Posted by Elithraniel Arawion on Thursday, February 19, 2009
I'm a normal teenager. I have my mood swings, my anxieties but on the whole, i always thought i was a nice person. My marks were among the top, almost everyone in school knew me, i was next in line to become head girl and i was a part of any cultural activity the school took part in. In short, i was popular. But, i never knew one incident could change the way everyone including myself looked at me... I remember... the day i'll never forget as long as i live.. It happened in grade 7...
It was a friday morning. A special one. The school had arranged for us to take orphans from a local orphanage to an amusement park. We were told that we would be paired with one kid each and we had to foster parent them the entire day. Their happiness was our responsibility. They had also requested us to bring food for the kids because it would be difficult for the organisation to arrange. I was excited. I had never done this before. I packed extra lunch, extra snacks, dressed myself in my favourite jeans and t shirt and left for school.
My entire class was anxiously waiting for the orphanage bus to arrive and i sneaked up next to my best friend Divya and we began discussing what we had brought and how we wanted to go about the whole thing. When the bus finally arrived, we cheered. Little kids dressed in worn out clothes, either too big or small for them marched out obediently and the teachers began pairing us. Suddenly, something within me disappeared.. i was the last one in line and the teacher paired me with a tiny girl.
She must've hardly been 5.. was dressed in a torn, ragged maroon frock. Her head was shaved and her fingers were dirty. She kept sucking her thumb. Disgust swelled inside me and i looked at Divya to see who she was with. Divya was handing out a rose to the cutest kid i had ever seen and as i looked at the girl (her name, she told me little later, was Gayathri) who was now snaking her little hands into my own, something burst. I didn't want this kid. She smelt funny, she sucked her thumb and held my hand with the same hand that was in her mouth a minute back. Her frock was torn at the back and she didn't seem to mind it one bit. I wanted the girl Divya was assigned to but i couldn't help it now.
I drew my hand away from her and i saw confusion register on her face. I didn't care. Why did i land up with this girl? I looked around at all my classmates, smiling and talking to their own partners, all of whom seemed much cleaner and better looking. I regretted volunteering for the entire thing.
We were told to eat some lunch before we proceeded for the park. We sat in pairs. I sat with Gayathri, wondering what to do wit her. I opened my tiffen box and gave her the other one. Mom had packed us different things. I had rotis and she had some kind of rice. "Can i have yours?", she asked me, her voice almost inaudible. "What?", i shot back rudely. "I'm not supposed to have rice. Can i eat what you brought?". "No. Eat what i got for you. What's your name?", i finally asked. Her eyes turned bright at the attention. "Gayathri. Your name?", she smiled at me. I didn't want to smile back. "Asha. Ok. Eat." The rest of the meal was finished in silence. Gayathri couldn't eat much so she had just a little and gave the rest back to me. Anger surged. She was wasting what my mother took so much effort to make. And i thought orphans knew the value of everything!
We boarded the bus. She sat next to me and looked up expectantly. Everyone was already playing their role. Everyone but me. I looked away from her and stared out the window the entire way. I never looked at her wilting face even once.
When we reached the amusement park, our teachers made it a point that we hold hands. And so, grudgingly i did too. Divya, her partner, gayathri n I stuck together the whole day. I was trying to push Gayathri onto Divya and trying to woo the other kid my way. I wanted the cute kid, not the dirty, mannerless one that was bestowed upon me!
Gayathri watched everything in stunned silence. Once in a while, i faked a smile and tried to act normal with her. Divya accused me of being heartless but i waved her off. Once, I even caught Gayathri wincing when i tried to talk the other girl into sitting next to me. I knew she was hurt but again, i didn't want to care. I held her hand as loosely as possible and when she tried to tighten her grip i'd take it away immediately. I didn't know why i was doing what i did, but i couldn't help it. While Divya brought her kid toys, keychains and took her on every single ride, i didn't buy Gayathri anything. I got her a couple of packs of chips to make up for it and took her on a few rides that i found ok. Whenever she told me she wanted to go on a ride, i never listened. To put things in a nutshell, i was the bitch.
Evening came soon and it was time to get back. I got into the van again, utterly drained and tired from the day's excitement. Gayathri sat quietly next to me. She looked lost and i wondered why. Halfway back, she complained that her stomach was hurting. Again i just nodded my head and turned back to the window. Two minutes later, i heard a sound and turned to see her vomit. She vomited all over my jeans. It was the last straw.
I got up and screamed, letting out all the frustration. A helper from the orphanage who was travelling with us ran to me and apologised furiously. He personally cleaned up the entire mess and even cleaned my jeans. Gayathri sat in a corner, trembling... tears had stained her cheeks. But i still didn't care. I marched upto her and asked "Why did you vomit on me?" "I'm allergic to rice. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that to you", she said, her voice trembling with fear. "Couldn't you have turned and vomited? Why on me? You ruined my favourite jeans", i shouted back.
Suddenly, a voice behind me said "She's a kid. Why are you scolding her so much? So what if you got a little vomit on ur jeans. It's clean now". I turned and saw Divya fuming. She ran past me to Gayathri and hugged her. "I've been watching you the entire day. What's your problem? Why can't you be nice to her? You've been ignoring her and trying to get Aishu to sit next to you the whole day! I've never met someone as mean as you! You can go sit with Aishu. I'll sit with Gayathri". My entire class watched and couple more came up and hugged her. I stood there, speechless. I didn't know what to say.
As i turned away, a tiny voice spoke up strongly for the first time. "Don't scold akka. I love her. I can't help it if she doesn't like me. God made me like this and i'm sad that i'm not able to make her happy". A hand tugged at my shirt. "Please sit next to me. I don't want to sit next to anyone else".
I turned around, and dropped down on my knees so that i was in level with her. "I'm sorry", i stammered. I had never felt so ashamed of myself. I had never felt like killing myself before. But such thoughts started to form in my head as i watched the little girl before me change me into a better person. I opened my arms and hugged her. She was warm, just like anyone else. As i let go, i saw a tear fall from her face. "Why are you crying?", i asked her. "I have been waiting for this moment my entire life", she smiled.
It was the worst and the best day of my entire life....