I used to come early for assemblies back then. So it happened that day, I reached school at seven. I walked up the stairs leading to the hardcourt and slowly made my way through the crowd of bags to my class. It was early morning, and the moon was still visible. It was like any other day. Or so I thought.
I shrugged the bag off my shoulders, and sat down beside my friend. Suddenly, I heard a shout. "Hey Gabrielle!" I frozed. Where did that come from? I looked around, and behind me. It was her. She was grinning. I knew her. Obviously. We were from the same batch, and had been through a few camps together. I had always seen her around school, laughing with her friends. But we had never conversed. Perhaps, it was something unspoken in our school. That certain groups simply do not talk to each other. Till now, that is.
I mentally cursed myself. Why couldn't I have spoken louder? Did I want her to think that I was a shy fool or something? I felt awkward, like a chicken who was floundering in the sea. I stared at her. I swallowed. She looked at me, and smiled.
It continued like this, for the next few weeks. At first, I just simply replied a simple hi. I was too shy to strike up a conversation. But she accosted me at every turn, or so it appears to me. Gradually, without much thought, this began to feel natural. The times she smiled, I'd smile back. I would even initiate the morning greeting, which has become a ritual for us.
It seemed quite simple is it not? And you wonder, why is this idiot making a mountain out of a molehill? Simply because, this is a relationship I really treasured, with all my might.
One day, I decided to ask her down for my youth service. She agreed, willingly. I was surprised. Shocked. Overjoyed. Gobsmacked. I didn't know she would accept. I had simply thought to ask. All the emotions whirled and ran after each other in me.
It was then, that our relationship finally cemented. We started calling each other, and the smiles began to be more secretive. Friends around us were suitably confused. We had afterall, come from different groups. In all the possible things that could be listed, we were polar opposites. She was loud, compared to my quieter demeanor. She loved talking on the phone, I wasn't too used to it. She's a night person, I'm a morning girl. In spite of that, our friendship began to bloom.
That particular period were the happiest of my life. Times spent with her, were never boring. Perhaps, in hindsight, she made me feel needed. She made me, me! feel special.
I remembered once, she asked me out for breakfast. Now, if you know her well enough, you'd realize she's not a morning person. Yet, she had asked me for breakfast! I agreed readily.
That day came. I reached the place just in time, and walked to the end to wait for her. She appeared soon after, one hand holding onto a huge bag. I stared at the bag. Was it for me? I grinned. "Hey, can I see that?" I pointed to the bag. She shook her head.
I shrugged and decided to drop the matter. We ordered our breakfasts and starting eating. The food disappeared within moments into our hungry mouths. After finishing the hearty meal, she looked at me and said, "I'm an idiot."
"I was painting something yesterday night, and look!"
I looked. "What?"
She bent her head towards me and gestured to a certain part of her head. I leaned towards her hesistantly. Eh, was that paint on her hair? She flipped her head back impatiently and began talking. "Aiya, I painted until like mad, then I was so tired! I've paint on my hair! And look, there's paint on my toenails! And I didn't even bathe before I come out la."
I stared at her. It took a few moments to sink it, and I started laughing. I couldn't help it. Her story was just, too pathetic to be true. She grimaced, and gave a snort. "Hey, what's your problem? It was for you, you ass!"
I stopped laughing.
"Oh. What's it?"
She grinned, and passed over the bag I had been eyeing an hour ago. I gazed at the bag, before slowly sliding something out. It was paper. Drawing paper to be exact. The words read, "The best time you spend is investing in the lives of others. You, made a difference in my life." There was a purple border streaked with hearts on the right hand corner, and my name on the top left. I stared at it, transfixed.
It was beautiful.
It wasn't expensive. At the very most, it would perhaps cost, three dollars? But it was the hard work behind. She had painted it painstackingly for a few hours. She had fallen asleep while doing it. It might not have been the most expensive gift ever, but it was perfect.
Thinking back, the very day that she greeted me had changed me. I now understood better, the meaning of love. This, was truer than any other thing I had experienced. This relationship, had cut across boundaries and it meant alot to me. It touched me, the way I was important enough for her to stay up to do the card. I've kept it till now, and its still in pretty good condition.
No matter what life takes me in future, this cardboard would follow. It would remind me of her courage, and our friendship. We might end up at different ends of the world. But I would always remember the way we had met; when she first greeted me. And changed my life, forever.