In grade 8 a friendship had developed between one of the most attractive and intelligent girls in class and another girl, who was quite introverted and thus selective about her friends. I remember her as an ever smiling and unassumingly intelligent girl. This friendship was a very close and loving one. They would do everything together and most of us were indifferent to it, We hardly gave it a thought, initially.
The fact of their friendship must have festered in AN’s mind for a long time.She had always nursed a feeling of awe mixed with jealousy for this intelligent and attractive girl. One day, she could take it no longer. Gathering her group around her she said that there was something very abnormal about their friendship. It was just not right. She then spoke about homosexuality, a word that only a few knew the meaning of in that conservative school. Those who knew the meaning gasped as if a new understanding of this friendship had come to light. Those who were told the meaning(also the very orthodox girls) labeled these girls with the one word that was the ultimate in our lingo to describe a fallen person “Sooo shameless!!!!”, saying it out aloud, after making a dramatic gasping sound and covering their mouths.
AN succeeded in making the others alienate these girls. They would get strange looks, no one would talk to them after school or before. They were spoken about in barely concealed whispers. Many dirty, holier than thou looks were shot at them.
The effect was tragic. These two girls, with no one else to talk to, remained even closer together. They rejected and attempt made to talk to them by the few who would ignore AN’s dictates. This made them lose out on possible allies as well. They became like Siamese twins. On many occasions we would see them crying together and none of us dared to approach them. It was as if they had created a protective psychic shield around them that no one could penetrate. They ate little, sometimes not eating at all or eating just one meal in a day. We saw them get thinner. We saw them put on a brave front but break emotionally. No one , none of us did anything to help them.
Thankfully summer holidays are the best drug of forgetfulness and in the new term the friendhsip had ended and they related to each other as they would to anyone else.No one brought up the incidents of the previous academic year. Maybe, because of us a friendhsip had ended but I think, in the circumstances, it was better it did.