The Narrowed Road
Life taught me the hard lessons of parting early on. My first best friend was a classmate from childhood I met during my first day in grade school. I’m not sure how his name was spelled, but I remember it sounded like “Hanibal.” My memory of his name is as bleak as my memory of how he looks – I only have a blur image of a boy my age with a new haircut. But I remember the joy finding another young soul to share my thoughts when we first entered the door of education.
Our friendship begun as soon as our first class in grade one started. We met in a classroom that smelled of the mixed scents of fresh pads, newly plastic covered notebooks encased in our new school bags like our minds ready to be filled with knowledge. The smell of freshly sharpened pencil and scented eraser would always bring me back to that moment. I remember the fresh scent of soap when I bathed that morning excited for my first day in school. I forgot the color of the clothes I wore, but I still remember how my new shirt smells. The scents of these things always conjure nostalgic thoughts, reminding me of my first best friend I lost with the passing of time. The places we reached and continually explore widen the spaces between us, and narrowed the road that once put us together at one moment in time. But in my mind we always share the desk, in that corner of our grade one classroom.
I was seated in the front row at the right side of the room next to him, a stranger just like all the other faces around me. It was fate that placed us seated next to each other, but it was our choice to become friends. The feeling of being left alone for the first time, drew us together. I feel at ease with his presence the moment we first introduced our names. We became friends before our first recess, and by the end of our first day in school, we have found in each other’s company the joy of real friendship. I cannot remember any other details of our days together, like I cannot recall anything more about him. I just know that he made my first day in school less scary to the surprise of my mother who anticipated the worse. I easily got over my separation anxieties and fear of strangers. I looked forward being back in school and always take home fun-filled stories at dinner time, telling my family about my newly found friend.
Morning comes and off it goes.
Like people come and (ouch!) they go.
For some brief moment they come my way,
But few are meant to stay.
Life’s lesson of letting go,
And memories remain with me.
Days passed. Our school activities progressed, school became my second home. But one day, I found myself unusually seated alone in our desk. My friend was absent when our teacher checked our attendance. I waited for him until recess, but lunch and afternoon classes came and gone without him. The same thing happened the next day and the days after. Our teacher some few weeks later changed our seating arrangement, making me vacate the desk we shared in our classroom where the emblems of our friendship vanished. I later heard their family moved to another place and he transferred to another school far away that my young mind then was incapable of reaching. I was assigned a new desk in the second row at the center aisle of the room after that and had new seatmates. From time to time I would glace to our desk wishing him back. My new seatmates are faceless and left my memory insignificant traces so were the other friends I had after we parted. I only remember one friend from my first day in school and he is my first real best friend.
Life taught me early on that some perfect moments could go wrong. Friends come, but I could not expect them to stay, for like me, they too, have lives to live and journeys to complete. I am not sure if my friend remembers or would have the same thoughts. My friend may forget, but as long as I still know how the classroom desk smells he will always be remembered.