The other night I was reminiscing about my childhood and I realized how different is it from my present for I have always considered it as a phase of life, gone and soon to be forgotten but no, it was never forgotten.
Back then, my first best friend was named ‘Amal’ (Meaning hope in Arabic and indeed she was something). She was truly special because she was the one who taught me the basics of friendship. She used to randomly slip notes into my schoolbag telling me how much she appreciated our friendship. Even though there is no trace for these notes 9 years later, yet, it was as if these notes were not only meant for the past; because when I remember these notes I smile. It was, as if these notes were made for the present, past and future. She taught me to write such notes.
Amal was my first best friend because she used to call me when our favorite cartoon ‘pakemon’ was aired during the 2 hrs allotted for kid’s shows on MBC. MBC was only one channel back then, today it is 7 different channels. Then, we used to recite the entire event of the cartoon the next day. Amal was a friend of one of the popular girl at that time called ‘lara’(She happened to have a bunch of neon colors pens and that was enough to instantly make her popular!).Lara never liked me, so I was basically shunted off from using those glorious pens. Amal read the sadness in my eyes and invited me over to use them after she asked Lara.
Once I and she were seated on a concrete kerb that happened to magically appear, for our school was bloody old as hell. It was ‘the games’ period where they let us do whatever we want. We chased each other then we were seated. A butterfly was fluttering above our tiny heads and she asked me “Mennah what do you want to be instead of a human? I want to be a butterfly!”. As impressed as I was, I said “Me too!!” She reflected for a while then said “No Mennah, I am happy the way God created me” then we were up again chasing each other.
At the beginning of year 5, she left for her home country, Lebanon. I don’t remember being sad, perhaps because goodbye didn’t mean much back then. In year 6, I got sad. I missed her terribly especially that I was an introvert and a nerd. She was usually the social sunshine! I was sitting one lazy evening with my father when the phone rang and all of a sudden he said “Mennah it’s your friend Amal”. I was stunned. I took the phone and uttered few words of hello’s and I miss you’s and then joy started bouncing within me. It felt as if a rainbow burst into many tiny twinkling lights within me.
Since year 6 I didn’t hear anything from her. I tried searching her up on Facebook but it was of no use, many entries included her last name. It doesn’t matter but what matters is what I had learned. Amal taught me that one doesn’t have to have fancy colored pens to be friends with. That one doesn’t have to have the same skin tone, eyes, or hair to be friends with. That anyone could befriend anyone. She taught me the power of words. She made me realize that a simple random honest compliment could lighten up one’s day. She taught me that friendship constitutes of simple things as informing one another of when our favorite shows were aired and discussing it the next day. She taught me that you could be thousands of miles away but yet close at heart. I am 19 now and she left almost 8 years ago and I still remember her. Childhood is beautiful because you extract what is pure in this life and it stays with you till you grow up. Thank you Amal.