It was 6 in the morning and Mom was shouting.
“Another boring day begins”, Aadi thought as he woke up. He was counting all the good things he can do in the school today as he was brushing his teeth. He was now ready but the list was still empty. Ever since he came in class XIth, most school days have been like this. He was a bright student till class Xth. But his grades were constantly going down in the past 3-4 months of this new session.
While sitting in the school bus, he was wondering, what will he do in life. This in depth discussion with oneself was common every day for him. It was fine till class X, but a whole new story in class XIth. School, coaching, preparation for the boards, preparation for competitive exams, there was enormous amount of pressure. And then the added bag of expectations of family, relatives, teachers and friends. Aadi was regretting getting good grades in class X.
“Holy shit”, he said to himself as he remembered Maths paper will be shown today, only to increase the pressure.
Few hours later in the school...
“16 out of 40“, the teacher said. With a dejected look Aadi was walking back to his seats. “It’s not class Xth dear students. All of you who are flying high in the sky, it’s a good time to come back on earth. Over-confidence is the biggest enemy of a student”, the math teacher remarked as he was shooting an arrow straight on the heart of Aadi.
“The guy who feels under confident even in speaking morning prayers these days is termed as ‘over-confident’. Who made them teachers”, Aadi said to himself as he remembered the night before the maths test. He was tired after attending school and coaching and decided to take a small nap and then prepare for the test. But the alarm never rang. He woke up in the morning and hurried straight to the school.
That evening his father was scolding him.
“You’re wasting all our money. Do you have any idea how much we have worked hard to offer you this lifestyle. And what you’re doing ? Look at me and your mummy. We have thousands of work throughout the day, work at office, cook food, going to market, cleaning house, washing clothes. And we do all for you, but just expect one thing back. That you study sincerely. You’re not able to do even that”, his father shouted.
“He must have made bad friends now. He was not like this earlier”, his mother remarked.
“It’s just his laziness. I don’t see him a minute studying. I don’t know what he is upto”, his father said.
“Now go, or else you’ll get late for your coaching classes”, his mother said.
While walking to the coaching, Aadi was thinking all what his parents said. Those words were echoing in his ears. It was all new for him. He had never been scolded so hard before. He stopped suddenly, went to a park nearby and sat on a bench. He was not in a mental state to attend classes. He was sitting there with a dejected face.
“Parents never understand”, a girl said sitting next to him.
Aadi looked up and saw a girl, of around similar age to him, was sitting. “When will they understand marks are not everything”, she said.
“Probably never”, Aadi replied.
“True”, the girl said.
After a few moments of silence, “By the way I am Apeksha, lives nearby”, she said.
“I am Aadi, came here for my coaching classes”, Aadi replied.
“Oh so where do you live?”, she asked.
“Some 7 k.m. from here”, Aadi said.
“So you come here just to attend classes?”, she asked.
Aadi shook his head, then got reminded of the classes. Hell, he was late, he stood up to run.
“Where are you going?”, she asked.
“I’m getting late for my classes”, Aadi said.
“Chill. It’s okay to miss your class one or two days. Anyway I don’t think you’ll be able to understand a word in this mood”, Apeksha remarked.
“How do you know about my mood ?” , Aadi asked.
“It’s written on your face. Sit Sit”, she said.
Aadi sat down.
“So I was saying, parents never understand that marks are not everything. Isn’t it?”, she asked.
“Yes Apeksha”, Aadi said.
“For them, it all seems very easy. Like a cake walk. The dynamics of Indian education system is rather confusing. They test your memory. They make you study unreasonable things. Things that you might never use in your life ever again. Long theories that you need to accept because it’s written. No practical explanations”, she said.
Aadi was fascinated by Apeksha’s opinion. It was like someone is reading his mind. They were the exactly same things Aadi believed in.
“Moreover, they don’t talk to us. They pass their judgments straight away. And what all we can do is, follow. We can find a solution to this if we talk”, Aadi added.
“But do we have the guts to speak ? Whatever we say, they’ll think we’re making excuses. Thanks to these school toppers who make things look so easy”, Apeksha said.
“It’s not like that I don’t want to study. But I’m not able to cope up with this sudden transition. I need support. I need advices. Proper and rational advices. Not like, if you’ll study, everything will be fine”, Aadi said.
“They really forget that we are teenagers. Not matured like them. This is such a difficult age to be in. Where you’re older than children, you can’t be pampered. You’re younger than adults, you can not do everything on your own”, Apeksha replied.
“True Apeksha”, Aadi said.
“Listen, now I need to go”, Apeksha said as she woke up.
“Hey it was wonderful talking. Are you on facebook ?”, Aadi asked.
“No, sorry mate. I don’t use social networking sites. My parents are against it. I even don’t have a mobile number”, Apeksha said.
“Then how will we meet again”, Aadi asked.
“Same place, same time”, Apeksha replied and walked away.
Aadi waved to her and wondered, “Now I already have missed the Physics class. Let’s attend the rest of them”, and he went to the classes.
After attending the rest of the classes, Aadi went back home. Next day, he was sitting on the same bench ready to miss the Physics class again. Apeksha came and sat next to him. “Again bunking classes hero ?”, Apeksha giggled. “Kind of”, Aadi replied. “So, you come here everyday ?”, Aadi asked. “Yes, to refresh my mind, an evening walk kind of thing”, Apeksha replied.
“My parents came to me yesterday night. And were telling me about the career options I have and what will happen if I don’t work hard”, Aadi continued, “The advices did nothing to me except of adding more pressure. Seriously Apeksha, when I see them now, my hearts automatically goes in deep fear. Like it assumes they are about to shout. I don’t want to face them now”.
“I haven’t been performing well in class tests. The results are even worse in weekly tests of coachings”, Aadi added.
“Relax, Aadi. I understand your position. See, life will have it’s way. You will find a suitable job. A suitable career. You don’t need to live like this. Under so much of pressure. Just because of few bad grades. Life is a much bigger concept. Just enjoy this nature. The sunset right in front of us. The birds returning to their homes. The cool breeze blowing. The kids playing cricket. Oh wait a second. Why are they staring at us and giggling ?”, Apeksha looked puzzled.
“A girl and a boy in their young age. Always hard to digest. Look even people walking here are staring at us”, Aadi replied.
“Can’t do much about that. Let them think what they want”, Apeksha said.
Aadi grew a very close bond with Apeksha. He didn’t use to go there everyday. But whenever he felt bad, he bunked his classes and then he used to go there in the park. And Apeksha also started liking Aadi’s company.
After few months,
“It’s lovely Apeksha. Whenever I feel low I just come here and talk to you. Thanks for always being here”, Aadi said.
“No thank you and no sorry in friendship”, Apeksha said.
“Actually, you should say thank you. Just imagine me coming every evening here Aadi. On the days when you don’t come I feel so alone. I just hope you come everyday”, Apeksha added.
“But that is not possible Apeksha, you know that. Is there no way I can contact you and tell you when I’m coming?”, Aadi said.
“No Aadi. I told you I don’t even have phone. It is okay, don’t worry. Anyway I come here for daily evening walks”, Apeksha said.
“Yes”, Aadi replied.
“So Aadi, how’s everything going now with your parents”, Apeksha asked.
“Very well. In these few months, you have been here for me. I didn’t feel the need for them. I talk to them very less. Just 2-3 sentences in a day. I even avoid telling them about marks. I had lied to them, that to reduce pressure , our school has decided not to disclose marks. They just take tests, and let us evaluate ourselves. I usually sit quietly in my room. They think I’m studying. I do things that I like, music, games, movies etc. Earphones are a great invention”, Aadi said.
“Indeed!”, Apeksha giggled.
“They are happy. I am happy. Thanks for showing me the way. I was taking so much of unnecessary pressure”, Aadi said.
“Told you Aadi. Live the life in present. Life will have it’s way”, Apeksha replied.
One fine day,
"By the way, do you have a girlfriend”, Apeksha asked.
“Of course not, I mean just look at my face”, Aadi blushed.
“Ahem Ahem! By the way, girls don’t make boyfriend by looking at their face”, Apeksha said.
“Glad to hear that! May be I have a chance”, Aadi said.
“Oh my God ! Who’s she Aadi !”, Apeksha enquired.
“No one. Just a crush in school”, Aadi blushed.
“Wow! Have you talked to her ? Asked her out ?”, Apeksha enquired.
“No no, I am afraid”, Aadi said.
“Hell no, you will text her tonight”, Apeksha said.
“But...”, Aadi said.
“No But”, Apeksha interrupted and continued, “you’ll text her today. Is that clear”, Apeksha said.
“But what will I talk?”, Aadi said.
“Just try to be friends with her first. Let the things go slowly. Now go you’re getting late for your next class”, Apeksha replied.
Aadi stood up to go. “What’s her name?”, Apeksha asked.
“Neha”, replied Aadi and walked away.
That night he texted Neha,
Aadi : Hi
Neha : Hi
Aadi : How are you ?
Neha : Very well...
And hence finally Aadi managed a nice general conversation with Neha.
The next day he met Apeksha again.
“Yes I had a conversation with her”, Aadi said.
“Wow, that’s cool!”, Apeksha replied.
“Now what should I do? Should I tell her my feelings ?”, Aadi asked.
“Yeah ! And ruin everyday on the second day. Why you boys are in so much of hurry?”, Apeksha said.
Aadi looked puzzled.
“See, just go slow. Take care of her small things. Listen to her problems. Find solutions to them. Be with her. Support her. And yes, keep your own problems away from her, as far as possible”, Apeksha said.
“Yes. You are here for it”, Aadi replied. Both giggled.
Days passed by, Aadi was having a great time in his life. He used to talk to Apeksha in the evening, shared his problems with her, and then used to talk to Neha in the night. Neha also developed a liking for Aadi, seeing his lovely behavior towards her.
“It’s a high time now that you tell her about your feelings. Just be honest. And don’t force yourself on her.”, Apeksha said.
That night, Aadi followed what Apeksha told him.
Neha: Aadi.. I really like you a lot. You’re such a wonderful boy. But give me some time to answer.
Aadi : Ok, Neha
Aadi waited as there was no further text from Neha. Every second was like a millennium to him.
But finally, a message popped up.
Neha : Yes Aadi! Let’s get together. I can never find a more selfless and genuine guy than you.
Aadi was on the top of the world. He wanted to call Apeksha and tell her the good news. But she had no phone.
The next day, he told everything to Apeksha. She was happy for him.
As Aadi grew more closer to Neha, he stopped going to the park. He started studying Physics and attended the classes. Final exams were just few days away, and he can not lie about that. Now, Aadi had a soulmate to share his problems. He never felt like going to meet Apeksha.
But problems started coming in Neha and Aadi’s relationship. Neha’s advices were exactly opposite of what Aadi liked. This problem was not there earlier, as Aadi had Apeksha for his problems. Who said to him, just what made him happy. He was never required to share anything with Neha. Here the case, was different. Neha asked him to study hard, to talk to his parents. All of these were seeming frustrating to Aadi. Fights grew. They started to have fights every day.
In one of those fights,
Neha : But what I’m saying is good for you. For your future. You need to study. I need to study too. We can chat later.
Aadi : I want to talk now.
Neha : Please Aadi,. We just waste our time fighting all day. We are arguing since two hours . We should stop talking as of now.
Aadi : But what about my heart ? I don’t want to study now. My heart wants your love. So that it can get strength.
Neha: Stop this non-sense. Strength for what ? Are you going to fight a world war? You always do this in every conversation. I’m talking about our life and future.From where the hell, you bring your heart in between ?
Aadi : My heart came in between ? No wonder you don’t care about my emotions. How can you be so materialistic Neha ? Marks, jobs, money are more important than my emotions ? Apeksha was right. I shouldn’t have shared my problems with you.
Neha : Apeksha who ?
Aadi : My close friend. I used to meet her every day bunking my Physics class. She understood me so well.
Neha : What ? You bunked your classes to meet her ? And who is this Apeksha ? I have never heard of her. You never told me about her. I never saw her on facebook too.
Aadi : Yes, I never told you about her. She is not on any social networking platform. We used to just meet in a park near my coaching every evening. I never even called her, she don’t have a phone number. I didn’t meet her since two months.
Neha : So she is the girl who had made you mad so much. By giving you idiotic advices. Bunking classes. Like seriously ?
Aadi : Don’t say anything about her. Her advices and support are the things because of which I am living today. Even she advised me how to talk to you. I was afraid of even talking to you.
Neha : So this is the thing. You were doing what she said. And I considered you genuine.
Aadi : But my feelings were genuine Neha.
Neha : Whatever. Just go away now.
Aadi couldn’t get control anymore and lost his cool.
Aadi : I know why you’re sending me. So that you can chat with those boys. Aakash and all those.
Neha : What Aadi ?
Aadi : I have seen in the school. How you were giggling with them throughout the day.
Neha : Just shut up Aadi. You even realize what you’re saying ?
Aadi : I shouldn’t have left Apeksha. She was the one who used to understand me. You’re just a characterless materialistic girl.
Neha : Enough !
Her profile picture disappeared. “You can not reply to this conversation”, is what facebook told Aadi.
He started crying. He cried hard all night. Because of exams, coaching classes were closed for a month. He couldn’t meet Apeksha. He tried to focus on studies. But he was missing Apeksha very much.
He gave exams somehow. Neha kept ignoring him throughout the exam days in school. Aadi was depressed. He didn’t talk to anyone. It was very difficult for him to live.
The result day. Aadi failed in Physics. The marks in other subject were also not good.
His father slapped him. “Is this how you have paid back to our love ? Unbelievable Aadi. And what do they teach at you at coaching ? Wait. Let me call them”, his father said angrily and dialed coaching centre’s number.
“I am Aadi’s father. What you guys teach to students. I paid the money for whole year in the beginning. Not to get this result. He even failed in Physics”, his father said on phone.
“But Sir, we provide the best education that we can. If your ward had not done well, you can not blame us. And are you talking about Aadi ? Well, how can you expect good results from your child when he will not attend classes regularly”, the receptionist replied.
“What rubbish. We sent him everyday”, his father said.
“Sir, I sit at the reception regularly and recognize every student by face. There are 20-25 students only. I am the one who mark their attendance and feed their marks. I remember well. Even the records speak that. Aadi had missed over 60% classes of Physics. Though he had been regular in other subjects. Also, he had not given any tests since September. We’re not responsible for your ward’s poor performance. Only if he would have been sincere, we could have taken a guarantee”, said the receptionist and cut the call.
Aadi’s father was fuming with anger. He recited everything in front of Aadi and his mother.
“What the hell were you doing. Where did you go?”, his father asked.
“I... I sat in a park”, Aadi answered fumbling with his tone.
“This is how your son is wasting our hard earned money”, his father said to his mother, “ bunked classes, didn’t study. You’re such a disgrace to our family”.
“We made a big mistake. It’s our bad luck that we got a son like you. Now we will have to pay for the mistake we committed by loving you, feeding you, growing you up”, his mother said.
Aadi saw tears in his parents’ eyes. He was distraught. He told them he is going to coaching for a test and left the home even without listening to their reply.
It was not the time when Apeksha used to come. But still he went to the park. In hope and desperation. He sat on the same bench. He was crying.
Few minutes later, Apeksha came.
“Hey hero, what happened. Why are you crying ?”, she asked.
“How? How you came now”, Aadi asked.
“True friends get intuitions Aadi. I had waited for you months dear”, Apeksha said.
“I am really sorry Apeksha”, Aadi said.
“Leave these things and tell me what happened”, Aadi asked.
“Everything is ruined. Everything. My life. My love. My family. My love never cared for my emotions. She forgot all the love that I gave to her. My parents said I am a disgrace to the family, they made a mistake by growing me up. They forgot all what happened before this year. Just one bad year god damn it. It was just one bad year. ”, Aadi was crying.
“Relax Aadi. People are selfish. Everyone out there is. They never care about your emotions. Did you parents ever ask how you felt ? What were your feelings ? You did everything you could Aadi. You did everything you could for Neha. And what she did ? She also didn’t care. She left you. People are selfish”, Apeksha said
“No one loves me Apeksha. No one even asked how I felt.You know what Apeksha ?”, Aadi said in a very serious tone, “Love was everything for me, always. But people never value your love and your care. They will find even the smallest mistake you made. They will not look at the intentions. Why I did that. What was the reason behind it. They’ll just point out the mistake. They’ll ignore even the best thing you did for them. ”
“I know dear. Actually what happens, when things don’t go well, people have whole stack full of your mistakes ready with them. All the goodness you have, all the kindness you showed, all the things you achieved get dissolved in the adversities you’re facing. And they throw this stack on your face. As you said, intentions are something people always ignore. Contrary to this, you only have the memories of what all you did for them and what all you achieved. Hence, you’re not able to believe how can this happen with you. Where did all the things went wrong ? This is a selfish world. There is no place for people like you, who value emotions more over materialistic things. Neither in the hearts of the people not in this world. People all around you have relationships according to their needs. They just want to fulfill their needs with the relationship. That’s all relationships are all about. You parents have invested a lot in you since your childhood. They need you for their old age. Friends and lovers need you for your help and your support. And when it comes to your need, they say, 'Relationships are not about these materialistic things’. It’s funny. But enough is enough. Let’s go Aadi”, Apeksha said.
“Where?”, Aadi asked.
“On the river bridge. You will feel better with the breeze and the sun set”, she said.
Neha was stunned hearing Aadi’s results. She hurried to his house.
“Even we are looking for him. He had not taken his phone. He told us he is going to coaching”, his mother told Neha.
Neha knew he must have went to the park to meet that bitch Apeksha. “She had misguided him throughout this year. Aadi lost his sincerity, lost his communication with parents. It was all done by Apeksha. She filled his mind with this emotion, heart, and ‘no one understands me’ things. Things that are impractical for life”, Neha was wondering through the way.
It was evening. There was no one on the benches in the park near Aadi’s coaching. There were few children playing cricket.
Neha asked one of them, “Did you people see any boy of around my age sitting on one of the benches here. He used to come every evening. With a girl I think”.
“Didi are you talking about that mad fellow ? Who used to talk to himself loudly here ?”, one of them said and everyone laughed.
“No, there was a girl with him”, she asked.
“No Didi. We have had made fun of him so much. We remember well. He used to sit here. Talked to himself. He behaved very weirdly. Like he is talking to someone, but there was no one sitting beside him”, another boy said.
“How is this possible ?”, Neha was stunned.
“Apeksha, is this the name of the girl”, and old man passing by who heard the conversation enquired.
“Yes!”, Neha said.
“I heard that boy chanting this name very often. I come here to walk every evening. Initially I thought he is rehearsing for some drama. The way he explained with moving hands. But then I started believing he is talking to some imaginary friend. This is a very common phenomenon for adolescents”, said the old man.
“Imaginary friend”, there was a whole article on the Wikipedia. “The reasons are loneliness, depression etc. They imagine friends who become their companion. Most of the time they know it’s just an imagination. But NOT always. They hear their imaginary friends saying to them what they want to hear. It makes them happy”, Neha read , covered her mouth with her hands and sat on the bench.
On the river bridge,
“Life has it’s own way Aadi. It has brought you here. Away from those selfish people. It’s time to say good bye to them. May be you may appear somewhere else. Where people understand you better. It’s time to sign off”, Apeksha said.
“A seventeen year old boy committed suicide by jumping into the river”, the newspaper reported next morning.