I remember my first day of college vividly. I was extremely excited. It was a feeling of freedom. No more uniforms, no more military bags and no more lunch carriers. I had just bought a new dress, a while skirt with blue blouse and a white jacket to go with it. I was excited about meeting my friends from school and making new friends.
I walked into a chaotic class room with my friend, Jayanthi, looking for those familiar faces but the person that caught my attention first was this girl in a yellow churidaar and purple dupatta. She had long hair which was plaited and had bangs that almost poked her eyes. She wore glasses and looked very stylish. She seemed very confident and I was intimidated. Me…intimidated. I never thought this could happen to me. I did not like the way I felt and it was HER fault, I thought. Then I started analyzing her. She seems snobbish. She will never want to be friends with me. Oh well, I don’t want to be friends with her either. I have my own circle of friends and I will just stick with them.
I noticed that there were other girls who wanted to be friends with her too and liked to tag along with her. What losers!!! I thought. I went back home grumpy. I did not know why. Why did this girl impact me so much? I had no idea. Days went by and classes went on. She, according to me, was the coolest girl too in class because she really knew how to carry herself and most of all SHE RODE A MOPED to college. I was just green with envy. I walked to college. I did not even have a bicycle.
Anyway, a couple of months after college started, my dad fell sick and my focus turned towards him and his health. On September 22, 1989, my dad passed away. I was very close to my dad and was shattered by this but I wanted to show the world that I was strong so I decided to go to college the following day.
All my friends kept coming up to me and asking me if I was ok and I pretended to be fine. We had to go to another class room to sit for Hindi …the one I enjoyed the least and hated with a passion. I did not like anything about it. When the Hindi Professor asked us to pull our books out of the bag, I realized that I had left mine at home. I was asked to stand up in front of everyone, including the cool girl, and was asked about my book. I had to tell the teacher that I had, just the previous day, lost my dad.
Before I realized, tears started to roll down my cheeks and I just let it go. The Professor asked me to take a break and go sit at the library. At that moment, all I needed was to talk to someone…a friend but all my friends were in the Tamil class. So I walked alone to the library. I heard footsteps behind me but I did not care to look. Tears kept rolling down my cheeks. I was in grief, anger, anguish and several other emotions all at the same time. I found a quiet spot and sat there still crying.
A few seconds later I saw someone pull a chair and sit next to me….a friend. It was the cool girl. I was surprised to see her. I could not believe that she was sitting next to me when I really, really needed someone. At that moment I knew that she was going to be my friend for the rest of my life. I was not that strong person I thought myself to be. I talked and cried and poured my heart out to her and she listened intently to all that I had to say. I was at a very vulnerable state at this time and I did not care about what she would think of me but the truth is that she did not either. We must have been there for a couple of hours. I am sure she missed her classes too, with me but she never left my side. That day, she taught me what friendship really meant. It was not always about having fun, eating out, going to movies, laughing. It was about being there when you are needed the most. She just knew that I could not be alone at that time. She could have stayed at the Hindi class but instead chose to be a friend and listen to me lamenting.
I don’t think I have ever thanked her for being there for me at good times and bad. She was never a snob. Nor was she intimidating. She accepted people for who they were. I have learnt a lot from her over the years, including my interest in writing but the best thing that I have learned is to be a friend. Just want my friend to know that it meant a lot. As this birthday of yours passes you by I wish you a very happy birthday, dear friend and may you be showered with the best of everything in life.