We should have been friends. We grew up together at the same colony. She was shy, serious, righteous one. I liked her in the beginning. But it didn’t last for long. It was not her fault. My parents did it on her behalf. Being the close neighbours, my mother used her as a prime example of excellence to me at each and every occasion. “She is so studious, truthful, intelligent. Learn something from her.” I learned. I learned to hate her. That’s how our childhood passed. We met, we played together at times. But she remained that symbol of untouchable greatness to me. So I did what weak people mostly do. When you can’t achieve what they have – hate them. She was part of my childhood – my first hate.
In teenage we both got busy building up our respective careers. Handling the crazy hormones and staying on track. In board exams she ranked at the state level. Her photograph was published on newspapers. My parents compared – once again. I hated for more every day. We both got into engineering. She acquired a seat at the best Engineering College in the state whereas I settled at a private one, having a much lower rank. I adjusted with the hostel life. Life changed. Priorities changed. I forgot about the lead of my only hate-story.
Once during my vacation I was visiting home. My mother casually brought it up. The good girl was back too. But not for a vacation. She was suspended from college and neighbours were discussing she had become a junkie – a drug addict. Now the news didn’t really affect me at that time. I got a chance to dig at her – “See! Your good girl is not so good after all. Huh?” My reaction was the reflection of my silenced hatred for her over the years. But deep down it bothered me. I knew her from the childhood. It shocked me from the core. Is it so difficult to understand anyone? I asked a few of our common friends. They mentioned it over a casual drink, “Ladke ka mamla hai. (It’s all about a boy)” My curiosity raised. The girl I knew had one priority in her life – that was her academics and career. She was brought up to do well and she never let her parents down. How can this even be possible? I was searching for an answer.
One fine evening I gathered the courage to visit her. She was watching the television silently. She looked at me. Her eyeballs moved but her face didn’t mark any sign of recognition. I sat there for some time and I don’t know why but I wept. I was seeing the ruins of a bright young talent who had the capability to reach the highest levels of success. She was there beside me. Hairs untied, wrists disclosed multiple cut marks. Her eyes were as vacant as a dead body. She was not living anymore. She was just breathing. She noticed my tears and didn’t look away. I could only ask – “Why?”
She spoke up. She said a lot of stuff. Some of it made sense and some of it didn’t. But I couldn’t miss one thing. She mentioned, “…everything was going so well. But then he left me. I don’t know why. I’m looking for an answer. I know I should forget about this. I deserve more. I should move on. But this damn silly thought that grows inside my mind, doesn’t let me sleep. I want to get it out of my head. I want to forget him. Give me something. Give me anything. But give me a peaceful sleep…please. Make me forget.”
When I left her home that night, I was literally in tears. She was the most rational, strong headed and dedicated person I knew. What is there in this emotion that doesn’t let her sleep? It’s easy to judge her – question her decisions and choices. But being there I could see – she was fighting with herself. Her rationality and the senseless emotion were in a constant war, a war in which no matter who wins – she’s always a casualty. That night I promised something to myself. One day I will write. I’ll write about this city where people are taught to race, to chase, where people are taught to judge as a society. If someone is not like you, they are in fault. And I’ll write about an age-group and their emotions that make them lose all the wisdom and bring out a person they never knew existed within them.
I’ll write about all of them. I’ll write about her – my good girl.