles. Though the years have left their mark, deep down, we are pretty much the same. The facade is in place only to humour society. It surprises me sometimes, to be confronted by the same vulnerability in my friends that existed in their teens. We have gained experience, maturing and growing up in many ways, yet retaining the essence of our adolescent selves. Or maybe that’s how everyone tackles adulthood.
I wonder if our friendship will survive the imminent separation. Will a stroke of paint being applied by someone somewhere remind me of the artistic Anee? Will a shopping session at Bahadurabad Chowrangi set off a string of memories related to a girl who was forever dragging me to one shop or the other? A TV serial like Grey’s Anatomy prompting a vision of Aisha in her element, going on and on about the causes of adrenaline rush? Will a sandwich stuffed with the dressing I dislike, jog a memory I made with people I loved? Or a horror movie will lead to a flashback of similar movies I watched with my friends, ducking every now and then to avoid a particularly scary scene?
I hope not. The way I yearn for is so much different — a circle of grown women seated in a snug living room, teacups and saucers in hand, laughing; talking and reminiscing about the wilder days of their youth. You get the picture. That’s my plan, Dear Diary, and I’ll see to its accomplishment.
Published in Dawn, Young World, February 10th, 2018