Friends. Where would we be without them? They make our world go round. They laugh with us. They cry when we cry, maybe not all of them. But you get the drill? I caught up with two ladies who are celebrating their 17th year of friendship. Now we all know this is rare. So, when you find that one person who makes you laugh with your throat and nose, please keep them.

Aisha and Amina became friends on the very first day of their admission in high school back in 2004. They were both very naïve with little exposure to the world. On that very first day, just like a first time to anything in a relationship, they fought over a desk. A desk. Really?

Aisha was the feisty one. She spoke her mind but weighed her words carefully. She genuinely cared for people. As feisty as she was, she strived to see the best in others. She enjoyed being in the company of others but Amina was her favourite. Aisha often braided her long thick African hair and hardly let people see it open. This was to keep off admirers with their endless compliments. She never liked the attention, and so, she only left it open on special occasions.

She had contagious laughter. When she laughed, anyone around her would join in not because she was witty, but because of how she laughed. You know how some people laugh out loud even with their throats and noses? Aisha loved a good laugh. She loved clothes but she was not fashion-forward. She had the most beautiful eyes. Eyes to die for that left the guys spellbound when she shot them a glance. She was petite-beautifully petite. The kind that guys drool over.

Amina was the right opposite of Aisha. She was the serious one in the friendship. She only interacted with the chosen few. She cared for those that mattered to her. She had no time for chit chats with anyone outside her cocoon. If you didn’t fit her standards, you had to beat it. But the few in her circle loved her because she was the kind who kept it real. She didn’t know how to sugarcoat anything. If you sucked, she’d tell you to your face. Unlike Aisha, Amina was more fashionable. She loved the good things in life. Good food, cute shoes, cute dresses, and classy handbags. She was the YOLO type. Amina was curvaceous-the perfect figure of an African woman. The kind that guys want.

Aisha and Amina’s personalities set them apart. They were the envy of many people. They knew how to pick their fights and settle them. They both had egos and would sometimes go for days without talking to each other because they had fought. When they came back around, they acted like nothing ever happened. The typical kiss and makeup.

Since that very first day in school when they fought over a desk, they grew from being desk mates right from form one to form four, to being sisters. They mocked some of their least favourite teachers and nicknamed them then laughed their heads off each time any of them walked in class. They particularly had a mutual dislike for their Mathematics teacher who couldn’t pronounce Aisha’s name. So, after every Mathematics class, Amina would make fun of Aisha, “Aicha, ndid you ndo the assignment or you were mbusy making noise in class?” Then they would burst out in laughter like two crazy ladies in an open-air market.

High school was the foundation of a relationship that saw them grow through 17 years of friendship. A friendship that brought their families together and made their parents cronies because their daughters demonstrated that one didn’t need to be your tribesman or member of your community to be your family. Amina and Aisha were from different tribes- Giriama and Kamba.

Aisha was the first one to get a job after they both graduated from campus. It was not easy to be out of touch. They phoned each other fortnightly. Aisha was constantly busy. You know how some jobs take a toll on someone that they even forget which day of the week they are in? But whenever they met, it was like a reunion of sorts. They would catch up on what each had been up to. Aisha would tell Amina about her meddlesome, irritating, micromanaging supervisor.

They laughed at the silliest things like how Amina fell on the steps to her house when she thought someone was following her. They talked about how each other’s monthly cycle drove them nuts. They talked about guys they secretly admired. None of them had been lucky with guys so far. But they hoped that they both got married to great men. When Amina finally got a job about two years after Aisha did, they met to celebrate her achievement.

Just like any other relationship, their friendship had been tested on several occasions over the years. Like that time Amina started dating and kept that piece of news from Aisha. Of course, Aisha was not happy being kept in the dark about such an important development. She wanted to know everything about the guy. Who knew if he was a serial killer? Or was he just another jerk? Or maybe he was the one?

They stayed for months without talking to each other until one day Aisha couldn’t take it anymore and lashed out at Amina, “when were you planning to tell me about…” As usual, Amina had the perfect defence in waiting. It’s like she had seen the question coming. “I was going to tell you. I wanted to see if there was something there before I told you about him. Well, I am still trying to figure him out. You know what I mean?” Aisha was not convinced but for the sake of their friendship, she let Amina be. Amina would later come clean and let the cat out of the bag. She told Aisha about her newfound “love” and then pointed out some of the flaws she had noted so far. Aisha wanted to hear none of them and asked Amina to give the man a chance.

Over the years, the two have remained in touch despite the busyness of their lives. Amina is always on the road. Travelling to different parts of the country collecting and analyzing data. She is a research assistant with a pharmaceutical company. While Aisha sits in an office in Milimani banging emails, checking social media pages, responding to queries and making endless calls to customers. She is the customer service assistant manager of a real estate company.

“Amina, if I have never told you that you are an amazing person, you are. You have seen my mess and remained my friend. And you know I don’t easily open up my heart to anyone. Not even my mother or sister. But you have been that the realest thing in my life. You correct me when am wrong. You don’t entertain gibberish from anyone, but somehow you tolerate mine. Thank you for being who you are. My sister, my friend”, Aisha had called Amina and told her on their 17th anniversary.

“Aisha, I wish I could say the same about you. Hahahaha… No, I’m kidding. You are a true definition of a friend. We have had our ups and downs. We have celebrated each other’s high moments. You never judged me when I told you any of my downfalls. I am glad we fought over that desk because it was the reason we became friends. And 17 years later, we are still here”, Amina responded. They picked a weekend when neither would be so busy with work to go celebrate. Amina, who loved the best things in life, knew just the right place to mark their friendsversary.

Cheers to Aisha and Amina as they celebrate their 17 years of friendship. I wonder if they are still going to celebrate it again on 30th July, which is International Friendship Day. For friendship’s sake, I think they should.

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