A sweet memento

I was a silent child growing up. As I recall, I have spent most of the time of my childhood observing the world and immersing myself in it, without speaking much. Everything felt fascinating to me during those days and everything of that time feels like moments that I have captured clearly through my memory lens. 

I remember seeing how blue the shade of the sky was and how I used to bask in the early morning sun, in the assembly line praying to god.  I remember being fascinated on the way back home seeing litchi skin for the first time, on the roads and wondering to myself what the skin was related to. Then one day, somehow my maternal uncle had saved a litchi and gave me that litchi. I hadn't asked for it. I was already happy as if he had heard my heart conversation on the way.  But I was even more ecstatic at the very  taste of it as I remember I  danced merrily on the way back home after eating the litchi. I remember I used to spend the morning cleaning my uniform dress that had been smothered by little prints of mud just before going to school. The effort to walk backwards without tripping, the wish to play in rain. All I remember are seeing, feeling and doing but not a lot of times of expressing myself by talking in my childhood. My mother used to say how I would sit quietly in bed and wash already washed clothes on bed for hours and hours pretending to wash it through an imaginary tap. I used to amuse myself with little things. Perhaps, that's why I forgot to speak. My mother became so worried and took me to the doctor  as I didn’t speak at all till late.The doctor then called my name, as my mom recalled and told me,”Hey you child, protrude your tongue (in an irritable informal tone)”  I then did as my mom said the leaf shaped small tongue out from my mouth. The doctor upon seeing this then softened and started laughing and said,” She hears perfectly, she isn’t just talking. It’s only a matter of time then she would start talking”. By god's grace I started talking a few months later.

My brother is two years older than me, we don't have much of an age gap and he was my first friend. I loved my brother a lot and used to go to school tailing my brother. I was very attached to him since I didn’t talk that much and thus I didn’t have any friends. We were in the same hall. There were no visible partitions. I used to look at him from my seat time and again and felt at peace.  I was in Nursery, he was in Upper kindergarten. One day, my brother got sick and he couldn't go to school. I remember that day, I was so sad the whole day and felt like crying. But when we got promoted, his classroom was in a separate building and thus, I got separated from my brother. 

There are some memories of that time that are still fresh in my mind. I was in lower kindergarten. I was 4 or 5 years then. Although I had gotten separated from my brother, there was something beautiful in life that was about to happen.

I used to come early to sit on the second last bench. It was my favorite seat. And it was then, when I had met my best friend. I would like to keep her name Jasmine for now as she reminds me of that flower. I had a hard time making friends then since I didn’t talk much and I didn’t know what to talk about because I rarely used to express myself. But somehow we became friends. She was kind. She used to laugh at one or two jokes that I used to say. She would let me sit next to her. Other children used to gang up on me since I didn’t talk at all but not her. She used to smile at me. I don’t know what I used to offer to her but we became ‘best friends’ as we would say to others and say to ourselves and others said to us. We used to sit together. We used to share lunch.  We used to sing together, play together. We were very happy. But then, I jumped one class without studying. Back in those days, we could do that. The decision to skip class was something my family decided. And that's how we got separated.  And that's how our talking, our meeting, our playing and even seeing her, everything stopped.


My class was in a different building than hers. Being her senior, I had a different recess time than her now. Our playgrounds were the same except when I had recess, she had classes and when I had my classes, she had recess. And whenever it was my recess time, I used to peer through the crack of the door from the playground, stretching my neck if I could see her. But I didn't. I used to run around the playground back and forth but I couldn’t see her. 

It was a sad time in my life. I used to come across her sister every now and then as she was one standard above me. And whenever she saw me, she told me that  it was such a sad thing how we got separated being best friends. "You guys used to be so close, you guys were best friends", she used to tell me.  I don’t know if I opened my mouth to give her reply, I didn't for sure. However, deep down I felt sad and pity at myself for losing someone who was close to me. Someone whom I was fond of. In fact, I never told anyone.

The days passed as such. I had classes in the daytime, I used to play on the swing in recess time and would come home, do homework and gaze through the window skyline and city view until dinner time then ate and slept. During those days, we didn’t have a handphone but we did have a landline phone. We were small so our parents and guardians used to come to pick up. But I used to get worried since I didn’t know my home number. If I got lost someday on the way, I thought my parents wouldn’t be able to find me.   So I took time to memorize my home number and successfully I did one day and was so happy with myself. And somehow somewhere I had memorized her landline number as well. 

One day in my home, while my family members were working to make our landline phone, I mustered courage to call her home. I called in hope she would pick up. However, on the other line a male voice responded. Perhaps, it was her father. But I couldn’t speak. My family members were all there and began scolding since I had called someone randomly and they hung up the phone. I didn’t speak anything then. Even it makes me smile now realizing how little I spoke. If I had mustered a little more courage I could have talked to her that day. If only.

 But then, a strange beautiful thing happened to my life after that. One day as I was peering through my window in my home, I caught my eyes on a small thing.  It was resting on the rope where my neighbors used to hang their clothes to dry. I hadn’t seen such a beautiful insect in my life. It was a dragonfly and it was my first time to see it and it also came, just after her departure. My small child mind was ecstatic at that time for I somehow thought that my best friend came to visit me through her. I was so happy seeing the dragonfly. I didn’t know its name, however it rested so long on the rope. I then became sure it was her. And as silly as it may sound, I then began talking to her in mind to mind and heart to heart without speaking, thinking it was her. I asked her how she was, how much I missed her, how she was doing. Day after day, the dragonfly used to come and used to rest on the rope for a long time. I used to sit by the window happily and would talk to her for hours with her in my mind. I was happy as if I had met my friend in real life as the dragonfly and best friend were now the same being. However, some days in my heart, I used to question myself, how she could come taking the form of a dragonfly. A rational mind residing inside me time and again used to remind me. And some days, those voices used to get louder as I used to believe those words. And thus, one day, I got so angry at the dragonfly that I stopped talking with her thinking whatever I had believed previously was utterly impossible. I used to get angry at the dragonfly and myself. But then again, some days my heart would melt and I would again feel like it was her. I used to again get mad at myself for being angry with her. And would again start having invisible conversations in my heart with her asking for amendments. Days after days passed, and as my senses grew, I realized it wasn't her and came into peace or acceptance. Days passed, months passed, and a year passed. I changed schools and I had to bid goodbye to my school and all the memories of the time I had spent my time there. 

In the new school, there was this usual ganging up on me except now I hadn't had a friend here. And then again 2 years later, I changed to another school. It must be a strange twist of fate because our paths collided again because I saw her again. I  got a chance to meet her again as she had joined this school as well. Her hair had grown longer and so was mine. I used to have bangs and short hair not even reaching my neck. She used to have a haircut like that of boys. But I immediately recognized her. I knew her face very well. The mole in her cheek. Her deer-doe eye. And her name. Her surname. When I was small, she used to smile a lot. But now, the smile on her face had withered away. However, this time also, I was her senior again, I knew her name and her very well and immediately recognized her. I wondered if she also knew me, if she saw me, if she recognized me. However, my new school was so big that even the students of the same class didn’t recognize each other and didn’t get a chance to talk with each other as there were too many sections within class. So, naturally it became impossible for me to talk even though our paths had crossed. We may both have noticed each other, she may or may not have noticed but as I still didn’t speak much I couldn’t talk to her. It was more difficult now than ever to approach just because years had changed, I was still the same. One year later, she changed schools and all the possibilities finally ended with it.

 I didn’t have a best friend after her for several years. Every time teachers used to ask us to write about best friends then, I used to write her name in scribbles," My best friend name is Jasmine" in the kindergarten days. As I grew older somedays I would be surprised at myself reminiscing how I still had a best friend then even when I didn’t talk that much because now I didn’t have any friends in spite of talking, giving a lot from my sides and trying to fit in a circle in the same school. Days passed, my classes passed. I got busy with my life, my studies, the urge, the motivation to study well and perform well in exams and extracurricular activities. Then, several years later, I found her again. But this time, on social media, I hadn't forgotten her name, her surname. She had kept a doll picture as her profile picture. I had just joined social media and one day I saw her name in recommendations. I got thrilled with the idea that I could reach my best friend again and I hurriedly and excitedly sent her a request that day. I was so ecstatic the day I sent her friend request that I even wrote a status praising science and technology. I smile as I remember it. 

She accepted my request maybe months later. And then again we didn’t talk. She didn't text me. She didn't react to my status. I felt like she didn't recognize me because I felt like she wasn't as happy as I was when we rekindled. But we can never know for she may have been as happy as I was, she may not have seen my status and thus couldn't react, if only we had talked. If only we had talked of all those years we didn't. During those days, one had to go to cyber, to use the internet. Perhaps, that's why she could not talk. And the sad part of the story is I still didn't know how to talk so we never initiated any contacts. Days passed. My accounts got changed one day. And days passed. I moved to college, to university and here I am now. 

We haven’t talked since then. The last day of kindergarten. Looking back, it may seem like a sad memory.  We met when we were small,  we got separated unwillingly on our parents' terms, then somehow our paths collided, we saw each other again but soon got separated without talking, years later, got a chance to reunite again but being in the awkward teenager phase we couldn't talk. As I am writing now, I don’t even know if she even remembers me.  She is not on my friend list now. Our friendship ended like that.


It may seem like a sad memory as I did lose something that was so precious to me unwillingly at my terms, but I don't look necessarily at it that way and life in general. Because whenever I see a dragonfly now, it still reminds me of her. I still remember her smile, her kindness, all the beautiful memories we had and I feel lucky I had someone like her in my life. I still remember and now imagine myself seeing all the traces of litchi skin that used to be there on the way to my previous school. We couldn't be together even when we wanted to but I smile looking at these beautiful memories as my heart warms. We are made to believe when things end, they cease to exist and we have lost them entirely. But I believe we haven't necessarily lost things as these tragedies tell us but rather have gained such beautiful things in form of a sweet memento that I am very grateful for and will forever keep in my heart.

As I look back at my life, these are the memories that I will always remember fondly, that I lived my life, the life at that time, the innocence, everything and even my best friend.