When I first decided to make 1000 origami paper cranes for my best friend on her 17th birthday, I didn’t realize it was going to be that difficult. The first 50 went by easily and then as folding continued, I acknowledged I would never be able to get the rest 950 done in a week. So instead, I decided on making 365 paper cranes and filled each one with a message inside; one for each day for a whole year. Someone should’ve told me then that coming up with 365 messages to a friend you see everyday was tougher than folding the cranes. Still, i managed to pull off the gift and till this date, that has been my most diligent gift for anyone.
Years went by, we went our separate paths, doing our own thing. Me being the spunky one left home, studied in Europe and travelled different continents, while she, the vigilant one, stayed back, studied and got the job she desired. As distance separated us, so did the numerous events in our lives that we dealt without each other. We would talk once a while for hours and then disappear for months. Then one of us would call and the cycle continued. This made me believe that no matter the distance, people can always stay connected if they are bonded by faith and love. The notion strengthened when i came back home after graduating and all that seemed to have changed was our purses; what we used to carry around almost empty with few bucks to spare provided by our parents were now filled with adequate cash earned by our own hard work. With that noble money, we spent hours of weekends catching up all that we had left to talk about and within weeks, we became inseparable again, like neither of us ever left the other’s side.
I never desired for an explanation, on why things just fell into place, why we just clicked despite so much had happened in our individual lives and why it didn’t take a single hesitation to pour our feelings to each other. Cause we had been best friends, despite the different personalities, and despite the different goals. Isn’t that how best friends connect? Isn’t that how we define friendship? A relationship that flows effortlessly?
Apparently not. Well not for all of us.
While me and my best friend were celebrating 12 years of our friendship, I came across few other classmates who hadn’t heard from their close friends for years. Those who were once inseparable were now complete strangers to each other. They had lost touch years before and even though few knew what the other was up to through Facebook, the real bond had faded. For some, their friend graduated high school and vanished in thin air, some emigrated and the distance had tore the friendship apart, few went through a rough patch and were unable to settle the differences and some had simply found new friends to be around with. In short, life meddled and friends – those faithful friends – had become just a random name in Facebook “friend” list.
But life had meddled with my friendship too. My best friend and I graduated high school and being completely different people went ahead to study our own field of interests. We too had our own arguments, had been separated by the distance and we too had found new friends. And yet the friendship prevailed. Perhaps we were always better kin than the rest, I presumed. I found myself being conceited on our friendship and proclaimed (in my heart) that we would be inseparable, forever.
Recently, I went over to visit her house, somewhere i hadn’t been for a long time. She had renovated her room, made the wallpaper designs herself. Like always, she was arranging something and was complaining about the electric wires crammed in the corner as she tried tidying them up. Her handicrafts were placed carefully in the coffee table next to her bed along with the scented candle I had given her on her 16th birthday (Still not lit). Through her stuffs came out a small, beautiful box she had made herself and as I opened it I saw plenty of square shaped papers placed neatly inside the box. Giving it a closer look, I saw writings in each of them. An overwhelming sensation hit my heart when I recognized my handwriting in each paper and remembered they were those 365 cranes I had gifted her.
“I still have them. Couldn’t fold them back to cranes though… so just let it sit inside the box.” she said.
I read through few of them and just a couple were enough to remind me how special we were for each other. My eyes had welled up in the realization of what we had went through. I contemplated on what would’ve we been had I stopped choosing to call her when I was alone away from home, or if she hadn’t listened to my sorrows like her own. Would’ve we been the same fast friends had she chose to throw away all the paper cranes after reading them? Or if I didn’t bother to care her passion for handicrafts? Would we be still smiling like this today, in her home had she chosen to be with her other friends instead? Would i still have been able to say she is my best friend had I not listened to her sad stories too?
Like the rest of our classmates, we hadn’t been different. We were all gullible before life tainted our innocence, before we dealt everything on our own, before we didn’t have to pretend to be strong. Before – when everything was uncomplicated – we had cherished each other. But each of us had our own struggle and as we grew, the struggles became our own battles to conquest. Through those tough times, we let in many people, many we let them go. As much as I wished me and my friend were special humans with the power to be inseparable for the rest of our lives, I realized that we too were just normal like others. What differed our friendship with the rest was our choice; the choice of choosing that same person despite the distress, distance and the differences.
Every relationship requires effort, be it between siblings, friends, lovers or families. We tend to believe life happens and everyone goes their own way. They sure do. Surely fate throws you with innumerable surprises and a lot of them aren’t always delightful. But the effort to constantly choose the same person who chooses you makes a bond valuable. And the person who gracefully accepts you like there were no other choice makes every effort worthwhile.
As i smiled and listened my friend grunting her office issues, i envisaged the beginning of our friendship. Would we still have wanted to know each other, 12 years back, if we didn’t share the same name? Probably not. But had we ended up being friends, would we still have been inseparable? Well… since last 12 years has gone without a sweat…. we might just be friends for 12 more years!