A Lifelong Friend

May 6, 2020

My mom and Zen’s mom were best friends. They went the same secondary school in Kenya in a time when they were sometimes able to see lions on the way to school. They really got to know each other when they lived in the hostel.

So in many ways I knew Zainab, who I call Zen, since she was a baby. As a family, we always ate Neapolitan ice cream, a trio of strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate. On the left is my sister Janine. We call her Bitu. And on the right is Zen’s sister, Nafessah. A cool, calm, wise lady. And in the middle is my bestie, my current BFF, the woman who keeps me sane, makes me laugh, and inspires me to be a better person, a better me.

I have these really clear memories of going over to her house and making daisy chains. She lived by Crystal Park in London. They have these random dinosaur sculptures and a maze and I remember getting lost in the maze with her brother. And going to parks. We went to lots of parts when we were kids.

One of my clearest memories is when we about eight. I was wearing my favorite tracksuit set, which is this yellow tracksuit set with a white matching top that was reversible and my red Winter Kate and we were in my dad’s company car, which was a white Ford. We were all piled in the back because all the parents were in the back seats and there was no space. We were driving around London, and it was Christmas time, so all the lights were out. We were going past the lights. The Christmas lights and the Christmas windows, and we played this game where we were flashing our legs at the strangers in the cars that we’re going past. That’s one of those weird random memories that I have.

We lived in different places. She was in London, and I was outside London but whenever we did get together, we used to play games until the wee hours and then I’d be like, “I don’t want to go home! Can stay for a bit longer?!” And our parents would say, “You can play one more game,” and then it was time to go.

We played this thing called Battle Quest, which took about three hours to set up and then we have like 20 minutes to play it. Battle Quest is giant castle that you set up with lots of figurines and then you move them around and then you have to fight each other, from what I remember. It’s massive. We had four or five of us playing.

We still live in England, but she lives about an hour and 20 minutes away from me on the train. Her mom still lives in the same neighbourhood. Her brother lives in the same neighbourhood and her sister lives in London and my sister lives in the North of England. We still see each other, and we met for my 40th birthday last year, which was cool.