The friends you make

After a conversation with one of her colleagues on solo-kids/kids-with-much-older-siblings, my mum called to ask if I remembered the imaginary friends of my toddlerhood.
The memories of the androgynous twins Boonza and Goonza are nebulous. I can’t quite picture them except for swatches of denim, shirts and short hair.
Except for their odd names (a career in branding eluded me even then), and faded features, I know nothing else of the twins. The years are long and many, and I’ve always been terrible at keeping in touch.
Do you remember your imaginary friends? Have any of them stuck around?

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I am a writer and photographer (look up my work on based in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have an MA in Creative Writing from the university currently known as Rhodes. My writing accolades include winning the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize and the 2020 Ingrid Jonker Poetry Prize for my debut collection, Zikr.

21 thoughts on “The friends you make”

  1. I don’t recall any imaginery friends, but my second youngest sis, Birdy had three: Sully, Guy and Michelle. She could even describe how they looked, it was amazing.

    I have my own theories when it comes to imaginery friends. But I’ll keep my notions to myself 😛

  2. Apparently I had one. I can’t remember it at all but my mom tells me I used to play with this “friend” late at night in the hallway. And sometimes I’d jump into their bed crying.

    Again, I don’t remember any of it.

  3. My younger sister had 4 imaginary friends: Aavia, Baavia, Magina and Vaalum. She’d randomly stop and talk to/shout/laugh at them on the street, in the mall or at the beach. She also used to forget where she was and hold random stranger’s hands, not realising they weren’t my dad.

  4. I’m having a secret love affair with Mr. Nice. V does not approve.

    So much for creativity with names, but Mr. Nice is well quite a nice man 😀

  5. I asked my older sister if I had an imaginary friend as a kid.
    She said that I had one for about 3 days before my mother heard me talking to myself and kind of shouted me out of it, “What did you say? Who are you talking to? Are you mad or something?”
    Ah yes, the typical indian mother 🙂 I love my mother 🙂

    While talking to my sister, I could hear my older nephew in the background playing with the younger kids. She asked him if he could remember Nando’s Chicken. Obviously, he doesn’t, because my sister ate him. However, I remembered he had other friends named “Dogs and Cats”. They drove 4×4’s and owned businesses. Quite wealthy imaginary friends, I tell you. We asked him if he remembered them. He remembers the real cat that we had at home, but he said, “I also remember the dog that Dadi had”. My mother didn’t have a dog.

    Imaginary friends. Gotta love them. 🙂

  6. you’ve heard of GAATI right? …
    he’s still around. he’s the one who gets blamed when something goes wrong. he also gets blamed for killing mary jane (the now dead imaginary friend)

    gaati se gesin stays in cape town (for obvious reasons). so when we’re there, we like to pretend he’s with, and gone to visit his … gesin.

    odd lot we are. but sadly we’ll need to get rid of him before the little hobbilockling arrives.
    dont want the little one growing up looney now do we.

    oooh ooh. gaati personified is jack from will and grace 🙂 …

  7. I used to have telephonic conversations with Alice in Wonderland. My grandfather would “answer” her call every Saturday, hand me the phone, and convince me that Alice was on the other end.

    I chatted to her happily every week for about a year – and then I grew up and stopped believing.

    Those were the good times 🙂

  8. Whitey-He lived on the road to Pretoria, but would visit me everyday and I would fetch him every Sunday to visit Gramma. He was great company, I should look him up 😉

    Little sister had a host of imaginary friends. One of them, Nabeela, rather memorably, was once stolen by Oupa Looloo on her way to Checkers.

    I remember reading an a report about a study conducted in the US that found kids that had imaginary friends are better at creative expression growing up… Yea.

  9. i had travel friends. lol.. u know.. for those long distance roadtrips to visit my gran… i cnt remember names tho, all i remember is that they didnt travel in the car, they rode a paperthin vehicle on that yellow line on the side of the road.

  10. My little one has imaginary friends.. she talks to them the whole day.. maybe it is me sitting on the computer that is driving her to this.
    She speaks to the neighbors son the whole day..The one day the imaginary friend was also in the shower with her and had to tell him to leave..

    she has a new friend now called Ayesha Ve’la and she phones her and can speak for hours to her..

    The things she tells them. She is talking to her right now..

  11. out of the many who have been around me, one of them has been my shadow. i deliberately casted one and then we spoke and had fun. she was my evil twin. her name was Matilda!

  12. Im dittoing with those two above me. But I will reveal this much; they called him the my invisible

    l0l@Boonza and Goonza!

  13. Ditto @ “Do you really expect me to exhibit my crazy here on this public forum?” 😛

    My cousin’s daughter had a doll named “frozen chicken”.

  14. Do you really expect me to exhibit my crazy here on this public forum?

    I always knew they were imaginary, but they weren’t friends as much as a story I used to live out, and thats about all I will say.

  15. surprisingly i never had imaginary friends considering i was rather the imaginary one.
    I did have really cool names i made up for all my family members though 😛 but i cant remember then now.

  16. lol @ Boonza and Goonza. it’s catchy 🙂
    i don’t think i had imaginary friends.
    i wonder if my sister would remember if i did.

    Myy nephew had an imaginary friend when he was about 3,5 yrs old, he called it Nando’s Chicken. I kid you not. However, Nando’s Chicken met a terrible end.

    Eb: “Foi, this is Nando’s Chicken” (Eb pointing at an invisible mass on the bed)
    My sister: “Oh so nice Eb. *slurp* Nando’s Chicken is so tasty!”
    Eb: “Foi, why did you eat my friend Nando’s Chicken?”

    Holy crap.

    My sister was horrified that she ate Nando’s Chicken. My nephew subsequently forgot about imaginary friends. Oh well.

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