I am participating in the 30 Days Letter Challenge where you write one letter each day. The 7th in the list is a letter to ‘Your Ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/love/crush’
We were the unaligned ones, owing no allegiance to any of the established ‘gangs’, the free-floating debris of our class. So may be it wasn’t a surprise that we drifted towards each other and become friends. I was still new to the school and not being the sort to make friends easily (that was still somewhere in the distant future), I was glad of your company.
Catherine. That was your name. Eleven years old. Curly hair, worn in a single plait. Wide curious eyes in contrast to the slow way you spoke, almost as if it needed a lot of time for your own words to sink in and for the next ones to follow. Not all that good in studies. Not bad a memory, huh? The last I saw you was more than forty years back.
Though I haven’t thought much about you in all these years, it is hard to really forget you. How can I, when you so easily made mincemeat of my already non-existent self-esteem?
You know something? Remembering you after all these years brought back another long forgotten fact to light. I had attempted to write my first story at 11 years of age. It was in Malayalam. And I shared it only with you!
We had hit upon this idea of having a common notebook. We’d write stories, different ones, in the same book. So I kept the book one day and gave it to you take home, the next. I still remember your spidery handwriting. For the life of me though, I cannot remember what our stories were about. I only know that mine started off with a conversation between two girls, probably it was something to do with the pair of us. Or was it something else altogether?
You probably do not know how happy our ongoing project made me those days. It was our secret. Did we have any plans regarding our work? What were we going to do with our stories? I don’t remember at all.
I remember something else, though. One day, my efficient radars picked up changes in you. I went out of my way to be nice to you, all the time worrying what the matter was. Had I done something wrong? Yes, that’s my speciality. When something, anything, goes wrong, I blame myself first. It holds true to this day.
Later on, when we walked out from our classroom for the Social Studies class to be held in the open below the mango tree near the playground, I saw you with members of one of the ‘elite’ gangs. They had your undivided attention, and were doubling up with laughter. Something about it didn’t seem right to me.
My sixth sense has never failed me, never ever in all these years too. It hadn’t that day either. Suddenly you weren’t talking to me anymore. Eventually news trickled back to me that you regaled them with ridiculously cooked up nonsense about me. We were only eleven, and I got my very first taste of betrayal, back-stabbing. More would follow later in life.
What made you do it, Catherine? Was it your own lack of self-esteem? Did you feel making up stories would gain you entry into the exclusive group? Did it mean so much to you to belong with them that you didn’t care about shredding our nascent friendship to bits, not to mention derailing our ‘illustrious’ writing career too in the bargain!? I wouldn’t know the answers. Perhaps neither did you. I doubt you even remember all of it now.
Well, that’s how you became my ex-girlfriend for the duration of my stay in that school. You sent my notebook back through another girl (I had to ask you for it) after tearing off the pages you had written on. So that was that. I never wrote in the book again. But guess what? If we meet today, I promise you we will have a quiet laugh over it all, and also wipe that ex off the ex-friend tag you hold as of now.
Your as of now, ex-friend.
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Those who are taking part in the 30 Day letter Challenge, please don’t forget to add your links to the linky over at Hrishikesh‘s page.
©Shail Mohan 2014