The girl with the Mona Lisa smile.
I can't recall my first meeting with her, she was the new girl in my noisy seventh grade class.
All I can remember is how she sat right behind me, quiet and nervous. But we all thought that was because it was her first day, that she will soon be as loud and talkative like the rest of us. But we were wrong.
Quickly she made a place in our hearts. Contrary to popular belief that not every girl in the class is kind towards the new girl, each of one of us became her friend.
It wasn't because she was pretty.
It wasn't because she was kind.
It was something else, something I will now describe.
The aura around her, sad yet not the least bit depressing was a mystery to us. I couldn't figure out why her voice was barely louder than a whisper or why her stare misty, something I recognized as tears which she tried to fight back ever so often when you spoke to her.
But when she smiled, it was like a ripple, you just had to smile back, it was that infectious.
The reason for her Mona Lisa smile I would never know because I had to leave the city for another place. I was only by her side for a year. I was a teen then, didn't ponder much, only now do I realize all that I could have known and understood if I had taken the time to get to know her better.
After all, we were both girls, she would have confided in me. But that chance is long gone, I have no means of tracing her and all I can do is tell the world my observations, all carefully engraved in my memory, hoping someone somewhere will find the clue which I missed.
What if she really wanted to say it all, to pour out her heart in front of me, but had stopped herself? That must have been hard, I know this because I went through a hard time some months later too, when the going was tough and I wouldn't allow anyone the chance to decipher the meaning behind my own tears.
Eight years later, and she still has an impact on me, as strong as ever. I developed a bond of sisterhood with her, walking through corridors and rooms filled with students in a school where I was the new girl, but I didn't have her smile, I couldn't be the friend of every girl. At least I got the chance to put my toes in her shoes, felt what it was like to be her.
I just hope she is free from any burden that was weighing her down, that she is finally able to speak up and has a huge smile, one of pure joy just like the one I have now.
Update: So, I was finally able to track this friend thanks to Facebook! I am happy to see she is doing really well, has traveled places and made amazing new friends. I guess life does get better after all!