Earlier this week I happened to watch Little Women on TV; it took me back to fifth grade when we read the book together as a class. Albeit we didn’t finish the entire novel, but it had a deep impact on most of us. Having studied at an all girls school, this book came to us at a pivotal stage in our lives. It taught us the value of strong female friendships, and gave us an everlasting bond of sisterhood. Some of my earliest memories, of my closest friends are from the fifth grade. In school we were assigned seats based on our last names. The girl sitting next to me in class, had to suddenly move cities, which left me without a bench buddy for a few days. And, when I had just about got used to sitting alone, a new girl arrived. Like any nine year old, I was quick to judge and decided that I didn’t like her. She was the exact opposite of me, always asked questions, and completed her mental math assignments before me, vegetarian and rambunctious! Little did I know, that someone who was so different from me would, turn out to be such an integral part of my life. Dear best friend, I am so glad your last name began with an ‘S’.
As Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March grew up, so did we. While the girls learnt how to survive during the Civil War, we learnt to fight our own. I still remember the day, a close friend of mine, who had recently learnt a new cuss word from her older brother, decided to yell it out from our classroom window. Obviously, we all got into trouble! No one wanted to rat her out. This was our Civil War against the teachers. But, this incident brought us closer, like a secret mafia of sorts; I learnt the importance of loyalty, and building each other up instead of tearing one another down.
I didn’t realize the value and importance of a single sex school till much later in life. Like any teenager, we wished our parents put us into co-educational schools. But, I am glad they didn’t. When I look back at my time in school, I understand why I have the kind of bond I do with my closest friends. We were there for each other, learning, growing and discovering the world together. Witnessed and tolerated the boy drama and how can I forget, the awkward teenage fashion years. They’re probably the only people who still have evidence of my crazy curly hair days. These are the Little Women I have shared my childhood with. I feel that I carry a little bit of each one of them in me. They have helped develop my personality, told me that it’s okay to be opinionated and embraced each flaw of mine, as I have of theirs. In some ways, we’re all Jo. Stubborn, headstrong, career oriented and a rebel at heart. Our school, gave us that, it gave us each other.
As I sit at the brink of turning thirty, I realize how important old friendships are. People, who have been a part of my journey, people, with whom I would have a fight with every month without fail. People who brought extra tiffin (lunch) just to feed the rest of us, people who I skipped classes with, failed tests, bruised knees and got thrown out of the class with for not doing our math homework. Thank you! I feel we don’t say this enough to one another, maybe it’s a cultural thing, maybe this is how old friendships are. We come to a stage where we no longer need to say how important you are to me. Perhaps, that’s why America decided that the world needed a Best Friends Day aka June 8th to celebrate and cherish our closest.
One cannot talk about friendships without mentioning those friends who we were close to at one point of time. I do think about them and at times miss what I had with them. Sometimes, I can’t remember why we no longer talk; so I just want you to know that I do value your contribution to my life and my story.