On the first day of school, pre-Nursery, when my parent/s (or whoever it was) came to pick me up, the teacher and the care-takers—Aaya aunties, we called them— were all praises for me. I hadn’t shed a single tear all day long and even went as far as to console the other kids who were crying, telling them not to cry and that their parents will come and pick them up at lunch time.
I’ve almost always been a little over-the-top outgoing, befriending people who are usually ignored (in some cases, I’ve been ignored back), showing too much enthusiasm, being a teacher’s favourite, having friends who you think love you and basically being everybody’s friends and nobody’s best friend.
I remember being particularly excited when a new academic year starts. Time to make new friends, I always thought. Since I never left school, I didn’t how it would feel like to be at a new school where everybody knew each other for a long time. But I knew it must be pretty scary and feels weird. So I always made the first move. Why not?
I went to them with my best smile and always introduce myself first. “Hi, my name is Parinitha. What’s yours?”
After the first few awkward introductions like, “Where are you from?” ,”Where were you before?” and “What’s your favourite subject?”, I’d throw in a little compliment, maybe her bag was a pretty colour, or she (very rarely, he) had a unique pen, or even a pretty handwriting. It was a very effective way to Win Friends And Influence People.
When I read my first ever self-help book, I was 10 and was going through some friendship-crises in my life. All self-help books are stupid and don’t apply to everyone, as the authors write, I realised, but few things stuck with me. One of the things was: “We are interested in others, when they are interested in us.” So I made very hard, conscious efforts to try to be interested in others. Some found it annoying, others, well, they just found it easier to ignore me.
After 10th standard, I went to a PU (pre university) college for two years. For the first time, I knew how it felt like to be stranger among many other strangers. But that didn’t deter me; I plunged into the this new world with an eye-blinding smile (or so I hope). And a year later, lots of people have confessed that I was pretty darn charming from the first day. Which made them want to be friends with me, more than ever.
I should be proud, but all I feel is that I’m just over-compensating for my physical looks. Okay, I know I shouldn’t dwell much on it, and I’m not, honest, —I’m just coming to terms with it— and that makes people feel proud about me, and forget the word pity. That’s all that matters.