Written By: Rafia Asim
With a stern look, I enter the college gates. Anyone can bet I’m off to do something of extreme importance. I look like I have a purpose, as I walk confidently to class. The teachers notice me in the crowd. I’m the first one to raise my hand and object to anyone who’s trying to get away with a flying statement or a vague accusation. No one gets away with that when I’m around. I speak loud and clear with the conviction of a professor. I have the most solid evidence and the most crucial suggestions. The teacher compliments me and I roll my eyes and act bored. “How can anyone be cooler than me?” I think, and just then the class is over and it’s time to socialize. My coolness melts into the drain. I stare at my feet and emit awkwardness like bad odor. I say all the wrong things and embarrass myself. I crack a joke and no one laughs. I give up and spend time shifting my weight from one foot to the other.
I have to confess, I have an IQ of 65 (no wait! make that 50) when it comes to socializing. It’s the idea of other people co-existing with me in the world that I find hard to concur. Had it been just me, I would’ve made history, changed geography, and purchased food from the canteen for once. If you see a girl in the cafeteria who’s finding it hard to push through the crowd and get food and consequently is standing there like an idiot who’s waiting for divine help and is easily being pushed further back every second, there is high probability that it would be me. Plus, it’s not like I’ve managed to improve a tad bit in the past 20 years. The entire time I was in pre-school, I had my lunch snatched by a bully. One day I couldn’t stand the injustice and decided that I might be a 3 year old minor but I had my civil rights and enough was enough. So I started crying, hoping that someone will see me and ask what was wrong. So clearly, the problem started early.
I made my first real friend in the fourth grade, that too with a strange accident. First day of the new class, I enter and sit by a relatively innocent looking girl. She stares back at me like I’ve done something wrong. ‘That’s my friend’s seat. Find another place to sit.’ she says. I refuse, I’m not quite sure why. I guess God decided to intervene because he realized I was defected. So the girl, whom I forced to sit with me, became my first friend. I happily spent my time arguing with her about everything. Just because I had finally found a friend didn’t mean I wouldn’t have tried to lose her, now does it? She was more patient then I had hoped though.
Now, 10 years later, nothing has changed, I’m afraid. Every time I find myself in a crowd, I act like a failure of evolution. People often notice me standing like a ‘gawachi gaan’ as they say in Punjabi, a “lost soul” for the rest of you. I’m usually looking around, fidgeting, talking to myself, checking my cell phone for messages I know I haven’t received etc, etc. In college, every time my friends stop to meet their friends, I curse fate under my breath. The weight shifting and foot staring exercise is repeated till both of my feet are tired and I’ve made myself felt sufficiently unwanted. ‘Standing there and looking awkward’ is what I excel in. Plus, the awkwardness is contagious, which just adds to the fun.
If it were up to me, I would rarely go meet people, except maybe other social retards. I don’t mind initiating conversations with them, since at least then I can join someone and we can be awkward together. People out there who manage to say the right thing at the right time, you and I are at war. Spill your secrets and maybe I’ll compromise and devise a slightly less exploitative peace treaty. Otherwise, I’m onto you!