By Aanika Gajendragad

They say you cause drama the most when you’re between the ages 11 to 16. We refused to believe that then, but it is true. I used to stay in a boarding school, and God, now that I think of it, I did have a lot of people I disliked. 

We had a truth box where all of us would write anything about anyone and put it in the box. Usually, the confessions included people liking someone. But there were some that were out of the ordinary, where people wrote… I could say death notes.  Not that harsh, but you know what I mean. 

We used to sit around the common room’s table every Saturday Night, get the box of papers (which used to grow every time we looked at it) and read every one of it aloud. This session was a whole game of controlling your expression- the girls easily identified who wrote it if we didn’t. 

Every school has a mean girl group. They used to host these meetings, which we called ConSat (stands for Confession Saturday). They were the ones reading the notes and mocked whoever wrote it. I was scared to write anything, honestly. I was a new student then; I joined two years after most of them. I didn’t get along with anyone, which was my fault because I didn’t try talking to anybody. 

But then Pranjal came along. She was new and had joined about 6 months after I did. She was very, very sweet. She saw me sitting alone in the canteen and sat with me on the first day. How can one be so good at talking to people they barely know? She spoke to me like I was her long-lost best friend. 

“Varsha, huh? Nice to meet you! Can you show me around? I’m new. Since you’re in my class, I’d be very grateful if you did!”

We became close in no time. She seemed very socially healthy and easy to get along with. 

We weren’t roommates (unfortunately), but she visited our room so much that my roommates were annoyed. She took me to places she discovered in the school, places I had never seen. She knew everyone, and everyone knew her. Every time we passed, she had someone to greet. I think you get my point.

When I was blue because I failed my math test, she sat with me on the terrace.

“What am I going to tell my parents? I promised I’d study more!”

“Tell them you’ll do better next time. I’m sure they’ll forgive you, they’re your parents.”

“Dude, you don’t know them. They might disown me or something.”

“I mean… our house is always open for you!”

She never failed to make me smile. She helped me study hard and, with time, I started scoring well. 

Pranjal opened up about her old school, how they acted like she was invisible. 

“I talk more to get attention now. You may think I’m bubbly and social, but on the inside I’m just in desperate need of friends. Of anybody.”

I held her shoulder and told her I was there for her. No matter what. Till the end of the world. It was a thing then. 

I started scoring A+ s a few months later, becoming the topper. Pranjal, on the other hand, started failing. For what reason? She always went to others’ rooms and had fun because she knew everybody. A year later she spoke to me less than she always did. Her marks kept decreasing. 

I was worried. Pranjal was in need of help. I even offered her my exam paper during the exam to copy the answers, but she declined. 

We got our test results one good Saturday- bad for some. I was pretty satisfied with my marks. 48 out of 50. I looked over at Pranjal in the common room, and she had her head down. I wished I could do something to help her  

“Okay, guys! Gather around. Confession time!” Vidula brought the box from the storage room and grinned. 

“Let’s see… ‘I want to go home so bad. My friends-’ next!” She chucked the paper and picked another one. “‘I wish Vidula would stop snoring-… next.” Vidula looked at everyone with a red face which turned mischievous once she saw the next chit.

She turned her head to my side and smirked. Was she… looking at me? Me?

“Well, well, well. Look at this. Who’d dare talk bad about our goody two shoes?”

Was my nickname two shoes? How lame?? 

“‘I wish Varsha leaves the school. Every time I tell my parents about my marks, I’m compared to her.  Why should I learn from her when she’s the one who learnt from me in the first place? I regret befriending her. She looked lonely, I spoke to her out of pity, and she stuck to me like glue. I hate her with passion’.”

I’d just like to tell you guys we were 12 then, and these things people said hurt a lot. I immediately looked at Pranjal, who still looked only at her nails. She’s the only one that ever friended me here. It had to be her. 

I ran to the bathroom feeling the water run out of my eyes. ‘I took Pranjal as my best friend. How could she say that? Is it my fault? Should I apologise?’ were the only thoughts in my head.

The thing I regret the most is that I actually apologised for nothing. Even then, Pranjal only walked away. I stopped trying after a while, she was nothing to me. 

I tell you this story because I saw kids doing the same Truth Box thing in the coffee shop I visited earlier. I find it humorously stupid now. Kids.

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