When I was in the sixth grade, I knew a girl, Krishpa. There was nothing special about Krishpa that you would notice on a first glance. She was like the rest of us, not too shabby and with a little more on our plates than we could handle. However, there was something very peculiar about this eleven year old girl; she was never seen talking to anyone and had no friends. School was tough because we were taught new things almost every single day and it was hard to catch up. I soon realized that the wise thing to do was to make acquaintance of as many people as possible so that there would be a reason to look forward to school and so, I made friends with almost everybody in my class, except Krishpa.
To this day, when I think about Krishpa, my mind runs off to the time she told one of our then teachers that she couldn’t do her homework because she had the flu. I remember watching her in amazement as she carefully chose her words so as to sound convincing. Her thin lips quivered silently and her eyes moistened. It was amusing to me at the time that nobody, not even the teacher, could see through this lie of hers, which was so fairly obvious to me even then. Not too long after that, Krishpa broke her right hand. Or at least that’s what we thought. For two whole months, we watched her come to school with an immaculate white bandage wrapped around her hand, looking as if she was in agonizing pain. So when we learned later that she hadn’t actually broken her hand and was only faking it to spare herself from schoolwork, we didn’t know how to react.
These events slowly began to shape Krishpa in a different light in my eyes. A year passed. She was no longer the strange little kid who had no friends. She was a performer, a magician who could enthrall a room full of people with her act. But even though I admired Krishpa, I couldn’t bring myself to talk to her. I was scared. And quite honestly, I was worried that she might be a bad influence on my impeccable grades. Thus, instead of talking to her and asking her why she felt the need to lie so much, I chose to be scared of her. I didn’t help her when I could have.
Somewhere down the road, Krishpa lost her way. She began to get in trouble a lot more and when confronted, she didn’t lie anymore. She blatantly told the truth and continued with her shenanigans the next day. She became a wreck and it broke my heart to watch her. One day, when Krishpa came back from the principal’s room for having stolen some girl’s pencil case from class, I went up to her.
“I’m Anupama .”
“I know. What do you want?”
“I want to talk. Can you meet me after school?”
With an anxious feeling in my stomach, I waited for Krishpa outside the bus station after school ended. After nearly five minutes, I saw her walking towards me lethargically with downcast eyes.
“You wanted to talk?”
“Yes. How are you?”
She looked at me, stunned and managed a “Fine, thank you.” At this point, she seemed to be more scared of me than I was of her, which funnily enough, put me at ease. I began to talk to her about her favorite cartoons and TV shows. The more we talked, the more I realized how similar our tastes were. We even had the same color on our walls. The next day at lunch, I invited Krishpa to eat with me and my friends. She was reluctant but joined us anyway.
Kris and I talked almost every other day now but she was still stirring up trouble in school. I was worried about her so I asked her on several occasions why she felt the need to act out but all she ever told me was “You’ll see.”
I did not understand what she meant by this, at least not at the time.
Kris and I, we went out for lunch several times. My mom used to call her to eat the aalu parathas. She loved them too. No wonder why she never missed the call. Slowly and carefully, Kristen became my friend. But that was it. She was only my friend. Neither did the other girls reach out to her nor did she strike up a conversation with any of them.
We graduated high school last year, Kristen and I. Our friendship is stronger than ever and she is always there for me when I need her. She is now a smart young woman who knows how to stay out of trouble. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that she is one of the best persons I know.
As I was brainstorming ideas for this story earlier, I thought of Kristen, her troubles with school as a sixth grader and how she had said “You’ll see.” when I asked her the reason for her acting out. Somehow, I had forgotten this over time. Excited about her long due response, I called her up and asked her what she meant when she said that I’d see. Taking the moment in and in her careful manner, she answered:
“I don’t know, babe. I was bored. I didn’t have any friends and there was not much to do in school, you know? Besides, I wanted to be your friend and I knew you wanted to be my friend too so I couldn’t afford to keep a low profile. I had to keep you interested.”
“We are friends now, aren’t we?”