When the school reopened after a ten-days break post half yearly examination, Priya and her classmates saw a new addition to the population of their seventh grade division A classroom. ”Sunita Basu, your new friend.” Class coordinator Ms Bragranza had introduced her.
Now, admission of a new kid mid-session that too in a school famous for its strict disciplinary ways was enough to invite rumours and judgements. Within a very short time, Sunita became the subject for free period gossips.
“Maybe…her parents are well acquainted with the principal or someone in the advisory board.God knows.”
“Has someone noticed the way she eats? Like she’s been starving for months! Yuck! No wonder she’s an overweight…..”
“Rarely speaks to anyone.Snobbish!”
Priya listened quietly whenever her friends discussed about Sunita. Unlike them, she has chosen to maintain a certain degree of nonchalance towards the “newbie”, refraining from comments.
Slowly, many aspects of Sunita unfolded before them. She was weak in academics, shied away from sports, hated class participations and faltered at answering the simplest of questions. It seemed as if the only thing that interested her was food. Tiffin break was her favourite time when she was seen sitting in the last bench, gobbling up her food.
Many a times, amidst a lecture or classwork, Priya turned her head slightly out of curiosity only to find her looking out of the window distantly or scribbling down something in her notebook.
Priya has also caught her gaping at her sometimes. She has looked away quickly the second their eyes met.
The results were announced.Priya came out with flying colours, top of the class.The average result exceeded expectations. Amidst the gales, only one person remained quiet.Priya’s eyes didn’t escape that. Another good news was in store for her when she was named the prefect of their class. Everything was perfectly falling into place in Priya’s life.
One day at school, Ms Bragranza called her to her office room .
“Dear, good grades are just a part of life ,they say. But I find them immensely useful.It gives us the impetus to perform better than yesterday, to push our limits continuously. Right?”
“Of course, ma’am”.Priya nodded.
“And if we venture in this journey with no one trailing behind, won’t success be more beautiful?”
Priya met Ms Bragranza’s eyes which wore an unfathomable expression.
She thought about those words whole day long, Sunita’s saddened face flashing in her mind. It felt like she was struggling through each day. Her own perfect grades seemed insignificant.
“I’ll talk to her tomorrow after the basketball match.” She made up her mind.
“You fainted. Sunita carried you back to the sickroom.”
Priya struggled to sit ,her head still dizzy. She scanned through the faces hoping to see the desired one. There she was! Standing alone as usual, away from the crowd!
Priya walked up to her.
“I know I’ve been a jerk. Can we sit together from tomorrow onwards?”
Sunita looked at her, astonished.
“Never had friends before. People get repelled usually by my appearance, behaviour and nature. You will run away too.I watched you from the very first day, longing to be your friend though I knew you’re out of my league”.
“Very much in your league. You’ll see that.”
And they walked away holding hands, leaving behind surprised faces.
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