Wednesday, 6 June 2018

The Girl I Once Knew

There was once a girl I knew, a long time ago in my youth.

She was a bumbling mixture of nerves, insecurities and contradictions. She spoke confidently in a podium of thousands of students but could never look in the eye of the boy she liked in class. Instead, she wrote many poems and prose about unrequited love, daydreamed of wearing clothes she would never dare to wear and listened to ballads and country music that spoke of her inner turmoil.

She couldn't wait to grow up. To flee from her teenage reality, she spent her paydays in second hand bookshops going through titles and book covers of paperbacks that painted her imagination and transported her to different worlds where happiness can be plucked from the air. That was where I left her, in a bookshop at KCC Mall, and where, many years later, on a pilgrimage to my hometown, I found her again.

I have not thought about her often, the girl I hated for her recklessness and impudence but also admired for her restless passion and fearless faith in her abilities. I have often wondered what she would have thought of me, who, at turning 34 this year have not quite achieved the grand dreams and great expectations she had once laid on my shoulders.

But I wanted to tell her that I have accomplished ordinary things I could be proud of and picked up a few things she might not have known. That happiness comes when we learn to align our expectations to our reality.  That contentment grows when we learn to shift our priorities around those who really matter. That grief overwhelms us with anger and regret before gratitude and acceptance can take its roots. And most importantly, that the past deserves forgiveness, in order for us to move on.

So when I saw her again, I greeted her and she smiled back at me in recognition, in her loose jeans and baggy t-shirt with dry unruly hair tied up in a ponytail. She didn’t have to say anything for me to know that she understood - my hatred, my abandonment, my regrets. And on that day when we met, I made peace with her - the  girl I once knew, the friend who was my enemy, the person who once was me.

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