Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Chapter 1: To Whomever It May Concern
25th August, 2014 - Monday
"Ani, listen," Shaon called out. "Did something happen on Friday?"
We were in our pool car, on the way to school. Shaon Mondal, my best friend since fourth standard, was seated in the back seat with Anup Sahoo. I was at the front seat beside Rajiv bhaiya, our driver. The three of us transferred to Diamond Sparks School together around five months back. We had to cover over fifteen kilometers to reach school. As a result, we got plenty of time to catch up about the weekend, on Monday mornings.
“Yeah, the competition was fun. Riya’s dad took us to KFC on our way back. ‘Twas good,” I casually replied.
“So, nothing happened specifically with Riya?” Shaon's slow pronunciation pointed out his overly cautious choice of words.
“Not that I can think of. Why?” I turned.
“Just stay alert today, okay?” Sahoo warned.
That alarmed me. Shaon and Sahoo took tuition classes around the school, and hence, met quite a few of our classmates in the weekends. It was quite possible that they knew something I didn’t.
“You know you guys are freaking me out now, right?”
“It’s probably nothing to worry about,” Sahoo replied.
“Listen, I’ll tell you," Shaon spoke. "But don’t worry too much about it, okay? It’s just that the way you mix freely with Shreya and Kamalika and Sharmistha, it... it makes some guys feel jealous. So, they were talking about ‘dealing’,” he raised his hands and hooked his fingers, “with you.”
I didn’t feel intimidated at first, to be honest. I knew I was at no wrong. Nonetheless, I felt my heart beat a bit faster. I haven’t had a fist fight in my entire life, and the maximum violence I got myself into was the one time four elder boys threw me down and kicked me. For a split second, I revisited those memories from three years back, and I started feeling nervous. But I knew I was innocent. I never ill-behaved with anyone, let alone my friends. And I spoke with that confidence.
“Shreya, Kamalika and Mistoo are all pretty close to me. They know me, they trust me. And, as long as they have no problem with the way I interact with them, I see no reason to worry about a bunch of stupid envious boys.”
I meant every word I said. All three of them were really pretty close to me. Shreya Gupta had my heart, although she was deeply in love with her boyfriend, Siddhant Somani. With Shaon’s help, I was the one who always fixed any and every fight the couple got into. I would do anything to see Shreya smile, and she knew it too. Actually, the entire school knew it. Kamalika Sadhu, or as I called her, Kam was the first person I told about my feelings regarding Shreya. Even Shaon got to know it a week later. Somehow, the first day I saw Shreya, Kam noticed the way I looked at her and asked me about it. She was the first ever female bestie I had. Sharmistha Guha, or Mistoo, shared a similar bond with me, too. She even got into a fight with her boyfriend once because of some stupid misunderstanding…
“Wait a minute,” I blurted out as it suddenly hit me. “Remember that time when Partha had a fight with Mistoo?”
“Yeah, who doesn’t?” Sahoo smiled.
“I believe that is where things started escalating," Shaon added. "After all, Mistoo did take your side and fight with her boyfriend, instead of letting him pin you that day itself."
Yes, that fight did happen centering me. It was a month ago, during a practice session for Independence Day. Mistoo had asked me to come to the practice and watch her choreography, in case it needed any improvisations. Partha was not jealous; he was angry. I remember he threatened me, but Mistoo swooped in and cleared me of any blames right in time.
“But whatever happened that day, Mistoo knows it wasn’t my fault,” I argued.
“True,” Shaon agreed. “But Partha believes you did it on purpose. Actually, not just Partha. Even Siddhant despises you, because you are close to Shreya and he knows about your feelings for Shreya."
"Everyone knows that," Anup added. Yep, as I said, the entire school knew it. I never had any reason to keep it under the carpet.
"But as you very nicely pointed it out," Shaon continued, "if the girls are all comfortable with you, you needn’t worry about the stupid boys.”
The car was entering the school premises. So, we stopped our discussion.
Within another two minutes, we were in the building. I smiled at the toddlers playing around. They knew me as one of those few bhaiyas who spent time playing with them. We crossed those colourful, illustrated walls and walked up the stairs. Kaushik Ojha and Deep Ganguly walked right past us. Deep gave me a forced half-smile and Ojha eyed me with hate. I tried to ignore them, but I don't know why I started feeling a weird loneliness. At the door of our classroom, I came across Kamalika. Finally, a friendly face!
“Hey, good morning,” I wished her, nothing out of the usual.
And she just walked away.
In the split second that her eyes caught mine, I could notice nothing but absolute disgust.
Based on real events.
Original series idea: Aninda Kumar Nanda
Written by: Aninda Kumar Nanda
Proof-reading and Suggestions:
Ananya Das, Sayan Mandal, Sneha Banerjee, and Tales, Fables and Fantasies Team
Promotional Art and Illustrations: