The bespangled grounds, reflecting the early sun rays seemed to be inviting me. I spread my arms wide to embrace it with full force. A sudden calmness started to envelop me – the peace which I had been searching for so long. There was something about those glinting and gleaming dewdrops that consoled me in that moment – this could finally be the closure I had been seeking.
When did my chase for this tranquility start?
8 months ago –
I woke up to my 6 a.m. alarm and almost sleep-walked to the kitchen. I put the kettle with water on one burner and whipped the pancake batter for two, though flipped few just for me – dad would make for himself when he started his day. As the tea continued to brew, I went back to my room and started to get ready for my first day at high school.
Sometimes, a very particularly good dream would stay in your consciousness even after you have woken up. I had such a dream last night where I was leisurely strolling through the corridors of my new school and laughing alongside my new friends. Although it had ended on a weird note – me flying away from that scene. Nevertheless, that pristine vision had left a happy aftertaste in my mind and I was looking forward for it to come true.
As I made my way towards the iron-wrought gates, my excitement was beginning to spill over. I was finally able to attend a proper school after being homeschooled for the past year. I didn’t wish to blame dad for this since his irregular commissioned gigs for paintings could hardly put food across our tables but I wanted to blame mother for leaving us without any notice. It took almost an year for dad to come to terms with his new life.
Trying to start afresh, we moved to this small town with picturesque hills and tiny forests surrounding it (Dad needed inspirations for his work). The house was tinier than our previous abode but I found it better this way since the onus to keep it neat and tidy was on me until we could hire a help. I had started to familiarise myself with the area but hoped to explore further with my new acquaintances.
Lost in my thoughts, I reached the top of the stairs and consulted my timetable for classroom details. I suddenly felt someone’s eyes on my back but I assumed they might be checking out my backpack. Few days ago, dad and I had embellished it using spray painting. It had been a fun day but I ended up with heaps of laundry.
A weird nickname, I thought and started to move towards the right-side of the hall.
“Hey you! Backpack with paint diarrhoea!”
It finally clicked in my head that the shouts might be referring to me. I turned towards the source to be sure.
“Are your ears not working?”
Now I was even more befuddled if they were actually talking to me or someone else. Arching my eyebrows, I pointed my index finger towards me and asked, “Me?”
A group of two girls and a boy stared blankly at me until one of the girls had the courtesy to nod.
“My name is Mauv.”
“Did we ask?”
“No, but you were calling something else so…”
“Where do you think you are going, looking like that?”
By now I was completely baffled at their misplaced curiosity but still politely replied, “To my class, of course.”
“So you do know you are in school.”
Their meaningless riddles had started to irk me. I snapped, “Did you guys want something? I’m getting late for class.”
“Oh, you definitely didn’t get late for this though.”
They ambled towards me and the tallest girl suddenly poked the left side of my chest and whispered, “Be careful. This is not that type of school. We don’t flaunt what we have.”
The other two sniggered at her words while the boy softly touched my right side and said, “Though I wouldn’t mind playing with you.”
As the first bell for the class commencement reverberated through the corridors, the three walked away towards their classroom while I stood there – perplexed and deeply humiliated.
I still had no clue what they were trying to say so I parked this matter to the back of my head and made a dash to my class. If I had known that the repercussions from that single incident would follow me for months to come, I would have reacted differently.
By end of the day, I had finally figured out what the morning episode was all about. As I looked around the school at my fellow students, I discovered that puberty had played a dirty joke on me and I had been dumb enough to not have realised it until today.
With no female presence at home and dad too preoccupied with his art, I had skipped a crucial step of learning to support my twin towers.
As the weight of their words started to sink in, I finally understood the gravity of my situation. That day, I locked myself in my room after reaching home and cried till my throat gave way.
There was no way I could talk with dad about this so for next few days, I wrapped a long scarf around my upper torso tightly so nothing was pointing anywhere. It wasn’t the best solution but there was very little I could do at the time.
Word had travelled like wild fire through the school and I could hear whispers and catcalls during recess as I made my way in the common cafeteria.
A week later, I gathered enough courage and asked our newly hired help for a favour. It took almost an hour to get the right words and correct request to come out of my mouth but luckily, despite being impatient, she agreed to procure the quintessential undergarments for me.
I had thought this would put to rest everything at school but how naive I was. I had snubbed the most powerful clique of the campus, albeit unintentionally and they were taking all the pains to ensure everyone remembered.
Living through each day had started to feel like a nightmare with no end and no one to wake me up. The coruscating picture that I had painted in my mind prior to starting my academic year was soon getting swallowed whole into the phobic black-hole.
The days were rolling by but there was no variation to distinguish between them. I could no longer tell apart Mondays from Tuesdays or mornings from evenings. Everything had started to fuse together into this big warped boulder which was crushing my life source out of me, bit by bit.
All I had ever dreamt about was to have friends – classmates to study along with, buddies to share jokes with, mates to bond after school. I had never prepared myself for or even imagined what I was currently facing.
I tried to ignore everything till it was just slips of paper with most horripilating adjectives – I could just flush them in the toilet and be okay after my daily quota of waterworks. I thought if I didn’t react, they would get bored eventually and move on. However, that just fuelled them to test more tricks on me.
I had begun to carry a white correction pen with me to school. I used it to hide all the obscenties that decorated my desk almost every morning. My notebooks would go missing and later be found filled with drawings of boobs. I had to throw them away and get new ones each time. It was starting to take a toll on me and the resolve to keep on going was slowly starting to waver.
What hurt even more while all this was happening at school, was that dad never asked. He never made any efforts to find out why his only daughter was covered in paint one day or manure the other. He couldn’t even notice the fresh marks on my wrist or the scabbed ones on the other. I never sought him out to tell my side of the story and he never consoled me. He was busy trying to make ends meet and there was no way I wanted to add myself to the pile – there was a possibility he could leave me too.
When you are at your low, things seem worse than they are. But what could have been more awful than what was already going on? I had started to convince myself that the fault was in me – maybe that’s why even my mother left us, for if she had loved me, she would have taken me with her, wouldn’t she have?
I began to lose track of time, thus never noticed when this started – I could no longer look into anyone’s eyes. My teachers had started to notice that something was not right with me; after all I had scored the highest in the entrance test but now I wouldn’t even hand in my homework on time.
Should I have had told them? Everything? Would they have supported me? Or told me not to be a chicken and stand up for myself?
But what was the point in fighting back when I was the freak here. I could get out of this battle but what would be waiting for me after all this? There would always be a reason to ostracise me since I didn’t have what it took to fit in this cruel puzzle.
My class teacher tried to counsel me but she just found a mute student with her head hung low.
“Mauv? Look up when I’m talking with you. Can you hear me? You have to say at least yes or no.”
I gave a tiny nod.
“What is going on with you, Mauv? I remember seeing your entrance file and you were an exemplary student. Is something wrong being done to you?”
There was a sudden clattering noise from the other side of the room.
“What are you doing here, Nick?”
“I was asked to submit these records at this desk.”
“Okay. If it’s done, you can leave.”
I knew that voice very well and could even feel his glare on me as he left the teacher’s lounge.
“Mauv, will you answer my questions? Are you on drugs, by any chance? Speak something!”
She eventually lost her patience and called up dad to complain about my misconduct in the school. She even told him about my moribund grades and almost threatened to kick me out of the school if I didn’t pick myself up.
That day, as I walked towards home, I tried to come up with any plan to support my case or any excuse to justify my current atrophying life in front of dad but all in vain. As I had expected, the moment dad saw me enter the house, he flew off the handle. I tried to come clean but his final remark knelled my entire existence – “I can’t take care of you if you continue like this, why did she leave you with me?”
In that instant, the last gossamer of hope dissolved inside my already tenebrous heart. I didn’t wish to find the answers anymore – I just wanted all of this to end.
Was it supposed to be this hard? Was I meant to struggle for this long? And for what? Will any of them even understand? Was it even worth to toil this hard for this long? When will it all end? Can I end it all?
Today, I finally found my answer. I was meant to fall to be able to fly in this very moment. This might not be the best way to achieve it but it was the only choice I was left with. There is a possibility that my tormentors end up seeing the light at my ‘end’. If everything had worked out for me, I could have chuckled at the irony of all this and may be, not be staring at the now fast approaching grounds.
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