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Natasha sat on her window seat, starring outside. It had been raining for the past 2 days now, and the entire landscape had been transformed with greenery sprouting everywhere. Her pink t-shirt felt less sticky then it would have 3 days ago, but it was still uncomfortable. The monsoon season always felt like cycles of humidity and downpour when the sky wasn’t pouring, your sweat glands were. However she had something else to look forward to soon because her best friend was coming over!

“Good old Charlie.” she thought.

It had been nearly two years since his father had been posted in Australia and those two years had felt like a lifetime to both of them, they had barely seen each other for more than two weeks during those summers. Not to get the wrong idea or anything, they loved each other, but they weren’t in love. The thought of being in love with Charlie almost made Natasha laugh; there were times their other friends had assumed this, however the basis were groundless.

Natasha, known as Tash to her family and friends, felt her mind wandering back to her first meeting with Charlie. She was ten years old when they met at a diplomat’s dinner in South Africa, both their parents were posted there that year. Tash had just turned ten and this was the first “grown-up” dinner she was allowed to attend. She had felt so proud of her lace dress with the satin sash, and that she decided to dab herself with her mother’s favorite perfume. They had left for the dinner at around seven and had gotten lost on the way, her father usually refused to take a guide with him no matter what country they visited. He was a staunch believer in his own sense of direction – and he was the only one. Her mother, who had grown used to the quirks in her husband’s character, had produced a map from the glove compartment and that set them on their way. Barring that, they reached the dinner without anything extraordinary happening. They entered just when the guests were being seated. To her dismay Tash realized that children were expected to seat themselves at a smaller table in the corner. She was an inherently shy girl and felt a black cloud of gloom settling over her.

“Now darling, don’t be afraid and try to make some friends” her mother said, smiling encouragingly. Tash smiled back at her, a martyr’s smile, and let the hostess lead her towards the “kiddie” table. To her chagrin she was the last one to arrive and the only seat left was right in the middle. Now she couldn’t even slip away unnoticed if she wanted to.

“Okay Tash let’s hurry up and get this over with.” She said to herself and walked to the middle of the table to sit down.

Throughout the appetizer round she kept her eyes on her plate and took care not to look around.

“You seem pretty hungry” a voice next to her said. She looked up and saw a boy with mousy hair looking at her. He had a British accent. However his skin was tanned, almost dark. He was smiling while he was looking at her, and from the corner of her eye Tash could notice a tiny dimple in the cheek.

She was at a loss for words and it must have shown on her face, because at that moment the boy blushed and said “Because you were concentrating on your soup so much, I thought I had to say something to stop you from drowning in it.”

It was Tash’s turn to blush and she stammered, “I was just eating.”  Now they both blushed even harder and it was all in all a very awkward moment.

They made it through the main course in silence, but the mousy guy, since he hadn’t introduced himself, felt the need to comment by the time they reached the dessert round. He turned towards Tash and beamed while saying “Don’t you love chocolate mousse!” Since Tash loved any kind of dessert, she decided to respond with an even bigger smile and a loud “Yes I do”.

And as though the ice had been broken the guy held out his hand and said, “I am Charli Brown, not the Charlie Brown mind you. I am ten and half years old.” Tash laughed and replied, “I am Natasha Sinclair, I prefer Tash though and I am the Natasha Sinclair.”

‘Which one?” asked Charlie with a puzzled look

“It was a joke, silly” replied Natasha

“Oh, but I’m glad  you like chocolate mousse though.” Charlie said thoughtfully, “Hey we should be friends!”

That was a beginning of a promising friendship that spanned over eight years and across five continents.

 

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