Deal for iReign. Target is Cottonee, cc: 11,918.
The first of February in 2007. That’s when I met you. You were new to my primary school, Sharp Lane Primary School, after having emigrated from Africa. In fact, you were in my class. Kamsi, you were the one that inspired me to take risks; to stop just floating by and actually take part in the action. I was like a wild Cottonee and you were like a trainer who taught me how to battle; how to become stronger. I have to thank you for inspiring me to take risks, to not just float by in the background.
You had walked into our classroom one day, in the line with the other students. You weren’t wearing the regular blue school uniform, but that was understandable since this was your first day here. Most of the students that had joined after nursery had tried out the school for a few days without ordering the uniform to see if they liked the school. You were no different.
However, unlike the other students, you didn’t have the same skin colour. Your skin was brown, and theirs was pale. However, you didn’t seem to let that mind you, as you walked into class unbothered. You sat down at the empty space next to me, on the table for the smartest students. It was the only places available.
“Right, class, we have a new girl. Her name is Kamsi Anyima and she’s from Africa,” the blue-eyed teacher, Miss Hill, explained. Her hair was black, like you, but it was let down loosely. Yours was in plaits that day.
“Welcome to Sharp Lane Primary School!” all of the students in the class chorused, including me. You looked around at the students, trying to memorize their faces. You seemed so excited then; excited to make new friends, exciting to learn new things.
At playtime that day, I decided to try talking to you. You needed some friends and I knew I could be one to you. That day kick-started our friendship.
You were hanging out alone, sitting on a bench. Something told me you had no friends yet, not even one. I shyly walked up to you and sat down next to you.
“Hi, Kamsi,” I said unsurely. I was a nervous person, and this showed it. My brown hairs would be shivering in nervousness if they could move.
“Hello,” you replied. You seemed unfazed, unlike me. In a way, you were the opposite of me; unfazed and outgoing while I was nervous and shy.
“Do you want to play tag with me?” I asked you. I wasn’t sure if you knew how to play tag, but I was ready to explain it you.
“Yes!” you answered, tagging me. “You’re it!” you continued, getting up from the bench and running away from me. You were very fast, I have to say that.
“Suppose I am,” I replied, running after you. You ran all over the playground, getting a good look around at it. You ran past the monkey bars, you ran under the slide, you ran around the roundabout, you ran practically everywhere! I tailed you around, until I finally managed to tag you back.
“Now you’re it!” I exclaimed, just before Miss Hill rang a bell.
“Kamsi, that bell means it’s time to go back to class. You have to go the line first, though. The line starts at the yellow dot marked ‘Class B lineup point’ outside the building,” I explained. You seemed to take it all in and ran to the yellow dot, beating all of the other students there.
That was the day I first played with you. I played with you many days after that, sometime Tag, sometimes another game. But there was one thing I can say for sure, you enjoyed playing with me. The first school project I completed with you built our friendship even higher.
The whole of Class B had a project – to make a model out of just cardboard boxes. The class had brought in lots of cardboard boxes previous to this day so we had the supply we needed. You chose to work with me for the project and I accepted you as a partner. You had a great idea – making a dragon out of boxes. You drew out a diagram on paper. We had not been asked to do that, but you did it anyway.
Then we got to work on the model dragon. You found a tissue box to use as the dragon’s body while I found a small cereal box – one that once contained Sugar Puffs - to use as its head. I stuck the cereal box horizontally on top of your tissue box, which you had turned so that the longest sides were vertical.
According to the diagram, the horns were to be two ten centimetres long and two centimetres wide cut-outs from another box. So, I went to the front of the classroom, where all the boxes were, and picked up a normal-sized Coco Pops box. I cut out two rods that were the size you had specified from the front side of it with some red scissors that you had pulled from the scissor draw. We couldn’t stick the two rods onto the small cereal box, so we had to ask Miss Hill for help. She folded at two centimetres in on each of the rods and then stuck the two-centimetre folds to the dragon’s head.
We didn’t know that much about building models back then. As time went on, our skills at craft and building models improved. Like my confidence. I have you to thank for that, Kamsi. The day when you started building my confidence was in 2009 - when we were both in Year 5 and therefore old enough to play on the monkey bars.
“Come on, Juli, let’s play on the monkey bars!” you playfully exclaimed, rushing through the playground to the monkey bars. I did not want to go on the monkey bars back then, in case I fell and hurt myself. However, your enthusiasm encouraged me to run after you; to the 2 metre high bars. Due to our speed, we managed to reach the queue first. I still did not want to play on the bars, but I wanted to see you play on them.
By standing on the red mounting block (like the one you use when mounting a horse), you managed to grab on to the first bar and continued to swing across all seven bars, before letting go to land gracefully on the floor. You were a natural at the monkey bars.
“Why don’t you try?” you asked me.
“I’m a little...” I whimpered, “scared.”
“Come on, Juli, you’ll be fine!” you replied cheerfully. Trust you to be cheerful all the time.
“Okay...” I said, standing on the mounting block and grabbing hold of the first bar. ‘Just grab on and only try moving forward if you feel ready,’ I thought, lifting my feet off of the block.
‘This isn’t as scary as I thought,’ I thought, letting go with one hand to grab the next bar. However, as soon as I managed to grab the next bar, my hands started to ache from gripping the bars. I let go, landing on the bark underneath the main structure. I didn’t land as gracefully as you, but it was fine for a first time.
From that day on, you taught me how to improve at playing on the monkey bars. Soon, I found that I could make it to the sixth bar instead of just the second. Now, I’d be able to clear the monkey bars, like you did that day. If you had never come to our school, I would’ve probably never learned how to make it all the way across. Just like I’d have never learned other important skills in life.
In 2010, Class B and Class A were due to take a three-day trip to Haworth on a residential. We had been learning about the Brontes in Literacy so this trip would finish off our topic. And according to the other classes that had already been on the residential, we were going to have a good time. Also, we didn’t have to wear school uniform.
On the first day of the visit, we caught a bus to a youth hostel. It was quite large, with three floors and at least fifteen rooms, each with at least two bunk beds. Once both classes had alighted the bus, they were told to sit down in the ballroom. There, we were told who would be staying in each room. My eyes lit up as Miss Horn told me that I was with you, Kamsi, my best friend. We were also staying with Georgia and Amy, but I was more excited about staying in a room with you. We were to stay in Room Seven.
You, Georgia, Amy and I walked, in a single-fine line, out of the ballroom and up the stairs, which were positioned in the entrance hall. They were quite large; at least twenty steps in total. At the top of the stairs was a corridor, with doors in it that led to many rooms. We all walked down the corridor; odd numbered rooms were on the left and even numbered rooms we on the right. Eventually, we came across Room Seven.
You walked in first; brave, unfazed. Georgia and Amy followed you in, while I brought up the rear. You were the first to find out that we had to make our own beds – luckily we had sheets and quilts provided. You were the first to start work on making your bed – one of the top bunks. I decided to take the other and Georgia and Amy were left with the bottom bunks.
However, I did not know how to make my own bed – I had relied on my mother. On the contrary, you did. You were a Girl Guide, you had to know these things for any camping trips you might go on. After you had neatly prepared your bed, you taught me how to make my own.
You taught me other important skills on that same residential. You were more than just a best friend to me – you were almost part of my family. Now that I am learning Japanese in high school, I know the Japanese have a word for that – ‘nakama’. You were my ‘nakama’. I was so sad when you had to leave.
“Alright class, I have an important announcement to make,” Miss Horn, our teacher, announced one morning, the day before we were due to move up to Year Six.. Thirty pairs of eyes, including mine and yours, watched her from the tables, ready to listen.
“Kamsi has to leave to go to another school. Her father just simply can not make enough money in this city, so she has to go live somewhere else with her father,” she continued. You started crying; tears started falling – I knew you were sad to leave your friends.
When it was home time that day, you approached me before I walked through the school gates.
“Goodbye, Juli. I’ll miss you,” you unhappily said to me. Your eyes – they were drooping low; your face – looking down.
“I’ll miss you too, Kams. I’ll always remember you, I promise that,” I replied. I was tearing up too; I couldn’t hold them back.
“I’ll always remember you too, Juli,” you replied, before you started to walk away. Your black hair rested still, not moving, as if it had been frozen. Frozen, miserable.
From that day on, I lost contact with you. However, I never lost my memories of you. That’s one promise I will always keep. I hope you have kept that promise too. One day in 2013, at my high school, I showed that I had kept that promise.
Reading the notice board outside the gymnasium, I found that the topic for this month’s art competition was ‘Something that Represents Someone that affected your Life’. As soon as I read it, I knew what I was going to draw.
When I was at home that day, I got to work on the picture. Sitting down at my oak desk, I drew the base of a human being on the right side of landscape paper, before rubbing out one of the arms and reposing it so it looked like the human was giving something a command. I sketched on the outline of a shirt and leggings, like the ones you wore. I drew on shoes – once again, like yours. I grabbed a rubber and rubbed out the unneeded lines, leaving me with a drawing of you. It was simple, yes, but that was fine. I felt hungry, so I went into the kitchen and made myself some toast, which I ate, before coming back into the living room.
I then picked up my pencil – the tip was going quite blunt, but it would be alright for now. I started to sketch on a little fluffball in front of her – one that would represent me. It was on the right of the paper, like the human I had drawn, and was also looking down to the bottom left. Tiredness then overcame me, so I went upstairs, got ready for bed and then fell asleep in my bed.
I had sweet dreams that night – ones about you coming back to see me again. Hopefully, those dreams will come true one day. I have this to say, Kamsi; Thank you for teaching me how to be confident. If nit for you, I would have remained like a wild Cottonee – floating around in the background. But, because of you, I now feel like a strong Cottonee, a trained Cottonee.
*is happy she survived death by iReign*