It was magnificent, but it wasn't me! It glowed so much it made my eyes twitch. It was attractive, not as much as I'd expected, but yeah it was nice. I still wished mom hadn't sent me there. London was everything but New Delhi.
I wasn't the kind to ever get scared, but that day I was tickly. Scared of new places, new faces. But what really made me collywobbles was not having friends.
The last time I made a friend was in kindergarten, and they'd all stuck around ever since. Being the "social butterfly" that I was back home, I felt like someone had chopped off my wings and left me in a golden cage to flutter. My mouth had begun to hurt with all the graciousness, the "pleases" and "thank yous".
That's when I first met him. A rowdy looking brown guy, wearing baggy jeans and a loose T-shirt. His locks almost as long as mine, they fell on his eyes, making me wonder how he looked at the world. I soon figured how he saw the world and specially us Indians. Just the way any normal Pakistani would, with awe and respect and hell loads of bitterness.
"So you from Delhi?" I enquired, hoping he was from some place in the neighbourhood.
"No!" he shrugged, almost offended. "Karachi, I'm Pakistani."
And there on began a love-hate kind of a friendship, of fighting over cricket matches and watching Bollywood flicks every Friday at the Indian theatre nearby, of arguing over who has better artists and who has a stronger army. Of blames and acceptance. Of biryani and rajma-chawal. Of lots of grins and lots of frowns.
And then one day, just like he'd made his way into the life of this foreigner in a foreign land, he left. He was two years older, and it was perhaps the happiest day of my life. As happy as I was for my new graduate mate, I did manage to shed a tear or two. I knew there was no coming back. He went away, we never spoke again. Deliberately, for we both wanted sweet memories and not teary goodbyes.
I'll never see him again, never pull his leg, or hit him. But I don't regret it, for I experienced something only a few get the chance to. Being friends with the enemy!
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org