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12 Aug 2015

One Last Time

one last time I turned around to look at the bloody mess on the floor.




***

we met in college and ended up sitting next to each other after having jostled for space with a few other classmates. it was a wonder how we hit it off so well, I was socially inept and she was an introvert. but we did hit it off, a random quip about my obsession with dreamcatchers set us off on the path of discovery – discovery of a million common things, big and small. she couldn’t see the point of red velvet cupcakes either and she loved Oleander Girl as much as I did, despite all the bad press it got.

***

friendship is a weird thing. it is like love but without the heartache. it is like being in a relationship but without the complications. you go to bed every night thinking how lucky you are to know that someone has your back at all times, through thick and thin, through rain and shine.

***

we spent all our time together. we sat in the cafeteria next to the campus till it was too dark to see our own feet because we had gotten caught up in the merits of the Hitler moustache over the Lenin moustache. then we went to my place and ordered Chinese, unable to stop talking about how overhyped the prettiness of the college bombshell is. she called her mother to let her know she was staying over; aunty never had a problem, she had told me a dozen times that she wished I was her daughter too.

***

i knew he was trouble the moment he walked into our class. who changes majors in the middle of the second year anyway? he came and occupied the seat next to her like there was no other seat in the entire auditorium and in that moment things changed.

***

for some reason, he didn’t like me. i couldn’t be bothered. but for some reason, the dislike was rubbing off on her. i brushed it off as a phase. she was too smart to fall for someone who’s reputation preceded him, a reputation that involved pride in being addressed as the stud. she WAS too smart, wasn’t she?

***

she came bounding to me and said she was in love. with the most wonderful man on the planet. that it seemed unlikely but he was actually a nice guy. he even wrote poetry. who would’ve thunk it, she said. i watched her quietly. i couldn’t  think of anything nice to say so i made all the right noises and let her be happy. but i grabbed him by the collar when she wasn’t looking and warned him that he’d have me to answer to if he ever so much as hurt a hair on her pretty head. he laughed in my face and brushed me off like i was vermin. sure, i’m supposed to be scared of the oddball geek girl with no life. ooooh, he said.

i hated him with more feeling than i ever have felt in my body. why couldn’t she see him for who he is?



***

she started pulling away from me. first, it was just small things: she had a date so she couldn’t come over and have dinner with me. then, there were bigger things: she cancelled our monthly book hunt and gave me a flimsy excuse. one fine day, she wasn’t in our seat in class. she’d moved way back to the last bench and there she sat with her fingers interlinked with him. him with the smirk on his face. directed at me. it was like he was celebrating his victory. she refused to meet my eye.

***

i rushed back to the classroom, i’d left my notes under the desk. the door was half closed but before i could push it open, i heard voices so I paused.

i finally got you all to myself, he said. why do you get these random riffraff so attached to yourself?

don’t call her riffraff okay, she is my friend, she said.

my heart did a small somersault. she cared.

yeah right. its okay. i understand that she is your charity case friend, he said.

shut up, okay, she said.

no, honestly. you are telling me that that nutcase you can’t look people in the eye or string a single sentence together or even find the time to wear anything other than ratty hand-me-downs was your actually friend? isn’t she retarded or something, love? he said.

i said shut up! i feel sorry for her okay? she’s got down’s syndrome, i think. and nobody ever talks to her. she’s nice enough when you get to know her, she said.

hahahahahaha, is ‘nice enough’ code for stupid, love? so you were pity friends with her, all this while? he said

er, not pity friends and all okay. she IS nice. she gets attached very fast though. after sometime things got suffocating, she wanted to spend all our time together, talking about pointless things. there were times when i wanted to scream out loud and tear my hair out just to get her to stop talking. sheesh. she said

lol, and now you are using me as an escape? he said. i feel so used, hahaha.

shut up okay? i don’t want to talk about her anymore, so do you want to come here and kiss me or not? she said.

***

i couldn’t see straight. literally. my eyeballs were swimming around my head in all the tears that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. i banged open the door and they jumped apart like startled deer. she knew then that i’d heard every last word she said.

she started saying something. but the iron bar the teacher kept to point out things on the board was already halfway to her head. it landed with a sickening crunch.

i remembered grade school teachers explaining the thickness and the consistency of the human skull at that moment.

her shock turned into a blank expression as the rod kept making contact with the pulp that used to be her head. i couldn’t stop. my vision was tinged red and the word “suffocating” kept playing on loop in my ringing ears.

she lay there unmoving.

i turned around to look at him. he was rooted to the spot.
his eyes met mine and that was when his flight instincts kicked in.
he ran. ran so fast that i couldn’t see him after just a few minutes.

but the red tinge had dissipated by then.


***

one last time I turned around to look at the bloody mess on the floor.
then i walked out the auditorium and down the road and kept walking till i disappeared into the night.
no one ever had to make friends with the oddball girl ever again.
i made sure of that.