Shravya alias "Shraavs", as her friends called her, was the life of 9th standard section A. She was intelligent, funny, good at sports and studies, dancing, public speaking, and was popular. She always smiled and sported a smart short haircut. She always wore a neatly washed and ironed uniform and carried an expensive school bag. She always had a group of girls around her at school. The teachers liked her a lot. She volunteered for everything and helped when she could. She was a part of the NSS and the interact club. It felt good be liked by everyone. Her juniors admired her. Her seniors acknowledged her. She was a very happy girl.
But not today. Today she was angry. She had not even changed out of her uniform. She sat and sulked in her room. For the first time she had been asked to go to the Principal's room, not to be congratulated but to be punished. And it was all because of that new girl, Vaishnavi. That quiet girl who did as well as she did in studies. The one who sat in the in the first row and competed to answer all the questions that the teachers asked in class. The one with her hand always raised up in class. The one who wore second hand faded uniforms and came with her long hair well oiled, plaited, folded and tied with white ribbons. The one who came walking to school with an old school bag and hand me down books. She was the one who ratted on her.
The thing about Shraavs, was that she loved competition. And challenges. There were two gangs in the class. One was hers, of course. The other was Anu's. They were the ones who always played the pranks and spent most of their time in school waiting outside the Principal's office. Sat in the last bench. And competed with her in the culturals. This was one occasion that Anu had challenged her to play a prank. If there was one thing Shraavs could not resist, it was a challenge. There was nothing she could not do. Or so she believed.
It was unfortunate that, though the prank was executed to perfection, the principal decided to enter the class precisely at that moment to speak to the teacher. The whole class had stood silent in fear. The only one who had spoken was Vaishnavi. Told her the complete story. And she, Shraavs, the darling of the class, had been punished.
Her mom came into the room. "What happened?" she asked.
After explaining Shravya said, "Not one person said a thing. She had to open her mouth ...mom!! If she had kept quiet I would not have been embarrassed in front of all my friends and got punished too!! I have never been punished in school!!"
Her mom put her hand on her shoulder and said, "But you did do something wrong. And she was just being truthful. It takes a lot of guts to speak the truth. Let it go."
This just made her more angry. Shravya shouted,"So you support her too!! I don't care if she was right....I hate her!!"
She went out of her way to make Vaishnavi miserable at every opportunity from that day on. She would make fun of the way she looked, her old books, her bag, the way she walked, talked and how she sat and studied at lunch and at any free time she got.
It was the half yearly exams. The students were busy discussing maths formulae before entering the examination hall. They settled in their seats numbered in their roll number order. An hour passed. All the girls were engrossed in their papers. The examiner who was walking up and down the hall suddenly stopped next to Shravya, bent down, and picked up a small folded piece of paper that was lying on the floor next to her foot.
"Shravya, what is this?" asked the examiner, as she opened the piece of paper that, much to her shock, contained a list of formulae.
"Ma'am! its not mine", exclaimed Shravya. "I would never do such a thing. I promise its not mine." She cried, tears streaming out of her eyes.
The whole hall stood in stunned silence. "Ma'am, I did not do this. I don't know how that paper came there. I promise. Its not mine." she cried, as she looked around for support. Not a soul budged. No one had believed her. All those friends who were around her all the time, the teachers who had adored her, her classmates who complimented her on every thing...were all quiet.
One calm voice spoke up, "It was not her. I saw who did it." The voice said. Vaishnavi walked towards the examiner and said, "Ma'am, it was not her. I sit two rows behind. I saw what happened. I'd rather not mention the name in front of everyone. May I please come with you to the Principal's office?" she asked.
The examiner nodded and they walked out of the hall. Another teacher took her place and asked them to continue to write the exam. Vaishnavi joined them ten minutes later. Shravya was shaking. She could not believe what had just happened. She turned around and looked at Vaishnavi over her shoulder. She was writing furiously and did not look up. Tears rolled down her eyes as she tried to get back to writing the exam. She waited outside the exam hall for Vaishnavi to finish. They had given her extra time to finish the paper to compensate for the time lost.
As Vaishnavi walked out...Shravya rushed to her. "Thank you. I mean it. I am sorry for all that I said and did to you in the last few weeks. I was being horrible. I was angry. But I am glad you spoke up today. I can't believe no one else even supported me. thanks thanks thanks....will you even consider being friends with me? I know I have been bad...", she continued rambling, "but please...i will make it up to you. I would love to have you as my friend." she looked into Vaishnavi's eyes as she spoke.
Vaishnavi smiled her quiet smile and said, "Of course, but you have to put up with all the truth I tell."
Both of them laughed. "Hmmm....you could say I am a friendly foe...can you? By the way...that's an oxymoron. How have you prepared for tomorrow's English exam? You want to study together?" asked Vaishnavi.
Shraavs nodded. "Sure Vaishu...my friendly foe" she said as they laughed and shook hands.
This week’s WOW prompt is ‘A Foe Turned Friend’.