I walk out in an old red t-shirt, at its faded best.
The sun is harsh, but I’ve become used to it, such that I am aware of it but it doesn’t really bother me. We take the long winding route to the badminton courts. There’s a shorter route, mind you, paved and all. Right through the heart of the college campus. But this winding route, even in the heat, has some sort of appeal to it. So we take it. She and I. I haven’t known her long. But long enough, I have. And as we walk, we talk of what we know of each other. Then we stop talking, and our thoughts drift to our respective worlds. And then there’s that comfortable silence. The one that, sometimes, feels like the best conversation you may have ever had.
Why are some people so easy to be with, I wonder? Things click, they get you, and suddenly, you’re not the only one. Anywhere. Anytime.
We enter the badminton courts. Now, in all honesty, badminton and I are like an eraser and an ink pen. We may as well be related, but we have issues, if you know what I mean. We get on the court and start playing.
See, this is the beauty of it. As she makes me run all over the court, with all her ‘baddy expertise’, and I keep missing every shot (like seriously, EVERY shot), I grin at her through the net.
She grins back.
As if to say “Yes sugar, you suck, but I love you.”
We play a little. I tire soon and she moves on to another game. Wow, she does play well. Every game she wins, she shoots me a dazzler across the room. I shoot one back. Then I hop back onto the court with a bunch of three other girls. I’ve seen them around for over a year, yet I don’t know a single one’s name. Maybe it doesn’t matter. We start playing.
They’re all better, of course.
My ears turn red.
Damn it! No one’s grinning at me when I screw up now.
While I’m thinking this, I see the shuttle moving towards me faster than ever before.
AAAAAAH! And I slip.
But I see the curly haired girl walking towards me, laughing her lungs out. And before I know it, I’m laughing too. So are the other two across the net. And all of a sudden, it’s so easy.
Yes, the net is still finding the shuttle insanely attractive after every shot I hit. But I see mild smiles now. Ah, confidence. Now we’re all ramming the shuttle into the net. This is fun! By the end of the hour, I know their names. I catch her outside, and we head back to the hostel. And I think of my hometown, my friends there, our conversations of boys and dresses and the latest fads, strutting around in our heels and shades, memorizing every nook and cranny of each mall.
We reach the hostel in silence, split to go to our rooms. I know she’s upstairs right now, bathing or watching Scrubs or something. I don’t miss her, no, but there’s a certain comfort in her being around.
If there’s a thin line between friends and family, I wouldn’t know what side of it she lays. I look at my old red t-shirt, at its faded best, and think,
Hell, it’s good to be home.