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Canteen Talk

Why are you wearing full sleeves in summer?

Aarushi (16) was sitting with her friend Namita (16) and Drishti (16) during recess. She was constantly pulling down her sleeves and was restless. Her friends noticed her behaviour. Worried about Aarushi, her friends ask her about what was going on. Let’s listen to their Canteen Talk. 

Sweatshirt in summer?

It was recess and three friends were sitting in the class, busy eating and chatting. Drishti asked, “Guys have you seen the latest Alia Bhatt film?”

Namita replied, “Yes I did. She looks so beautiful in it. I loved all her dresses.” 

Namita asked Aarushi, “Did you get a chance to watch the film?”

Aarushi was not paying any attention to the conversation, she seemed lost. She was restless and was constantly pulling down her sleeves. Suddenly Drishti noticed her hands. There were scars from cuts on her wrist. Drishti asked, “Aarushi, have you started making cuts on your hands again?” 

“What? Umm… no.”

“Please show me your hands Aarushi.”

“Drishti, there is nothing like that!” 

“It is so hot today, why are you wearing a sweatshirt on such a hot day?” 

Namita interjected, “Aaru, OMG! Did you want to end your life? Bro, is everything ok?”

I am really weird 

Aarushi began to sob, she rolled up her sleeves and showed her cuts. 

“I can’t help it. I thought I had it under control, but I have started making cuts again.”

Namita was shocked, “Why bro, why are you doing this? I am just so shocked. And Drishti, did you know about this?” 

Drishti nodded. 

Aarushi continued, “I don’t know. I thought it was just a one-time thing. To be honest, I am really weird I think. Sometimes I even try to pull my hair. I also have tried to hit myself and even made burns on my skin. I feel like I deserve this pain, this punishment.”

Drishti cried, “Oh no Aarushi, even I thought you just did that once because you know…that guy?” 

Aarushi, “Oh, Viaan, he is an old chapter. He left me for Tanaya!” 

Namita then asked, “Yea Viaan is a legit horrible person. But why punish yourself by doing this Aaru? He cheated. Not you! I am still shocked” 

Aarushi was hesitant at first but then replied, “After Viaan left, I starved myself to look as thin as Tanaya, but then sometimes I…I just can’t stop binge eating. I go for really long runs and tire myself out after that. Dude I just hate myself.”

Anger and frustration

“What man! I  thought this only happens in movies. I can’t believe my own legit friend is doing all these stupid things. Sorry bro, but this has to stop! I am so angry at you,” Namita said. 

“You will never understand. You have a boyfriend! But I have no one. First, it was Amish who rejected my proposal, then I was denied the role of Juliet in the play, I failed my piano exam and then Viaan came into my life and I thought it was all going to be ok. But he too cheated on me! I just feel — so much anger and frustration. Every time I hurt myself, it feels like the tension of this emotional pain is released. But then it all comes back.”

Namita said concerningly, “Aarushi, Amish and Viaan were idiots. Forget them. And that play was going to be so boring. Good that you did not get to play Juliet. But bro, don’t punish yourself. That’s crazy wrong.” 

Drishti added, “Yes, Aaru. If you don’t stop I am going to tell aunty. Or your dad. Wonder if they know?”

“I knew I should not have told you guys! You too are just like everyone else. You are threatening me now!” Aarushi shouted and everyone started looking at their table. 

“Calm down both of you. Everyone is looking. Drishti, this is wrong. She trusted us. We can’t threaten her with parents ki dhamki like this na. We got to help her!” Namita stood up and said. 

Drishti then said sorry and they sat quietly for a while. 

The next step? 

“Bro, I can’t see you like this. That’s why I said I will tell aunty. If not her, then maybe we can go to the school counsellor?” Drishti suggested sheepishly. 

“Radha ma’am? No way! What if she tells my mom and dad and even other teachers about me?” Aarushi was worried.

“She seems nice to me. I went to her after I slapped Sonia! Haha, but I was in class 3 then. You are right. Yes, we can’t trust her so easily,” Namita chimed in. 

“Okay, then what about Misha ma’am? Our Geography teacher. We all love her. She is so cool. She always says we can just talk to her anytime about anything. She is sweet. Aarushi you love her right? She was on your side when you lost that debate competition last year, remember?” Drishti suggested. 

“Guys I promise I won’t do this again. I know Misha ma’am is nice but I don’t want to talk to any teacher!” Aarushi said. 

“See, if you don’t talk to Misha ma’am then I will”, Drishti said, in frustration. 

“I agree with Drishti. You have to speak to someone Aaru. And if you are comfortable with Misha ma’am, then why not her?” Namita asked. 

“What am I even going to tell her? I am crying over boys? That will be super embarrassing, No way!” Arushi argued.
“You don’t have to tell her that. But you can surely ask for help with the feelings that you get after you feel you have failed. You can share the example of the play or the piano class. Cos that’s the real issue. Isn’t it?” Namita asked.
Aarushi chewed on her nail as Namita continued. “We all feel bad after we face rejection of failure. But you are struggling to move on from those feelings. So that’s the bit you have to focus on”, she explained. 

“Thanks, Namita. Your way of framing it makes me feel like less of a monster. I will think about talking to Misha ma’am, I promise, but please give me some time”, Arushi pleaded.

Drishti and Namita shot worried looks at each other. But then nodded and agreed to allow Arushi some time. Drishti spoke first, “Ok but only on a few conditions. You will not harm yourself. If you get those feelings, you will call one of us, whatever time of the day or night and last but not least, you will speak to Misha ma’am within this week. Agree?” 

Aarushi smiled at Drishti’s very dramatic manner. “Ok, I promise”. The bell rang as the three friends did a group hug and got up to walk back to their class. 

Photos: Shutterstock/rawpixel.com/Persons in the photo are models, names changed.

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