“I’m still not able to absorb it,” she said trying to ignore the lump in her throat.
I handed her the glass of water which stood on the table, patiently waiting to be acknowledged. It was a warm September evening. Quiet, except for the low rumble of the clouds. Just like there is absolute quiet before a thunderstorm. I turned around to see the sky overcast by dark grey clouds. The huge glass window right beside me gave me an awfully large view of the rain that was predictable. It was very soon when I could see large blots of raindrops racing their way across my windowpane. I took a deep breath.
During my career as a therapist I had gone through many cases. Cases like these weren’t new to me. But each time I hoped things wouldn’t turn out like my intuition told me they would. This time was no different. This girl in her young-adult age, sat on the black wooden couch facing me. She looked at my private library and office with awe. The trophies and not to forget my little ivory pen-stand that my brother brought from China. The golden-yellow light of the little lamp in the corner cast a sombre hue along with the sky overloaded with rain.
“But I won’t be able to help you if you don’t tell me distinctly.”, I said with my patient voice that I’d been trained in.
She closed her eyes as if trying to recollect the horror that I was equally frightened to hear.
“It was 4 months back, 28th of March.” she said. “High School was like our second home. Like every teenager we had our share of fun. We had all sorts of children. Gawky. Nerds. The “I’m the Best and I don’t care about the rest” kind. The “Little Own World” type. The “Social Butterfly’s”. “The Genius”. “The Bullying Gang”. Just like every other schools.
But there was one boy. One particular redhead with spectacles too large for his clumsy head, that was alone. ALWAYS.
I remember the minute details about him because he had been with us since kindergarten. His name was Alan. He had light brown freckles dusting all over his face. A Batman Backpack and a Green-Lantern Bottle that he always carried. He always kept his distance from people. Keeping himself aloof. I wouldn’t call him feisty or ambitious, but he sure was dedicated to his work. ”
She heaved a burdened sigh of grief.
“All these years, we thought of him as a freak. We gave him nicknames. Made fun of him. Hit him. Tore his homework. Some even threatened him. Made him do various kinds of activities and he did all of them out of fear.”
“I’m sorry, you said ‘WE’? Were you also a part of all this?” I asked already knowing the answer.
“Yes,” she hesitated.
A cold drop of tear rolled down her cheek. She fidgeted and sat in a more comfortable posture.
“We had our summer break and our school was taking us to this Annual Science Fair. It’s focus was on the practical application of science so it was held outdoors. A big ground in a huge arena. There were too many stalls. All displaying their products to the fullest potential. We as usual weren’t interested. Our attention was more on the lake not very far from the area. We decided to escape from that place and made our way to the lake. After getting very close to being caught, there we were all giggling and euphoric. Clicking pictures, some boys even swam in the lake. All of this turned out into a Sunday afternoon picnic. We had beers, sandwiches that we stole from the snacks section.
We were having fun when someone caught the boys’ eye. We saw Alan not very far from the lake. He was filling a beaker with some water. For some experiment or sample, perhaps. The boys didn’t wish to lose this opportunity. They marched towards him as if trying to grab a turkey. They surrounded him and started to nag him. Pulling his shirt. Pushing him. Hitting him, pinching him.
I sat on the side watching all this. To be honest I felt bad for him. A guy like him didn’t deserve to be treated like that. But I was too BOLD to do something like that. To STOP them.
One threw his beaker in the lake. He ran to grasp it. One of them held him while the other kicked him in his gut. He winced in pain.
‘You want that beaker, why don’t you go get it yourself?”
Saying this, they threw him in the lake. For a moment everyone was laughing, finding every struggle of that poor boy hilarious. But after a minute there was silence. We froze. We knew what had happened. The motionless body after a minute of failed struggle swam on the lake. Everybody ran away from the spot without caring to at least fetch the boys body. Like a coward, I ran too. It was today in the news that I saw the coverage of his demise. I haven’t been more guilty in my entire lifetime.” she started sobbing.
I sat there still. Listening to this disgusting, gory tale of teenage. Only the clocked ticked in the paralyzed silence between us. The sound of rain audible hitting the glass of my window pane. A bright flicker of lightening struck above us. And I could hear the crickets in my backyard.
In my mind I wondered why people don’t see the right from the start. Why do they need experience for an obvious thing. I was succumbed to despair. I wanted to say a lot of waspish remarks. But all I could manage to say to her was,
“It wasn’t your fault.”