It was during my undergrad that my group decided not to be friends with me. I had gone to Agra for a vacation and by the time I got back, not one was willing to talk to me. I still don’t know why that happened. I was okay with it. I had faced this before in my 10th. Most of the girls in my class decided not to talk to me. If it were not for Sneha and Sushma, and the boys in my class, I would have felt very lonely. Those boys were so sweet. They would even have lunch with me, sometimes, instead of hanging out with their boy group.
I learnt something very valuable then. You have to learn to be alone and not lonely. This experience prepared me for my under grad isolation to a certain extent, I guess. I had my wonderful college library and my books. My world was complete. I never felt lonely. And I must say, my focus on lectures really improved and I topped the class that semester. I was always in the top 5, never the first. If it were not for that experience, I would never have gotten the gold medals. There were a few girls who would join me sometimes.. Supriya and Monica. They would hang out with me and when they would leave, I would go back to my books. A few weeks later, one of the girls from my group called up and apologised. I think she even prided herself for being the big hearted person for calling me up and apologising.
I have never shied away from saying sorry. So I never really understood why she had felt so proud about it. But, today, I know that some people have a difficulty with owning up tho their mistakes. I am glad I was able to help her get over that particular difficulty. We became friends again. I blamed one girl in particular for what the entire group did. In hindsight, I can see how that was very unfair.
A year later, this very friend who called up to apologise let me know that the gang had felt sorry for me, which is why she decided to extend the olive branch. This was in the third year (fifth semester) of my college. I asked her what she meant by “felt sorry”. To which she said, “we kept hoping you would find new friends. But no, you didn’t, so we decided, we would be friends with you again.”
That was the fifth semester, I saw no point in fighting with her or setting her right. You see, when those girls chose to ignore me, I didn’t feel bad. Hurt, of course. But not bad. It was their choice. Who was I to rub my company on them? But the sheer gall that girl had to come back and tell me they felt “sorry”? And there I was thinking they really felt guilty about their behaviour.
You see bullying can happen in a lot of ways. Hard bullying is hitting you. Soft bullying is manipulating you, exploiting you, and making you feel cornered. Hard bullying has of course been branded as something weak people do, but soft bullying often goes unacknowledged. Those are the ghosts of my past and I have laid them to rest. I have always been capable of feeling happy for them and not wish ill unto them. I am very happy that that is the kind of bringing up I have had. I couldn’t, even if I wished to, repay my parents for instilling values that can and will see me through this life. I will be here today, tomorrow I might die, and I don’t want to die knowing that I hate someone or wish them bad.
So today, when I make friends, I treat them the way I want to be treated, with loyalty, and respect.
And I know I keep saying this, but if not for those experiences, I would never have known I love my company so much and that one doesn’t have to settle for mediocre peer groups. Good friends come into your life, sometimes when you are really young and sometimes a little later, but always at the time of need.
To Madhulika: my person, my fave, whom I affectionately call (many a nickname…) Maddydobedoo, Malala, Maloda, Maddindia, and sometimes just Maddy, you are a fantastic person.