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When I was 8 years old, I was traumatised by an incident in which I was very badly treated by the family of a girl I considered a friend.
She was younger to me by one year but we used to get along very well as friends. We used to have good fun and played all sorts of girly games. One thing which I had an upper hand on was dancing, specially my flexibility, and techniques of aping Sridevi on her famous number from Chandani “Mere Haatho mein naun naiun chudiyaan hai”. My friend on the other hand was good with adventurous clambering on trees and I used to truly admire her strength.
We both had different skill and talents and were no less than each other. But one day I found that there was one thing which was missing in her and that was the ‘respect’ for our friendship which I always maintained.
That day she came to my place to inviting me to her younger brother’s birthday (toddler) party in the evening. I was thrilled to have this exclusive invitation as I got to know that nobody else of my age was invited, and that made me feel really special.
In the afternoon, her mother made a point of speaking to my mom, and requested her to send me to the celebration in the evening. This was new to us: being invited not to the friend’s birthday party but friend’s brother’s birthday party.
This is a point to be highlighted because in those days very few families used to celebrate birthdays with friends and relatives. Our family was one of those who always used to keep it as a personal affair and within our budgets.
Deep down I was feeling elated for the bond and love we exchanged which was so special. I dressed up nicely and got a small cute gift for her brother.
Sharp at 6:00 pm I reached her place and I was astonished to see so many of her relatives were already seated. I greeted them all shyly and my friend’s mother took initiative of introducing me to all of them. That was another special moment for me and made me feel close to them more.
But something pricked my heart as my introduction had nothing much but about my love and ability to dance at that age. I was still digesting my new introduction (never ever happened before) that I was blown with another surprise, or shock I must say. Her mother immediately announced about my performance to happen in some time, for which I was not at all prepared. I was confused – should I feel happy about the fame I was about to explore or to feel being used. But being naive to such strategic moves, I made a choice to feel happy at the introduction and the applause and cheering of her relatives.
I immediately wished the little brother and handed over the gift to him which was finally handled by his mother. As a normal child I was keen to be served with the snacks people were already savouring and the cake which was already cut before I entered. They must certainly have noticed the craving for the yummy snacks in my innocent eyes, but I was made to start my performance. I performed it with dignity and received a huge round of applause from all which elevated me to a next level.
Sweating and panting after the dance, I sat in the corner with a glass of an orange drink to quench my thirst. Thereafter I kept waiting for somebody to offer some food or some snacks and treat me well. It was 7:30 pm already and I needed something to eat but more than that, I wanted somebody to treat me well.
I felt disgusted and finally went to her Mom and told her that it was already too late and I need to go back home, expecting that this might make her feel her slip-up of not attending to me as a guest, but to my shock she immediately answered with a yes, saying that I should go home as it was already dark outside, it being the winter season.
I was broken, insulted and felt used, and my ‘dear friend’ was nowhere to take care of me. I turned away and straight away went out. I could feel my face turning red, my heart feeling a pain, and feared to tell this incident to my family as this would bring disgrace to my friend and her family.
I kept a smiling facade and entered my house. Luckily they were having their dinner, and I could also lay my hands on some dal chawal made by mom. They asked me if I had returned with an empty stomach, to which I showed my eagerness to have home food in comparison to those tasteless cold snacks.
I was lucky that I didn’t sleep on an empty stomach, but yes my heart was broken. I was too young to explain the feeling, but today I can comprehend what a small 8 year old girl would have felt like. I never knew that my friend never took our friendship in the same spirit as I did. The relationship was more for convenience than mutual respect.
I urge everyone reading this true incidence to never treat a child as a source of entertainment, and play with their self respect.
I still feel that wound inside even after so many years of that incident. She was not a friend anymore to me. Her family lost all respect in my eyes from that very day, and I got vigilant about such over-sweet treatment from anyone thereafter. I make sure that no kids are ever treated with disrespect, so that they don’t develop any such negative memory.
I finally divulged this incident recently to my family, and knowing that story they felt aghast about the experience I went through when I was a small child. They were appalled to know that even after facing such discourteous treatment, I chose not to bring disgrace to my friend and her family that time.
Image source: pixabay
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