To the One Who Knows
Sitting in a class among 99 other students, my first day at Mount Carmel College was a memorable one. I remember being introduced to the department of Humanities by 5 or 6 seniors whose elaborate speech was interspersed with chortles at their own jokes and grave warnings about attendance. I looked around at what was going to be my class for the next two years, and no one particularly caught my attention. And then I saw her hand go up. She asked a question.
Over the next two years, she asked plenty of questions, and gave perfectly convincing answers to others. Her approach reminded me of nobody, because no person that I had ever met in my life, had been quite like her. She walked into class everyday with a bounce in her feet – she was probably the only one excited by the prospect of studying Sociology for the next 50 minutes. Every hour, I saw her hand go up. Her hand wasn’t Hermione, answering every question that popped up. Her hand wasn’t Harry either, demanding answers for questions that were from the ‘restricted section’. I, in fact, was both those people. No, her hand was Dumbledore – no matter what question you threw at her, she always knew what would satisfy you. She handled your words wisely, and with those all-understanding eyes, she explained what she had in mind. She opened the class to new thoughts and possibilities. She spoke up about things that I had in mind, but was never ready to say anything about – not out of fear, but because I lacked her tact.
The following paragraph makes me feel extremely shameful – my jealousy knew no bounds. No, I didn’t do anything towards sabotaging her; I didn’t prevent her, in anyway, from becoming what she is today. I was jealous in that I wanted to be like her so badly. We thought similarly, we spoke differently. We felt similarly, we treated differently. We knew our way, but while she was open and outgoing, I was awkward and challenging. Her absence made people sad and bored, while my absence hardly created that effect. One word from her made the class listen intently. She made no enemies. There was no dirty argument, there was no teacher’s spat. There was nothing apart from admiration, and to a certain extent, imitation. I, on the other hand, made dozens of lifelong enemies, had hundreds of arguments and one teacher’s cheap spat. I was thumbs down against the epitome of virtuousness.
Interestingly, despite having talked to her so much – as friends, as like-minded people, as classmates – I do not know one thing about who she really is. Sure, I know the names of her family, I know which school she went to and what she aspires to be, but apart from such superficial things, she is a complete mystery.
The funny thing, is that I realised I knew so less only when she told me that. Up until then, I thought I had her figured out, to some extent, probably because of her tactful introduction of herself as an extrovert. But then I found myself thinking, ‘who is this girl?’. That’s the thing about humans – someone tells us they’re an open book, we believe it. Two years down the lane, we look back at them, and come to realise that we simply took their word for it.
In all my life, I don’t think I will ever meet someone like her, wherever I look. And I hope I don’t, because her uniqueness is better left that way – unique.
Title credits: YANNI