Other lives

When I was in middle school I used to regularly attend a “bible class.” Twice a week, we had about an hour of rather generic discussions at a priest’s house, after the music class that he taught (yes, I played the recorder, too). It was actually not bad at all, in contrast to the vacation bible school at the local church that my parents made me try at a younger age, where I absolutely refused to return after the first day. There was never any question of doubting the basic tenets (tenet, I suppose), and no one was discussing politics, as it was just whatever a group of pre-teens could relate to. And who could object to not lying or stealing or “being mean”?

One day, it so turned out that it was just me and a bunch of girls. None (I don’t even remember the exact number any more, but the possible total was never more than 3 or 4 in any case) of my friends had showed up. I was around 11 or 12. Girls were both weird and, occasionally, scary. It so happened that I was having some adolescent spat or the other with one of the girls present. I don’t know quite how the conversation got here, but at some point she declared quite confidently that I couldn’t find more than 5 people in class who “liked” me.

I had always been rather socially awkward, and in any case generally preferred a good book or movie to sports or things other people did together, so in the sense of not having more than 5 people who enjoyed regularly spending time with me, this wasn’t necessarily an outrageous proposition. And yet, it rankled. What did “like” mean, anyway? Surely I was liked. I decided to find out. I bet her she was wrong, went a few rounds of verbal football, and the next day, I went around the classroom asking people to sign a piece of paper saying they liked me.

Everybody signed, if I remember right. In some sense I suppose it’s hard not to, when someone is asking you to do something so ridiculous . Emboldened, I even took it to my teachers. I went into the staff room during the lunch break and passed around this little sheet. My science teacher – this I do remember perfectly – refused, saying she didn’t need to sign some paper to show that she “liked” me. I pushed a little, but not very much. After all, I had already surpassed the required number several times over.

At the end of the day, I went and showed this girl the paper. She grinned and said I had won the bet, in a way that I then took to mean sheepishness, but in retrospect could well have been some combination of amusement or scorn.

I remember feeling positively giddy with happiness for a few minutes, before I felt downright miserable.

This story has no point.

4 thoughts on “Other lives

  1. It’s funny how many scenarios such as the one described are difficult to imagine in real life today, being mirrored in social media. In any case, at some point of time, the socially awkward young adult has had enough likes, and figures out (decides?) that (s)he doesn’t need to be liked anymore, not by a wide-open peer group anyway. The validation is of little value now. The young adult feels free. The young adult can be him/herself. Perhaps (s)he isn’t liked for that. But (s)he doesn’t care. Not anymore.

    I honestly wonder, then: would the pre-teen, looking at one’s older self through a magic telescope, be proud of his/her young adult identity?

  2. Punnoose! I wonder who the girl is? πŸ˜› and if its any consolation, I am pretty sure I have always liked you πŸ™‚

    And for all the spats and arguments we’ve had, Pallikoodam and our class wouldnt have been the same without you.

    • Awww, how sweet πŸ˜€ .

      The facts have been stylized, obviously, but I am trying to not be ashamed of saying that the story is substantively true, so you could certainly find out if you wanted to.

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