1. My mother, the first woman in my life, taught me that life couldn’t be taught, that it had to be lived, elegantly and fearlessly.
She taught me that infatuations were common, that people are different because that is what makes the world colorful, and that every heartbreak is a reminder that home is somewhere else.
2. My grandmother, the woman who has lived my life like her own since my grandfather passed away, taught me that care can’t be measured by counting the things we’ve done for someone.
Instead, it lays in the unspoken little actions that we do and never turn to look back at, because that has become our nature and the people whom we do them for are our very own.
3. My first English teacher in school, the person I’ve feared the most, taught me that discipline is depth and, without it, the ocean has no waves – it has nothing.
4. My little sister was the first person born in my family after me.
I remember seeing her for the first time. Her eyes taught me that responsibility chose us and not the other way around, and that, contrary to all that is said, there is love at first sight. And it has the ability to form and reform any human being.
5. The first time I had a crush on a girl was when I was in third grade
…and better than any slogan or book or human being, she taught me that to share feelings for another soul never requires one to share their religion. Her faith and mine were named differently – they always meant the same.
6. The first girl I befriended in high school knew all my secrets. She was the window to my soul.
And yet, now, almost a decade later, I scarcely remember her second name. She taught me that friends leave and never call back because priorities shift and life fails to wait. She taught me that, like lovers, friends also break up and each is left with a bag full of memories and a heart- full of longing.
7. My next door neighbour was 82 years old when she passed away.
I had seldom talked to her except for the societal greetings. And yet, now that she isn’t there anymore and an empty window stares at mine every morning, I miss the assurance, the stability, and the calmness that she used to bring. She taught me that we underestimate the little things too much and that everything around us shapes who we are and how we eventually turn out.
8. My first pen pal was a bubbly character who always danced around with a song in her head.
She taught me that friendship was more than physical presence and that distance wasn’t always the worst thing when it came to companionship – sometimes it was the best.
9. The first girl I really came to admire shared a social media workspace with me: an agency we still work at.
She taught me, as she says, that life isn’t about the forevers; it is about the scattered pieces of eternity, the ones we can make homes out of and love to bits.
10. My closest girl friend at college is a feisty character that always needs to have her way with everything.
She taught me that not every friendship comes with an expiration date, because not everything beautiful needs to end. More than anything, she taught me to fight for the ones I’d come to love because life doesn’t throw the people we leave back to us.
11. The only female coach that I had for football was the hardest working woman I’ve ever seen.
She taught me that there is truth and justice in the world while consoling me for a missed tryout. She has gone leaps and bounds and works for the government now. She is the epitome of modesty and humility. She, better than any other soul, taught me that if you try and try and try, and if you are prepared to kill yourself to get what you want the most, then there is no force, living or dead, that can stop you. Everything I know about not giving up I have learnt from her.
12. Lastly, the first person I fell in love with was a pale, skinny, sweet-smiling girl who knew how to orchestrate my heartbeat with her waving fingers.
In leaving, she taught me the most important lesson in life. She taught me that love was not for the faint-hearted, that every love was true only if it haunted us for the rest of our lives, and that I had to love my scars because they are what remain of a bygone love. I’ll never forget the endless lives I lived in her. Or the endless deaths I died.