‘She’s not going anywhere’


Meena Jammi

Meena Jammi, Nikhi Kodali and Saanvi Sadana smile for the daily BeReal on Sept. 23. This photo has quickly become one of Jammi and Sadana’s most prized possessions.

Editor’s note: As personal friends of Nikhi, we wrote this to celebrate her life, the memories we made with her and the lasting impact she had on her peers. 

Nikhi Kodali was an eccentric spirit.

She loved dancing and singing to Taylor Swift, spending her summers with kids with special needs and unapologetically speaking what was on her mind.

Whether it was as concertmaster of the philharmonic orchestra or founder and president of the Human Trafficking Awareness Club, Nikhi always made her presence known. She worked quietly, but put her full effort into everything she did.

“She had a presence like very few people do,” AP World History teacher Jennifer Kuhleman said. “She had a way with words. She was very engaging. Some might see it as somewhat of a strong personality, but I think that it was her presence that really attracted individuals to her.”

The morning of Sept. 26, the two of us arrived at school at the same time – something that never usually happens. We walked toward each other with the same confused expression on our face and the same jarring text message on our phone.

We would have never expected that minutes after the news of Nikhi’s passing in a car accident had sunk in, we would be clinging to each other, struggling to make it through our first periods.

We would have never expected that four hours after receiving that text, our friend group of 14 would gather in English teacher Steffannie Alter’s room, sharing lunch and memories through laughter and tears.

Every one of us knew how special and hardworking Nikhi was in every aspect of her life.

“It was just how beautiful her work was, how nicely she did whatever she did,” HADV Pre-calculus teacher Reena Chopra said. “She put herself into it. She was very talented, and I think the one thing that really stands out is when you are so good and you are so humble, you never show it.”

Even when she griped to us daily about something as insignificant as her weekly Testmasters class, it was clear that these remarks stemmed from an underlying drive to exceed her own expectations. After all, she was always her harshest critic.

“She presented a keen attention to detail,” Kuhleman said. “A desire to not only succeed but to excel. She was never really comfortable just accepting something. She was always trying to go one step further. There are just certain students you know are destined to become leaders. No matter what they do, they’re going to be great. And she was definitely one of those individuals.”

When we think about Nikhi, we always remember her determination, but it’s impossible to fully explain a person by listing a brag sheet of their entire life. Reading out her accomplishments does nothing to tell us how much she loved her boxed brownies, much less her friends and family.

“Words aren’t enough to describe her,” best friend and junior Meena Jammi said. “I want to say how kind, caring and loving she was, but it’s a lot more than that. She was enlightening. Everyone next to her would always be laughing so much. She only made people smile. You just felt pure happiness next to her.”

From our hilarious lunch antics that would have us quite literally rolling on the floor to the iconic Arthur costume she wore for Halloween, there was never a dull moment with Nikhi.

“Even if you saw her in the hallway, she’s always cracking some joke, laughing, making her dry faces or just doing something that was memorable,” Jammi said. “She was always just so hilarious.”

Nikhi was such an integral part of each of our lives, but one look at her FaceTime log would tell you that she spent the majority of her time with Meena and Saanvi.

“If I had to pick one repeated memory, it would be our nightly FaceTimes,” best friend and junior Saanvi Sadana said. “It was every night without fail. I would call her for help on homework, and we would just help each other, the three of us. We would rant to each other or just talk about our day and how bad a certain class was.”

Nikhi had such a constant presence in our lives. Something just feels off without her.

“It’s more of a loss that you’ll always have and sometimes you don’t even notice it,” Sadana said. “I didn’t realize the impact she had on my life. Obviously I was spending my days and nights with her, but I don’t think I realized the emotional impact she had on me until I had to deal with her being gone.”

Everyone grieves differently, but it’s important that we celebrate her and live to honor her memory.

“She would have wanted us to be happy and come together and have our friendships,” Jammi said. “Even after she’s gone, she would have wanted all of us to live life in a joyous and fun way.”

So we keep living. We go to class. We attend prom. We apply to college. We graduate. We move on in life. But we can never forget her, and her legacy.

“She’s just going to stay in our minds,” Jammi said. “Forever. She’s not going anywhere.”