Updated: Nov 27, 2020
Chapter 7: Reputation?!
29th August, 2014 - Friday
"But WHY???" I screamed out loud. "Why not talk to me first?"
The week was about to end. The past few days had been the most solitary and lonely days I had ever faced up until that point in life. A handful of friends was all I had to keep me going, and that too a very small, tiny, baby hand. From day one, I had this obsessive urge to pick a fight with Riya, for all that was happening. She spread it all! But I had found out early on that there were other stuff being spread too, and it cannot possibly all be her fault alone. Of course, Dhruv had been actively hating on me, but I still didn't fully understand why. And the most disturbing of it all, how did Shreya's name come up in this? I couldn't ask her directly, and I have no idea why. It's not like she didn't express distrust towards me by shunning me!
Anyway, Riya finally had agreed to have a word with me when I grudgingly allowed Shaon to arrange for it. However, the fact that I wanted Shaon and another of her trusted friends around for whatever we talked about, was non-negotiable. During the break, Shaon, David, Riya and I gathered to settle my differences with Riya. She explained how she was not sure about the whole thing and she just spoke about it to a couple of tuition friends. David vouched for it. I listened quietly for quite some time before I suddenly screamed my heart out. I was done with people justifying their deeds!
"We were laughing about random shit, we were having fun on our way back, Riya!" I lowered my voice.
"On our way back, you seemed like you always do: weirdly funny and witty with your words. Talking to you, as always, was fun. I almost forgot about the morning!"
"Wow! And then you just go home and realize that I was abusive?" I physically threw my arms in the air. I almost laughed at the stupidity of the idea.
"No, I..." she looked at David. He just kept looking at his shoe. "I didn't say you were abusive. I just felt weird about the whole thing and I needed to talk to someone about it."
"So, you talk about it to a dozen people? You couldn't talk to this trusted friend you brought along today?" I gestured toward David intently looking at his shoe. "You couldn't talk to your childhood bestie? You couldn't talk about it at home?" I stopped to take a breath. "Actually that would have been better! There would be a disciplinary committee at max, but I would only be required to prove my innocence to them, and they would tell everyone I'm not guilty! Now, I am required to prove my innocence to every individual soul in the school, did you notice that?"
"I didn't mean for this to happen," Riya genuinely looked guilt-driven. "I realize now that maybe I should have spoken to you about this directly. I just got confused about the whole thing, and you already had a standing reputation..."
"Reputation?! Right..." I cut her short. I turned, all in the mood to leave. Just when I think maybe she isn't really to blame! "Actually, you know what," I turned towards her again, "maybe talk to the involved people next time you brand someone based on rumours. 'Cause I assure you there are a few going around about you as well, and you do not want them to bounce back in your face!"
I walked away and pulled Shaon along by his hand, letting the Head-girl and the Head-boy hang around by themselves.
I still wasn't cool with talking normally with Riya, but I didn't walk out anymore at her sight, during the breaks. Siddhant over the course of the past few weeks became quite close to me. In fact, if another of his and Shreya's fights came up, I wouldn't try fixing it just for Shreya now. I'd do it for Siddhant as well; I'd try and talk back and forth between them about the entire thing, for the sake of both, my beloved and my new friend.
During the break, in fact, Siddhant saw me walking across the corridor and sprinted towards me, leaving Shreya hanging by herself at their usual 'romance' spot.
"Shreya still isn't talking to you, is she?"
"Nope," I faked a smile.
"Don't worry. I'll talk to her," he reassured. "She knows you are innocent. You are her best friend, after all. She is just trying to avoid the entire students' politics."
"I understand," I lied. You are either with me in this, or you are not!
"Anyway, I'll run. Shreya's waiting," he speeded off.
As I kept strolling the corridor, I saw Dhillon sir at the farthest corner, talking to some of our juniors. It was nothing out of the usual, in fact. The kids all had books and notebooks in their hands. I guess every batch had their own 'Ankush, the Topper'!
Dhillon Sir, perhaps took Shaon's words to the heart, on Tuesday. Ever since Wednesday he had been softer with his words. He didn't summon and ask me about my version of the story though. Truth be told, no one did! People like Mistoo, Upasana, David and Aarush seemed to trust me anyway. People like Dhruv and Kam were still opinionated. Some of them, like Arpita and Deep, resumed talking to me, but their behaviour still seemed off.
I knew very well, that for some considerable amount of time now, this would be the new normal. It wasn't as bad as the first day, but it would probably never be like the day before. As the week came to an end, I knew I would survive.
What I also knew was that I had unanswered questions, that I needed answers to. I needed to know how Shreya's name came up. I had to know how, someone I barely interact with, a girl junior to our juniors, Harpreet came into the picture as well. I had to find out why exactly Dhruv hated me so much. In the off chance I figured all that out, I also didn't know why Rohan apparently was as pissed with me as Dhruv or Partha were.
I, however, had no idea that Shaon would figure it all out soon enough. Maybe the best thing about him that helped him figure it out sooner, was that he wasn't directly involved in any of it, and that he trusted no one. Even when I told him about Siddhant being a friend, he replied with "May be your opinion of him has changed but mine hasn't changed a bit. I am not convinced at all, not even by your words." Shaon always disliked and distrusted Siddhant more than I did.
But what's the point, Shaon? You never shared with me what you figured out, until about three years later!
Based on real events.
Original series idea: Aninda K. Nanda
Written by: Aninda K. Nanda
Proof-reading and Suggestions: Sayan Mandal
Promotional Art and Illustration:
Aninda K. Nanda