I literally just googled "Cannibal Mermaid" and fished that picture out. It's a bit discomforting but also strangely intimate eh? But I think that's so fitting for my friendship with @thecannibalmermaid, Saujanya!

I have gone back and forth on this post because I wouldn't call Saujanya my best friend-- she is a bit too young to be :p She could be my sister, kindred spirit... she has been! I literally scoffed at someone who called her my current best friend when we were getting dinner last week (it was my birthday, so of course people from my different worlds had to meet)-- but in hindsight, maybe she is my best friend :)

  • I don't think there's anyone else I would've asked to do the T2 writing contest with me. Not because I don't know other cool writers. But because asking someone to hang with you, do something with you, the act of putting yourself out there in any capacity is just too vulnerable for me-- but Saujanya makes it so easy! I don't think there's very many things she has said no to because we're fairly similar people but also when she does say no, she makes it so easy to receive that even my messed up consciousness doesn't take it as rejection :p
    • One could argue that the effort she puts into making the no so easy to receive is more her people-pleasing and less her being my best friend: but I am a people-pleaser myself! And when I see her go to lengths to draw a boundary, I recognise and resonate with the word-waffling so much! Isn't good friendship just "born at the moment when one man says to another "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself ..." like C.S.Lewis says? For what it's worth I have so many of those moments with Sauj that I think our friendship is reborn every second day :D
      • I think another reason that I only asked her is because she is the only person I think wouldn't be embarassed by some of the stupid thoughts I conceive and go on to shamelessly write about :D She actually goes out in the world and pledges her association and liking of the things I do, the stupider the better.
        • There's a reason I write stupid things also-- I am not the greatest with "writing" because that is also an act of putting myself out there and we've established I am not very good at that. So, the T2 contest has been hard at times. I have procrastinated like there's no end. But then I sometimes receive a text from Saujanya a few hours before the deadline when she says "it's okay if you don't feel upto it this week, fren" and then purely because I don't want to let someone so understanding down, I end up writing.
          • But when I do write something I invariably quote her or the works that she has referred me to because again a lot of my current thinking is invariably influenced by her!
            • But "Friends who write" is not just writing is it; it is a 'contest'. And me being this Asian child of every Asian parents' dreams, I am intensely competitive. So while she is merciful and understanding (and I try to be also), I am sometimes so intensely competitive that people literally run away from joining forces with me. A friend of a friend was supposed to join us in week-2, we got a bit excited, but I had to clarify "are we sure it won't affect our chances of winning the 'consistency' prize though". Granted it was not my best moment; but even then (even though she wouldn't have done it herself), when friend of the friend ran away, Saujanya said "it's okay! We do want to win" because that is how kind (not competitive) she is <3

              You will notice that all my reasons for why she is my best friend are very "me"-centred. That is actually the underlying reason that she is my best friend: she lets me be the centre of my experience. If you know me personally, you'd know that is not my natural state of being. I naturally put other people at the centre (I get competitive about how "liked" I can become lol) but with Saujanya the bar is naturally lowered because she unconditionally "likes", accepts, and appreciates people as they are. Hence why she is the "best friend" in our friendship and not me.

              But her contribution to my life and this world is beyond just being a great friend. She could do 25% of what she currently does and qualify as my best friend! But no, she has to go above and beyond!

              • She has to write beautiful stuff like this!
                • She has to give me new language and meaning to articulate my own experiences better! For example, she talks a lot about and has a Spotify playlist called "emergency triples on a scooter" which is a Tamil movie reference of a couple of friends driving someone on a scooter to the hospital! This particular reference evoked in me the memory of "scooters" while growing up. "Suhasini on a scooter" is a deeply meaningful reference to me and my image of "female empowerment" growing up because my mom used to look like Tamil actress Suhasini and she learned to drive a scooter so as to drop me and pick me up from daycare while she continued to work and "life" after my birth. This example probably doesn't make a lot of sense to non-Tamil people but I will drop images of the two movie references below for what it is worth :)
                  • She also just has to be and hang and teach me new gen-Z stuff (remind me how old I am :p), and therapize me so I don't drive myself crazy with my overthinking (she is a trained psychologist, so she is allowed), because she is not just my best friend, she really is THE BEST.

                    Again, if not for this post or this "call" I wouldn't have reflected on any of this; and if I hadn't reflected on this I wouldn't call Saujanya my best friend-- I would have claimed she is too young to be my best friend. But that's because like good leaders, good best friends are often almost invisible: they make it look like you did it yourself, they make it feel like they're not even part of it, but they're also so integral to your experience that their true value can only be felt in their absence (which they're too kind to ever let you realise!).

                    PS: now for your viewing pleasure (as promised) two very bad images lifted from the internet of "emergency triples on a scooter" and "Suhasini on a scooter" (or at the very least two images of a scooter, a staple in Indian cities). And with that I bid adieu to you, for now. Thank you for bearing with my word waffle (not just through this post but through Friends Who Write Season 2!).

                    Emergency Triples on a Scooter
                    Suhasini on a scooter (TVS 50, actually)