Year 1993 : I am a 7 years old with short bobbed hair and a white hairband. I am in a new school, in between unfamiliar surrounding and unfriendly faces. I hated my new uniform of blue pinafore and a crisp white shirt. I wanted my old gray and gray pleated skirt back. I just wanted to go home. Was feeling irritated and lonely. I Felt like my mother dint love me anymore to send me to a boarding school far away from home. I am afraid of the Anglo Indian teachers with their too red lips and too short shining dresses with thin belts which hardly covered their knees. I felt like I was in a nightmare. It was on that horrid day I first met her. ‘Don’t cry, yu can have my chocolates. You might feel good’, a voice suddenly said from my back. I turned around and it was the girl sitting behind me who I hadn’t noticed till then. I did feel good about the chocolates that day. And I felt good with her gesture too. Her name was Neeta Joy. She was fair and slim, with a kind face and she was my best friend from that day. There wer 3 others too and it was a soon a happy foursome.
She was the first friend whose house I was allowed to visit during holidays . I still remember the first time I raided my father’s record collection and found a record of some Russian circus and we watched it over biscuits and tea one evening. The bliss of childhood!!
Year 1995 : I am going to Neeta’s new house at Kaloor. I haven’t seen her since school closed for summer vacation the previous year. I had bought a packet of small animal shaped biscuits as a gift for her from the money from my piggy bank. Her parents have shifted her school to Chinmaya at some far off place. But we still kept in touch. We used to write letters in blue inlents. Short letters that little girls write. About new friends and exams approaching and pledging to be best friends for life. 🙂 I liked her mother and her father and her grand mother and her brother. I liked her new house too. She said she dint like the new school much. And her reports gave her strait C’s.
Year 1996 : I am in grade 5. I sit in the front row trying to look intelligent. The only reason being that the teachers also think so and usually don’t question the front rowers. ;). My old group of 4 had split up after Neeta changed schools. Ambili had also shifted from our school to st.theresas and the other girl was in another division. It was a boring social science class when the door opened and a girl walked in and said she wanted to meet me. I looked up and saw Neeta there, even the teacher looked surprised but she allowed me to go out. I asked Neeta with whom she had some and she said she came alone, took a bus and crossed a ferry to see me? I was so happy and proud of my friend then. We dint have time for much talk and she left soon giving me a sudden hug and running off.
Year 2000 – My 10th results are out. Ambili had come to my house after a long time and we were celebrating our success over hot chocolates and ice creams. Life looked good. We were proud of ourselves. Feeling nostalgic about our school days we thought of our old friend and I fished out her number out of an old diary and called her house. A very happy grandmother answered the phone and said Neeta had gone to celebrate her results too. What was her marks I was curious to kno.97% her granny said.
Year 2007 – I have completed my post graduation in Advertising and Public Relations and have started working with an advertisement agency in Cochin. It was then I started orkutting. And I found her again there. Almost 10 – 12 years later, I was almost certain that she would never remember me. But she scraped back saying she did and that we should meet up sometime. Her status said ‘Neets Bizzi lyf’!! Her account showed a lot of friends, a lot of testimonials and a lot of scraps, which said she was very popular among her friends. Her status said that she was committed. I wonder who it was.
Year 2008, 1st week of December – I am sitting between my mother, father, cousins, aunts and great aunts looking at various bundles of silk sarees the sales people showed us. The colours are appealing; I try to fix my mind on something. I fail. I try again. My mother wants me to wear yellow/golden. My aunt thinks maroon is the right colour for new beginnings. I am confused.. My phone rings –‘recognize me? A girls voice at the other end. ‘No’ I said. I am Neeta here. I was at loss of words. I was speaking to her after 12 years. I dint recognize her voice. I don’t remember her face. But still I feel so good that she called. She asked me something; I couldn’t hear anything thanks to all the chaos my cousins were making for shopping. And I dint know what to speak. I am at loss of words. ‘Il call you back’ I said. But before hanging I reminded her to come and she said yes.
Year 2008 – December 12th – I am standing on the podium arranged with rose and jasmine flowers with my groom. We had just gotten married and it had all been a daze for me. There were mantras in the air, drums and tabalas of pakkamelam playing traditional songs. I stood with my hair decked with jasmine flowers, me decked in gold ornaments that my mother had given me the new crimson maroon silk saree bought for the wedding. The weight of the garland is almost pulling me down. You look beautiful my husband was telling me. I felt happy. We were receiving the guests who had come for our wedding, And then she came! Asking me whether I recognized her, I dint know her. I smiled. She was a tall woman; fair skinned, dark haired, looking elegant in a salwar Kurta sans any make up. I looked again; no I have never seen her anywhere in my life. Neeta, she says. I am awe struck. I open my mouth, I can’t speak. I don’t know what went through me, but I never thought she would come. I had sent her an e- invite but she was in Chennai then. With whom did you come, I asked again, I came alone, she said! And before I could say anything else she was gone, giving me a tight hug and wishing me all happiness in life.
It was later after all the hallaboos of the initial weeks of marriage when we were looking at the wedding album that I could see her properly. She looked so different now. So elegant and feminine and beautiful… A vivid image in my mind kept giving me the face of a small girl of 6 or 7 yrs, which is the picture of her out of our school snap of 4th grade. Sometimes life has so many ways. And the people in your life are also like that I guess. I don’t know when Il hear from her or see her again. But even if it never happens, she remains my first best friend. I don’t know her much but I still miss her. She doesn’t know me much but I bet she misses me too!!!