“One of the greatest ironies of life is that one never knows when something beautiful begins, but one always knows when it ends.”
As he turns the page to the end of his speech, his mind begins to digress from the crowd of eager school children in front of him.
The funny things is, he never knew how the most important, and possibly the best friendship of his life even started. But he knew how it ended; he could never forget how it ended.
He could never pin point a time or a date when they became friends, but he could remember random instances, like an understanding smile across the classroom in a particularly boring class, or her friendly laugh at a bad joke he cracked, or a card she gave him for his birthday with tiny stuck figure drawings of them on the front page.
He couldn’t even pin point a time when he didn’t know her. She was always there, as a friend of a friend or a lab partner. Somewhere along the line, between bad jokes and lengthy conversations about plot holes in movies, a boy and a girl became friends.
When he thought about why they were friends, he had more than a clear picture in his mind. Talking to her was like cutting a slab of warm butter, smooth and satisfying. She has a certain purity to her, and it reflected in their friendship. Their conversations were never forced. They never tired to impress one another. He was friends with her because of the simple fact that he wanted to be friends with her and not because she could be beneficial to him in any other way. Plain and simple, no strings or frills. He thought of how even in silence, they were comforted by each other’s presence because their friendship went beyond spoken words or physical touch, it was a connection of souls, and was as pure and simple as a friendship could be.
Even though he couldn’t remember the day they met, he could remember the days they spent together, talking at 3am about life and existential crises alongside the newest gossip in school. He remembers how her nose crinkled when her child-like face broke into a smile at one of his horrible jokes.
He also remembers the day he caused a tear to roll down her face.
“However, one shouldn’t be afraid of starting something new, for the fear of the unknown. Personally my biggest fear is regret, so I go out of my way to try new things. But my biggest regret is not seeing the value of things right in front of me. I never acted, and when I did, I acted in the worst way possible. My inability to see beyond myself, and my inaction in expressing my appreciation forever shall remain by my deepest regrets.”
They were 3 am friends for two and a half years. The why and how and who to blame for the end was as insignificant as a zero in a googol. In the end, they both blamed each other.
He didn’t understand the sanctity and dynamic of a friendship, and she couldn’t overlook her pride.
They were always just friends, and nothing more, but he allowed his other friends to muddle his opinions. He didn’t realise the exclusivity and inviolability of allowing other people to infiltrate a friendship. Neither did he understand to that a friendship between a boy and a girl doesn’t necessarily entail to be different from two people of the same sex. Inevitably, he blamed her for not understanding his opinion.
She blamed the fools who corrupted their friendship, but most off all she blamed the fool who let them.
She was proud. She couldn’t bear the insult of being accused of cheating on her boyfriend with her best friend. She couldn’t look the other way when nasty rumours started to spread. Her amour propre blinded her and broke her trust in him. She couldn’t believe him when he said they were both to blame.
On the 5th of November, they decided to cut off the supply of water to the stream of their friendship. The clear, crystal pure water that flowed had turned murky and sour. What use was polluted water flowing through a stream?
Remember, remember the 5th of November. As the day they broke and shattered into a tiny pieces, and when they attempted to fix themselves they cut and bled on each other’s shards.
“I was also once sitting in your place, kids. So as your graduation day comes rolling by, I want you to list out the things you might ever regret, and make amends. Look at what makes you happy now, and try to preserve it because true happiness is hard to find. And lastly, forgive and amend. They say it is never too late, but an apology 20 years later is never as good as an apology today. Forgive, because you will never forget otherwise. Thankyou.”
He descends the stairs and walks to his seat, while the crowd of awe-struck school children give him a standing ovation.
The next alumni speaker approaches the podium. With a child-like crinkle of concentration, she begins.
“When asked what advice to give you young people, I knew for certain what to say. I was stupid enough to lose my best friend when I was your age.”
She speaks gently to the crowd.
“And my biggest regret was not being the first to apologise.”