Saturday, March 5, 2011

Best Friends

"Best friend" is a term coined by man. "Best friendship" is a special relationship laid out by destiny and chosen to be kept that way by man.
We actually start realizing who our best friend is when we already have our own judgments. When we already had undergone events in this life do we come to realize, appreciate and even depend on how special a person is.
But sometimes a best friend comes even when we are too young to even remember how that special bond started.
I met Daisy when we were 5. So long ago. .. twenty-nine years long ago.
I don't remember much of that first day. She said I just saw her from my grandparents' terrace in my great aunt's (Lola Mameng's) living room. She said I was the one who came over to play. I guess that was a big deal for her since she said she was first introduced to Ate (Filipino term for older sister or relative. In my case she was my first cousin.) Lisa. She said Ate Lisa was not interested in playing with her. Well, Ate Lisa was already nine.
Daisy was not a relative but Lola Mameng, then, was in the process of wooing her and her family to let her take care of Daisy. Daisy happens to look like one of Lola Mameng's daughters when she was younger. Daisy just lost her father and according to that sweet, talkative girl who would always greet my Lola Mameng, a "Good morning, Mam." in the school where she teaches she and her family of 4 would be very lucky already if they would have a sack of sweet potatoes to get them through to 3 meals a day. This touched Lola Mameng and although with meager resources herself she decided to help out this smart little girl.
I didn't know her life story then. I just saw her. I just found her. And I wanted to play...
Daisy was different. I have cousins my age but I never felt comfortable around them. Even my Mom likes her and treats her like one of her own. She would ask Daisy to pluck her strands of white hair, which I grew to hate doing, and she would be paid for those every single strand.
Then, suddenly, she just disappeared. I don't see her anymore. I was only told that I would ask about her. Where she was. What happened to her. When she'd be back. I was only answered with, "She's with her family." and an uncomfortable silence. I waited. And waited. All I know is that she always goes back to her family before to visit and she always returns to Lola Mameng's house. It took a whole lot of a while for me to realize she wouldn't be back anymore.
We were in high school already when I saw her again.
She told me that her family wouldn't want my Lola Mameng's family to "unofficially" adopt her. That was why she disappeared. Then Lola Mameng learned how Daisy was. She became one of those children who is so often pictured as the symbol of poverty here in the Philippines. Children in the streets trying to earn a living. She was selling caramelized bananas and even making rice paper bags to help out her family.
No, she wasn't sad with that. That was the life she grew in. She doesn't know any better. She even grew to laugh about that and say how fun it was to do those things when she was a child. Anyway, Lola Mameng decided to seek out Daisy's mom and offered to help out in her schooling if Daisy would help her clean her house every weekend. I guess Lola Mameng just wanted to be sure that Daisy would be safe somehow and properly schooled. I was very happy that she came back.
But we were never able to start where we let off. We're in high school this time around. Even hanging out together, then, became impossible even if we went to the same school. We were separated by class sections. Coping with my classmates, who happen to be scholars from different elementary schools of the city, took up most of my time.
When I'd get the opportunity I'd drop by next door and visit her. That was very seldom though.
Until that time when my father sent me out of the house. I stayed next door - in Lola Mameng's house. That was when I noticed a Daisy that was different. Daisy wouldn't let me even wash the dishes or even sweep the floor. Daisy would insist she does it. These were always uncomfortable situations. I felt bad because I was sensing that something was different. Something that wasn't there before. It felt bad. We used to play together and while away the time... Now it seems we're growing apart. She is choosing to be apart.
It was then that I wrote her a letter apologizing for my silly frankness at times but insisting that I'm grateful that she is my friend. I don't know how she sees me as a friend but I don't care if I'm not her best friend. She is my one and only best friend and the only best friend I would always choose to have.
I guess that letter broke the ice. She didn't really got to talk about anything that has anything to do with the letter but I felt a curtain was lifted. Guess, it was one of those teenage things when you feel you're different. Or somebody, you feel, is far better different.
But hey, we are all different. From the start anybody can see that. Anybody and everybody knows that. A person even with a pinch of sense would know that. But we also know that that isn't always the first thing we see when we made that first smile and found ourselves hanging out together. We don't choose our best friend. They just become one. It is only later in life do we get to choose whether we'd keep them as one.
That was then. I meant that is the story, then. We seldom almost never see each other anymore. I have my own life now. So does she. I think it is going to be 6 years since she got married. However, she still doesn't have that child she and her husband had been hoping for.
That was Daisy. That is Daisy. My best friend.
She was not my soul mate. Can never be. She, with her quick wit and even quicker tongue and a heart of gold. Me, with my tight lips and whip of a tongue once it starts wagging and a heart of stone if I choose to. But she always lights up my day when I see her and feels like no one else lives in this world when we're together.
And she's the best friend I had then and choose to still have.