THE LAST WORD
I still remember that short, fair, spectacled girl who came to our school in the 11th grade. She was subdued, shy, and quiet and she would always sit at the exact same spot with the same girl as her partner every single day. Maryam Salman came all the way from
to this little place and clearly had a lot of problems adjusting to her new life. No one in class used to talk to her much because they all thought she was a nerd. For one whole year we were non-existent for each other. Muscat
And then, one fine day, in the 12th standard, on an impulse I sat next to her. And from that day forward, things just.. changed! We began to talk and I realized how wrong people were about her, she was a total non-nerd! We hit it off from the first day and the seat next to her became my permanent and favorite seat till the very last day of school.
I loved how kiddish she was, just like me, and that she was into books and movies and music, just like me, and she was crazy and cute and funny, just like me! In fact, we were so similar that sometimes we would say or do the exact same things in perfect unison! We had even made a list of the ‘Similar things’ we used to do.
She made this little poem for me, which I really used to find hilarious:
“Astha, Astha have some pasta,
Go to hell and forget the raasta!”
Both of us were total
fanatics and knew all their songs by heart. We could listen to and sing their songs the entire day without faltering even once (not even at the complex parts). We would drool over our joint-crush, Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park and would talk about him and fantasize about him to extremes none could ever imagine! We even wrote a story about Linkin Park , Mike and me during our classes; of which we were totally proud. Sometimes we would go into irrepressible convulsions of laughter whenever we were together; while at other times we would share our darkest and deepest of secrets and fears. A couple of months before our Board exams, our classes were mostly all over and we were free to do whatever we wanted to. We had found this perfect spot; it was beyond our school field besides the graveyard. It had a ditch nearby and we used to call it the ‘Pit of Acheron’. We would sit there, for hours and hours together, talking, listening to songs, writing, reading (we never studied, and mostly we just yakked away). We used to live in our own little world, oblivious to everything else around us. Being with her, I was blissfully happy and without a doubt, she had become my bestest friend forever. Chester
She used to call me ‘Squixie’ because she used to say I look like a squirrel. I could talk to her about everything and anything, anywhere and anyhow. I was completely myself with her and never had to put up a facade of any kind. We used to talk for hours on the phone and before hanging up, we would always go like this: “Okay, bye, take care, love you, miss you, study well, all the best, bye, everything everything, myly, xoxo, bye, bye, take care, love you, everything, ua ua ua ua!” and would go into fits of laughter again!
(I should clarify here that ‘myly’ stands for “miss you love you” and ‘xoxo’ means “hugs and kisses”.)
I should also clarify that both of us are straight!
Everyday and every moment spent with her was special but there is one day I can never forget and I know even she can’t. The day was just, too perfect; it was one of the happiest days of my life. It was 7th of November, two days before my birthday. While the drills and races were taking place, we were wandering around the school premises and we came across this beautiful place. It was quiet and peaceful there. And I remember just sitting there with her, listening to our favorite songs, one plug in one of our ears, feeling the breeze blowing against our faces. It was amazing. We even carved out our names on one of the walls there. (It’s still there by the way; I went to see it last month.) When it got dark we went toward the crowds to see what was happening and we saw everybody was cheering and enjoying the ‘Gymnastics on Wheels’ show that we have every year in school. We stood there, cheering and hooting with everybody; when suddenly, they played one of our favorite songs ‘Numb’ on the loudspeakers! Both of us looked at each other and SCREAMED at the top our lungs, jumping, singing along, clapping, laughing and hugging each other again and again while the others looked at us as if we’ve lost it, for good! That moment, that was the moment when I was truly, wonderfully, absolutely blissful. She was the one who made me feel that way.
School wasn’t school without her and we always seemed to have SO much to share with each other. Like we could just talk and talk and talk non stop.
There are so many incidents I can mention, the school picnic, the time she won the debate and we celebrated, the way we used to sit and have our lunches together, the time we went to this school fete and sat on all the rides, the way she used to explain things to me and the way we used to make other feel better when one of us was feeling lousy, my birthday party (where we danced like crazy on LP for more than 10 min). I was so close to her that I never thought I’d be myself if I ever lose her. We were soul mates.
But today, she doesn't want to talk to me. After our Board exams, some misunderstandings cropped between us. I don’t even know what exactly happened, but apparently I hurt her deeply. I hurt her and I didn’t even realize it. She went back to
and we didn’t speak for a long, long time. When she did come back, I knew something was wrong and that she had changed. She moved to Muscat for graduation whist I stayed back here. Delhi
She never tried to contact me again, she wanted to forget me and move on. She told me that she doesn’t want to be friends anymore because she can’t be what she used to be with me and she loves me too much to hurt me. At first I didn’t understand, I was hurt, angry, confused, infuriated and did not understand why she would do such a thing. I cried over it, hurt and miserable. But after a lot of thinking, I finally think I’ve understood.
It’s okay if she doesn’t want to talk. I shouldn’t worry about it; because that is what makes her happy. I'm sure she has her reasons and if I look from her perspective, it would all make sense to me. I can’t be selfish and demand her to talk to me. I’m sad that it’s over, but I’m glad that it happened. I’m grateful I came across her; I’m thankful she befriended me and loved me so selflessly. I know things got screwed up somewhere, but even the thought of the moments spent with her, fills my heart with warmth and my eyes with tears. I miss her, terribly, but I’m all right now. If you’re reading this Maryam, by any chance, I want you to know I have no hard feelings against you and that you will be etched into my memory forever and will always and always be my BFF.
This is something that she wrote in my diary when we were departing, when we met for the last time:
“There’s no time left now, is there Astha? No time to do those things we wanted to. No time to finish all the things we left unfinished. No time to fill up another dialogue copy. No time to sing, no time to fill up the song diary, no time to finish our ‘story’, no time to Chester-around, no time to pass comments on Bhaturia’s microscopic blouses, no time to make long faces during Math classes, no time to run across the campus holding hands, no time to sit together and talk, no time to kiss dragonfly-Chester, no time to make fun of all the so-not-Chester-guys, no hogging Priyanka’s tiffin, no wearing those shoes and that scraggly ribbon, no time to sit in the warm winter sun, no school. What will I do? What? How will we go to the Pit of Acheron? The beautiful place? Library? 7th A classroom? Canteen?
I know that you’re going to be a great successful girl Astha. You do have a really bright future. Don’t mess it by holding on to the things that have passed by. Cherish it, yes, but don’t let it hinder your steps. You’ll grow out of it. Stand up to the world and face it. Let’s face it together Astha, holding hands, let’s be humble about it. Let’s look into the horizon together, let’s fly high, and soar into the sky as far as our wings can take us. Let’s make our lives what we dream them to be.”
I just want you to know: Thanks for all those wonderful moments; thank you for giving me another reason to be happy and grateful, even if it was for a short while :)
I love you and you will never ever be forgotten.