I was six years old and I had a lot of time on my hands to play! Daddy was in the army and we lived in the apartments for officers. I used to play with the neighbours children but they weren’t always nice. Sometimes, they bullied me. I felt intimidated by how talented they were in school and how well they played ‘doll’! In those days, we made paper dresses for our dolls. Hundreds of them in a day! You could make a paper doll and then cut out dresses for them. We used to decorate them with colour pencils and crayons. It was addictive and Anna my neighbour was awesome at creating the prettiest designs…at least that’s the way I saw them.
I had another friend who lived across the fence in poorer apartments. I would go visit her regularly even though mommy told me not to! Her parents would treat me like a princess whenever I visited. They would clean their house in a frenzy, offer me their best chair (they only had a couple of rickety ones) and serve tasty sweets. Harika was shy, but she adored me and I truly enjoyed playing with her. We would play tag around their house and make doll dresses and laugh away to glory till it was really dark. Then her father would walk me to the fence where I would say bye to them and go home. It was wonderful.
And then, my mother took a break from her job and was around all day and evening and it became harder and harder to go visit Harika. We were also posted out and were to leave for another city in 2 weeks! Somehow in the last few days I only got to play with my neighbours and I didn’t miss Harika so much. Then, it was suddenly time to leave. On the last day, My neighbour Anna gave me a hundred doll dresses that she had made and some toys. I felt finally accepted by my neighbours and proud. While I was hugging them and saying my goodbyes, my father gave me a shout to see who was coming. Harika had walked with her father to come see me one last time. She had made a little doll out of cloth and cotton. It looked a little out of shape and was in patchwork. She came up to me and gave me that doll and all my snooty neighbours giggled and laughed at her.
Embarrassed, I took the doll from her and said, ‘is that all? You came all this way just to give me this?’ Her eyes suddenly filled with tears. She quickly said good bye, grabbed her daddy’s hand and started walking away. I have never felt so ashamed and guilty of my actions before. I quietly got into our car and let my parents drive me away. I wish I could have apologised. I wish I could have run after her, hugged her and thanked her for being my friend and giving me such a wonderful present. It was my greatest regret to be cruel to a true friend just because some cool kids were watching.
From that day, I have always been fiercely protective of all my friends and steadfastly loyal. Maybe it is my way of making up to Harika.
Written in response to the daily prompt: Explain your biggest regret – as though to a small child.