I had my first best friend when I was in preschool. We were as thick as thieves, so it made sense when we went to the same junior school. She left just before fourth grade when her family relocated to South Africa. I was sad, as one would be after four amazing years of friendship had been cut short. Fourth grade a new girl game to our school and she became my new best friend, until she decided to join the cool girl squad. That was the first heartbreak I experienced in my life. Fifth grade brought yet another new girl, and yet again she became my new best friend. I experienced my second heartbreak when she left me for the cool girls. That was when I decided I would never have a best friend again. It hurt too much when they left. High school I had a few friends but we drifted apart when we graduated. I became a bit of a loner, until college came along. I went to a foreign country, where I was somewhat of a celebrity. I was the only person there from my country, so everyone was fascinated with me. In spite of all the attention, I found myself with just acquaintances and no true friends. Even though I didn't want to admit it, I was yearning for true friendship and companionship. The last time I had really felt connected to another human being who wasn't a part of my family was when I was in junior school. Surrounded by people, I found myself alone and lonely. Second semester I was allocated a roommate who was from the same country as me. I didn't know how to feel about someone else from home, but my worries were soon put to rest. Tina and I got along splendidly. She was like an extension of myself. She understood me, and sometimes we would say the same thing at the same time. I'd finally found a friend and I was just ecstatic. When we started second year, Tina went to school before me. When I arrived, she had made friends with two guys who were a year below us. I was a bit sceptical about the guys. They were spending a lot of time with Tina and I didn't like it. I had finally found myself a real friend and these guys were threatening to ruin my happiness. I know I was being childish, but I told myself two is company but four is a mob. What I didn't expect was me warming up to the two guys, Gavin and Peter. They were always joking around and laughing, and I couldn't stop myself from laughing along. I found myself looking forward to their visits and actually enjoying their company. We were all alike yet so different. Gavin was the goofball, the one you could always rely on, while Peter was the lady's man who was surprisingly very sweet. Tina was the social bunny, easy to talk to at a party, and then there was me, the quiet but sarcastic one. In spite of the differences, it felt like I had known them in a previous life. We became a squad, a crew, a tribe, but above all, we became a family. I met Tina, Peter and Gavin a little over three years ago, and we are still friends to date. My sister always says they are my best friends, but I always say I don't do best friends. I won't admit it to her, but I found not one, but three best friends. The broken heart I didn't realise I was nursing for more than ten years was finally healed when I met my three friends. Thanks to our friendship, I have been able to open up to other people and actually let them in to my life. I can say with confidence my friendship with my three best friends has brought growth for me. I have learnt to trust again, and to just take a leap of faith when meeting new people. I now have a healthy number of friends, and even a guy I am seeing. Right now the world is resting, and we are all at home in different countries, but for the four of us it is as if we are in the same place. We do not talk daily, we don't even talk weekly, but whenever we do, it's as if we never stopped talking. Gavin messages me to discuss novels we've recently read, or to review stories we've written. Peter is less available on social media, but he always makes an effort to call at least once per week or fortnight. Whenever I receive a text from Tina, I know something saucy has happened, and a juicy story is coming my way. Three years ago I met three total strangers who brought light into my life. They showed me that I can cope on my own, but having companionship can make life's moments more fulfilling. We have become friends, kindred spirits that have a way of always finding each other.
It was still the beginning of the academic year and my friends wanted us to study together. One of us offered to host us at his place, as he had a black board that we could use to do mathematics. I wasn't a good student, I hadn't been one for a very long time, but I tried to pass, so I welcomed the idea and decided to be apart of it. It didn't last for very long. I don't think I have ever known why we only had a few sessions. But we really worked, I mean, they really worked as most of the time I didn't do much. For some reason, my interest in school had grown weak over the year. I often felt like I was in a cage where I wasn't allowed to express myself and do my best. I was actually repeating the class, the four of us, Thiam, Yannick, Gabin, who was hosting us, and me where all in the same class the previous year. One day, we were working on some maths exercises. A student from a literary class of our high school came to us and asked to help him solve a few exercises. We hadn't covered the chapter yet, but we had instructions in the book, so we proceeded to help him. I was sitting and watching my friends doing the work most of the time. But then came a problem that we didn't know how to solve. That caught my attention. No one had a clue of what method or formula we could use to solve it. But looking at it, I thought I might be able to figure out the answer. I could remember that I attempted the previous year to do the same unsuccessfully. But I thought that maybe this time I could. I was hungry so I went out to the shop nearby, bought some biscuits and went back. I sat back and looking at the problem on the board, I thought deeply. As I got close to finding the answer, I stood up and went towards the board. I found it and wrote it on the board. What I did after was pretty unexpected. I told my friend, “This is the answer that was asked. Now how do we get here from the given data?”. Gabin protested, “Is that really the kind of answer that was asked?!” Thiam initially thought it was but they had to argue for a little while until they agreed. I let them talk among themselves, and when they were done, I asked again how we could get there. Thiam asked me, “But how did you come up with that answer?” and I just replied, “I thought about it.” I knew I could do things most people could not, but even though back then they called me Genius, they didn't really know what I had in my toolbox. We had to wait for a while before Thiam finally found in the book the method we needed to use to solve the problem. He applied it and to their great surprise, he found the same answer as what I had written on the board. I didn't get praised of it, they were shocked! Thiam asked, “How did you manage to get that answer?!” I told him again that I had thought about it and added that I could do this kind of things. He started suggesting that I should be a very “spiritual” person, that I had done something mystical when I went out to get the biscuits. I didn't like it. I never liked to hear my classmates attributing what they didn't understand to spiritual phenomenon. In the past I would object whenever some of them would say that the scientists who discovered the laws of science and established formulae were involved in spiritual activities. At times I would tell them that I could do the same and didn't need to leave my body. But they wouldn't believe me. How could they? I was an average student, and to many them, it meant that I was better than them. That day my classmates actually witnessed my ability, but they were still not willing to just let me tell them how I did that exploit. The day after, we were walking home, and someone brought up what had happened the previous day. Thiam, who is a critical thinker, expressed his intrigue saying, “I went home asking myself -How did this guy do it? -, and I was struggling to sleep.” I started telling them that what I had done was not, extraordinary but he objected that it was mind blowing. He asked Gabin to confirm, which he did. I told them that it was normal, that some people had abilities that allowed them to understand science at a deeper level, but they weren't many. I had believed for a long time that they were others like me, and I faced so many challenges because we were scarce and as a result, people were not used to dealing with the way we function and witnessing what we could do. That day I felt so different and alone! I knew my friends and what they could do as human beings. But there was a part of me that they didn't know at all, one that caused them to look at me as if I was an alien who just landed from a spaceship, when they witnessed it. I thought that if more people knew about our existence, such things wouldn't happen to us. That day, like many other days, I felt like letting everyone know. I felt like shouting to the world “We exist!”.
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