Monday, 4 November 2019

OS : Love Lost, Love Found: Two Different Worlds (part a)



High School normally comes with an entire package of unwritten rules, and they are tested in the most cruel ways - the results decide whether you're allowed to exist in High School or not. One such rule we're talking about was the Status Quo. Every gang had a different look, and a different status - more like a rating. The group that topped the charts, got to decide the ratings of the rest.



And this, was exactly I, and a bunch of my friends did'We were the popular kids, we had our bunch of hot dude and pretty dudettes, and I was a part of them'I, Riddhima Gupta, was the popular chic, a style statement people around me wanted to follow, the epitome of perfection which people wanted to imitate, and most of all, every guy's dream date'





I wasn't always like this. Most of my junior high, I had struggled my way through my parents' divorce, put up with their baseless arguments and consolations, and then, I had decided to take matters into my own hands'And this, was where that decision got me.



But unlike most kids who have a similar life to mine, if not the same, never stopped believing in love, and nor was I angry or upset in anyway. Yes, I had been; I had always pictured my family as the perfect one, who doesn't? But when it all fell apart, I didn't crumble and fall with it. Or rather, someone stopped me from crumbling and falling apart.



"Hey douche bag, killed someone with your bad breath yet?" I knocked out of my reverie as the loud laughter around the hallway echoed in my ears. I looked at Sid who had fired the comment and the person who was at the receiving end of it - the special someone who hadn't let me crumble and fall.



He was Armaan - Armaan Mallik, my ex-next door neighbor; he had moved to another neighborhood 2 years ago. He was filthy rich, his parents minted money, and yet, he was one of the most down-to-earth person I'd ever met. He had the perfect loving family, he was passionate about science, and intended on being a Neurosurgeon someday.



How, you ask, do I know all of this? Well, we used to be best friends once upon a time. Once upon a time'But this, was no fairy-tale; it probably would never get its happy ending'



Keeping the image I had of him aside, he had another image in school, almost as if he were living a dual life. He belonged to the 'G-Gang', or in normal words, the 'Geek Gang', the only reason being him being a straight A-Student, with no co-ordination in Sports, and another reason - he had failed in attracting girls to his looks - being plump, chubby, hardly matched a girl's description of the 'ideal man'. That was just how High School worked. There were certain cliques, certain groups which just made it to the top without anyone's knowledge and intentions. The Football team, the cheerleaders, the entire clich, well those were the Gods - I was a part of them'And needless to say, the rest were treated like trash.



I stared at his confused face as an entire pile of his books - now soaked in shaving cream, fell out of his locker. He probably felt his eyes on me, as he turned to look at me that instant. But then I realized he was staring at Sid, the popular jock, the football star, my boyfriend, who was guffawing with his friends.



Armaan's face was expressionless, but I could read every feeling, every emotion in those dark blue-black eyes of his. They spoke embarrassment, hurt, spoke a kind of silent plea - a plea to understand him better, if only someone would make an effort to get to know him, a plea which obviously remained unanswered.



And just, at that instant, his eyes turned to me, or rather flickered in my direction just for a fraction of a second. We had drifted apart after Junior High, we both had wanted different things, and that eventually had led us to different destinations - where we were today. Since then, he had taken to ignoring me completely, not acknowledging my presence, probably as a reflex to the similar thing I had been doing to him, thanks to all that time I would spend with my other friends and then - Sid, my boyfriend.



He obviously had no right to stand up for himself - it was one of the things High School taught, or rather imposed on you. The victims were never allowed to stand up to the bullies.



I felt a pang in my heart when he banged his locker shut and walked away; I had witnessed his eyes tearing up. I wanted to go to him, tell him that all these people laughing at him were just a bunch of idiots. But how could I? I was one of them'



"Babe, I have practice till late in the evening today, I'll pick you up a little late for prom alright?" I turned when I heard Sid addressing him. I smiled and nodded, wondering if he would be there tonight'Probably not'He had no reason to'High School was probably a place he dreaded'Why would he bother bidding farewell to a place he detests?



"Ri, c'mon, we have reservations at the parlour and all!" I clenched my jaw when I heard the voice of one of the most annoying people I had come across - Jen, who was part of our gang, and tried imitating me at every opportunity she got. She was plastic, if I put in simple words!



"Coming!" I replied in a sugary voice and sighed, following her.

*

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*

*

I sighed, bored out of my wits, standing there, all alone while I saw my stupid boyfriend and date for the night chilling and drinking with his friends. My friends, sorry! A bunch of them had been able to sneak drinks into the party, without the knowledge of the staff, and of course, what better way to attract my boyfriend's attention?



As for my 'girlfriends', I had tried my level best to ignore their giggles and girly 'Ooohs' and 'Aaahs', on the context of getting myself a drink, or some Mr. XYZ calling me. I didn't normally resort to such things, they were my friends after all, but I still didn't feel like myself around them. Ironically, it was at the end of my high school life that I realized that'

I kept looking around after regular intervals, to make sure the girls didn't catch me in my vanishing act. And that's when I saw him.



Sitting there, all by himself, his gaze fixed on the dance floor, yet not concentrating on it. He had actually come? And, to top it all, he had worn a tux, his usually unkempt hair gelled and pushed back, and for once, he had let his dark blue eyes show, without the wall of those big glasses he normally wore. I smiled at how cute and adorable he looked, his face seemed lost, and gave the idea of a small child in a stranger place.



Smiling, I walked to him, not caring about our different worlds, not caring that they were about to collide, and the shake-up it would cause, would probably lead to me losing my cool quotient. But I no longer cared.



He looked up as he saw me approach him, his face expressionless, showing no signs of recognition. He turned his face away almost immediately, as if I wasn't there.



"Boy, I would have thought we're strangers!" I gave a nervous chuckle and sat down next to him. He yet didn't respond. "Ignoring me much?" I joked, but that still didn't gain his attention. I sighed. "Um, I didn't expect you to be here." He finally turned his face sideways to look at me. "Uh, I mean, you don't normally show up to such events'" I quickly changed my words.



"I just thought I should say goodbye to the place that changed my life!" He spoke softly, with an air of amusement in his voice.



"Nice, its good! I mean, um, its fun'" I mumbled, unsure of what to say. "Uh, do you like the dcor?" I asked, changing the subject.



"Yeah they're nice'You were in charge right?" He asked in a monotone. His tone didn't suggest he liked them.



"Yep! I'm glad you liked them!" I said happily, giving him a warm smile.



He turned his face away again, almost as if our conversation was over. But for some reason, I didn't feel like ending it. It felt good talking to him after so long!



"Gosh, we're behaving as we don't even know each other!" I laughed and said nervously. This time he didn't turn his face before answering.



"Do we know each other?" He asked. His question intrigued me.



"Um, yes!" I said nervously, confused. "C'mon don't joke around! You can't ever forget me!" I said, trying to lighten the conversation.



"No, I can't ever forget the person you used to be!" He said, and once again, his voice was expressionless, with no hint of emotion in it.



"What'd you mean? Armaan, I'm still the same person!" I argued, hurt.



"Maybe'But the person I'm talking about was my best friend! I trusted her with my life!" He smiled, and I frowned, not being able to understand his words.



"Armaan I-"



"You don't need to explain Riddhima!" He cut in. "We both wanted different things! I don't blame you!" He said, and surely, his voice didn't sound hurt, nor angry. "Anyway, I have to go!" He stood up, not looking at me. "Um, one more thing!" He suddenly turned. "My Mum was asking about you a little while ago!" He muttered, not looking at me.



"Yeah, its been a while since I've met her!" I mumbled. "How is she?" I asked softly, suddenly nostalgic.



"I wouldn't know'Probably good!" He muttered. I frowned.



"What'd you mean?"



"Well, it's been almost a week since she passed away'I hope she settles down quickly though!" He finally looked at me, while I stared at him in shocked. I could see his eyes brimming with tears, and I felt my own tear up as well. It couldn't be. That couldn't be true! "I'll see you around Riddhima!" He said, his voice breaking, and left me behind, stunned, with no power to move, let alone follow him...



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Shrutika

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