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Of the 'doll', murder and female friends

Publication Date : 06-06-2014


The body of a 29-year-old nurse was parceled by post through Japan in a 2-metre-long box marked with the Japanese word for "doll".

She reportedly had more than a dozen stab wounds but no defensive injuries on her hands or arms.

Just before she went missing in March, she posted on Facebook that she was going to meet an old friend whom she had not seen for a decade. Her body was found recently in a storage lock-up in Tokyo, to which the parcel was delivered. The friend, also 29, lived with a woman of about the same age near the lock-up.

The news makes me think about relationships between women. Men tend to simplify female friendships as those that involve shopping together or gossiping about men, just as we women see male bonding as mainly men getting together to get drunk.

But female relationships are much more complicated than that. As schoolgirls, we first tasted jealousy when the best friend got closer to another girl and chose to accept the latter's invitation to do the homework together. It now looks funny, but the feeling back then was genuine, strong and torturous.

A school of thought suggests that every person - man or woman - has to go through a period of homosexuality (spiritually) in the process of growing up to be prepared for interest in the opposite sex. I agree.

Men are fundamentally loners. But women need each other.

A study conducted by the University of California in Los Angeles found that when women are with girlfriends, our bodies emit a "feel-good" hormone that helps reduce everyday stress. We also start to find ourselves more beautiful.

A male rodent runs to his female partner when scientists put him in a stressful situation. Female rodents, when stressed, immediately run to the females they are raised with. Many women would do the same.

Women would feel the need to unite for self-protection and more respect. Like in the "War on Women" of Santa Barbara college student Elliot Rodger. The 22-year-old virgin vowed to "punish all females for the crime of depriving me of sex", and killed six people and himself in seaside California.

But between women, even friends, there is jealousy, anger and backstabbing. Male friends backstab and occasionally physically kill each other, of course. But women have more subtle feelings.

Chinese psychologists compare Chinese women with Western ones. They say the former tend to be more sensitive, less confident, more likely to make comparisons and get jealous, and to blame themselves when they shouldn't. These traits hurt relationships, with either the same or the opposite sex.

I had a best friend who called me several times a day to talk about the funny things she saw or the frustrations she felt. I did the same with her.

No man has the patience to receive such calls even for a week. Only a girlfriend can do it for a decade.

Only years later now, I understand how precious it is to have a go-to person. But at the time, we both had boyfriends and were somehow unhappy that the men were occupying our time. Then one of the girls she grew up with came to the city and I became very jealous.

The worst thing was that we used to work together. Working relations are cruel. Conflicts at the workplace easily got personal, and the friendship turned sour. We stalled all contact for a year, and meet about once a year, usually with a large bunch of people.

We both made hard efforts to renew the relationship, but the feelings can be awkward. I don't understand how men and women fall in love with their exes, but it seems to prove difficult to restart a broken friendship between two women.

I think of this girl quite often and notice her status when I open my instant messaging service. But I rarely think of an ex-boyfriend. I throw away used stuff, and I am not the nostalgic type.

Maybe, we human beings are more sophisticated animals than we know. So things that happened, even as weird as the "doll" in the box, can all be somehow understood.


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