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Nupur looked at her reflection in the mirror. She could not recognise herself. Who was this girl staring back at her? Wearing a black short dress that barely covered her butt. Red lipstick that was smudged with all the smooching. Mascara smeared all over her tear stained face. And a bloody blue mark on her forearm. She desperately tried to cover it with concealer from her make-up kit. Or else her mother and father would get to know. And then they would start with the boring lecture again. She shut her ears with her hands. They just didn’t understand her! So outdated!
She was completely disoriented right now. Her head was spinning. “Ha! Atleast I’m not ‘Nerdy Nupur’ anymore,” she said, before she fell on the ground.
Nupur went to a reputed school, and was always a topper in her class. She had a passion for literature, and knew every Shakespeare story by heart! Infact, in her spare time she wrote beautiful poetry. It was no surprise that she was house captain and the editor of the school newspaper. Her parents Shyam and Alka Agarwal were extremely proud of her. Her father worked at a multinational bank and her mother was a partner in an advertising agency. They both wanted her, their only child, to get into a good university abroad. It was their wish, and they had been working hard and saving up money since she was born for her higher education. All through the years they spoke to her so much about it, that somehow it had also become Nupur’s own dream. She had pinned her hopes on Oxford or Yale. So she spent most of her time studying and reading. She was very happy hiding behind her thick glasses in her world of books and computers.
Nupur started studying for her 12th board exams, six month earlier. She wanted to do really well because these were the grades that would determine her future. She made a precise schedule and decided to stick by it, no matter what. She worked hard, putting in hours of concentration. But for some reason, as it came closer, she was getting nervous. What if she didn’t do well? She wouldn’t be able to face her parents. Also, she had given up so much for this. She never partied like her other friends! She never even ‘hung out’ and wasted her time. She was fed up of people teasing her. “Nerdy Nupur, Nerdy Nupur”, they all laughed. Her besties Pooja and Payal had long given up trying…. “Hey, I have to study, you girls go have fun”, she would reply. There would soon come a time where she would show everyone what she was working towards! The day when she would receive that acceptance letter to Oxford and Yale.
A couple of months before the exams Nupur couldn’t study. As much as she tried to focus she just couldn’t. Every time she would open a test paper to practise she would get an anxiety attack, become breathless and start sweating. Her parents noticed that she was rather secretive, was hardly eating and rapidly losing weight. She had dark circles under her eyes and seemed distracted all the time. They tried talking to her but she snapped. They tried again, and this time she screamed, “Leave me alone”, before slamming her door shut. What had happened to their bright and polite child?? Why was she shutting them out? She was so different. Her exams were really close and they were getting worried. They tried talking to her friend Pooja. “She doesn’t talk to us anymore, aunty. She has some new friends now. Nupur has changed”, she said nervously and hung up.
Pooja was right. It all started when Nupur had gone for maths tutions to her classmate Aryan’s house. He lived in a big fancy apartment, in a new building, closeby. And the teacher preferred coming to his house as he had a massive dining table which could accommodate the batch of nine, who studied together. Nupur was very different from this group of rich, spoilt and flamboyant kids, who barely managed to pass tests! Yet she had to bare their company for the past one year, as she was keen on the tuitions to better her grades. One day, Aryan noticed that Nupur was fidgeting with her pen constantly and was not being able to focus on what the teacher was saying. Infact, that day she got all her sums wrong. That was so unlike her, because she was always on top of things. When the class ended, Nupur was waiting for her mom to fetch her. She had called on her mobile to say she was running late as she had got delayed at an important meeting. Nupur knew she was not allowed to walk home or take a taxi in the dark, so she waited.
Aryan called her to his room to watch some TV, since the others had left for their homes. His parents were divorced, and he lived alone with his father and older brother. There was a rumour that his mother had an extramarital affair and got remarried to her lover, because his father who was a leading businessman in the country, had no time for his family. But Nupur did not like to gossip about others or believe the grapevine. She was only concerned with her tuition class. But of late she felt something was going wrong. Why was she so edgy and upset? She had also started getting angry with her parents, and hating them. Why did they expect so much from her? She didn’t want to go through this. Again she broke out into a sweat!
Aryan was watching her. Though she was looking at the TV, he could tell that her attention was elsewhere. She looked lost and confused, and he just wanted to hold her. No one knew this, but Aryan had a crush on Nupur for a long time. He could not tell his friends because after all she was ‘nerdy Nupur’, and he was the coolest guy in class! But somehow he could see beyond her rimmed spectacles… big brown deep eyes, with long curly lashes, that made his heart skip a beat. He could see beyond the drab blue-and-white striped uniform…a soft and silky body with beautiful curves, that made him yearn for her. The way her lips parted when she answered the maths teacher. She was innocent and untouched. And so bloody intelligent. Unlike all his other bimbo girlfriends. He went and sat next to her. “What’s wrong, sweetheart,” he said huskily, moving a stray lock of hair away from her face. Nupur froze. She had never been so close to a boy before. And this was ‘Aryan’, who all the school-girls were crazy about! He never acknowledged her normally, and behaved like she didn’t exist. “Nothing, I’m fine”, she stammered shyly. “You look troubled, darling,” he said softly. She was tongue tied and was breathing heavily. He was so good at charming girls, something he had picked up from his elder brother! When he felt she had caught her breadth, he said, “Why don’t I give you something that will make you feel great”!”Sure”, Nupur replied, not knowing what to do or say. He went to his cupboard and brought back a white pill. “Here, trust me, you will love it”, he said sitting next to her again, and stroking her hair gently. Something told Nupur not to. What was it she wondered? Was it drugs? She had heard that this Aryan was into it.
And she knew that drugs were bad and could take you into another world. But right now that is exactly what she wanted to do. Runaway from it all. Make her stress disappear. So she shut her eyes and without thinking anymore put the pill in her mouth. After ten minutes Aryan was kissing her. Soon his hands were all over her body. Strangely it felt good. There was a knock on the door. It was her mom. She straightened our her shirt and jeans and smiled at Aryan as she left the room. She was so grateful to him.
Nupur became addicted to the pill and to Aryan. She would go to his house on the pretext of studying with her girlfriends, or extra tutions. Then they would do drugs and have sex for the whole time. For three or sometimes four hours. Once when they were at a party with his other druggy friends, she tried injecting herself. “If the pill felt good this will feel like heaven”, they told her. She listened. Soon whether it was the pill, or sniffing powder or injecting herself she became hooked on. She loved what Aryan did to her body after that. Her friends now called her ‘Nympho Nupur’, because of her long bedroom sessions! But she was happy in her zone. Away from reality.
Today, when she fell in front of her mirror, was one of those days she had overdosed. Her parents heard the loud ‘thud’ from her room, and came rushing in! They hardly slept nowadays, as they were paranoid about Nupur. They had come to know of her addiction sometime back, when they noticed the injection marks on her arm. When they confronted her she was always defiant, aggressive or spaced out, and barely made it to school. Her teachers had called them in to discuss her sudden ‘drop’ in grades. But there was nothing they could do to stop her….they tried everything…begging, pleading, explaining, shouting and grounding. But it did not work. Her father carried her to the car, and they took her to the hospital. This was the second time they had to it, and they were petrified. They wiped away their tears, as the doctors revived Nupur. Their only child. She failed her board exams. Her parents were crushed. Her dream of going to Oxford or Yale was shattered. Instead she boarded a plane to Bangalore, to a rehab centre. ‘Was it our fault?’, the parents wondered for the millionth time, as they sat alone many years later.
And Aryan sometimes regretted introducing her to ‘it’, now that he was over that stage, and heading his father’s company. The friends who teased, have long forgotten her and are settled in their own lives. But Nupur. She passed away. She hung herself. She had failed in her own eyes. She could not take the humiliation her parents faced. She was heartbroken when Aryan left her and went away to study abroad, obviously using his father’s clout! She hated herself. Her craving for drugs and sex had ruined her life. She could not handle the withdrawal symptoms after rehab. She wanted a permanent escape. Her suicide note had one sentence, “I WISH I DIDN’T….IT WAS NOT WORTH IT”.
India is on a ‘high’ with 7 drug addiction suicides everyday. Experts say that children as young as 13 and 14 regularly experiment with intoxicants, and most get addicted. Today on International Day for Drug Abuse(26th June), let us wake up to this fact instead of running away from it. It is upto us to make teenagers aware of the dangers of substance abuse, and tell them “Don’t start, it’s not easy to stop.”