Have you ever felt like garbage? You would think, why would I give such an analogy? Nobody wants to think about it. But I felt like it that day.
I have never been good at making friends. Moving to a new city after tenth grade accentuated my life as an outcast. Until by the end of eleventh grade I was adopted by a bunch of popular kids.
My name is Gauri. I was in last year of senior school. I was smart and funny but to be popular you need to be hot, athletic and mean. I was none.
I joined CLAT tuitions that year. Siddharth and Riddhi were my batch mates there. They also studied in my school. We never interacted much in school. But the new independent setting of after school classes made me bold and I would talk to them for hours.
Sometimes we bunked classes and sat at a cafe just to hang out. I had never done that earlier. I felt guilty about it but not enough to stop.
I had a crush on Siddharth. He was witty, cool and chivalrous. Couple of times when my mom was late to pick me up from the class, he would wait with me, so that I wouldn’t have to stand alone on the street.
Once he was busy with cricket practice and missed a week of classes. When he came to class, I asked him, “How was your tournament?”
He replied, “Not good. We lost.”
“Oh! I am sorry.” I didn’t want the conversation to die, so I added, “Do you need my notes or any other help in catching up?”
He gave a disarming smile that made my inside melt. “Oh Gauri, you are the best!”
I blushed. “It’s nothing.”
“Gauri, do you think our parents love us? Or we are just something that they like to brag about to their friends, like the European cruise vacations we had four years back?”
I laughed. He continued, “I mean, I work so hard. I attend full day of school, then stay back for sports. After reaching home, I am there for hardly an hour and again I am pushed here for another three hours.” He stopped for good measure. “And then if you are not able to perform, you are termed lazy, entitled and ungrateful. Is it fair?”
I said, “I know Siddh. My parents are always disappointed in me because I am not athletic and do not workout for hours everyday, like them. I want to tell them, ‘do whatever you want to with your own bodies, leave mine alone.’”
We had a long chat that day. His openness encouraged me to think that he liked me too.
In school he had a friend, Zinnia. She was the one responsible for my becoming part of the popular crowd. She was hot. The kind of girl who gave me a inferiority complex about my body.
She and Riddhi were best friends. We sat together at lunch time a few times. I became the part of their group after Zinnia announced that she loved my sense of humour and liked spending time with me. And I was one of them, just like that.
They were fun to be with. I had never been a part of a group. I was loving it.
We put stories of our hanging out and shared jokes on Instagram. I used to stalk Siddharth’s profile. I talked to him non-stop on Instagram chat. Sometimes he talked to me even when he was in a class.
Once I gathered the courage and asked him whether he liked someone. He said yes but was very secretive about it.
I decided he was shy, so even if he liked me he won’t propose. I would have to be the bold one.
I wrote a poem for him and send it to him.
I sent him a dm.
Gauri1: Siddh I wrote something. Tell me how it is?
Siddh17: Wow Gauri, I didn’t know you wrote. Send. I would love to read it.
Gauri11 : “I want to be your favourite hello,
And your hardest goodbye.
I want to be the one who makes you cry,
And the one who puts the sparkle in your eye.”
Siddh17 : Wow! Gauri, it’s beautiful. Gives me the feel. Can I use this for someone? Please.
Gauri11 : Shut up! You Idiot. I won’t talk to you ever.
Siddh17: What? Why? What have I done? It’s really good. I was not joking.
Gauri11 : I know it’s good. That’s why I sent it to the person I wrote it for.
Siddh17 : Oh! Wow! Gauri, I don’t know what to say.
There was no reply for a long time.
Gauri11 : Relax Siddh, take your time. I can be patient.
Siddh didn’t get my sarcasm.
After couple of hours, when I didn’t get a response from him I texted him.
Gauri11 : You know I can’t wait for a week, or even 12 hours. I might just suffer a brain haemorrhage before the next sunrise.
Siddh17: Oh Gauri! You are an amazing girl but I like someone else.
I should have known when he wasn’t thrilled to read my poem.
Gauri11: It’s okay Siddh. Now that you have broken my heart, you owe it to me to tell me who she is.
Siddh17 : It’s Zinnia. Please don’t tell anyone because I haven’t told her yet.
Of course it had to be Zinnia. Teenage boys are so predictable. They will take good looks and hot body any day against good nature and kind heart. I thought Siddh was different but apparently now.
But I couldn’t stay mad at him for long because Zinnia was not a horrible person . She was my friend. I liked her. Rejection always stings, even when it was justified. I was depressed.
Riddhi and I lived in the same neighbourhood and went to class together. I told her everything. She was sympathetic. I asked her to sleep over at my place that weekend and she agreed.
Shortly after this, Siddharth proposed to Zinnia and she said yes. I wasn’t surprised because looking at all the dumbass jocks in my class, I knew she didn’t have much choice.
Siddharth was a good person. She was lucky to have him.
With time and Riddhi’s help I got over the jealousy that stirred in me whenever I saw them together.
While Zinnia was busy with Siddharth, Riddhi became my close friends.
We had sleepovers often. During one of such sleepover, Zinnia called Riddhi. We were at my house.
Zinnia was upset. She wanted to see Riddhi and talk to her about her problem but when Riddhi told her that she was staying at my place, Zinnia hung up the phone.
Riddhi looked at me, wide eyed. “What the hell! She just hung up on me.”
“Call her back.”
“No! She was the one who hung up.”
I shrugged and thought they would sort it out themselves.
We watched ’Suits’ on Netflix late at night. Riddhi put up a story on Instagram about it. I suspected that she had put it on for Zinnia.
Zinnia replied to her story. Riddhi smiled triumphantly and showed me her message. It said,
“Sorry for hanging up on you. Can we talk now?”
Zinnia called her. I left the living room to give them privacy.
After forty five minutes, Riddhi came in my room and whispered, “Are you asleep?”
“No, what happened?”
She told me that Zinnia and Siddharth had a fight. She was crying the whole time on the call.
Riddhi didn’t offer any more details, neither did I ask.
That night we slept at 4 a.m. gossiping about random stuff.
On Monday, when I saw Zinnia at school and waved at her, she waved but her response was cold.
At lunch break she didn’t talk to me. It felt intentional. I left their table feeling like an outsider.
I tried to reason that she was upset about her fight with Siddharth but then after sometime I saw both of them talking and laughing together.
I was hurt and I didn’t know what I had done. I decided to ask her after the school.
After school, I asked Zinnia to wait. She looked at me stone faced. After everyone was gone, I asked, “Zinnia, are you angry with me? I thought you liked me and we were friends.”
She laughed, “Gauri, I don’t know if you are naive or extra smart? Just because Siddharth and Riddhi were nice to you, you thought you are part of our group, huh?”
I was shocked, “I don’t understand.”
“Oh! You don’t! Bullshit! I know what you are up to. First you flirt with my boyfriend and propose to him. Then when you didn’t succeed, you try to steal my best friend from me. Have you ever looked at yourself? You think you can compete with me? Go have a reality check.” She gave her hair a shake and left.
I looked at her receding back and fought back my tears.
After reaching home I tried to call Riddhi and Siddharth to tell them to talk to Zinnia. But both of them didn’t pick my phone.
Riddhi replied later via text- “Listen, right now I am with Zinnia. Can’t talk to you. I know she is being unreasonable but she is my best friend, I have to support her. She is just insecure. She needs me.”
Siddharth didn’t even call me back.
I didn’t go to the class that day. Siddharth’s rejection hadn’t stung this much. I had three friends yesterday, today I had none. I had been conveniently disposed out of their lives.