I was sweating and shaking despite the cold weather. All my classmates stared at me like hungry hawks waiting for the helpless poorly injured mammal to die so that they could pray on me. My tongue went numb. I couldn't speak anymore. I knew that it was Narasimha Rao that actually implemented the Mandal Commission. It was under Morarji Desai that the second Backward Classes commission was set up headed by BP Mandal. I even knew the dates accurately. Then why can’t I speak? But I might mess it up if I speak.
If she would’ve asked to write the whole history of reservation of seats for OBC, I would’ve gladly did so. But talking is a whole different thing. Then suddenly I felt a hand touching my hand. It was my friend, Sruthi. ‘Say something, Tanu. You know this’ she whispered to me. She was right. I should give it a shot. ‘The second backward…’ As soon as I looked at Mam, my mind suddenly froze. And it started going backwards…to 10 th grade. I remembered how Reshma mam one day out of the blue allotted us topics to take classes on. She said each topic was short and easy and you can easily understand and gave us 5 minutes to read. Despite my determined and committed attempt to stay as unnoticeable as possible, she pointed write at my direction and said ‘You, the short haired girl’. It felt like someone stabbed me right in the heart. My heart ached and I’m not talking metaphors here. I stood there with a chalk on my shaking hand feeling like the dumbest person in the class.
I was given the easiest topic ‘displacement reaction’ and I could’nt even utter a word. I just wrote the equation and stood there, my eyes watering up slowly and all the students just stared, some with ‘what a dumbo she is’ look and some with utter sympathy. Then I looked at Mam and she just stood there with a look that read ‘pathetic’. But at least that was science and I was’nt an ardent fan of it. But I like humanities, especially politics. I like learning about the Constitution and how the government works and our political history.
‘Tanya? Just sit down, please’ Sandya Mam said bringing me back to the present, feeling just as dumb as I felt back in 10th grade. I sat down keeping my head down. Sruthi let a long sigh making me feel more hopeless. I saw two or three idiots looking at me and laughing and Alan, wearing a specs larger than him, looked at me with that look that said ‘you don’t even know this?’. I brought my head to the floor again.. as I always do.
I went back home and the war had already begun. For the last couple of days, it was ‘the cold war’ in here. And although it was a relief, just like the world was always anxious of the cold war escalating into a ‘hot war’, I was scared too. Even though the world’s fear did’nt turn out to be real, mine did… TODAY.
‘WHERE ARE YOU GOING? COME BACK HERE,’ My dad yelled. ‘I HAVE BETTER THINGS TO DO THAN TALK TO SOMEONE WHO NEVER UNDERSTANDS’, Mom yelled back.
I took my Bluetooth headphone out of my bag and connected it to my phone. Buying the headphone was the only good thing my Dad ever did for me. Of course, they do pay our fees, put food on the table, drop us to school and all that but that’s just it. There has never been anything beyond that. My home is what, American movies often refer to as; a broken home. I went upto my room and lay down. I could hear the sounds of machine gun; not real machine gun.
My parents are’nt at that point where they would shoot each other! But who knows, if they actually do get a gun, they might.
My brother, Tapan was playing video games. Then suddenly the sound of the game disappeared. ‘Hey dude, what’s up?’. Then there was a pause for a few seconds. ‘I know she’s into me’ he said and then he laughed. Of course, she is. Everyone is. The funniest thing is that,there is nothing common about us than the fact that we have the same parents. Everyone thinks of him as the coolest guy in the school. And he has a lot of friends. I have none. Sruthi is just a girl my class teacher forced me to sit with to be friends. It’s basically an arranged friendship.
I increased the volume and immersed myself in my favourate song; "Demons" by Imagine Dragons. I heard it when I was at 8th grade. It has been my favourite ever since. Whenever I feel low, I listen and cry to it, after the crying session is over, I would feel a little light and try to do other things like watch movies and study.
I was walking towards the canteen the next day keeping my head to the ground as usual.
‘Hey there’s your weird sister’ someone said from the back.
‘Shut up, dude’ it was Tapan.
‘Hey,’ he called me from the back
‘Mom and Dad would be late today. Here’s the key’, he threw me the key. I somehow managed to catch it.
‘I’m going out with my friends. So I would be late as well,’ he said and then walked away with his idiot friend. The idiot looked at me and made a weird face and smirked. Tapan smacked his head without turning towards him or me.
I went home and locked myself in my room.
I binge watched buzzfeed videos until the wifi was down. It would’ve been so great if I were pretty like Britney and Ashley. Or pretty and funny and talented like Kate Mc Kinnon from SNL. How can one person have all the best qualities? And how would it feel to be strong and to lead like Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Tulsi Gabbard and… is it weird that I know all the possible Democrat candidate for the 2020 presidential election in US? .
I heard a sound downstairs. They must’ve had a spare key. I don’t wanna go down and see the never ending battle between them. The yelling sound was really rising. Wait, what’s that weeping sound? It does’nt feel like it’s neither of them. Is it Tapan?! I went downstairs without even thinking a second.
It was Tapan. I’ve never seen him like this. His face was all red and blotchy.
‘WHAT DID WE EVER DO TO YOU, HUH? Dad yelled, this time with all his might and it felt as if the whole house was shaking. Maybe it really did.
‘YOU DON’T HAVE TO, DAD! YOU BOTH DESTROYED US, OUR WHOLE CHILDHOOD AND OUR PATH TO ADULTHOOD WITHOUT ACTUALLY EVER DOING ANYTHING TO US!!’
‘Don’t yell at your father, Tapan!’ my mother said trying to keep her calm.
‘What’s happening?!’ I asked concerned.
‘Your brother is SICK, Tanya, he said. Then he turned to him, ‘The fact that you are my son makes me sick!’ he said with a disgusted look in his face.
‘Tanya, it’s not like that. He will be fine if he gets treatment,’ Mom said ignoring Dad.
‘Treatment?! What are you talking about??’ I asked again.
‘I don’t like girls, Tanu,’ he said trying really hard not to cry ‘You’re saying you’re..?’
‘Yeah..’ he said..
I just stared at him thinking of what exactly to say when Dad interrupted my thoughts.
‘I’ve decided. Go to your aunt’s house tomorrow and stay there for a few days. We’re both going to take your brother somewhere. I know someone who can fix him.’
‘Dad, I’m not sick. This is not a disease. I’ve spend years thinking I was mentally ill. But now I know I’m not. American psychology asso…’ he started to say.
‘STOP!’ he yelled and then he aggressively walked towards him and before he could do what I was sure he was going to do, I pulled him backwards, towards my side.
‘Please, dad’ I begged ‘Don’t’. Tears were rolling down his cheeks by the time. ‘It’s late. I’m taking him upstairs. Goodnight’
I took him to my room and gave him a glass of water. He drank it furiously, his tears dripping in the glass as he was drinking.
‘I thought you liked…’ I began.
‘I was pretending.’ he said ‘My whole life is a drama...’
We sat on my bed, quiet for a while.
‘Do you remember when we were young whenever I got injured while playing, you would give me a piece of orange and tell me it was a tablet to cure the wound. Do you have any remedy to cure or at least reduce the pain in here?’ He pointed to his chest.
‘Yeah I do actually,’ I said. I played the song which is the best remedy to all sorts of emotional pains.
“When you feel my heat
Look into my eyes
It’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide
Don’t get too close
It’s dark inside
it’s where my demons hide
It’s where my demons hide.”
I felt my cheeks getting wet. But, for the first time I was not the only participant in the scheduled crying sessions.
We were both facing our demons, TOGETHER.