Tag Archives: school

Of The Boy In The Corner Of The Class

I’d like to say that it started just like that, but then we’d all know that I’m lying. Nothing ever happens just like that. I believe it began when I was the shy, last bench girl who sat in a corner, hiding away from the rest of the class… and he was anything but a stereotype.

Often, he’d lean back in his chair and throw a glance at my direction while I’d be hiding my face behind the stray strands of my hair, tucking the hem of my skirt under my knees and biting my lips in random intervals. When I’d look up, often, I’d catch him staring at me, a pencil or pen poking out of his mouth and his eyes twinkling. Those would be awkward moments and I would be lying if I tell you that it was okay for me to catch a boy staring at me, especially when the boy was him – an enigma of his own.

With a mop of dark hair, curling against his nape, a few strands plastered to his forehead, and gleaming charcoal eyes, he was the kind of boy you found between the pages of some kindergarten sweetheart novel. His lips would curl into a smile whenever he spoke to anyone and I would find a slight grin force itself on my face as well when I saw him smile. When he would climb up the top of his desk and sit there, talking aloud to his friends and clapping them on their backs, I would find my eyes follow his every move.

Even during the most boring lessons of History, I’d find myself leaning back and forth to catch a glimpse of him four rows to my front. He was the only person in the class of forty who acknowledged my presence. Growing up, I had always been an awkward kid, finding it hard to pick up conversations. I was self-conscious, nervous and a lot more, like people had often pointed out, but he saw through that. He looked at me like he knew me forever. And I looked at him like I could never figure out what went through beneath his smile.

Each day, I would pass by his seat and wish he would say something. Only, he wouldn’t. Instead, his eyes would follow me as I would fumble with the books in my hand, breathing heavily, almost melting under his gaze. But never did we, for the first six months of the semester, pick up the courage to utter a word to each other.

However, one day, he did.

In the lunch break one day, when the class was empty and the corridors were abuzz, I found him walking inside the class. His hair was messed up and his shirt stuck against his lanky frame as he nearly staggered against his desk. Almost immediately, I gasped and his eyes wandered down the rows of benches and landed on me. They held something… not pain, not sorrow, but indescribable confusion, as if something was killing him inside, yet he was helpless. I expected him to turn away; instead, he smiled.

“Hi,” he mumbled.

That was how it began – a friendship. A friendship between two individuals who had so many stories to share.

Each lunch break, I would find him in the cafeteria, sitting in the middle of the room with his friends. When he would see me, he would lift his hand slowly and smile. Amidst the loud howls from the bunch of boys and his deeper voice, I spent the best few months of my school life.

Sometimes, when I’d have forgotten to bring some money in my bag, he’d push his tray towards me. Everything with him was like a script from a slow, black and white movie.

“Hey?” Sometimes, he’d put his hand on my shoulder and stare down into my eyes. Time stopped at that moment, for I found myself lost in the utter sincerity his eyes held. They held so much pain as well, but I was too young to dig deeper.

When I’d frown and grumble at something, he would turn and ask me if I was okay. Nobody did that. He would sit beside me for long, until I would tell him what’s wrong. He was the type of boy everyone wanted as a friend. When happy, he would have instant jokes up his sleeve. When sad, he would never tell anyone. And that was what I forgot. He never told anything, so I never asked. Or perhaps, I had been too occupied basking under the sunshine that I forgot to ask him at times, if he was okay.

With him, I was not the shy, quiet girl at the back of the class and he was not the quiet, serious, popular boy. We were so much more than that, with so many infinite stories to tell.

And one fine winter morning, with one incident, instead of our stories intertwining, we wrote different tales.

“Why wouldn’t you tell me what’s wrong?” I had told him that day. Frustrated with his lack of response and careless behavior, I had stomped out of the class, balling my fists and fighting tears. He had arrived late to the class with a slight sore on his chin and bruises on his face. I had been too angry because he wouldn’t tell me what was wrong.

That day, he didn’t look at me. His eyes didn’t glimmer like they did always. His face was cold. His eyes were dark. Something about him, scared me that day. And it was perhaps why I never walked back.

“Really?” I heard a group of girls talking in high-pitched tones. In fact, the whole cafeteria talked loudly about something… about someone. There were so many people talking at once, that I couldn’t catch the train of words – of where what began and what came to an end.

“He starves himself?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“But he’s a boy… anorexia? I mean I have heard girls do so, but he?”

“That is so awkward! He always seemed so strange to me!”

“Who? He caught him in the washroom, puking?”

“You are kidding me! I don’t believe this!”

“Seriously?”

“And what?”

“He was beaten up?”

“Seniors… I don’t understand.”

I didn’t keep a track of time of how long I sat in the sweaty cafeteria, hearing loud noises all around me. I knew who they were talking about, but a part of me refused to believe. A part of me was adamant and held on to the fact that it was just a rumour, but when things started getting clearer and details appeared, I couldn’t help but storm out of the cafeteria and run to him.

“Why?” I almost cried, but not because I was sad for him, but I wanted to know why he didn’t tell me.

“As if you could make things fine,” he retorted.

“B-But-” I struggled to say something, but words caught up in my throat.

We sat in silence. He played with the edges of his shirt while I sat, motionless and cold. In a mirror world, it was seen as if our roles were reversed. He was no longer that easy-going popular boy who had a solution to everything. And I was no longer the quiet girl. Staying in his company had given me an ounce of confidence. I had made many friends by then, but he remained in my books.

But that one day, I felt confused. I felt like every bit of energy had been soaked out of my body, leaving me with an empty feeling.

“Why do you do this?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders before leaning back against the chair and pulling out something from his back pocket.

“This,” he muttered, passing me an old photograph. There stood a little, chubby boy smiling giddily at the camera.

“That was me at some point,” he continued. “I was fat. I was ugly. The kids in the neighbourhood wouldn’t play with me. So, I wanted to become someone who would be loved. Someone people would admire.”

“You are!”

“Because I am this now,” he pointed at himself.

When I looked at him that day, I didn’t fail to notice how his shirt pressed against his flat chest and the way his collar bones stood out against his collar. That day, I didn’t fail to notice the many things that hid beneath his smile. Inside, he was hurting. Yet, he put on his best face, just to impress the world.

“It’s so embarrassing,” he said. “I thought nobody would ever find out.”

All those summers and springs melted in the pain that his eyes held. I felt betrayed. I felt almost useless, because even though I was so close to him, I could do nothing.

My lips quivered when he spoke the next words.

“I’ll leave.”

And just like that, he left.

No one saw him at school after that. But people talked about him. They said rude things. They told how pathetic it was.

And it was too much for me to hear.

So that one art class, when the teacher had not yet arrived, I screamed against the hushed whispers.

“He is not pathetic!” I cried. A string of gasps followed pin-drop silence. “It could happen to anyone! Anyone can feel bad about how they look. It’s only human! But when they feel low, when people around us feel low, isn’t it us who should pick them up and provide them strength? Why do you think it’s embarrassing? When girls starve themselves, we say it’s normal. But heck, boys want to look perfect too. Each one of us wants to lose a few pounds so that we can fit into out favourite dresses. Each one of us wants to be in perfect shape so that others won’t make fun of us. So, it isn’t awkward. It isn’t embarrassing. It is just that when a friend was hurting, we couldn’t help him. And now that he’s gone, instead of feeling guilty or sad, you speak so dirty things about him? It is you who is pathetic! Not he! He was perfect!”

When I sat down with a thud, I was crying. Tears ran down my cheeks and no matter how much I wiped them off, they were not stopping.

My eyes wandered over the desk and I found several drawings on them. He had a strange habit of scratching the tip of his pen against the furnished ply of the desk and make small, little pictures. Every time that I passed by his desk, I had a strong urge to run my hand over them, but the ink seemed so fresh, I was sure that it would only end of messing the pictures and making my hands dirty. But that day, I did.

With wet palms, sticky with the tears, I ran my quivering fingers over the drawings. I wanted them to fade away. I wanted all this to be a bad dream. But they didn’t smear. The ink didn’t smear. It had dried up. And they stared right at me, telling tall tales.

When the class was empty and people had left for their homes, I stayed behind. Pulling open a pen out of my bag, next to the stuff he had drawn,

I wrote:

In a race to fit in someone else’s books,

In a race to look finer,

Did we forget that we looked so much better just the way we are?

Did we forget to love ourselves first?

And when the school year finally came to an end, I prayed that someday, he would see this and smile to himself.

To this day, when I’m feeling low and down, I think of the wonderful memories we had and of the many more stories we could have had.

To The Best Friend Who Wasn’t

Only recently, I happened to come across a notification on Wattpad where the wonderful Rup had tagged me for a 30-day letter writing challenge. Now, I don’t really write a lot of letters. In a world where most of our time is spent on chatting and social networking, it’s not much of a surprise that the trend of writing letters is slowly vanishing into the abyss of nothingness. I love writing letters, though. Someday, I’ll send those letters to the people they are meant for. So for the first challenge, I had to write a letter to my best friend which reads something like this:

Dear Best Friend or rather the best friend I never had,

Has anybody ever told you that you are perfect? No? Then, hear me now, you are. I’ve never seen a person as strong and determined as you. I’ve never met a person who knows how to put things back together; it’s almost like you have some crazy magic tricks up your sleeve! I’ve never come across a person as intelligent as you or as beautiful. You present yourself like the complete package.

I remember the sleepless nights we spent fangirl-ing over some Hollywood celebrity. We’d add too many ‘a’s to their names or too many ‘e’s. At times, we would be lovesick over virtual anime guys, already talking about future plans in case we happen to meet someone like them in real life. I still hold a hope that in some undiscovered dimension, anime people exist and someday, they are going to come on earth and meet us. We’ve been sending them way too many crazy brain signals and someone told me that hard work never goes into waste.

Then some days, we’d talk about books.

On cold evenings, we’d argue over trivial matters. Though they seemed heated, they had a tendency to cool down too soon. I never wanted to lose you to some silly argument and perhaps, you didn’t want that too.

I tell you, I don’t remember when we started drifting apart from each other.

Someone had told me that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but I still don’t find any truth in it. Of all the instances that have happened in my life, the first lesson I’ve learnt is that, absence makes things worse. Time is a culprit and it makes every precious memory fade away. I have only managed to have grasp a handful of memories and store it somewhere safe in my memory vault.

Sometimes, I feel that I was the only person who considered you my best friend. There was never any reciprocation from your side and it breaks my heart whenever I think of it. There are some things in life which you can’t have, no matter how much you strive for it. As for me, I’ve always struggled when it comes to making a best friend. It’s like a game of playing cards, which I’ve never been good at.

Whenever I see two bubbly girls walking on the streets, laughing to something, I tell myself that that could have been us.

But the right moment has gone by. No matter how much I try now, no matter how much you do, some things between us will never be the same again.

We do talk a lot these days, but do you notice that we hide a lot too many things?

We do laugh a lot, but those smiles are not true.

We do try and pretend that things had never gone wrong between us, but the truth lingers somewhere in the background – the very fact that some things have changed between us. We have changed. Our interests have changed. Our social circles have changed. Back in those high school days, you used to be the social bee and I used to be the shy, little girl in a corner of the class. I had always, desperately wished to be like you. We talked back then. But I thought that if I could somehow fit into your group, we could become best friends.

Now, the roles have changed. I play the part of the social bee and you tend to stay in the shadows.

Still, we are not best friends. Perhaps, we never were. I was just crazy and a little too desperate.

But I don’t regret it. I wanted you and only you to be my best friend. Who wouldn’t want a girl as perfect as you as their best friend!

But I guess, I forgot to take in consideration the fact that may be nobody wanted me as their best friend.

So, as I write this, I am still best-friend-less.

I wonder of the things we could have done as best friends. We could have those girls happily running down the streets. We could have been those girls spending hours in a mall. We could have those girls who never had any secrets. We could have been so many things. Only, we aren’t.

But we’ve come a long way without being best friends and a few more miles doesn’t really matter anymore.

Time may be a culprit, but it heals wounds, doesn’t it?

Sincerely,

The Best Friend Who Never Was.

Of What I Never Told My Friends

I’m travelling in a crowded bus as I write this. And no, it isn’t like they always describe – sweltering heat and grumbling people – in fact, though it isn’t that great an experience, it isn’t that bad, either.

Sandwiched between the metal rods of the window and a heavy woman who is reading a Stephen King book, I watch the group of teenagers in front of me. One of them, a short girl with raven black locks, in her pair of faded jeans a loose shirt, is busy pulling away the earphones from a boy who is probably one of her friends. Beside them, there is another girl who is talking feverishly with the girl who sits cuddled in the furthest corner, pressed against the window. She is hearing but her eyes are trained on the duo who are arguing over the earphones. An occasional smile lights up her pale face, causing her friend to smack her on the head and demand her to listen.

I quietly turn away from them and look outside the window where the scenes are gradually fading from ordinary reality of the town to infinite possibilities.

The crisp late February air hits my face, almost numbing my senses, but I can still hear their voices, loud and clear. Though I can’t figure out what they are talking about, the one thing that is clear is, they are happy.

It reminds me of those days when school had been a daily affair. I find myself remembering that perhaps the only reason I used to wake up with so much enthusiasm on winter mornings was because of my friends. Each day, after returning from school, I’d wait eagerly for the next day so that I could get to meet my friends again. Though very little things happened in a span of six hours, at school, I found myself talking with my friends for long, discussing every insignificant detail of the day. It was strange – of how we always used to have something to talk about, no matter what.

As the bus moves over a bump, collective groans rise from everyone. The bunch of friends in front of me make dramatic noises, and then burst out laughing at their antics. A smile crosses my lips as I remember the days when I went for picnic trips with my friends. The miles never bothered us. Hours were spent gossiping, singing like badly trained artists, pulling out pranks on each other and laughing on senseless jokes! Before we would know it, the journey would have come to an end.

I see my friends in them. I see us laughing and crying and calling each other at night, discussing boys and homework and what not!

A silly grin lights up my face and I shake my head, remembering the weird conversations we used to have.

Almost immediately, it is replaced by a frown as I remember the bitter memories I’ve had with them – when they broke my trust; when they left me alone.

The bus wobbles slightly and the woman beside me, almost squeezes me into the damp corner, but I don’t mind. I’m too lost in my train of thoughts to know that the bus has come to a halt and the conductor is calling to me.

“Madam?” he shouts in his thick Bengali accent, causing me to snap out of my trance.

“I-I am so so sorry!” I tell him as I pick up my bag and manage to make my way to the exit door.

Before stepping down, however, I turn around and take a look at the bunch of friends and find their eyes trained on my movements. A smile threatens to burst, but I press my lips together tightly and get off the bus. It would’ve been so weird to smile at a bunch of teenagers!

As I walk down the street, the gravel scratching against the sole of my heels, I remind myself never to wear those shoes again.

I cross a nursery school and the little children, loitering around the gate, wave at me and I wave back.

I don’t have schools to look forward to. In a few months, I’ll be heading for college and the entire idea of a new place, of new people, makes me nervous and afraid. Having changed so many schools, I have learnt that distance does make things worse. Your friends will start fading away and then, there will be a day when you meet each other at a shopping mall and there will be no excitement.

As a teenager, I’ve always had a problem in placing my trust on people. It does take a lot of time, because after so many betrayals and the so-called “backbiting”, you know, for a fact that making friends and keeping them is a tough job. There are times when the people you trust the most, will leave you at your darkest times. And their places will be taken by utter strangers who will come to mean something more.

Now that I think about the friends I have who are still my friends, very few faces come to my mind. Along the way, I have lost people – so many beautiful people and my heart breaks in painful realization. A part of me wonders where they are now and if they remember me sometime. Then, I find myself thinking about the friends I’ve lost to numerous rumours and misunderstandings. I hope to find them some day and ask if things can go back to being the same again.

I realize that it’s not like you can protect yourself from getting hurt. Sometimes, unknowingly, you are going to hurt others. And then, there comes a point in everyone’s life, where you sit and think about all these times and what you could have done to keep those people close. Regrets. And that’s all a part of growing up, I presume.

Mom had once told me that friends are not people who will stick by your side always, but they’ll have your back.

Amidst the share of misunderstandings and hurt and happiness, I’ve come to realize that friends not only deserve second chances but also thirds and fourths. At times, we have to take a leap of faith. At times, we have to forgive them for all their mistakes and go back to being friends again. At times, we have to trust them with all our heart.

They will disappoint us.

And once upon a dark day, they will surprise us.