Aastha had always despised her. She could not bear the thought of being friends with her. Everything from her pudgy nose and her shrill voice to her hesitant steps repelled Aastha, who often felt an angry storm brewing inside her at the very sight of the imbecile.

Aastha still remembered the first day of kindergarten where the little girl had wet her pants when the teacher had shouted to catch their attention. Such a shame!

She recalled with contempt how the unkempt kid had been thrown out of the classroom in grade two because of her filthy uniform and mud laden shoes. Disgusting.

In grade four, the wimp would try and hide behind other students in their class, to avoid the  teacher’s questioning glare. Aastha would scowl with irritation.

And the epic fall in the school’s canteen, the most popular hangout place, which had sparked off a riot of laughter. Aastha cringed, reminiscing the silly, coke drenched face. How on earth could someone be so sloppy?

Rebellious teenage years saw Aastha scoff at the poor girls’ pimple adorned face and join jokes made on her well- endowed midriff. Aastha would roll her eyes upwards on seeing her in a sleeveless tunic revealing the pigmented patches on her arms. Ugh!

Her below average scores in the tenth boards went on to consolidate Aastha’s disapproval. What a loser!

No wonder, when there were rumours of the school cricket captain having a crush on the one she loathed, Aastha dismissed it off as a joke. Who the hell would fall for a jerk?

It was the last day of school. Aastha went to say bye to her favourite teacher, who had been around since her pre-primary years. The mentor talked to her softly. 

“A kindergarten student had once wet herself, petrified by the teacher’s loud voice.It had reminded her of the terrible fight between her parents the previous night.” 

“After her mother left home unexpectedly, she often came to school in dirty shoes and uniform as her father couldn’t care less.” 

“She would hide during class because she had developed a stammer witnessing the ugly divorce case between her parents.”

“Her hands shook because her mother often blamed her for the circumstances, breaking her confidence.”

“She was ridiculed by many of her classmates.”

“But she withstood it all, and is all set to pursue her dreams at a prestigious school of fine arts. Befriend her . Love her for what she is!”

Realisation dawned on Aastha as she entered the washroom to wash her tearstained face.

 “I hated my appearance. I joked about it with peers, but cried myself to sleep.” 

“I struggled with the grade tenth exams as mom was unwell and I was worried about being left alone in this world.”

“Of course, so low on self -esteem, I could never fathom anyone liking me!”

And then, Aastha gazed into the mirror, and saw the girl she had always despised, smile back at her. She finally found her best friend!


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