This memoir was written by my student in my 8th grade writing workshop classroom. She has graciously permitted me to publish her work here. She has requested to be anonymous.
“What the hell, Anu? No, you don’t have a crush on him. I mean, there are so many ‘normal’ guys whom you could have a crush on. But no, you had to have a crush on your teacher. Why can’t you understand? He’s your teacher. You are his student. You know this is wro . . .
She was now looking behind me, towards the door, with shock. Wondering what had happened, I turned. To my horror, Mr. Avnish was standing there casually with papers in one hand and laptop in the other.
“Shit!” I said under my breath. What if he had heard us? What will he say now? How will I cover up?
My thought flood was interrupted when Mr. Avnish said, “Girls, you know, right? You aren’t allowed to be in a classroom without a teacher?’
This time, it was a flood of relief. I let go of the breath I was holding and reminded my heart to beat again.
“Yeah, we didn’t touch anything. We were just having a little chat,” Pranaya said. She grabbed my wrist a bit too tight and half-dragged and half-walked me out of the classroom.
When we were out of his earshot, she turned and looked at me. I folded my hands in front of my chest and gave her my ‘drop-it’ look.
“As you wish,” was all that she said and left me there alone. I closed my eyes and sighed deeply.
The next few days were horrible. People kept coming up to me, all giggly, to say, “Hey, you have a crush on Mr. Avnish right?” I’d grit my teeth, say “No,” and walk away as fast as I could.
I sat down under the B4 staircase during study time. I was in no mood to study. It didn’t take long before the same incessant question popped up in my head.
Do I have a crush on him?
A voice inside me whispers, “Yes, you do.”
Another voice soon catches up, louder: “No, you don’t.”
We are always taught to believe in ourselves. But what does one believe when one has two selves?
Do I have a crush on him? Did I do anything which made Pranaya think that I have a crush on him? Nothing I can recall…Wait. The other day he had patted my back because I had done a good job. I was grinning like a mad person the whole day. But does it prove anything? No, it doesn’t. I don’t have a crush on him.
But what if I had a crush on him? What if everything Pranaya said is true? Do I like hi in that way? Is he really that good looking? What will he say if I tell him? What will my ‘normal’ crush think? Should I go talk to him? No, that’s not an option. Will the school expel me? What if my class teacher gets to know? Will he tell my parents about it? What will my parents say then? Remove me from school? What if other teachers hear about this? Will they start hating me? Will they start taunting me? Will everyone start hating me? What if, in the end, it reaches him? What will his reaction be? Will he hate me like everyone else? What will he think of me?
I felt like a uranium 235, one more neutron and BLAST!
I am confused. No, I am not confused. UGH.
I sat there for another hour with mixed up thoughts and unsure feelings, unable to reach a conclusion.
The next day, I found myself sitting across him in his empty classroom, confusion written all over my face.
“Okay, so what’s wrong?” Mr. Avnish asked.
“So you really wanna listen to what I have got to say?” I replied.
Great. How good I am at asking useless questions in response to questions.
“Yeah sure, go ahead’,’ he said encouragingly.
“You were my teacher last year. There were some good, non teacher-student moments. I have been judged——”
I stopped, unable to complete my sentence.
“I have been judged and they said that——”
I stopped again.
I looked up from my fidgeting hands to find him nodding, gesturing me to continue.
“And people have been saying that I have a crush on you and stuff,” I finally finished the sentence. I felt the temperature drop to -50 degrees while at the same time, it felt like 100 dementors were coming gliding towards me.
“Ok so, what happened?” he asked me.
I told him every single thing: the annoying classmates, the nonsense they talk in front of me and behind my back, the confusion, the mixed thoughts and unsure feelings.
He calmly said, “See, first things first. Having a crush on someone is fine. It is a completely normal thing. You don’t need to be ashamed.”
I thought about that for a few seconds. I could taste my own bile.
“But I don’t have a crush on you.”
When did I decide that?
“That’s good for me and good for you!” he exclaimed.
“How on earth is this good for me?” I questioned.
“You know that you don’t have a crush on me. Then why worry? You aren’t confused about what to believe. Let people say whatever they want to. Don’t pay attention to them”.
“But whatever they say sticks to my mind.”
“Right, because they are your friends. You can’t let them distract you like this. You can’t be like how you are right now. You want to focus on your studies, right?”
I nodded in response.
“You know what, I have a suggestion for you. Why don’t you go talk to the counselor about everything that’s going on? I think that she can help you better than me.”
14 weeks have passed since. I had to gather a truckload of courage before I could speak to Ms. Girija, the counselor. It was all so overwhelming that I don’t remember my conversations with her.
About whether I have have/had a crush on him: I don’t know.
Mr. Avnish’s response, Ms. Girija’s words, and attempting to write this memoir have all helped. After weeks of trying to untangle the mess of thoughts in my brain, I have now decided that it doesn’t matter. I have put the tangled blob of thoughts aside and decided to focus on what’s good for me: to stop obsessing over this and focus on studies.