(DISCLAIMER: This is not a love story)
BFF as explained by the urban dictionary is short for Best Friend Forever. BFF is a relatively new word. For the kids of 90’s and before, the term best friend is a more comfortable one. I never had a best friend as a child. In fact, I didn’t have many friends, or, let’s just say I didn’t consider those around me as friends. For me, calling someone a friend is a huge deal. Sure I had playmates and kids I got along with, but the ones I called friends could be counted on the fingertips of one hand. So, going by my logic, I never had anyone that close to me whom I could call my best friend. I never felt that kind of connection with anyone to crown them with the title of a best friend. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I found that one person who would be indispensable in my life… Someone who would stand beside me through thick and thin… Someone… let’s just say, if I committed a murder, would help me cover it up first and then reprimand me and even go to jail with me. That’s a best friend for me and I found one on a magical evening.
If y’all have been reading my stories, then by now you know everything in my life is fated to be theatrical, an over the top drama fit for Indian soap opera! I had been in the same school since I was four years old. My classmates knew me well. Most of the boys considered me a brother-from-another-mother and most of the hormonal, seeking-boys’-attention-teenage-girls considered me a pariah. I was happy in my own world- being most of the teachers’ pet during the class, playing mischiefs with the boys in between and treating the empty classroom as my personal reading room during the break… and then came a person who created ripples in my pond. I was in the 9th standard. When the school started its new session, there were a few unknown faces- new admissions. We all welcomed them with open arms and introduced ourselves around. The new comers were equally awkward and enthusiastic to be amongst new faces. They chatted nervously yet eagerly- barring one. He was a regular guy-next-door. He sat on the second row-first bench; head bent, busy scribbling on a piece of paper. It was like he was invisible to the rest of the class. Students ebbed and flowed around him- he was his own island. “Maybe he is shy,” I thought. I knew how bad it felt to be left alone (I was a chubby-lonely kid in the junior days- before the rebellious me was born). I walked up to his desk, “Hi!” no response. I tapped his shoulder. He looked up as if I had dragged him out of another dimension. “Hi!” I piped, “Rinkini.” he looked at me, “J…” (Nope! Not mentioning names! Not even my best friend’s!) and he ducked his head back into his paper. “Rude!” I thought. Here I was trying to make this idiot feel comfortable and welcome and he was doing what? I peeped into his paper. It looked like a complicated Math problem… MATH! My mortal enemy! My nemesis! My Kryptonite! I went back to my seat, in the next row- second bench. I choose to ignore him. If he wanted to be left alone, so be it. Yes, I was the class rep. but it wasn’t my duty to include everyone in what’s happening around.
Classes started and soon it was recess. I had acquired a new book from a senior which I was excited to start on. Everyone rushed out of the class room. I closed the windows and doors to shut out the din of the school and settled in comfortably. The doors opened like usual once in a while- someone or the other came in to put back their lunch box or to have a drink from their bottle, but they always left, leaving me at peace with my book. I was already down 20-30 pages, past the introduction and into the plot when a sudden “YES!” made me jump a mile high, drop my book and lose my page. I looked up, annoyed- it was J. he was sitting a bench away from me, what looked like elated at solving a Math problem! The YES had come from him! I was piqued beyond words! A- he was using the break to do Math- MATH! And B- he was invading my Zen! I sat there, fuming staring at my book but registering nothing. Soon the bell rang and the students came in banging, shouting and stomping. I chose to ignore this J person.
The first day of the session turned to second and third and then fourth and soon the days started flying by. It turned out; J was a bigger loner than I was. Like clock-work he would go out during the recess, eat with his friends (yes, he had some- like minded Math-crazy ones. It was the Science section after all!), come back to the class and start scribbling, well, solve sums. He did startle me once in a while with his yes-es and I might have broken his concentration with my involuntary laughter or exclamation triggered by an unexpected twist in a story- but otherwise, we didn’t exist for each other… J and I were like opposite poles and we stayed that way- pole apart.
Days turned into weeks; weeks turned into months and soon an entire year passed. We graduated to 10th standard in March of 2001. August rolled in and one day the principal summoned me. It was not something that would alarm me. I always participated in intra and inter school competitions and activities which took me to the principal’s chamber often. I went to the school office and got an amazing surprise. I had been chosen along with six other kids to represent our school in an international inter school meet in Lucknow. There were six boys, a male teacher and I was the only girl. Everyone in school, including the teachers and the principal were familiar with my tomboyish nature. So they had no qualms in packing me away with a bunch of guys to a different city. She gave me a letter addressed to my parents asking for consent along with the details of the trip which was to take place at the end of the month for a week. I was in seventh heaven! It truly was an honor to be a part of this ‘dream team!’ There was no problem procuring permission from home and I started practicing for the meet. Creativity was the key to my task. The only hiccup was a one minute dance I had to prepare which I overcame with loads of practice and a teacher’s help. Two days after the visit to the principal’s chamber, I got to know the name of the guys accompanying me to the meet. And guess who was in the list?! None other than J!
TO BE CONTINUED…
(Dedicated to my best friend!)