Looking back, Gita was everything I wanted – and still want – to be. Even at the tender age of 15 her identity was solidified. On the surface she was quiet, well-mannered and unassuming but peel back the layers and underneath was a mature, sophisticated, confident young woman who was wise beyond her years.
While my friends and I, were wasting our youth obsessing over talentless boy bands, Gita was involved in a real-life relationship with an older – much older – man. Sure, she got busted and things went south for a while but the fact is, she was brave enough to have entered the relationship in the first place and handled the fallout with such class.
When my friends and I were stuffing our faces with junk food (we were educated in the years prior to Jamie Olivers’ war on dodgy school dinners hence the daily diet of either pizza AND chips if we opted for school dinners or a sandwich, fizzy drink, packet of crisps and a chocolate as an alternative), Gita was a much smarter eater and attended dance classes, both of which accounted for her being so slim and dainty.
While we were busy getting make-up all wrong – or in my case, not even trying – Gita had it mastered down to a fine art which is why before she had reached the age of 18 she wasn’t a pretty young girl but rather, a beautiful young woman.
Her hair was Rapunzel long. It travelled the length of her back and flowed this way and that because much like Gita, it revelled in its freedom. Gita’s hair was never tied up.
As if all that weren’t enough, this sophisticated, beautiful, slim teenager was one of the friendliest and most down-to-earth people anyone could hope to meet. She was funny, smart and artistic – her throw away doodles were the stuff of the world’s most prestigious art galleries.
The last I heard, while we all shuffled off to university, paving the way for a future of unemployment and debt, Gita had moved to Paris and was living with some guy. This was about 12 years ago and I haven’t seen or heard from her since so I was slightly surprised, when, out of the blue, memories of her flooded my mind during a staff meeting one Tuesday afternoon. Something must have triggered it – what that something was, I don’t know but it worried me a little. The women in my family have a tendency to suddenly think about or mention someone we haven’t seen in years only to find out not long afterwards that the same person has keeled over and died.
Perhaps, from a psychological perspective, my thoughts of Gita were a form of escape. I was feeling trapped in that meeting, I feel trapped in my ‘career’ and I feel trapped in life generally. My mind centred on Gita because she symbolises freedom to me.
Thinking back, Gita also symbolises courage. Her family didn’t understand her. They didn’t want to give her the freedom that was so vital to her very being, yet despite this, she stayed true to who she was and lived her life the way she wanted. That couldn’t have been easy so we’ll add bravery to her never-ending list of endearing qualities.
I don’t think Gita is dead. My hope is that she’s still beautiful inside and out and living her life the way she wants to live it, quietly serving as an example to us all.