Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Zohara jabeen

The earliest memory I have of the two of us is meeting halfway down my winding driveway, she with her grandmother, and I with mine. Some plastic fish exchanged and thrown in a bucket of water. Her little coconut tree ponytail sitting jauntily on top of her head. My boy’s cut messy and ruffled.
Then I left.

And came back uncertain of who would want to be my friend after so much time spent away. The empty years between us melted as we declared ourselves secret sisters. Identical haircuts, matching beach bermudas, the same swimsuits. And peals of laughter when strangers asked if we were twins.
No, no we aren’t really. But thank you!
Sitting in buckets filled to the brim, our torsos disappearing, nothing but arms and feet. She insisting on hot water for her bath, I on cold.
Years later we’d meet after school for a surreptitious cigarette, not even waiting to get out of our uniforms. Her skirt pleated and green, mine straight and grey. Complaining about classmates and teachers. The impending ISC and boys.

Then our lives became suddenly full. Occasional emails, photographs to preserve the laughter. We’d carry these with us to stick on bulletin boards, reminding us of time together in another world. Two distinct personalities emerging from a shared childhood.
The budding businesswoman and the struggling journalist.

Wake up calls at six in the morning to burn calories from forbidden indulgences. To fit into halter tops and scandalously low jeans. Her tattoo on her shoulder blade, my navel ring on display. Staring into the same mirror frowning.
Just look at you, you’ll disappear.
You’re one to talk, skinny.

Then I left once more, with her clicking her tongue and rolling her eyes in the background.
You always were a little crazy.
Finding ourselves in separate, yet making time for window-shopping and fast food. Disagreeing on larger issues, but knowing that the other will always be a constant. Generations cementing the bond we perpetuate.

And now it’s her turn. To move. To move on.
She’s found someone to hold her hand for the rest of her life. To push the stray strands of hair away from her face when she pouts prettily. To grow old with. To make new memories with.
And now every word she says is a smile.
And though I feel sentimental tears well up obstinately, I smile right back.

I love you and good luck, skinny.