As an introvert, it was difficult to mingle. The new faces looked so unfriendly and that made it even worse. All the girls had on, the same style of hair and their uniforms, neat and well ironed. I came to school that cold, beautiful morning in my mufti; a sleeveless top and a fitted skirt with my bag that looked like what soldiers took to war. It was a camouflage print. I still wonder why my mum bought me that kind of bag.
It was my first day in my new school as a senior student. I stood out in my class not because I was slim and pretty, but, because I had a funny hairstyle on. The "puff puff". I had just started growing my hair because I just left the boarding house.
In all of the new faces, one of them caught my eyes. She was slim like me, pretty, confident and seemed to have a good rapport with the boys. That was not all, 70% of her hair was grey and shiny. It did not make her look old but unique and beautiful. I stared at her and wondered about the versatility of God in the creation of we humans. Though my eyes were still fixed on her, she looked approachable and kind, unlike the other girls who looked at me and made fun of me deep down in them because of my hairstyle. I stayed glued to my seat throughout the day for no other reason but shyness. I just couldn't wait for the day to be over so I could feel free again.
She finally walked up to me the following day and asked that we have lunch together. She not only paid the bills but insisted that we ate in the same plate. I was amazed because she was about the most sophisticated girl in the class at the time. I determined to return the kind and unusual gesture the following day, which I did. Our friendship blossomed, though we had our differences.
Two years after, she broke the news of her traveling to Spain to study cosmetology. I sincerely was happy for her and at the same time, sad, because I would miss her so dearly. She was a true friend. She was funny, sociable and in all honesty, sophisticated. We both were fashion-conscious but she always took the lead. We planned to exchange gifts and promised not to forget each other. I hugged her so tight and hoped to see her soon. We said our 'goodbyes' in a really sober mood. Little did I know..........................
We kept to our promise as she did most of the calling because international calls were very expensive at the time. Notwithstanding, I called her when I could and we chatted on yahoo messenger whenever I was online. Three years later, she came back to Nigeria on a visit, to return in two months. She called me immediately she got home and I was so excited. Our friendship never sank for one day. It was as good as when it started. I couldn't wait to give her a download of what had been happening in my life and I was also itching to hear hers.
There was a party at my crib that day and I invited her. She couldn't make it because she had other engagements, besides, the invitation was impromptu. I had no problems with that, more so, she was going to be around for quite some time. The following week, I told my parents I was going to see her. I lied! I actually went out with my boyfriend. I wish I had taken to heart the saying "procrastination is the killer of time". I went back to school without seeing her but had in mind to do so once or twice before she returned to Spain.
One particular night, I was about to lay my head when my phone rang. It was from a secondary school classmate. We exchanged pleasantries and I questioned his call at that odd hour. He said my friend was lying critically ill in the hospital. I asked what was wrong but he had 'no idea'. I told him I would be in Lagos the following day. It was at that point he came out with the devastating, heart-breaking, system-disrupting and shocking news that my friend had left for Spain without telling me. At that moment, I wished that was all of it. She had not only left for Spain but also, the great beyond.
I hung up immediately and ran into the toilet. I was nervous, sad, angry with myself and wondering why she had to be gone so soon. I purged all night, cried my eyes out and was weak by morning.
I regret the lie I told because I could have seen my boyfriend another day. I regret the lie I told because I took our friendship for granted. I also regret the lie I told because she's gone forever.
In sadness of heart, I write this page in my notebook, but with joy in my soul, that I came across such a unique, kind, beautiful and sophisticated girl like you.
Rest In Peace, Dear FRIEND. You are unforgettable. I miss your grey hair *giggles*.
P.S. - The gift you gave me before you left for Spain is still in my room.