“She doesn’t like you.” “He doesn’t like you much.” “They didn’t like you, you butted in.”

It cannot be mere co-incidence hearing lines like these two days in succession. Tritely and truthfully, I responded with, “Hmm…” and admitted that as it was in school so it was in Law School. To elaborate, things hadn’t changed much, in fact, they were so darn amusing that I found it in myself to crack jokes about the utter hilarity of the situation. Everybody who knew me as I knew myself could gather that I barely fit in that 15 girls group which like my extremely close friend put it, “You had butted into.” and quite intentionally at that. Owing to an extremely ridiculous set of circumstances which had a lot to do with the folks, I had to find some way to get my bearings right especially at that stage when girls forge friendships for life, so, who better at that time to hang onto than my best friend from V grade. While she reluctantly let me back in, I instantly felt and still do feel like an outsider. Before I knew it, I was also hanging onto another friend cum cousin for support. From being an arrogant know-it-all achiever to grovelling at someone’s skirts for succour and entry into unknown territory, it cannot be phrased better than a ‘fall from grace’ or that proverbial ‘slap in the face’. I couldn’t be more grateful to that group for admitting poor ‘ol me in their sorority. I cannot begin to imagine now how I survived through those years of turmoil, what made me hold my head up and walk through the corridors of school and attempt to talk to people or be nice to them. Some of them were old friends who had known me at a happier time but now even they felt nothing more than pity. So all those times passed and I entered into Law School so extremely jubilant at having finished school FINALLY. Turns out just when you think you’ve learnt all the lessons and are thoroughly equipped for the next stage in life, you receive those lightning bolts of epiphanies and you just do it all over again. In fact, this time you learn a far greater lesson and keep wondering where could you have possibly gone wrong again.  You certainly couldn’t have repeated old mistakes, but this time newer and far graver ones were made and boy, did you pay. You realise the extent to which you are still paying when you realise that things haven’t changed all that much, one month post Law School and five years post school, just as that great group never liked you, nobody much liked you in Law School too, just the way that great group still speaks scathingly of you, people from Law School do too.

This is not my attempt at self-pity or a desperate call for friends but a striking epiphany, that things don’t change all that much at the core and this is the reason why I cannot help but abhor people, harbouring this deep mistrust and wariness of every creature alive not knowing which way the person might turn, attempting to completely close oneself up tightly wound up enough so nobody can pry open any part of you, closeting oneself enough to never want to know anybody and most importantly, not wanting anyone to know about you as even the smallest piece of information can be used against you. I am in the process of reading one of those Corporate novels and cannot agree with its premise more, that nothing can prepare you for the next stage, all your past experiences cannot equip you enough, that somewhere you have to find it in yourself to adapt  / change / adjust / unlearn and relearn everything all over again. I guess all this ties in with that very inspiring though that one can start / begin anytime all over again. I am a firm proponent of this belief, it provides hope at times when things don’t seem moving one’s way, that you can just stop and start all over again. Not always true though yet just one of those ephemeral beautiful thoughts which provide some semblance of hope when the tides turn against you.

We rely on all sorts of people, family, friends, relatives, strangers to reinforce our faith in humanity, we wish that someday all that trust deficit is redeemed by someone so we can start believing, we wish that the pool of wariness we swim in with guarded eyes would be sucked dry by someone, we wish desperately to find some way out of pain, hurt and rejection, we wish that we could hold onto all those great much cherished values of self-respect, pride and honour and never come across as pathetic, weak and needy, we wish that we didn’t have to be rude and curt to be ‘professional’ that we could just be warm nice people who could sit down and have a conversation without ulterior motives or that constant recurring though of, “What is he / she / they thinking about me?”, we wish we just wouldn’t care anymore… at the end of it all, we just wish to be ‘liked’. All human endeavours at the end of the day strive towards this goal of ‘being accepted and liked’. Wholeheartedly accepted as one is and genuinely liked enough to leave behind people who would feel a sense of loss when you die. My Cousin Brother may not have had the greatest family but he leaves behind people who truly grieve at his loss, who shed tears when they think of him and some even wish he were back again with them. One can’t help but be touched enough even through that cold, hard and unfeeling interior.

This is what made me realise that we just wish that someone – anyone for that matter would just help us redeem our faith in ourselves and in humanity. Unfortunately, not many of us feel that hopeful after being failed and after waiting that long…

So when I spoke to my friends, two extremely close people who brought up the subject of being disliked, I just heaved a huge sigh about the frequent recurrence of such situations and laughed out loud. What is even more amusing is that neither the ghosts of the past and neither the ghosts of the near past have left me in peace, they haunt me in their own way.

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