OPN INDIA SCHOOL1-1579947822567
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I scanned through the Facebook to look at her profile multiple times. I changed the spelling of her name, added her family name in place of surname but I couldn’t find her. It’s not that I want to be her friend again. I don’t know why I try stalking her on Facebook, sometimes. Such ‘searches’ usually take over me after I dream of her. She comes in my dreams often.

We play on swings on the small playground at the back of our school. We run past the corridor of our classrooms. Sometimes, I sit with her at the spot where we often had lunch. How many times in my dreams we cry and hug each other till I wake up from my dreams with wet eyes.

It has been over two decades since I left my school. That is where we met. I don’t clearly remember in which class we first became friends, but my memory recalls we were very close friend by class 5th. We were a large group of friends from different family backgrounds. With time, we grew close.

I kept quiet as she said how she missed me and how she would pray for me every day. I told her I missed her too.

- Sana Altaf, freelance writer

By nature, we were way different from each other but our differences kept us together always. While we always sat together in the classroom, we had a special place reserved in the school ground for lunch. In between the huge playground were two parallel rows of poplar trees.

Our days at school were spent laughing and playing most of the time with rest of the friends. We never cared for our future careers or anything around us.

However, we never met after the school was over.

Where the road parts

The three months of winter vacation was painful for us as we had no chance to meet each other. We wrote letters. Even as I and my friend lived mere 30 minutes away by car, we wrote letters to each other. I think my friend was a better writer. She would write long letters with few quotes about friendship at the end before signing it, ‘Love you most’. Her birthday always fell during the vacation. So I made sure to send her gift and cards. She sent cards too. Greeting cards, miss you cards and friendship cards. The day I received any letter or card from her would keep me happy for a week. I displayed the cards she sent to me on my dressing table. Some I pasted on my wall.

We grew up and passed our class 10th examination. Weeks before joining new school were spent mostly in taking decisions on which subjects to choose. In between, the writing of letters gradually ceased.

I completed my graduation and got into a university. She flew out of the state for further studies. I always kept myself informed about her and I knew she did so as well. During my days at university, I would often ask my old school friends about where she was and how she was doing. She got well settled in her life.

Facebook message

One day at work I got a message from her on Facebook. I took days to respond. I did not know if I should reply to her. Over eight years had passed since we had met or spoken to each other. However, I gave her my number and she called me.

The very first word from her was ‘sorry’. I kept quiet as she said how she missed me and how she would pray for me every day. I told her I missed her too. Back then, she was well settled with a good job and her father was looking a match for her. After a long conversation where I rarely spoke, we hung up as she promised to be my best friend again.

It took me days to come over the effect of the phone call. My mind was numb. She kept messaging me and called me too. I did not respond. One day, I blocked her. Few months after that she got married and settled abroad. I never heard of her after that.

But I still have the cards that she sent me, though worn out with over two decades of living in a plastic bag. My shirt she autographed on our last day of our school lies in my cupboard and I often read the message she wrote for me, “You are the best part of my life and will always be wherever we will be.”

— Sana Altaf is a Dubai-based freelance writer.

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