~ Esha Karthiraj
Our seventh grade open day was approaching and you and I had been paired together to make a 3D model of the water cycle. We had been in the same school since nursery but this was the first time that you were in my class. And you were fine I guess. Your handwriting was shabby and you always looked at me weird. But I called it the day that you insisted that I carry that whole model home with me in the crowded little school van even though you lived a 5 min walk away, apparently it was “ too heavy to carry and walk with”. I remember thinking about how you were only further proving my hypothesis that all that friends are, are people that like the same things and so stay together in order to not get weird stares in the playground. I had been abandoned by my “ friends” at lunchtime in search of “cooler people'' enough times to know that. But that model was graded and there’s nothing a little academic pressure can't fix. And so I found you at my door step the following week. I don’t know why I agreed to have the mountains in the model be fixed at my house, I had never invited any of my friends to my place ever. My dad isn't in any of the picture frames and that doesn't scream “ he just lives in dubai”. I could never quite figure out if I did it out of privacy or precaution. I do think you noticed but you didn’t question me about anything that day.Fixing mountains turned into lunch dates that turned into sleep overs. Before I knew it you were disproving a theory that you yourself had helped prove, like some mad scientist prying at my understanding of relationships from all sides. Or maybe an evil witch, I mean you’ve always loved harry potter a suspicious amount, that must have been how you got me to start searching for the best chaat places nearby instead of my usual bakeries and sweets shops.
Soon enough 10th grade had gone by and you chose to study computer sciences,chemistry and physics in a different institution while I had my interests rooted in psychology, literature and history in the same school that the both of us had been in since we were in pinafores with hankies pinned to them. I began to find myself craving chaat more than ice cream. You turned me into an amalgamation. Some sort of semipermeable membrane, cleverly erasing the water cycle model completely and only leaving me with the inability to eat chips. I was studying subjects I enjoyed so I was doing well. I managed to make a group of friends with faces all too new. But I'd still taste little bits of your poison when the new faces talked of spells left behind by wretched sorceresses of their own. In those 2 years you talked of people, buildings, rooms and subjects that I had to build from the foundation up for myself only with the enthusiasm in your voice and vague descriptions delivered over phone lines. Common grounds like birthdays, festivals, competitive exams, pandemics came and went but they weren’t common at all. They took different things, they granted separate gifts, they required varied preparations from the both of us. So we stood on eased schedules and Sunday mornings.
Now we’re both in the very beginning of our college lives. Your handwriting is much neater than mine but I’ve learned to make sure that the words that I write in my shabby cursive are worth deciphering. I grumpily shiver in cold October rains to talk to you over the phone and you crib your way to the ice cream parlour in late April afternoons.We walk into the same book stores and diverge into different shelves but I bet I could name all of the newest fantasy releases this month. You drink sweeter coffee now and it turns out you still have the mountains from the water cycle model. Maybe I’m the witch.