My best friend in Elementary School is getting married tomorrow.
The last time I met her was last year when I went home to Indonesia for the Summer. We decided to have a small dinner at a Chinese restaurant in the Central with few others mutual friends. But she had stopped being my best friends long ago. It felt quite odd talking to her again, not the uncomfortable odd, it was the kind where I knew I used to spend every weekend at her house playing Barbie dolls, eleven years ago when we were almost like a pair of shoes that never went anywhere separately. But now, we barely spoke more than two sentences in a year.
Nadia and I were the very definition of best friends back then. The ones where everybody envy, not that I would try to sound snobbish, but it was true. Sometimes other peers, or teachers would gave us a strange look. Some of them thought we were sisters. We both had long dark wavy hair, big round eyes and pointy nose. People said we were the pretty ones. But who we were to understand when we were kids the only thing we know was Westlife, and not that it ever fed our ego too, but I always thought she was prettier than me. She had kinder smile, better teeth, the perfect toothpaste commercial-like. There was just something about her that radiates gentleness.
Everything changed just before we entered fifth grade. I remember we were on our way to the canteen on a recess and we walked by the teacher's office. Suddenly our then teacher told us off to stop being friends. I remember the way he looked at us, with the full-on eyes of anger and disgust as if having a best friend was a crime. He said our friendship prevent us from socialising with other students. On the next academic year, we were put in different class. And as what he wanted, we drifted apart sooner than I ever thought. Perhaps it gotten into us, well, at least into me, that I foolishly believed that I must have done something wrong. The promise that we both made to spend lunch break together was never happened.
From two missed lunch break, to occasionally say hi on the hallway. We eventually gotten busy with different class schedule, and found ourselves mingle with two different group. And that was the end of our barbie-doll friendship.
When she messaged me yesterday telling me that she was getting married, I was eating crisps while watching YouTube. I was confused at start, as it was kind of a surprise - both the news, and the fact she was asking for my blessing. Then, rush of nostalgia hit me, also a twinge of an odd comparison between us. I started to wonder what would happen if we were still best friends. If that teacher never told us to stop being friends and put us in different class. I never imagined, nor realised until recently, that we grew up to be the complete opposite individual. She led a life where everything goes as planned; finished studying, got a job and get married. She graduated university by the age of 20, now having a steady well-paid job at an IT company and ready to get married. While I, on the other hand was still struggling to finish up university, 22, with the longest record of relationship was four months obviously no where near ready to get married.
I did not know how we ended up being very different. By all means, there was no black and white ground here - we simply chose different path. But maybe if we were to stay being a close friend, I would be calmer than I am now, she would be louder than she is now. I asked her earlier this morning, how she would spend her last day of being single - in my head, with the closest culture relevance around me now, I obviously thought of going out with girl friends, I don't know, have fun as if it was the day you have to celebrate - I personally never thought of this, I had not had a thought of getting married, let alone hen party. But instead she said, "I'm just gonna lay on the couch the whole day because this will be the last day I'd spend being lazy alone."
I smiled at her answer. That can be the sweetest way to embrace her new life, that she will always have a company from tomorrow onwards. After all this time, she still has that kindness and gentleness even in her words. Now, I am aware that even though we were not as close as we were in the first four years of elementary school, and did not matter how brief, childish our friendship was, I still admire her for whoever she was or is, and value our friendship then more than the length of barbie house playtime.
A piece by : Fiya Muiz