We first met each other as 10-year-olds. I am an avid reader, and so was Leanne, and through her, I came across Rehab. She was reserved and had a quiet sense of confidence. Her sense of neatness was remarkable, and I’d find myself looking over at her to see how she did things.
I wouldn’t say our friendship bloomed immediately over those 2 years, but I grew to love her gradually. She was so serious always, but when she would smile, it would bring out that hidden child in her, a child you couldn’t help but fuss over. Her cheeks were so chubby and smooth, I’d love pulling them. I observed her handwriting and changed mine too, the way she wrote her e’s. The most surprising thing was her handwriting was quite similar to Leanne’s.
It was in the 7th standard that the fun began. Those two years, they stretched out like a lifetime, and school days for me is the time I spent with Rehab and Sneha. Each day was a joy, and we would look forward to the recess each day. Rehab, Sneha and me, and not to forget Ninja Robots. I have to give credit to the latter. OK, I’ll be fair and will give credit to Power Rangers too ( or was it Street Fighters?). All our exaggerated talks about Ninja Robots finally made Rehab come over to my place to watch it. My mom just fell in love with her. She scolded me for leaving the dastarkhan early, and she asked us to sleep after watching the cartoon, we ended up talking.
She opened up a lot, there was so much of laughter and craziness, both of them would do the silliest of things. But she wouldn’t show her vulnerable side so easily to anyone. Each day was laughter filled (an instance or two of tears thrown in). Movies (not Hindi), BSB, Boyzone, 911, Princess Diana, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, DiCaprio, Tom Nuyens, Spice Girls and Hip Hip Hurray, which I hated. She would call to tell me when any BSB song would be shown on TV. And she even dedicated “I Want It That Way” to us. And who would forget the day we bunked Art class (of all the classes) with Vibhusha and got threatened with demotion.
Bridges, Amy1, Amy2, Sherlock Holmes, Sweet Valley, Kevin someone, Bettyscope, Archie characters, the list goes on. We would see magazines and decide who was hot and who was not. Guys were a major topic of discussion. And that day, when we were waiting for our parents to pick us up, we recounted that joke Mr Dias had told us and laughed maniacally for 5 to 10 minutes.
We parted ways in 9th standard. She opted for Hindi and Sneha and me for French. I have no idea what turmoils she went through then, Sneha and me had each other, but she had to beat it out alone. And she changed too. Deep down I’m sure she is still the same, but that effervescence and bubbliness went, and serious Rehab emerged. A Rehab quiet, determined, with a zeal to make each day of her life the best and fruitful. We would meet each day, but things weren’t the same. But we had some crazy moments, like comparing her to Amisha Patel and asking her to hook up with our very own Hrithik Roshan.
I don’t know what things she went through after we left school. She had good days and bad, but she was strong and had very good friends who were there by her side. We still do keep in touch, but now more than an equal, she is a person whom I look up to. She always had a way of bringing out my refined and genteel side. She would just look at you, and you would think “Ooops, I just made a jackass of myself”. She has values that you try to match, and your mom would love you to match. Because she is a person, no matter where or how fundamentally never changes.
What makes her sooo special? – Everything. She and Sneha, they brought me out of my hazy world, where I was nobody and made me somebody, made me respect myself even more. Her optimism, her sobriety, the way she lived and not to forget her mom’s cooking makes her one of my dearest friends and the first of my beloved Sagis.
My salute to you Chubs, rule your world!