My friendship with Lissell started , as with most things in life , by accident. Her cousin cut in line when we were awaiting the school bus, and we both started to fight about it. That was it. We were neighbors, and friends and it feels so strange that she is so far away from me now.
We have been friends since we were seven. In many ways , we were very different. She was always peppy and happy and everyone could not help but love her. Her nickname was Solar, which meant Sun Ray. Even though there was cute bantering, no one could truly be cruel to Lissell. Her father was a kind older man who once took me to the hospital when I decided to throw myself off the jungle gym. She had two boisterous younger brothers whom she hated and loved at the same time. Lissell was energetic, even her hair was bouncy and she seemed a little like those overly wired puppies who can chase their tails for hours. But she was deeply intelligent and usually got good grades without ever really trying.
We would spend our days racing on bicycles and pretending to make pizzas. She was not the type to play with Barbie dolls but the one who would climb up the highest tree to see if you would catch up with her. Strangely , life in our childhood in the middle of the war was almost peaceful. As long as you avoided tall grass ( which supposedly had homemade bombs) we were almost oblivous of living in the middle of the civil war. We were remarkably creative in the ways in which we spent our time. Lissell was quite attached to all her pets but there was one in particular which had to be hands down the oddest.
Her garden is not particularly big but you would find yourself with the oddest surprise imaginable.
In the middle of the garden was a deer. A deer which by the way was just as antsy as if you were to encounter it in the wild . I remember her because she had tawny fur and white spots just like Bambi… and literally that was her name. Since the deer did not let me go anywhere near her I would set to scare her by shaking my hands and making odd noises. The deer would run in circles non stop all over the house over and over . Lissell, a future animal activist was NOT amused.
I am pretty sure that is why she took her revenge. She was already tiny and her curls would bounce when she walked with manic energy.
Somehow, we decided to climb the wall of my garden the next day. I am not sure why we did it but on the wall were these disgusting green caterpillars. They had big fat bodies and left a trail of green all over. Lissell whispered to me ” Be careful , if a caterpillar gets on you and spits out that green slime you are going to DIE. It burns through your skin like acid.”
Well.. I didn’t really listen and I kept climbing. All of a sudden Lissell screamed at me : You have a caterpillar on you! ” Sure enough I had about three caterpillars on me. I jumped into the garden and started writhing in agony.
I was going to die. This was it. My death by caterpillar slime. I saw my funeral… pretty good attendance for a girl who got teased on, my bullies wailing in regret over ever having bothered me.
It sure was taking a long time to die.
” For goodness sake Maryam you are NOT going to die ” I heard my mother telling me in an exasperated clipped no nonsense tone. I looked up from my writhing agony to see her tower over me with lissell gleefully giggling in the background. When my mother left she told me ” That’s for scaring my deer”.
It’s funny, but twenty years later and she is the one friend that survived childhood. But I will always remember the deer, even if she did die tragically when she bolted from the house unto the street . Sometimes I dream that I see her , and she actually lets me pet her this time.