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Muddling Through: The Life and Times of Tara Chatterjee

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If you look very carefully you'll see a picture of me right next to the word "mess" in a dictionary. Hello I'm Tara Chatterjee and I'll be your entertainment this evening.

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Chapter 1

August 3rd 2013


Dear Diary,

So I know I’m supposed to write something deep and meaningful but really since I’m basically only doing this because my therapist told me I should, I’m probably not going to. Hey Aruna Aunty. How’s it going? Doing well? I can tell you about my day y’know. Which was quite predictably not good. Because any day that begins before 6:30 a.m. is never good. As you can tell that means that no day I ever spend in school is ever good because those days always involve me waking up before 6:30 a.m.

So I woke up and got on my bus, which is lovely by the way. That is if you enjoy mad bus drivers who possibly have a drinking problem and leaky roofs. So I know my school bus is technically nicer than some of the other ones and I know its ungrateful to complain about the fact that for some reason they decided to remove all the curtains from windows which means I can’t use them as a barrier between the weird nail things that stick out from the side of the bus and my hair. And I am fairly certain I am going bald as it is so it’s really not a good thing that every time I wake up after a bus ride I see half my fringe stuck on the nail.

Anyway school was school. There isn’t really much to say about school is there? I’m not going to talk about the boys that I’m hopelessly in love with and who secretly love me back so I’m sorry if this might make boring reading. Because well my life is pretty boring. But I mean you (when I say you I mean you Aruna Aunty, my therapist who has made me undertake this ridiculous exercise) already know that don’t you? I mean you never get popular well-adjusted teenagers coming in for therapy sessions twice a week. Though honestly a couple of people in my school could probably do with therapy. I should recommend you. There’s this one guy who walks around describing the size and texture of his last bowel movement. And I know coming from a Bengali household like me, you’re probably used to this and find no strangeness in such an act but let me assure you, in the world of international students it’s very weird.

Speaking of my school. Going back this year was kind of a shock because suddenly I recognized only half the class. I mean its not like I liked too many of my original classmates and suddenly I now there are twice as many people. Lovely.

Anyway I got back home and then my mother told me I was due for another therapy session. And you can bet I was excited about that. Because who doesn’t love being asked how they feel in several different ways over the course of an hour. See I am hoping that you’ll tell my mother that I’m perfectly fine and that I do not in fact need to keep coming to you. I mean it’s been…what…three weeks now? And I remain as strange and unadjusted as usual. And honestly I highly doubt writing in a diary is going to make much of a difference. I mean, no one even has diaries anymore they just have blogs.

Not that there’s anything wrong with diaries, but if you tell someone you keep a diary you’re guaranteed to get mocked. And I do not need any more mockery thank you very much. Do you remember that horrible –pardon my French- bitch Sowmya Singh I told you about last session? But you said don’t use her name or something equally dumb. Because apparently it helps if you disassociate yourself from the person. Though I actually do not know how referring to her as horrible bitch is going to make me hate her any less. Though granted you didn’t actually tell me to call her rude names just not to say her name with such venom. Anyway I think I’ll call her HB from now on. That could stand for many things. Head boy…okay so right now I can only think of one but I digress.

Anyway so today HB asked me if I had ever heard of tweezers and called my eyebrows caterpillars. Now you know I don’t do my eyebrows. Mostly because they’re the only defining feature on my face and also because I already remove far too much hair from my body and I don’t really want any additional pain. Mum doesn’t do her eyebrows either but you can bet no one’s ever called her eyebrows caterpillars.

Had enough already Aruna Aunty? Or do you want me to continue describing my body hair? And my painfully dull social life, since most people dislike me intensely.

Okay so I suppose that isn’t entirely true. Just so you don’t think I’m a complete loser I can talk about Amira Bharat. Amira’s my best friend, I think. Well she’s one of the few people that can stand to be around me for extended periods of time so I suppose she wins best friend. Hah wins. Like it’s some grand prize.

“You have the honour of being Tara Chatterjee’s best friend. Congratulations.” See right now in my head I’m imagining Amira standing on a stage being showered in confetti while both Simon Cowell and Amitabh Bachchan applaud as she looks at them blankly, wondering what she has done to deserve such a fate.

Anyway Amira’s my best friend. I met her in math class. I was much better than her at that point. Something that quickly changed after she realized she was in the wrong math class and shifted to one with a much better teacher.

Are you bored yet? I don’t even know how much more trivial stuff I can put in this. Though I suppose you do happen to be a psychiatrist, so I guess you’ll be able to analyse some deeper meaning thing from my rambling. Well I wish you the very best of luck. Because as hostile as I do seem I promise I’m really not a terrible person. I just don’t like talking about myself much. Which was why you suggested this didn’t you? Because I suppose you’ve made me talk about myself for at least a thousand words now, which is undoubtedly more than you’ve gotten in all six of our therapy sessions. Wow you are pretty smart. And I promise I’m not even being sarcastic. I’ve been told that that’s a pretty major flaw of mine. Y’know, sarcasm as self-defense. Not that you’re attacking me or anything. Trust me I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end of verbal attacks and you most certainly do not verbally attack me. You haven’t even called my hair stringy once. And considering how fast its falling out that’s quite a testament to your self-restraint. ‘Cause you know, if I had a lippy teenager being obnoxious for an hour I’d probably call her hair stringy.

Well see you tomorrow I suppose. Though when you read this I will be sitting in front of you, probably saying something rather obnoxious.

August 4th 2013


Dear Diary,

My therapist has recently informed me that she will not in fact be reading you at all because apparently these are my innermost thoughts that do not have to be shared with her. She kind of flipped through the last couple of pages. I think she was slightly put off by my vivid description of body hair. I think I’m actually going to stop saying ‘dear diary’ at the beginning of each entry. It sounds a little like I’m writing an English exam.

I know I said I was writing under duress but I must say this is oddly relaxing. Because in here I can talk about HB all I want and possibly say some uncomplimentary things about her. Things, which I am very afraid to say to her face because I am a coward who avoids confrontation. Even though it would probably help my case if I wasn’t such a doormat. At least that’s what Ragini says when I moan about HB in Hindi class. But then her surname’s Kodihalli (which is incidentally the place where I live) so what does she know.

But she’s always like “Tara Chatterjee, stop complaining about Sowmya. If you care so much about what she says go yell at her.”

But me? Yell? Psh. Like that’s ever going to happen. I just sit there while HB smirks at me (while Miss Archana’s droning on about the importance of ‘puling aur striling’) and mumbles derogatory things about my eyebrows to her best friend Lovely, who really shouldn’t be saying anything, since her parents decided to name her Lovely. I mean really. Where does she even get the right? And at least it would be all right if she were lovely. But she’s decidedly not. I usually feel rather sorry of Punju kids because I mean I’m sure they wouldn’t want to be called Happy or Dimple or Simple, but I never waste any pity on Lovely. Because Lovely is the devil’s incarnate. Okay maybe not the devil’s incarnate. But definitely the devil’s assistant. The prized position of the devil’s incarnate undoubtedly goes to HB.

Really though. These Punjabis pretty much ruin my life. And I promise I’m not being racist or whatever. It just so happens that the people who make my life miserable tend to be Punjabi. I mean HB’s a pakka pakka Punjabi. I don’t think she’s ever missed a school Bhangra competition (I religiously avoid them) and you should see her on Butter Chicken day in the dining hall. Once she pushed Lovely into the Gulab Jamun table on her way to score some Naan.

I’m actually quite glad Aruna Aunty isn’t reading this. Mostly because I must’ve talked about HB and Lovely for a while now and I wouldn’t want her to think I was obsessed. But before I finish my rant I just want to add that the absolute worst thing about HB is that she’s BFFs with Karan Singh. Karan Singh is definitely the sole exception to the all-Punjabis-make-my-life-a-living-hell rule. Because he’s…well…rather dreamy. Well I suppose he isn’t exactly traditionally good looking. He’s basically a Punjabi mother’s ideal. Kind of round faced, very very fair, with black eyes. So basically exactly the opposite of my type, because even though my surname may be Chatterjee I am definitely a South Indian at heart, having been born and raised in Bangalore. So the fair, rather aloo-esque North Indians don’t usually do it for me. I prefer scrawny, wonderfully tanned South Indian boys, studying to go to IIT. But there’s just something about Karan.

Like today in History when he turned around and asked whether I believed Gorbachev’s policies of Glasnost and Perestroika were the main causes for the fall of the USSR and swear I felt butterflies in my stomach.

And I know I’m being ridiculous. Because there are like a billion people to like out there. People who don’t spend copious amounts of time with HBs. But I don’t even care. Because Karan is just the cutest with his curly-ish hair and his extremely straight nose.

See when you have a nose like mine, which has spectacle indentations on the side and is generally just a less than satisfactory nose, you tend to notice other people’s very nice noses. And Karan’s nose is very nice. So are his lips for that matter. I shouldn’t think about his lips though because they are most certainly never coming anywhere near mine. I bet they’re going to be all over HBs though, because even though I think she’s an ugly cow he seems to enjoy her company.

But his lips aside he’s also quite a nice person. He once told me that my answer to question three in my half-yearly exam was very well written.

“Thank you,” I said, out loud. But in my head I was pretty much already setting wedding dates. I mean I think I’d quite like an October wedding. Because I bet his Punjabi uniboobed mother would want to have it in Delhi and Delhi’s bloody hot in July, which is usually the time when weddings are held for some absurd reason. I mean do they enjoy sitting around a fire in forty degrees Celsius while a naked man chants things and throws rice at them?

And after that the future father of my children just turned around and went back to reading through Mao’s China. But I promise you, it was a special moment.

I know I said in the beginning that I wasn’t going to write about some boy I was hopelessly in love with but since there isn’t in fact an adult reading this I have free reign. So I can continue talking about the light of my life (Karan) and the spawn of Satan (HB).

Though honestly, those two are pretty much all I ever have to talk about. I mean Aruna Aunty’s heard plenty about HB and considering I don’t even communicate with my therapist all that much, that’s saying something. Of course she hasn’t heard about Karan. But then what sane person would tell any adult about their crush? Though I suppose I’m not entirely sane. After all, as Amira pointed out, no sane person is ever as excited about History as I am. Even though she doesn’t say it, I strongly believe she thinks the reason I like History so much is because of the gorgeous boy (another reason why she thinks I’m off my rocker, she just doesn’t understand the appeal of Karan) who sits in front of me but that really isn’t the case. I promise. I liked History way before I even thought of liking Karan. She also doesn’t approve of my tendency to distribute interesting trivia, though I think that quality of mine is more endearing than a mark of insanity. I mean who doesn’t want to know that scorpions die if they even touch a drop of alcohol.

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