The kid was there… again. A frail structure with drooping hair dressed in all black, He reeked of sadness and pity all around. He clumsily made his way to the seat in front of me and silently sat down, mumbling an insincere apology to nobody in general before continuing on focusing on his book. To say I did not like him would be an understatement, I despised him. In this society where the rest of us were fighting like savages for a better life, who was he to insult us by feeling self-pity? He felt pathetic all the time and this… enraged me. But no matter how much I complain, it would be lying to say that I did not find him… interesting. He seemed from a completely different world, a world I only saw through a peephole not understanding it at all.
“Why do you look so concerned Hon?” my mom asked me one day. I sighed, ” it’s nothing mom, there is just this kid in my class and he annoys me to no extent “. My mom gave me a smile of pity before saying “well, why don’t you just ignore him? you are already ignoring everybody else”. “Ouch” that physically hurt, I simply sighed in frustration “Mom it’s not that simple! the rest of them I can simply shut away but with him it’s different… his sadness just feels like such an opaque blanket, it forcefully imposes itself on my mind, it’s… very annoying and I don’t know what to do with him “. She gave me one of those parental smiles before saying “well why don’t you ask him yourself?”
“Hey… is that toothbrush?” I asked him one day talking about the book in his hand, he just gave me a big smile. “what’s your name” I finally asked. “Arjun,” he said. Two months later, while watching a neighbourhood game, I questioned him”So, why were you always so sad back in the day?”. He just gave me a big smile, a smile I had got used to. “look Arjun” I sighed, “If you do not want to talk just tell me, but please for the love of all that is holy do not give me that smile”. He smiled again and just said, “Isn’t all sadness just a big comedy?”. He was like this, way ahead of his years, extremely smart, an intellectual in the true sense stranded between us morons, kind and humorous… all the qualities I have desired but also all the qualities I seriously lack. Sometimes I felt like a foil for him, balancing out his elitist eccentricity, with common social sensibility, as if it was my responsibility to refine his gemstone like qualities and show them to the world…
I was so wrong… so stupid
“I’ll be moving away in a few days” he announced casually one fine day. “where?” I asked him gravely, trying my level best sound normal. “out of the country” he said giving one of his stupid smiles. “why?” I croaked, my throat feeling dry all of a sudden. He simply smiled again. “I want you to have something,” he said handing me a small box. I opened it slowly, a thousand thoughts racing through my head until I saw what was inside… it was a toothbrush. I was confused, not knowing what to do I just sat there looking into nothingness while he slowly stood up and started making his way. “Wait!” I shouted desperately. He stopped and turned around. “Why a toothbrush?” I asked as felt a tear forming in the corner of my eye. He thought for a while before doing what he did best… he just smiled.
He was like this, thoughtful, fascinating, smart… mysterious. I always thought it was my responsibility to polish him into a sparkling gem and show it to the world… but sometimes while looking at that toothbrush I think… Maybe, I was never the one doing the polishing.