A young boy sat next to an old man in a secluded park. Tears streamed down the boy’s eyes and didn’t care for the old man next to him.
The old man was clearly concerned and turned to the boy, inquiring what was wrong. The boy looked back with a calm face and yet, very sad and said,
“It’s alright. It’ll pass.”
“No. I’m a psychiatrist. Tell me.This is what I do for a living. It’ll be nice to talk to someone too. Alright, let’s start with the names. I’m Dr.Malhotra and I work at a high school, counselling students.”
I’m not gonna see him again anyway, thought the boy.
“And I study engineering in the national Institute of engineering.”
“I’ve heard that that’s a good college. That obviously means that you were smart enough to get selected there.” said the psych.
“Alright, clearly something’s bothering you and let’s get to that first.”
He took a pause, looked ahead and started telling his story.
“I came straight from college and it’s all still fresh in my mind. This probably was the saddest experience I ever had in my days at college. You should know I’m a pretty social guy, but sometimes very moody. I have a lot of friends who I hang out with and we’re pretty tight. We make a lot of fun at a lot of people and sometimes among ourselves. You can find my friends ranging from the meekest personality, to the most assertive one.”
He smirked a little. ” I might be one of the most assertive ones.”
“I’m not saying I like all of them all the time, nor do all of them like me all the time; But still, sometimes things happen and it makes you wonder whether they were your friends in the first place. Maybe I just hung out with them because we were in the same class and found a bunch of people who watched the same TV shows as I did. I’m with them since more than two years and I know them so well that I can tell when they’re going to prank me, or when they’re even thinking about doing something weird, or dangerous. This happens in our Whatsapp groups as well. It has become a routine, but it’s not boring.”
he took another pause, looked back and tears bulit up in his eyes.
“But I think I’ve been left behind !” and then he looked away again.
“Tell me more. About your friends. Why do you think that you’ve been left behind?” said the psych.
“There’s this guy called Adheer in our group and he’s probably the most submissive guy ever. You can easily walk all over him and he’ll still talk to you. Everyone else knows this and picks on him for every single thing. That poor kid.”
“At first, I thought all the merry making about how dumb he was or about how his ideas were crappy were all just to irritate him. But then I found out they actually despised him because of his flawed personality. Ofcourse, he kept coming back to us no matter what we said to him.”
“Today, the entire group made plans to have lunch and I didn’t want to because I was saving money for something I was trying my hand at and they didn’t know about it. Even if they did know, I know beyond doubt that they would criticize it, or just find a million reasons why I shouldn’t do it. Worst of all, I know beyond doubt that this will be a topic of discussion among the friends when I’m not around and they’ll just laugh at how stupid I am to be doing what I’m doing.”
A hint of anger began to set on Aryan’s face and his nostrils flared up.
“I told two of them about the money problems I was having. One of them understood; the other began lecturing how I was supposed to spend my savings. I told him that I understood that his savings are spent by him to eat and drink, but my savings were for me to use for other things. All he could come up with was, ‘Dude, it’s your wish. Come, or don’t come’.”
“It hit me then! He thought that it was a privilege for me to hang out with them. They all just zoomed off on their bikes. I went along as well. I had to because the path was common for all of us for about a mile. Usually we’d all ride together, but this time they left me behind. I heard someone mutter to a very close friend of mine saying, ‘He’s not coming, apparently’ and that “close” friend of mine didn’t care. He rode along with his new found close friend and left me behind too.”
“Then we reached the point where all of us had to take our own route. But this time none of them did because they were on their way to the restaurant. i thought I’d deviate and see if they noticed. None of them did! Everyone just went along. And bear in mind that they knew I was there! When I deviated, this other friend deviated with me. You know who it was?”
“I think I have a pretty good idea.” said the psych.
“It was the guy in our group who constantly kept coming back despite all the taunts and hate – Adheer. I was him! I became him. I stopped instantly and let Adheer pass. I waited there for a while processing what I was just experiencing. Would they call me? would they even notice?”
” I had a lot of friends. A couple of them faded along the way; only a handful remained. I thought these were the ones I was looking for. You know, the kind of friends you see in the TV show F.R.I.E.N.D.S? I had my gang! But little did I know how much I was truly alone.”
“There was this close friend of mine, who is there in the group I just told you about. We had a fallout and never really got along after that. Each thought it was the other’s fault. He was being condescending to me and I told him that and that how he should’t try so hard to beat me or anyone else so badly, turning everything into a competition. He disagreed! He said that everyone DID try to beat everyone! no one would think otherwise.”
“I always thought I was right when it came to that. But today, I found out that you could never survive if you didn’t prove yourself worthy. Even if you did, maintaining it was just as important. Otherwise, you’d be left behind.”
“Then, I called this other friend that I couldn’t spend a lot of time with, but was worthy talking to. I called her, only to know things were a bit rocky. We hung up. I just stood there, with my bike, thinking about how I was left behind and trying so hard to find a handful of the remaining handful friends I had left.”