This is the story of me and my best friend. How we started out and where we are now.
‘Unlikely,’ rather than any other adjective because we were extremely, different breeds of the homo sapien child.
When I first saw him, I was struck by how he was Dilton Doiley’s doppelganger – small, bespectacled with a 50’s-school-boy hairstyle.
After that, I simply ignored him.
I was after all, the equivalent of a Middle School jock, and the elite, had no time for the nerds, newbies and/or other such student subcultures.
At eleven years, the age when most girls start noticing boys, I was still, sadly non-pubescent, so I stayed with my clique of athletic preteens and wowed both teachers and peers alike as the literary genius of Sixth Grade.
It wasn’t until the first term exams that I was forced to acknowledge Shiyamalaraj Kandasamy again.
I had no choice; it’s hard to ignore someone when they’ve just knocked you out of the top spot in the class rankings, a spot you had held without effort since kindergarten!
I began to scrutinize this small, quiet person with a renewed interest and found to my horror that, despite being the size of an average leprechaun, his body mass seemed to be purely, critically analyzing brains – the worst kind there is!
That’s when the rivalry began.
From my new position at Number Two, I became jealous of the fact that some noob, had just waltzed all over me into the top slot that I had held since forever, leaving heavy, leather footprints all over my face!
For the first time in my life, I put my back into it and worked really hard, determined to be restored to my former glory.
By the time we reached Secondary School, I had to accept that I was way in over my head! He was too smart! He was too quick! And it probably helped that he had neither my short attention span nor my tendency to play truant.
As we prepared to choose subject streams at IGCSE, I was infuriated to find he liked the same subjects as me! I knew I didn’t have the capacity to beat him, so I dropped History and English Literature, and told myself it was not because of him!
All through the IGCSE years, I pretended he wasn’t worth my time but now when I think about it, I realize he was always there at the back of my mind, egging me forward, bringing out the fighter in me.
To crown it all, the teachers started comparing the two of us. I was appalled! Why? He and I were nothing alike!
Turns out the teachers didn’t think so either. Au contraire, they believed that he was everything that I was just too darn lazy to be!
That was the last straw.
I began to taunt him. I announced loudly that I will never be anything like him!
I wasn’t an über-geek!
I was cool!
(I hope fervently that he doesn’t remember the bully I used to be, my own mother wouldn’t forgive such cruelty!)
The pattern continued, time passed and we grew up…
In Twelfth Grade, once again, he picked the same four subjects. Not one exception!
I followed him to class that morning, grumbling and cursing him under my breath.
We ended up sitting together and he let me copy off him. I was amazed to find that he had a remarkably sophisticated sense of humour.
It made me see him in a new light.
Though we weren’t real friends, I no longer thought of him as the enemy.
Then he fell in love with my best girlfriend!
I was thrilled!
I put a lot of time and effort into playing matchmaker. It came as a surprise that I really wanted to make him happy!
We started spending more time together as I planned his launch into romance and he started changing. He became rebellious, cocky, a smart mouth!
Once, a teacher called me into her office to reprimand me on being ‘a bad influence on model student Shiyamalaraj Kandasamy!’
It made my day!
When he finally won ‘fair maiden,’ he transformed overnight with confidence. No longer the underdog, he sometimes went as far as to insult me and my plank-like physique!
Was it payback for the times I brought him down?
I don’t know and I don’t really care. It doesn’t really matter now.
In our last year, he bested me again, becoming our Head Prefect.
And me? I felt no anger, no jealousy, only pride.
That year we grew closer and found it was true, that he and I were alike.
We had so much in common; from books, to photography to the mysteries of time travel.
If someone had told twelve-year-old me that the person I’ll run crying to in times of heartbreak would be Shiyam, twelve-year-old me would have scoffed and made a rude, hand gesture!
But that’s what I did.
Heartbroken, the first person I called was him. I cried, and he consoled and stood by my side defiantly all the way.
I remember he once sent an email to the boy who broke my heart, asking him to leave me alone!
I was humbled… and forever grateful!
After graduation, Shiyam and I hardly met, but texted every single day.
I started depending on him and I like to think he depends on me too.
The day he left the country for college was the saddest day of my life! I wandered around aimlessly. I actually cried.
And today, the girl who did not believe in fairytale friendships has found the perfect best friend in the boy who had once been the biggest threat to her perfect, little life.
It might be corny to say it was destiny that linked our pasts, despite our differences.
And I look forward to the inevitable future together with high hopes.
Perhaps we’ll be one of those legendary collaborations like Lennon and McCartney, or the Google guys; two best friends with the power to change the world!
I’d like that!
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