To All the Girls I Have Loved
(After receiving much love on my blog post 'To All the Boys I Have Loved' and many, many requests for a spin-off, here's a long-due shout-out to all the girls I have dearly loved.)
First would be you, my darling Valerie. Scraped knees and monkey bars of kindergarten would’ve been a lot more daunting without you by my side. The bullies at the sandbox would’ve been my demons every day had your 4-year-old self not been my superhero.
Those school lunches with you under the kadam tree were like a balm on my otherwise bruised childhood. Without your make-believe stories and tight-knit friendship, my early days would’ve been lost.
But much like the Valerie of Amy Winehouse’s song, you, my Valerie, are now lost in time.
For you, I keep good wishes and a box of candied memories — like Mango Bite, your favourite. May you be in good health and prosperous in life, wherever you are. And if we ever happen to run into each other, I hope we can begin again where we’d left off.
Second would be you, oh Pamela, with your ‘pigtails and ribbons and crushes on miss’. What good would the summer vacations in primary school have been without our endless rounds of playing ghar-ghar? The endless hours spent lazing under the jamun tree in the April sun, sucking on candy cigarettes and Bon Bon pepsi sticks? What good would growing up have been without you?
We shared the hostile experience of prickly heats and getting our heads shaved for the bribe of ice creams, shared more than secrets under your parents’ bed on quiet Sunday afternoons. Now, we don’t even share a ‘hello’ on Facebook. Did jealousy get the better of us, or was it pride?
Seeing you soar, when it should’ve made me proud of you, made me sick of myself, I must admit. I guess I always suffered from a superiority complex, and when you got better than me, I couldn’t make my peace with that. And for that, I’m sorry.
For you, I keep an apology and an olive branch. Sorry for being a bitch and letting that gorge of self-pity between us get wider and wider. Honestly, you are a raging inspiration. And if you ever feel like you need a friend, I’ll be on the other side of this bridge, waiting with a hug and a tub of chocolate chip ice cream.
Third would be you, my Runaround Sue. Is it really that inappropriate that I pick this song for you? I mean, you did ditch me to run around with the popular girls in the lunchroom.
Seems kind of juvenile to hang on to a heartbreak from high school in your late 20s, doesn’t it? Trust me, if it had been a boy, I’d have forgiven — better yet, forgotten. But when a best friend, someone you deeply trusted, freezes you out overnight because you don’t fit with her ‘It’ crowd, it puts a dent in your self-confidence that never quite fades.
Your Ice Queen-level cold shoulder did quite a number on me, and for that, honestly, S, I’m grateful. I now choose my friends more wisely.
For you, I keep a ‘thank you’ note with a postscript. I hope what happened between us was just a teenage indiscretion on your part and that you’ve actually grown up to be a better friend. As for the postscript — PS: Thank U, Next.
Fourth would be you, Julie — not Cher’s or Bowie’s, but ELO’s. You sat right next to me, being my picture perfect bosom friend, when I first fell in love. And then, oh Julie, you quietly tiptoed behind my back and pulled a Brutas — cheating on me with my boyfriend.
Despite all that, after all the hugs and ugly cries, we limped back to friendship. Slowly, over the years, we healed and mended. We forgave, forgot and blamed it on the boy. We chose us over him. And for that, I’m eternally glad.
But none of that could repair what had been broken deep within. Our bond, once hot and strong, was now lukewarm...and always taken with a pinch of salt. Perhaps it’s the distance, or residual mistrust. Or maybe, we’ve just made peace with each other’s absence in our lives. I’m no longer the ‘bad girl’ trying to make a rebel out of you, and you’re no longer mine to save. And that, I guess, is okay, right?
For you, I keep safe only the good memories and nothing but good vibes in my heart. While you ‘don't live here anymore‘ and you ‘moved away many years before’, you’ll still always be a treasured friend. Just please don’t call me fat.
Fifth would be you, whom I could only think of calling Dancing Queen. Your zest for life and love for dance lights up the room even in the darkest of times. You are the life of every party, with your Punjabi gaanes and Bollywood thumkas.
You, lady, are also that one friend who always, without fail, is there for your girls. Seriously, you’re Beyonce for girlfriends, and for that, I love you, Poo.
You’re wise beyond your years, even though you’re the baby of the group (you never let us forget that!). Through office gossip, long lunch breaks, break up songs and deep, existential questions, we have found a balance of a friendship of our own sweet kind; where there’s lame attempts at pulling each other’s legs but also massive mutual respect. When did we become so old?
For you, I keep some slow jazz music (LOL) and a listening ear that’s leased to you till the end of time. Let’s keep meeting for chai even when we’re 80, and may the conversations never end.
Sixth would be you, my Shrimati Hey. I know, I’m supposed to be the Kadambari Devi reincarnate, that’s our silly inside joke! But in this quotient, I’m the novice Robi and you are notun bouthan, my praner shokhi.
When I was at my lowest in life, you came in by chance and sat down at the desk next to mine. Small talk evaporated quickly and we found a common link – Bengali and literature. You taught me new things every day, with your bright mind and patient friendship. And when it was not your confounding knowledge, your stories about love and heartbreaks were enough to leave me in your awe.
Men may come and go, but you, my darling Shrimati Hecate, shall always remain my most beloved dhrubo tara.
For you, I keep aside a tall glass of Sangria and many more stories to come. May we always have more things to share with one another, from poems to songs to stories to heartbreaks. May we never run out of things to talk about and never, ever lose one another.
Because, girl, what are we without friendship?