I am Sixteen, Going on Seventeen…

I totally feel like a teenager these days. An American teenager, no less. The feeling of course is as far removed from the reality as can be given that I have never been to America, and I exited teenage almost a decade ago. 

This feeling comes from my two main occupations at the moment. I have been watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and reading The Princess Dairies. I know, I am not only too old for these but also too late as the years go. But as I said, these little things do not seem to matter.
Watching and reading so much high school drama made me think about my school days, which had very little in common with Buffy and Mia's. Yes, I too worried about exams and boys back then but I was neither a vampire slayer nor a princess of lesser-known European country bang in the middle of Italy and France. But thinking of school days, what I remember most is my close bond with those five other girls. It was strong and beautiful. I am still in touch with four them today but we have all drifted apart and have very less in common, which is very disturbing in a certain way.

Friend one: We shall call her Dolly, which happens to be her pet name. She was the prettiest girl in our class – the one with big brown eyes and thick long lashes – beautiful in every conventional way. Her dad, sadly for her, was the Geography teacher, which meant that she had to take an extra subject (Geography, duh!) in plus two and slog longer hours than the rest of us. Now Dolly was always under pressure to perform well because most kids whose parents were teachers in our school were slackers and Dolly’s dad did not want his daughter to live up to this reputation. I think this is the reason she never realized that the cutest boy in our class (who read Atlas Shrugged and Gone with the Wind during the free periods and wore songs and poetry!) had a thing for her. Not like Dolly never did anything but study. She always found the right excuse and the time to catch every movie that starred Saif Ali Khan (Ew! I know he is quite decent now but I am talking Aashiq Aawara and Yeh Dillagi days.). The rest of us laughed at her because she chose Saif over Shahrukh, but she did not care. I liked Dolly a lot; she tied up with another girl for the position of my best friend.

I remained in touch with her during my graduation days, despite us being in different colleges and then we did our PG together. Only, by then she was married and also had a kid. She used to talk about her kid during our weekend classes and then drag us along to meet him and her husband at the end of it. At 21, I did not want to spend time listening about diaper change and stuff. She is the only friend who I am not in touch with anymore.

Friend two: She was the Cool Chick, the most adventurous of us all. She always had fun things to talk about and obsessed about Shahrukh Khan when she was not balancing a P/L account. She claimed that she had never had a crush on anyone but Shahrukh Khan, and needless to say I found this very disturbing. Yes, there was a time when I thought that she would turn out to be a lesbian hiding behind the façade of SRK fandom. However, this thought was misplaced because as I write this post, she is carrying her first baby.

Friend three: She is the Surprise of our group. Yes, this girl was mostly quiet, though when she did talk she was very opinionated. Her mum was also a teacher in our school and that too of Sanskrit. If you have ever been to a school that teaches Sanskrit, you know that those teachers are the nastiest and the meanest and the strictest. Her mum was no exception. She even chided me for speaking in English in her class. Hello! How on earth am I supposed to ask someone to pass the book in Sanskrit? I can only recite shlokas and shabdroop in this language, remember? Anyhow, I digress. So this surprise used to work really hard, and laugh at us for talking about Shahrukh Khan so much. She also asked me how I could manage to top the class while all I ever did was watch movies. 

I say she is the surprise of our group because we all thought she was the kind of girl who would study literature and then get married as soon as she finished college. However, Miss Surprise went on to be faculty of French in an MNC in Bangalore. And also a mother of cute baby last year. We talk once a year now.

Friend four: She is and has always been the Housewife. Well, she got married only in 2006 and has been working for a few years now but that does not matter. Another kid of a teacher, Miss. Housewife had declared in class two that she wanted to grow up and become a housewife. So there. Things like these stick. Forever. She was one girl who despite having a teacher for a parent managed to stay normal. I never saw her whining about how her mum wants her to do better in Accounts or Math. However, she was always the one to point out where our actions rated in her Morality Chart. Yes, she had this Morality Chart in her mind. She would rate everything we said or did accordingly. So when I decided to handover a valentine day’s card that a boy had slipped into my bag to the most feared teacher, she gave me an A+. That I scarred the boy for life, however, is another story.

 Miss. Housewife recently became a mommy and is blissfully happy. I am happy for her.

Friend five: She was, is, and shall always remain the Weirdest of us all. Her knack of attracting trouble is impressive. She lived right next to the school (hence, got home first), so was always the one I called for homework when I was sick or missed school for some reason. During lunch hour, she would make us stand on our toes to peek over the boundary wall at her neighbors and tell scary stories about them. I have always maintained that she lives in a freaky neighborhood. Her happiest moment was when she got a crank call and the caller insisted that she looked like Sridevi (there has to be a limit to suspension of disbelief, right?). During our college days, she repeatedly came to me for advice on her love life (or lack of it) and when I asked her what made her think that I, who had never been on a date, could give her good advice, she blinked and said, “But you read novels.” The fact that she never did get around to talking to the guy she had a crush on says a lot about the knowledge I gained from my novels. But that does not stop her from coming to be for advice till date.

Each one of these girls was a gem of a friend, in her own way. I treasure the moments (however insane they may seem now) I have shared with them. Just because I point out their weirdness does not go to say that I was superior to them in any way. I was equally weird, with a dash of extra whims.  It is only fair I describe myself next.

Friend six: That would be me and Nerd is the only name that comes to my mind. The only time I liked to be center of attention was when the exam results were announced. I would shun every opportunity to participate in extra curricular activities like nobodies business. I would avoid talking to boys as much as I could help so that no one talked about me. (This did not help at all though. People took me to be a snob with a superiority complex and talked about me all the more.) I hung with a group of girls who always talked about Shahrukh Khan and refused to go any place where these girls were not invited. I tried very hard to be in the good books of my teachers without running errands for them, because that would make me bad in my classmates’ books. Yes, I was a people pleaser. Or maybe, still am.


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