‘I was forced to grow up a lot and I learnt who my real friends are and what family really means,’ writes Rahul*.

TNM exclusive Those were dark days writes Kerala teen who was expelled for hug
Voices Controversy Wednesday, January 03, 2018 - 12:05

By Rahul*

This Sunday, the last day of 2017, I finally could see the light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel. I received the assurance at last that I could sit for my Board Exams.

Somebody asked me how I feel now. Honestly, I don’t know. Am I happy? I can’t bring myself to trust the happiness I’m feeling – I fear that something else could snatch it away from me.

It all started on July 21, when a stray incident turned my life around.

Read: For a hug and photos, Kerala school calls teen a 'bull in heat', expels him: HC agrees

My only wish is that no other student should face what I went through in the last five-and-a-half months.

After the incident happened, I fell into deep depression as I was cut off from everyone – until that point, my friends were my whole life.

I was a typical teenager who used to hang out and chat with my friends, and my only worries were what movie I should watch, which restaurant I should go to, and so on. Suddenly, I felt all alone.

However, this period taught me that I was not alone at all; in fact, there are several people who really care for me. I realized the importance of my family – especially my mom, dad and grandparents. I realized that they suffered even more than me. I am lucky to have such understanding parents who really believe in me. I have noticed that some of my friends have a really tough time speaking to their parents if they are facing any issues, but, on hearing my side of the story, my parents extended their unconditional support immediately.

It was a period in my life where I was able to distinguish between my real friends and the fake ones. Some of my friends really hurt me, knowingly or unknowingly, but again I got support from many unexpected spheres. My Economics tuition teacher and my Accountancy tuition teacher were very supportive during this period. They even offered to hold extra lessons to make up for what I was missing in school. My mother, who is a student herself, set aside her studies and helped me with mine. She helped me with my Business Studies and Psychology lessons.

I also saw a completely different side to my dad during this time. He had a senior position in an automobile dealership and was a very busy man. When the incident occurred, he was in the process of changing jobs – he had resigned from his old position and was just about to take up a role in a new office. However, he decided not to join his new job till my issue had been resolved. That was a very hard decision my family had to take, as my mom was also not working in order to pursue her studies and get a postgraduate degree.

Our family was hit financially as well as emotionally. I saw my whole family putting aside their priorities and concentrating only on me. For this, we had my grandparent’s unwavering support. I truly learned the meaning of the word ‘family’. Some of our close relatives, who knew about this issue, were a great source of support for us, especially my uncle.

A person who needs special mention here is my neighbour – a doctor who was very supportive to our family from the first day itself. She was a constant source of strength to me and my family, and counselled me on how to deal with my mood swings and depression during this difficult time.

Now, when I look back at those days, I myself wonder how I was able to deal with it.

It was a powerful lesson I learnt on what the real world really is. It was like something we see only in movies; I felt like the dark days would never end. I was very disappointed when the High Court judgement came. I had rested all my hopes for my future in that judgement. I thought that at least the judgement would enable me to write my Board Exams, even if I was not able to attend regular classes for they were over by then. Only the model exams were going on. The day the judgement came was a hard one for all of us.

Then the news of what had happened broke and it was a roller-coaster journey. I was bombarded with phone calls and was giving interviews every hour. I was actually astonished that my cause was taken up by so many people and was very grateful for the support of the media, who played a very active role in making my issue public.

I got support from people from all walks of life. Many called me up personally and extended their support. They told me that it took courage to speak up and they were really proud of me. I am thankful that so many people stood by me and fought for my cause. I was elated to know that I was not standing alone any more. It was also the day I cried for the first time after the incident because some guys who I had considered my friends posted some really hurtful things about me on social media. My real friends stood by me and offered me moral support during the darkest days.

Shashi Tharoor sir tweeted about our problem and put a Facebook post to support us. He was was instrumental in bringing the issue to its conclusion. He spent so much time and effort to usher in an amicable solution to our problem and always had our best interests in heart.

Read: Kerala school to take back students expelled for hug, after meeting with Shashi Tharoor

The last five-and-a-half months has forced to me grow up a lot, it taught me to identify who my real friends are and what family really means. Now, I am looking forward to the future. My aim is to score good marks in my Board Exams and find a place in a good university.

Earlier, I was aspiring to pursue a career in law and fight for the causes I believe in, but now I am torn between a career in law or journalism as I would like to help somebody who faces a similar plight.

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