• Pooja Jain

The STD Girl

I rushed towards room 701(a), following the crowd to the extreme corner of our hostel. This area which once used to be bleakly empty, intentionally, was so full of people at this minute that I could barely manage to stand firmly and get a look at what was happening inside. A dull room, a well-tidied bed, and an organized desk portrayed little human interaction and a depressing picture of social life.


The police stretched out a crime scene tape, carefully placing a spacious boundary for investigation around the bed on which laid Karen's lifeless body. I really wasn’t interested in her. Who, after all, would risk their health and enter her room just to get some gossip? I scoffed at this thought and found peace in returning to my dorm.


There was no way that I would risk my life with that.


That day went off, as usual. Karen’s suicide, as it turns out, did oil some gossip, and the rumor was that the police had found a suicide note on her desk, but I wasn’t interested. She wasn’t my friend- she was no one’s friend.

The next day, while on my way to the library, I saw Maya running towards me.

“Hey! Follow me before too many people find out. I don’t want to be late. They found a suicide note; it was there in her bedside drawer. A copy made its way to the school board," she said and grabbed me along with her. Consent…? Huh! Maya was strong-willed, and I knew I had no choice but to follow her.


We stood in front of the board blankly looking at each other with horror, sympathy, and shame following our stare as we read the note:


Dear Ma,


I hope this note reaches you in a good state because I know this would already be the hot topic for every gossip, but that is what I am counting on.

I wish I could return to those days of playing around with Papa, going to church with you, and partying out with my school friends. But God had a different course planned for me. As I write this, I am very ashamed of having failed my destiny. But sometimes I wonder: why me, Ma?


I was relieved that I was going to study elsewhere after all my friends found out that I had hepatitis B. I wanted to lead a normal life.

And, I swear, it was all going very well here. I finally felt included in social circles. I started making friends, meeting people, and living my life without being judged.


I know you had told me to trust no one, but Shrey and I had become so close as friends that I just blurted it out one day. I never knew some trivial detail about my life would spread so fast around the college, and why would people show interest in my health anyway?

But as they say, the world is a cruel place, and the days that followed were no less than a horror movie for me. It started with Shrey avoiding me, whispers emerging as I walked down the corridors, and people maintaining a distance from me. They started uninviting me for house parties and dine-outs. And just in a matter of few days, I was all alone. Room 701(a) became the corner to avoid. And I -- I became the STD girl.

For God's sake, Ma, I wasn’t untouchable. I just had an STD, and I was living with it, at peace with life’s plans for me. Then why couldn’t my friends listen to me for once? Why was I treated like that, Ma? I couldn’t potentially transfer my sickness through thin air.

But people, oh! They were more concerned about my well-being. And so I decided to give it up, for them and me. But before I go, I must tell you that I love you Ma, and I could never repay for all that you have done for me.


Waiting for you at the other end,

Karen

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