First Time.

January,2015

I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.

I walked up to her silently. The class was in pandemonium – but I could hear my heartbeat perfectly. It was P.E (short for Physical Education), the last period of the day. A few of the students had permission to skip P.E for extra classes. She was one of them. This was my last chance.

She was jamming her stuff into her bag. The bell would ring any minute now, and their teacher hated latecomers.

“Hey.”

She turned around.
“Hi! Sup?”
She smiled, even though she was clearly stressed out and in a hurry.

I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t –

“I was…uh wondering if you’d … like to go out with me?”

Lame.

I tried putting on a smile.

Eesh. Creepy.

The bell rang. I saw her expression change from utter confusion to surprise, and then to panic.

“Got to go, sorry!”
She turned and ran, her bag bobbing dangerously behind her.

I sighed. Blew it again.

***
“And what would you do if I said yes?” , she asked, faking an expression of intense scrutiny, making her look cute, not scary.

What was it with all the riddles? Wouldn’t a simple yes or a no suffice?

“I’d be with Santa Claus. Right on top of the world.”

Her smile broke free.

***

 

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Unsent letter #1

Dear Ex,
I’m sorry. For a lot of things. I’ve never spoken about them to you, the reasons for which, will be made clear. But it was wrong. I should have.

I’m sorry you had to deal with 15-for-a-month me. I’m sorry he was a bit too… serious about you. Too conscious. So scared of losing you that it never occurred to him that he had lost you, way before he actually did. In his defense, it was his first love. Years of rejection and living in shadows were erased the moment you said yes. And to be honest, I think he really was  crazy about you.

I’m sorry he didn’t realise what the relationship was becoming, sooner. How you seemed reluctant to go on, but needed the love he gave you. How he gave it willingly,  even though the dark spots of reality grew day by day, at the back of his mind. How he showered you with whatever he could manage, and expected nothing back, though he did question it at times.

I’m sorry that, after ending things a month later, he reacted the way he did. The things he said, the way he behaved. The way he decided to shut you out and withdraw completely. The boy was hurt. The one who he’d loved like no one else, for whom he was ready to give this world and many others, had just told him she’d never loved him at all. That she thought it was “sweet” that he tried.

Was it fair? To lead someone on for a month before crushing all his hopes and dreams in a second?

Perhaps it was.

I agree it could’ve been worse.
Nevertheless, if it wasn’t for that one month, he’d have never grown up. He would never have learnt that those three words didn’t mean as much as he thought he did. He would never know that saying those words could never convey even a fraction of the emotions behind them.

The boy tried. Do forgive him.

A.

Fear

First week of May, 2016
I’m scared. It’s nothing new. I’ve always been, of one thing or another. Is this really anything different? Perhaps not. But that doesn’t change anything.

I’m scared of losing my best friend. I’ve got to say, I’ve had plenty of experience in this matter, but that’s what makes this all the more scary.

Back in 7th grade, I had a really, really really close friend. We were practically inseparable. Being avid readers and writers, we never ran out of things to talk about; We could finish each other’s sentences even before we’d done so ourselves. We ate together, sat together did almost EVERYTHING together. This one time, the principal made it mandatory to get a note signed from our parents, if we wished to stay in class during lunch break. Both of us preferred the calmness of the shaded classroom to the hot sun outside. We also had this thing in our school where the whole school ‘participated’ in a drill, of sorts – neither of us were in favor of that either. Unable to explain this satisfactorily to our parents, we resorted to other measures – we wrote each others notes and signed off as each others parents! We never got caught.

Soon, people started to talk. The other guys giggled every time they saw us. The girls asked me where my ‘boyfriend’ was when I walked to the bus stop, alone. They called us gay, acted like they thought it was normal, and snickered behind our backs all the same. I didn’t care what they said; since when did the tiger brood over the opinion of the sheep? I didn’t give a damn. But he did.

As I look back today, I curse myself for not talking to him about it. For doing NOTHING as I watched him drift away. We were young and I guess these things mattered then: what people said about you, how people saw you. It took all of us time to get over all that. I promised myself that I will NEVER stand by ever again, and do nothing as I watch people close to me drift away.

And here I am.

My best friend is going through depression. And I’m scared I’m going to lose her.


Last week of May, 2016
I sit on the green wooden bench next to the tennis court. It’s getting dark. A notification message flashes on my phone’s screen, telling me how much the hour-long conversation we just had cost.

My best friend had to go to the doctor because her blood pressure was dropping. She didn’t tell her parents the real reason behind it – the blame was placed instead on the side effects of a rather harmless medicine. She’s losing her appetite, along with her interest in life in general, and her bursts of sadness and negativity are more intense and frequent. I call or text her almost everyday to check on her, trying my best to understand her, doing whatever I can.

I always considered myself a positive person: I could always manage to see the good side of bad situations and to learn from the worst. Thus, when she tells me what it is that’s troubling her, I tell her exactly what would go on in my head if I were in that situation: about the positive aspects and what I could learn from it.

There are times when she refuses to listen to anything I say due to utter distress, and I find myself wishing I could just hold her, look into her soul and convince the stubborn little thing that everything would be alright.
Partly because I know I have a mission: to make the lives of the people around me better and worth living. And partly because no one held me when I was down.

I know she will get through this.


Mid-June,2016
She’s better now. Shaky at times, but her smile’s back. God, how I missed it.

The term started with piles of work being loaded on to us, making it harder breathe. But as far as my concern went, it kept her busy. An idle mind is a devil’s workshop.

That still didn’t mean her bursts of negativity were gone – but they weren’t anything I couldn’t bring down.

Last week of June, 2016
It’s been a while since I saw her grinning at me the way she did today – Hopping about, dimples punctuating her smile, eyes shining brighter than ever from behind those heavy glasses.

“The piano recital was so amazing! Everyone was there! and guess what? My hands didn’t shake a bit! And oh. My. God. Thomas was there and he was so good. Did you know that he…”

All I knew was that I promised myself, right then and there, that this was how I would remember her forever.


July 1st, 2016

My phone vibrated aggressively , demanding my attention. My screen flashed: New Message.

“Can I tell you something that might sound weird? But like, I mean it in the most innocent way possible.”

“You know you can.”

“If something goes wrong and I tell you, sometimes it’s like…
Like just by telling you, it’s taken care of  🙂
And sometimes I feel like…
This boy is my bestest friend and he can fix everything wrong in the world for me just by listening to me.”

I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day.

P.S:- 1 down, 7.1 billion to go. 🙂

Lost

I cried myself to sleep the other night. It’s happened before. Once in about 3 weeks or so, I burst, hardly ever seeming to know why or how. Of course, I never stop myself in these moments. Sadness, rage and envy are beasts that mustn’t be caged when hungry – better to let them out, so they may sleep on a full stomach, than to feel them all night, tearing at you from inside.

I suppose I do have an idea where all this is coming from.

I feel lost. Out of place. Wandering through the dark, dark woods with nothing but the sound of my breath echoing through the mist, the light nowhere to be seen. Counting down the seconds to an uncertain future.

“It’s okay to be confused at this age,” They say.

“You must choose a path for your life in the two years you have until college.” They also say.

Okay, maybe wandering isn’t really the best word to use. I DO have a goal. A very vague and idealistic goal that doesn’t seem to give any hint to the path to be taken. One thing that I am certain about, however, is that this goal is a heartfelt one.

I want to make lives matter. I want to make them worth living. I want to help people realize that each of the 7.1 billion souls that flit about the surface of the earth has a purpose – some kind of a ‘destiny’ to fulfill, a part to play.

I may not remember the first inspirational speech I ever heard, but I remember it changing me. I remember watching the speaker in awe, spellbound by the optimism and energy he generated. I could’ve watched the entire thing without audio and still felt his words come alive, begging me to heed their wisdom. And I thought to myself, “I want to be like that guy. I want to be able to make people feel important, because they are. I want to help people realise that they’re not alone. But most of all, I want to be able to talk to people without saying a word.”

“Oh my god, that’s so noble” my best friend says when I tell her about it.

More like a pain in the butt. A clichéd goal like that? Good luck finding a path to it.

I realise I’m going a bit off track.

The thing is, I look around, and all I see are achievers. Three of my friends have started NGOs of their own, other two have started a game distribution company, while others are either busy winning national level awards or directing their own musicals. None of them are older than 16. While you might say that I’m just plain jealous, it’s not entirely true. Part of me is thankful that I’m surrounded by over achievers – the lone frog in the well sees himself as the king of the world. The other part of me, however, is sad. Not because I see my friends better off than I am, but because I know I can do the things they did. I can sing, I can draw, I can write and direct stage plays, and I’m good at academics. That, however, is where a problem arises.

There is a fine line between a talented person and an achiever, and that is a line of action. A talented person is one who CAN achieve a million things, while an achiever is one who GOES OUT THERE and tries his/her best to achieve a million things.

In the past, when I was way younger with way too much enthusiasm in me, jealousy was a step towards becoming better. “Look that guy’s good in art! Maybe if I try hard enough, I’ll become better! Look! That girl’s so good at singing! Maybe if I try, I could sing better than her!” And so on it went. Over the years, the jealousy remained, but the action did not. “I swear I’ll do it later” has become my kryptonite. Much like everyone else.

Now that I think about it, that last phrase has started to define me.Much like everyone else. Less like the boy with noble dreams, much like the one with none at all. Less like the boy who could do anything, much like the one who did nothing. Less like the boy who turned jealousy, much like the one who let jealousy turn him. Less like the boy who couldn’t care less, much like the one who cried himself to sleep.
Less like myself, much like everyone else.