This story may have begun some time back, but I do so want to share it now, where it is.
This weekend was one of the very best I’ve had in ages, literally. Friday was not remarkable, nor was Saturday –but Sunday was amazing. For two hours or so, and two hours I’ll never forget, I had the company of Hamzie,my childhood friend, her Mum, and a newcomer into my Life, Mohammad, the most remarkable man I’ve met in years.
I don’t know quite where I’ve been, but I’ve not had such an easy evening for… ever. I’ve never had such a company of honest, straightfdorward, well meaning, loving people. I wasn’t uncomfortable for a moment. And I couldn’t stop laughing. And I didn’t need drink or a cigarette. Not for a moment did I even think of these, my usual societal crutches.
I met Hamzie as an overplump, shy, just pubescent girl, at school, some… er… decades ago. I loved her because she was intelligent, and challenged my mind. I loved her because, as an Indian Kenyan, she challenged my cultural horizons. Ultimately, however, I loved her for her natural kindness, her generosity, her insane sense of humour, her loyalty and her courage in the face of life. When we reconnected late last year, after years of intermittent, polite contact, I saw that none of these things had changed. I was grateful, and within minutes, it was like we’d never quite parted.
As adults, I’m glad we have a deeper language. I realised, when talking with Hamzie, that, as a teen, while I struggled with weight and dieting, chemistry revision, makeup, boys and being kissed –Hamzie was way ahead of me. Though she didn’t struggle with chemistry, being too smart, she was undergoing the break-up of her family, privately, courageously, and with the support of only her elder sister, who was probably struggling also. She was struggling with adhering to her religion, being a Bohora. She was struggling with dealing with a spoiled brat of a father, and a hurt, beloved, loving mother, whom she must have had to support emotionally, even as she herself hurt. Her father remarried, and has barely looked back since. She, her sister and her mother looked forward, trying hard not to look backwards. But Hamzie was always cheerful, always mischievous and fun, always helpful and giving, always there; not a hint of drama in her demeanour or carriage.
Whenever I’ve felt troubled, down or terrible, this last year, I’ve yearned for Hamzie. Her sweet nature, her basic sense, her acceptance of all my crap (indeed, she takes in my confession without even the blink of an eye, and begins spouting solutions in her sharp, intelligent manner almost immediately!) her support, have been priceless. Equally as precious has been her trust in me. Though she is well aware that I shall publish a ‘tell-all’ novel on her the second her becomes famous, it has not stopped her from treating me as another sister, discussing her own problems with me, which has made me feel so treasured. Too many people in my Life aren’t that open –with me or perhaps anyone else. I can be completely myself with Hamzie, and what’s more, I don’t have to disguise how I say what I say. Hamzie knows where she is with me, and me with her. It is a rare, rare relationship, and one I’m more grateful for than I could ever say. And when I met her Mum, I realised why, bless them both. I am even glad that, before she even met me me in person, I was already a presence to Hamzie’s mother; a romantic character called ‘Janet’. The revelation made me cry with laughter all the way home –but I’m kind of proud of it too. I shall be ‘Jeanette’ to Hamzie’s and my new other Mum henceforth (Why not over-romanticise, when it is clearly asked for!) And what a compliment it feels like!
This Christmas, I wish everyone a Precious Hamzie, if they don’t have one already. With a Hamzie in your Life, you will Always be all right. I firmly believe this. Someone in your Life who is like a compass. Brutally honest, but loving with it. Someone whose hard work and courage in the face of Life is an example to you. Someone who makes you laugh until you both cry. Someone who isn’t your mother, but who is nevertheless on your side, no matter what nonsense you have contrived to get yourself into. In short, a Hamzie. God bless Hamzies all over the world, and mine in particular.