Once upon a time there were two little girls. One had just joined the class in the middle of the term after her father had been transferred there. The other had been there since the beginning of the term. They used to sit on consecutive benches, until a budding romance of the new girls bench mate led to a change in the seating arrangement and the two ended up sitting together –inadvertently leading to the beginning of a very, very long relationship.
The new, new girl had just lost her younger brother a few months earlier. The other girl had lost her father a few years before. Both were voracious readers. The former was a quiet, deeply grieving, painfully shy, dreamer and with an unexpected streak of mischief. The other was a gregarious, giggly, outgoing girl – the class topper- monitor material. People would look at the pair and wonder what it that they saw in each other.
They spent the following two years doing most of the things preteen and early teen girls do – one had her first romance, and the other provided the alibis/ bodyguard/simply-guard. They exchanged copious pre-internet IM scribbles in the Julius Caesar text book. Invented fictitious boyfriends. Studied together. Made up games on the spot. Had sleepovers every other night. Gossiped about girls. Gawked at boys. Wrote very bad poetry singly and jointly. Wrote diaries. Read each other’s diaries. One wept about the lack of boyfriend at sweet sixteen. The other (slightly misandrist) girl consoled her by playing tabla on her fainted head. They squabbled and were rude to each other. They went to the temple to pray for the 10 standard results together. Adopted the other’s families. They constantly made fun of each other.
Somehow managed to finish the tenth standard and joined another school together. Spent another two years being inseparable though both would have vehemently denied any such accusation. Squabbled some more. Wrote some more bad poetry. Made smugly superior remarks about girls who read mills and boons. Made some more friends. Lost a few old ones.
Then proceeded to part for the first time in almost five years – one to go to Delhi and the other to Bombay. Undergrad, post grad and first couple of years of work. The physical presence was taken over by long rambling letters, the rare phone call and the intermittent visit.
Then the girl in Delhi, shifted to Mumbai. And once again the meetings started – while both were older and had their share of heartaches and real life stress, with the other’s banter they managed to capture a little fleeting window to the carefree life of childhood. They shopped for books together. They screened and validated boys (first) and then bridegroom prospects. The listened to the other crib, whine, gripe and cry about bad bosses and work. They squabbled all the time (like an old married couple said the other friends). They made fun of each other. They demanded random gifts. They gate-crashed each other’s house incessantly .
They met and vetted the person the other would eventually marry. And then they both got married – a year and a half apart. By this time, the world had woken up to the internet and text messages. So staying in touch was much more regular. Spoke at least once a week. Mailed often. Exchanged stories of settling down in new house and adjusting to marriage, in laws, new cities, and new jobs.
And then today one of them, made a transition into another life-stage and to irrevocable world of grownups. She brought a Baby Girl Fish into the world today.
Folks please say hallo to my brand new God-daughter
J – May she get a friend, such as you have been to me – because I KNOW that is the best possible wish that I can give her.
P.S. I might be slightly disoriented. Actually I AM disoriented.
P.P.S Grown up! Aiyo Rama.
P. P. P. S for the record, I nominated myself as the God-mother and informed the parents to be. Goonda promptly has passed on the task of teaching the kiddie the facts of life to me. I think that was quite cowardly of her.