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You used to be the perfect one. Every time I saw you get another “Prefect” badge or the “Best All Rounder” award, my heart used to lurch and hammer feverously against my chest because I knew that I was more deserving. Every time you beat me and ran ahead of me in the race, I lost courage and my so called ‘faith’ in life staggered. Every time you received a proud ‘thump’ on your back while I stood in the corner panting and tired of trying to keep up, I knew that I was nothing but a loser. Every bead of sweat on my forehead was a constant reminder of how much I failed after working so hard while it was all just a left-hand game for you. My legs couldn’t keep up and my brain was tired of tormenting its own self. Life was unfair; it still is. I had started to feel that God took sides. Maybe he loved you more.
While my futile attempts at gathering away attention went unnoticed, you always managed to steal the show with a big, bright beautiful smile on your charming face. The enormous badges hanging limply on your chest pocket used to shine bright with pride, every time you made your Mother and your teachers proud of you. You knew that I went green with envy every single time your name got announced in the assembly; you knew that my heart sank every time a new title got attached to your string of honors.
You knew that deep inside I was crying and my heart was withering in pain while on the surface, I managed to plaster a fake smile.
And you never said a word.
Trouble sharpens the vision. It is in our times of distress that we can see that what is clearly wrong with this blighted world of ours is the fact that misery loves company. And seldom gets it.
I had started to feel disgusted at the sight of my own self in the mirror. I tried to look more like you; maybe accounting to my self invented paradox that if I looked more like you, maybe I’d become more like you. I tried to walk like you; talk like you and even imitate your hand writing. You saw me suffering; you saw me trying to balance your perfect stature on my thin legs. You saw me smiling weekly whenever they said that my script writing is similar to yours.
And you never said a word.
Every good story surfaces a turning point that twists melodramatically and sweeps everything within its range, into a deep shadow of hatred, lust and the most fearful and coincidentally frequent of all, death. Things like that happen in the movies or maybe a few sitcoms meant for the ‘ladies of the household’. Yes, things like that don’t happen to real and ordinary people, your ‘average’ or maybe ‘regular’ people like us whose constant worries and boys, school and homework. And in my case, perfection. We are devoid of anything that is particularly gossip-worthy for the fat women next door for we are living nothing but a dull, boring and a monotonous life.
But God has his own story being played out for us. We are mere dolls, playing around and killing time. God is clever; he has filled us to the brim with the most perturbing sensation that can make a lackluster day seem like spring; that can make the happiest of the lovers weep in agony. He has crammed us up with emotions.
And then he sits back and enjoys the foreplay of his story; critically analyzing the ‘characters’ and just to have some more fun, conjures up some other ‘twist’.
For instance, you were the perfect one. And yet you became the victim.
I still remember May 23 as if it were yesterday. I remember a flash of incidents, happening so fast that at times, the frames of my movie seem like a blur. He left you that night, your little brother. He was the cutest little kid, playing around happily and being the centre of attention of your little family. Until that very day when he died of an electric shock.
The next stills from my movie feature you sobbing in a corner of your room running over to hug me when I come over to your house. You entangle me into your arms, refusing to let go. You refuse to budge, even a little and in a mess of tears, hair and snot, manage to stutter a very simple question: “Why did a thing like that happen to me?”
I close my eyes and let your tears drain my shirt. I see your tiny body shake and whimper against the surface of my palm clasped onto your back to hold you. I hear your screams. I look into your deep, brown eyes, lost in the emptiness that has replaced the warmth that they were usually overflowing with. I see your lips quiver and I see your gaze dart from place to place, trying to make them believe that everything is alright.
And I can’t say a word.
That day my friend, I realized two very important things.
I was right because like I said before, life is unfair. What happened to your little brother could’ve happened to your neighbor’s son too (who returned home that night in tears because of losing his best friend).
I was wrong about the idea of switching places. I’m not jealous of you anymore because I know what you went through. I was wrong because I was mad at myself for my ‘incompetence’. I was wrong because for the sake of gaining aptness, I was losing myself.
And most of all, I was wrong about the idea of God taking sides. I understood the way he makes the world spin, the reason why he makes time pass quickly. I understood why he made you stronger and I understood how he does his ‘fair play’ of justice.
Today, I know that the truth beneath the perfect façade of every perfect one out there is not so perfect. We all are a part of a different battle that we are fighting with our own selves. It’s just how we portray ourselves.
You’re still perfect, my friend. You still have a lot of badges hanging limply down the breast pocket of your shirt. You still have that amazing smile that makes the knees of most of the guys of my class, buckle.
But today, I don’t curse my fate for not being like you.
Today, I don’t spend hours on end, crying my eyes out and wanting to die.
Because today, I’m happy with what God has given me and thank him every day.
Today I’m happy being me.
And most of all, today I know that I’m not perfect. Maybe because I don’t want to be. Not anymore.
This one was for you, my friend.
I love you.