The first friend I met in highschool was a peculiar one.
She was small— seemingly innocent. Her voice was excessively soft and I could tell she was rather shy from her darting eyes.
She’d come into form class late that day and the only seat available was the one next to mine.
Of course, she sat next to me. After all, there wasn’t much choice for her.
Fast forward a few months later, and we were the closest of friends.
I’d begun to notice that she was a little eccentric, both in the ways she spoke and acted. The experiences she’d tell me of were beyond my understanding.
Back then, that is. A fourteen-year-old me.
She’d tell me about her experiences back in China, the harsh living conditions she faced, getting bullied as a child, having an imaginary friend called Racy, and faking her happiness to a point where she lost her true self.
She was an amazing comic artist, drawing constantly and expressing herself in pictures. For a few weeks she’d draw me “daily comics,” recalling the first time we met and her past endeavours.
I never understood many of her comics. I used to be quite nasty with my inner thoughts, perceiving her to be a little crazy and weird.
I’d think to myself: how can someone forget who they are? How can you actually have an imaginary friend? Does that mean you can actually see them?
I’d never understood what it meant to be so caught up in spreading happiness, that you’d forget who you really were.
And now as I regret everything I used to think of her, I’ve found the slightest hint of empathy within me.
That threshold of emotional pain surpassed so deeply that you can find your former self no longer.
To forget who you are, and worse: to want to return to who you were.
To search so hard within yourself and still have all your efforts in vain.
The fact that she does not recognise what has happened makes me truly sad.
But at the same time, she’s happy. It’s as if she’s forgotten what sorrow feels like. Forgotten what it feels like to have your heart broken. Forgotten what it feels like to despise yourself.
And as long as she’s happy, I’m happy.
Art by Bajkó Renáta | @renatabajko (Instagram)