I had known her all my life. In fact, we literally grew up together. Our houses were close to each other’s.We went to the same school and were class mates.She even accompanied me to all the odd classes I attended,be it ballet or piano.She had as much taste in music and dance as a sloth, but she kept trying anyway.May be she wanted to be like me, who knows?
She was a parasite, she couldn’t even dream about surviving without me.She clung on to me with all her strength. Having no friends of her own, she considered my friends her’s. Initially, I never wanted her to tag along, I was ashamed of her.But overtime I put her into good use.I let her stalk me, I let her worship me.She was a something like an emotional punch bag of mine.There were times when I needed her,in ways I could never comprehend.She was not my friend,good God, never.But I guess she never understood, in her head I was her best friend!
Everyday, she literally breathed down on me.She followed my every step.Soon she was a shadow of mine, an invisible shadow that I learnt to grow used to.My friends too learned to ignore her presence.She sometimes tried her best to be more than a lifeless form,a stint she could never pull through. Every single time she failed to impress,which was obvious as she was born to fade into the background.No one actually saw her, even when she was brimming with life,waiting to be found.I would smile to myself as I witnessed her futile struggle to break free, she was way beneath me, she was well aware that she would never catch up to me.
I always knew what folks talked about her behind our back. Yeah, no one dared to tell anything bad about her to my face.To them I was the good-hearted savior who was blindly loyal to a friend as useless as piece of log.Obviously, she never had a clue that she was the most ridiculed person in the locality.But I knew everything that was said about her, for I was not as dumb as her.
Sometimes when I happened to eavesdrop on others,I heard them laugh over her stupid stints.Every now and then I made it a point to get defensive.That was something that folks expected me to do.Even though I was ashamed of her and wanted her to sink down in to the ground and disappear for ever, I jumped in to fight for her respect.I loved the drama.They must have thought that I was a real good person to back her up. I am not the good person that everybody mistakes me for, I hated her and I found myself quite pleased when she was made fun of, when she lost ever inch of her self respect.It somehow made me a more confident person.Why, I have no answer! It seemed like everything she lost was my gain, she was my lucky mascot and for me to win she had to fail.
‘She follows at you around like a puppy’, my mother used to comment with a hint of pride in her tone. I would just shrug it off.To me she was something way lesser than a puppy.She never amused me or entertained me like a pet would have.But yes, she had found an odd fascination to me and my ways.It was always been a mystery to me.I was no super hero, I was just an average girl with her share of popularity,thanks to my looks. But deep in my heart I knew that she loathed me as much as I hated her and that she would break free at the first chance that she got.
We shared a peculiar relationship. When we were on our own, we never talked much. We would sit in silence.She would look at me as if waiting for me to give her an order or something. I would just ignore her.As far as I was concerned, she was as inanimate as a piece of furniture.Yes, whenever I wanted someone to hear my rants, I would pick her. I spilled my darkest secrets to her, because her knowing and not knowing never made any difference.But otherwise, she never existed.Sometimes she would attempt to make a conversation and I would barely hear it.I made her do odd jobs, because that kept her happy. It seemed like keeping me satisfied was her life’s mission.
So yes, our life was going on pretty well until that summer.That was when she suddenly started distancing herself from me. I had not actually felt any difference in the beginning.It was my Mom who brought the topic up. She asked me if we had a row or something. A row? Huh, she should have been kidding. We neve even had a disagreement, my words were her law.I told her that all was well. But then I started feeling it. Her visits were less frequent.The glazed look had somehow disappeared from her face. Every time she came she stayed a little shorter and slowly she stopped visiting.
It should have been a relief, getting rid of her finally.But it bugged me. Did I suddenly become less appealing? It bothered me.It was like an emperor abruptly losing his kingdom.I kept wanting her to be back being her.She had stopped coming to the Jazz and ballet classes.A girl from the school told me that she spotted her at an art camp with some other kids.I don’t know why I felt bad.I felt betrayed,how could she do that?She was supposed to be my friend.I paused, friend? I might not have used that word in any context when I spoke of her. But does it matter, she was supposed to belong to me.
The news soon spread, that she had finally gotten over me. I got sympathetic looks and understanding nods. Those drove me crazy. Did they not know that she was the one who was missing out? Even my mom told me that she was sorry for what ever happened between us.I wanted to laugh out loud, did they not understand.I never wanted her anyway.She was the one who forced her on me. But for some reason I couldn’t bring me to laugh.
In months to come, I witnessed her transformation with growing dismay .She became radiant and bubbly.She did smile at me when she caught my eyes, but never did she acknowledge me or my presence.She sat with another girl in the class and hung out with other kids.People soon started talking about how they never knew she was this charming ! My hate for her increased many folds, so did my craving to win her back.But this time, I was scared to approach her. She was not a shadow any more, I could confront a the shadow she once was but not the real person she suddenly materialized into.
I knew she was not irreplaceable, but I could never let her go. It hurt my ego.So I decided to to find out what changed.I waited to find her alone , I slipped her a note asking her to meet me after school. I had no hope that she would come until she actually turned up. It was as if she was waiting all her life for this chance to strike back.She smiled at me. She indeed looked very chirpy and when she asked me what the matter was, it seemed that her voice had gained a luster it never had.I suddenly wanted to run away, I did not want her to win.But for some reason I remained rooted to the spot.”Why?” I asked her, the magnitude of emotions in my voice scared me.
She explained that we couldn’t be friends anymore, were we ever friends for that matter? She said that she had finally realized that she never meant anything to me and that I was exploiting her.She told me that she had tried all her life to be good enough for me, but the very act broke her. She blurted out a gazillion unkind words like how manipulative I was and how she was better off without my influence. She deserved someone better than me, she told me in a firm voice looking straight into my eyes.I heard a secret gloating in her voice, as if she was showing off her freedom. I remained silent, she continued looking at me,a hint of amusement glinting in her eyes, challenging me to counter her arguments. I watched her, something heavy growing within me.My ego was bruised, the cold bitter waves of humiliation radiated from within me.
“Do you have anything else to say?” She asked me shaking her head as if to show her impatience.She then waved to a group of girls who were waiting for her ,a few feet away.I remained silent. “I have to go” she flashed me a sarcastic smile.
I cannot explain what I was going through at that moment.Defeat,shame,hurt and so many other unnamed emotions overwhelmed me.It was suddenly me and her, the world around us ceased to exist.I had to wipe off that nasty smile of off her face. She cannot win.A shadow can never exist without it’s master, can it? As she turned and started walking away, I felt a tide of helplessness wash over me. No, I was the one in control.I had to stop her.
I pushed her off the pavement with all strength I could muster. There was a puzzled look on her face.I heard the screech of tires and a high pitched scream.I saw the pain on her face, her defeat was the shade of crimson. A moment passed. I turned away and ran home as fast as I could, without looking back!