I was four and you were five.
We had just moved in to our new house, and the first friend I made was you. We were seated on the ground behind mom’s rose bush and were admiring the ants carrying crumbs of food.
I was five and you were six.
Our families had bonded so much in a year that we started celebrating Christmas, New Year and Easter together as one single family. On Christmas Eve, we went on a long drive with your brothers, in a fully jam packed car that was piled with your brothers’ friends, and rode around town looking at the beautiful Christmas lights. The car was so packed that two guys had to sit on the boot of the car.
I was six and you were seven.
You had come to my house to play. I bit your hand, because you wanted to go home but I didn’t want you to leave yet. I guess I still wanted to play. As soon as I bit you, you ran home crying. My dad had to run behind you and tell your parents what happened. I think I have had issues of letting go since I was a kid. Now it all seems so hilarious in retrospect. The funniest part was, you came back home after three or four hours with chips and cookies just for me,and everything was forgotten and forgiven by then and we started playing again.
I was seven and you were eight.
Our parents decided to send us to the same school. We wrote the admission test together but in the end, you ended up going to a different school. Every weekend, you would come home with your set of Barbie dolls quite early in the morning and right after breakfast. I was a late riser back then too. You would wake me up saying, “Hey, I’m here. Let’s play Barbie.” And do you remember, you cut your Barbie’s nice long Rapunzel locks thinking that the hair will grow back? You were so disappointed when the hair didn’t grow back after weeks. A memory I still recall to this day when I see a Barbie. Your home had become my second home and vice versa. We both would have lunch and dinner at each other’s houses like it was our own home. At times, you’d come with your extra clothes and my mom would bathe us together. We were like a family.
I was eight and you were nine.
Even my little sister had started growing fond of you. Sometimes as a kid, I used to wonder if she loved you more than me. We used to go for Christmas carols every night along with the church choir. During a carol visit to a house, the owner offered both of us candies. We took the candies but never ate it because we thought he might just poison us and kidnap us. How silly of us! The man was only trying to be sweet and obviously had no intentions of kidnapping us. We also started becoming more interested in clothes, and shoes, and accessories. We even bought the same pair of shoes for Christmas. We wore the same shoe for Christmas party and I guess we looked like twins, wearing the same shoe and similar kind of dress. Two ladies walked up to us and asked us if we were sisters. To which we replied with an excited, “YESSS!”. We were just two young girls, unaware of a lot of cruel things in the world, and naively believing that we were soul sisters.
I was nine and you were ten.
By then, our friend circle also started growing. We had a group of eight to ten friends, and all of us would spend our summer and winter vacations together. We’d have picnics of our own, we’d climb trees, we’d build sandcastles, we’d stargaze, we’d hunt for fossils and bones, we’d birdwatch and we even had a proper funeral for a sparrow that we found injured on the pavement. We’d often play hide and seek. Other times, we’d divide the group of friends into two and play seven stones. Our bathing sessions together stopped. But we would still stand near the bathroom door and talk while one of us is having a wash.
I was ten and you were eleven.
We would spend most of our time building houses of Legos. You had a weird attraction towards the yellow Lego blocks- you always wanted the yellow blocks for yourself, God knows why. When we’re not building houses of Lego, we’d ride cycles in the neighbourhood. I would have to sit on the passenger’s seat as I didn’t know how to ride a cycle. When I first got my cycle and started learning from my cousin, I thought I’d never be able to ride like you. Do you remember how you fooled me to ride without the training wheels? I was just learning, and you forced me to remove the training wheels and asked me to ride down a slope, assuring me that you’ll hold the cycle from the back. I was terrified of getting injured but I rode down hoping and believing that you’ll hold the cycle. You never did. All I remember was me and the cycle going very quickly down the slope, and successfully without me losing balance and falling off. You were laughing on top and were screaming, “You did it! See, I knew you could do it. You were just scared unnecessarily.” You had fooled me but your trick helped me gain confidence in riding. So, I think I should credit you as the one who taught me how to ride a cycle.
I was eleven and you were twelve.
We stopped peeping into each other’s bath time and we’d have a wash with the doors closed. We started growing up and started getting conscious of our bodies. This was also the year when we first got a glimpse of porn accidentally. We were scarred and shocked after watching it. You were a wild child, always being the daredevil and thrill seeker. I, on the other hand, was this cautious little guarded girl. We spent most of our days in front of the television, watching Son Pari, and High School Musical, and other shows like that. I never liked watching horror shows but you forced me to watch shows like Ssshhh, Koi Hai and Are You Afraid of the Dark? along with you.
I was twelve and you were thirteen.
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when we stopped being friends, but this was the age when everything changed. Your dad passed away and you had to shift to your aunt’s place. The distance separated us and we hardly saw each other.
I’m sorry for not being able to be by your side when you needed me the most.
Your dad meant the world for you. With distance and time, we started drifting apart. We started having different best friends.
I am twenty and you’re twenty-one.
I know nothing about you now. You’re just a constant character in my memories. For a long time, I tried to remain in contact with you but as years passed, we just grew apart more and more. We weren’t there for the days we said we would be by each other’s side. You weren’t there for me when my first actual heartbreak broke me apart and led me into depression. I wasn’t there to experience the ups and downs of your life. And we won’t be there as each other’s bridesmaids later on.
Life has changed.
Maybe too much time has passed and we won’t have anything in common anymore.
We’re just ghosts of each other’s childhood.
The sadness and grief of losing a childhood best friend has disappeared long ago and the void you left has been filled by someone else. But there are days when I’m going through my collection of childhood items, and I come across an old happy picture of us, two girls without a care in the world and totally ignorant of everything.
Maybe, growing up means growing apart and the memories are the only ones that remain etched in the heart forever.