Studying abroad is a good experience, but it is never easy, especially when you are not acquainted with any international student who has been in the country for a long time. At the beginning of 2019, Mrs. Bakire, a young mother whose spouse worked for the armed forces, got an acceptance letter from one of the most prestigious universities in Turkey. She decided to come to Turkey with her baby. Back then, she did not have friends in Turkey. Her apartment was right near mine. When I informed my friends of the new neighbor, they started planning on going to welcome her. As I was the one who spread the news, I had to be there too; otherwise, I did not like being present in any gatherings.
That weekend we knocked on Mrs. Bakire's door. We were very crowded. She was pleased to have her first visitors in Turkey. We introduced ourselves, congratulated her for her newborn, then she served us some drinks. Everyone was talking to someone, but I was not. I was trying to furtively study Mrs. Bakire's personality; I hardly talk to people I have just met for the first time. She, on the contrary, was talking to everyone, socializing with people. I was sitting, playing with my afro braids, just as if I was living in my own world. She approached me and started the conversation; "Greetings from the world to Ms. Bambe," she said. I was grinning ear to ear, but could not say a word in reply.
"You appear to be bashful. Come on, are these not your friends?" She said as she pulled her tabouret closer. I had no other option, except to talk to her. "I will only answer the questions if she asks; who am I to start a conversation?" I whispered to myself. She must have noticed that I was not going to say a word, so she continued talking.
"I am Mrs. Bakire, I'm married with a 10-month-old baby. I came here to study for a master's in business administration. My husband could not come with us; he works in the armed forces as a soldier". "I can understand how hard it has been for you to take care of your child alone. Hopefully, your husband will come for you one day", I said. She thanked me for my empathetic words.
"Do you ever wonder what motherhood feels like? You do, I suppose. I tell you, it is the best feeling a woman will ever experience in her lifetime," Mrs. Bakire stated. Meanwhile, my inner voice was busy asking why she was telling me all that. I expected her to say her name and leave for a hot conversation with other friends; I never thought she would prefer to have a tête-à-tête with an introvert like me. "You see this little living thing?" She added, stretching towards her baby's photo on the wall. I chuckled; I couldn't understand why she just chose to use the word "living being" instead of "baby". "You're really amusing, and I love that" I replied indecisively. "Don't be like that" she replied, as she plunged a bowl of cherries to me. "As I was saying, this living being is actually a part of me, my baby. To be honest I have never understood why a woman would want a second baby after experiencing the birthing twinges until the day I gave birth…"
The only thing I could do while she was telling her maternity story was to just gaze at her. Her gestures were so sincere; I couldn't remember the last time I listened to someone's long story until the end. I was astounded when I noticed that I had emptied the bowl in no time. She looked at me grinning and said, "Bon appetit" as she moved to the cradle to check on her slumbering baby. I felt so embarrassed at that moment. "Anyway, never mind. This lady seems to be so tender-hearted and vivacious, and verily her cherries are luscious", I murmured to myself.
When Mrs. Bakire came back to the living room, we gave another round of congratulations then said goodbye to her. I told her that she could call me or come to my place anytime if she needed anything. Although we had just met, I had taken an instant liking to her. Everyone around was surprised, they were not used to the "me" they were seeing there.
Three days later, Mrs. Bakire sent me a DM on Instagram; "Wanna come around? I have made some donuts". As I started typing, trying to look for excuses because I did not feel like going anywhere, another message came; "I also bought some cherries for you, you can eat infinitely". Seeing the second message, I remembered that embarrassing event. I was not going to say "no" anymore, so I immediately canceled my message and wrote that I was going in the late afternoon.
From that day, we started meeting often. Sometimes I would take care of the baby while she would be doing chores. Mrs. Bakire enjoyed hanging out on weekends; one day, she asked me to go with her. For me, I'd rather sit in my bed and watch a movie alone, eating my snacks than go to the restaurant in the city to eat food. This time I was in a dilemma. I did not want to let her go alone; I did not want to go with her either. Ultimately, I decided to go with her and just eat my food silently (I am that type of person who only talks when necessary, so what else could she have expected?). I thought Mrs. Bakire barely knew the type of person I was; I was wrong: She was acquainted with me just as much as I was with her.
The other day, she would call me just for a movie at home. We would apply our facial skincare masks, lean on the couch and enjoy the show. We kept on doing things we liked alternately: one day watch a movie at home as I liked, another day go out for lunch together as she liked; play chess at home today, go to the leisure park tomorrow. Within a short period of time, we got to know each other very well.
We have been relishing every single minute we share until this hour. Everyone around us is marveled at our friendship. They keep questioning how we became best friends, yet we are the very antithesis of each other. Our preferences are unrelated; our personalities are contrasting: I am introverted, whereas she is extroverted. We tell those people that they shouldn't be bewildered with our friendship; I am compatible with her, and she is with me. Is that not enough? Certainly, it is!
My friendship with Mrs. Bakire could be straightforwardly compared to the North and South poles of a magnet: completely opposite. Life brought us together and, by hook or by crook, we became best friends.
"Unlike poles attract." It's physics!