“It is said, “First impressions never have a second chance.” And this held true when my parents first met Meet, and it was somewhat my mistake. He had gotten into a fight with some of the bullies at school and his face and clothes were filled with dirt and blood. I reasoned with him on the bus, that if he’d go home like that, his father would get angry and I forced him to come to my house instead to clean up, not knowing that my dad would be there.
Dad was not happy when he saw him, he didn’t say anything, but I could see him expressing disgust. Over the next month, I was counselled and re-counselled that he was not the ‘right kind of guy’ to hang out with, to the point of brainwash.
This worked in my parents’ favor, when a small misunderstanding occurred between us, and in a moment of anger, I said things I shouldn’t have and broke up with him. He begged and pleaded with me, apologizing, but I did not budge, my mind clouded by the smoke of my parents’ words.
A few months passed and I had moved on with my life, making new friends, and campaigning for the position of head girl. I even stopped using the bus, and Meet slowly receded back to his world, back to the lonely boy who sat alone on the bus. On the few occasions that I would bump into him at school, I’d ignore him completely and walk away. I knew I had broken his heart because his smile was gone.
The day after I won the elections, Meet came into my class in the recess. Thinking about it in retrospect, it would have taken him a lot of courage to do that. Without a second thought I screamed at him to get out. He was trying to say something, but my own voice overshadowed his. He was coming towards me. He was looking thinner than usual, and much weaker. In a fit, a classmate of mine pushed him hard and he fell. I just kept looking, not stopping my classmate, or the laughter that ensued, and he left.
I didn’t think much about the incident, until the next morning, when I found an envelope addressed to me kept on the front door. It read,
“Here is the speech I promised to write for you.
This is what I had come to give you yesterday.
I’m sorry for everything.
This was the last I heard from him. It turned out that his parents had disowned him, and he had to return to Mumbai. It was the same day I had humiliated him. I was cruel to him the very day he needed the only friend he had. I tried looking for him everywhere, but he had vanished.
20 years on, this has remained the biggest regret of my life.”