Actually, I had seen Maya in the bus for a long, long time. She was two batches ahead of me, and everyday sat in the very first seat in the bus, alone. Once, when I didn’t have a place to sit in the bus, I asked her to move in so I sit, fearing that she would pass a scathing comment, as was so common among my fellow batch mates. Surprisingly, she didn’t. She gave a cute smile and moved in.
The very same day I met her again in the library. The first thing I noticed was that she was reading Agatha Christie, and I was riveted. No one read Agatha Christie here. I stopped myself just in time from making a really sarcastic comment. I was astounded at myself. Holy shit, had I transformed into one of those book hating freaks?
I was pretty uncomfortable and constantly on guard after that, lest I should say something out of place that would destroy this budding friendship. But I needn’t have bothered. Maya had been in the school for a good eleven years. Those comments didn’t pierce her anymore.
She was the one who had told me that the most valuable thing in this world is individuality. If we try to change our ways just for the sake of fitting in, we turn into a herd of sheep. We lose our identity. She indirectly taught me another thing too. We cannot stand against the tide in spate, for it will drag us into its depths and crush us. If we give in and let it take us where it will, we do not have a future for our life is controlled by another force. In such a case, the only way to survive is to not challenge it.
‘They can say what they like’ she used to say, ‘Ten years down the line; you won’t even remember a word of what they said. You have your own goal, and you work for it. Let them waste their life if that’s what they want to do.’