Muddling Through: The Life and Times of Tara Chatterjee

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Chapter 6

August 11th 2013


I think I’m dying. No I’m not even being dramatic. Dying. I mean you trying doing downward dog for god knows how long. And pushups. Mrs. Trask made me do pushups. I thought I was acting in a play not joining the army.

August 12th 2013


Today was good. Karan said I killed the pregnancy scene. Though I suppose he doesn’t know too much about acting since he thought Dhoom 3 was a cinematic masterpiece. But it was awfully nice of him. And HB just squirmed a bit. Oh and the Principal came to watch, with her trusty sidekick Boom, who holds an umbrella above her head to protect her from the sun as she walks around the school. She looked rather displeased. I don’t think she was aware that Grease was so scandalous.

August 13th 2013


Today was disastrous to say the least. I think I broke Kenickie’s leg.

August 14th 2013


False alarm. There was just some light bruising. He still flinches every time I go near him though, which is understandable. I don’t think I’ve ever looked forward to a weekend more. Unfortunately I have to go to school tomorrow because unlike all other schools who actually give us a day off on Independence Day it’s mandatory for us to go to school and see the burping CEO of our school hoist the flag. Not to mention the fact that we’ll inevitably be treated to a speech on leadership. Two if we’re particularly unlucky. And do you even know how long his speeches are? And I invariably need to pee at some point during it. I told you, I have a weak bladder.

August 17th 2013


Apparently everyone’s too afraid to dance with me. But NLB was true to his word and he got the rest of the band to pull everything down an octave. Karan and I worked on our project, which was fun. He is remarkably insightful when it comes to the Cold War.

August 18th 2013


Varun invited me to a Latin Food Festival. I guess that sounds like fun. He said Karan might come too so you know I’m going to be there. It’s next Saturday.

August 19th 2013


Ugh HB may or may not have beaten me in an English test.

August 20th 2013


Karan basically spent the whole rehearsal talking to me today ‘cause HB called in sick. Though she looked to be in fine fettle the whole day. I think what’s making her sick is the fact that she has a loserish part. And incidentally my venom has nothing to do with the fact that she beat me in an English test.

August 21st 2013


I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the weekend.

August 24th 2013


8:58 a.m.


So I think its safe enough to bring this to school now. It’s been two weeks and besides no one really cares. I’ll just have to hide it during economics. I just realized that I now have a worrying amount of friends. Not that they aren’t awfully nice. Even Dhruv Thapar is seriously growing on me and most of his sentences include the words ‘boobs.’

And also I’ve learned that when you almost break people’s legs they tend not to like you very much. I suppose that shouldn’t be too much of a shocker. But I didn’t actually break it. He told me it was just some light bruising. Sure he looked at me warily like he was worried I was going to knee him in the groin or something, but honestly, look at me. Apart from flicking foodstuffs at people I’m not a very physical sort of person. I wouldn’t injure anyone on purpose. And certainly not someone as harmless as Sanat.

Oh Varun just pointed out that HB’s gone up for a leadership speech, which is something they’ve rather unwisely restarted. Wait why is everyone looking at me? I’m not going to go off on her. Mostly because I really hate her but also because as loathsome as she is, she’s really too smart to say something that’s actually controversial (unlike the Neo-Nazi).

Okay even NLB and LNLBF are smirking at me. Look guys I’m not going to get up there and rip her hair out. It’s not my style at all. I do things much more passive-aggressively (with the exception of the chicken-hair thing). I mean you should see Amira and me fighting. It’s like the Cold War.

9:14 a.m.


Conspiracy theory of the day: Indians developed nuclear power way before anyone else did. And way before means during the times of Dronacharya and Arjuna.

“I thought for sure today we were going to see something interesting,” LNLBF said, sounding vaguely disappointed.

“She didn’t say anything completely stupid,” I said. “I mean she went on and on about Nehru but that’s okay.”

“It’s just that it’s her isn’t it?” NLB said. “I mean you hate her.”

“I don’t hate her,” I said weakly, entirely aware that they knew I was lying through my teeth.

NLB snorted. “Yeah throwing chicken on people is a sign of true friendship,” he said.

“Well she deserved it,” I said frowning.

“I’m sure she did,” NLB said in a very superior tone. “It wouldn’t have anything to do with…”

I swear to god my blood ran cold. “Do with what?” I asked lightly, attempting to sound like I wasn’t having an internal breakdown.

“Y’know…” LNLBF said rather suggestively.

“Look just because I liked one Karan once does not mean I have to like all of them,” I said, glaring at them.

“Did I say anything about a Karan?” LNLBF asked NLB his eyes widening.

“No I don’t think you did,” NLB said teasingly.

“Shut up,” I growled.

“Stop talking!” Mr. Bose said, cross that someone had interrupted his rant on nuclear weapons.

“I do not like Karan,” I said, furiously.

“Oh we believe you,” NLB said. “We really do.”

I just glared at them again and they started giggling like insane chimpanzees.

“Wait a second,” LNLBF said after they had giggled themselves out. “You said just because you liked one Karan didn’t mean you liked all of them. You liked another Karan?”

I felt my face grow hot. I don’t know why but I just sort of assumed that everyone knew the Karan Joshi story. Which is a dumb assumption to make because very few people care about my love life.

Wait was it Karan-who-left Karan?” NLB asked.

“No,” I said, far too quickly.

“But he-“

“Yeah,” I said shortly.

There was an incredibly awkward silence and they both turned back to the raving lunatic who was still rabbiting on about nuclear weapons in the time of the Mahabharat (which incidentally is a legend, I mean the way he’s talking about it you’d think he lived through it).

10:10 p.m.


See I know in my head that making fun of someone about his or her weight is basically the worst thing you can do but is it slightly better if the person seriously deserves it. Well I suppose not. I mean I try to stay away from weight jokes but this one just sort of came out. Accidentally. So Lovely and HB were rather predictably being generally horrible. And then Lovely said something about how it must really be easy for me to play Rizzo since I’m such a homewrecker. And its not like she hasn’t said this stuff before, but its usually stuff like slut or whore which I can manage. But the homewrecker thing sort of hit a nerve. And she knew it would too. Because of the whole Karan Joshi thing.

So I said, “Well at least I have the option to wreck homes you fat cow.”

And then I felt terrible, even though Varun who had watched the whole thing was laughing.

And honestly it’s not even fair. The whole homewrecker comment. I mean the whole point of being a homewrecker is that eventually you’re meant to get one of the people whose home you wrecked. But it didn’t quite work out that way for me did it?

Anyway I apologized to Lovely who looked extremely put out but I mean apologies don’t even really mean anything do they? Like oops I stabbed you in the foot. Sorry. Well bitch I still only have nine toes.

But anyway HB screamed at me after Lovely left and I just let her because I figured I deserved it. Though hypocritical much? She routinely tells me that I have more hair than the Abominable Snowman. But then I suppose weight is a more sensitive issue. And I really should know better.

11:15 a.m.


Tara, Amira and Ragini’s List of Hotties Interesting Boys

You’re calling it the list of hotties? Really? –R

Do you have a better idea? –T

We sound like middle schoolers. –R

Oh please we really aren’t that much more mature. –T

That’s entirely true. –A

I just think we should talk about stuff other than looks. –R

How about we call it the list of interesting boys? –T

Much better. –R

Gaurav Gupta (NLB)

Why does he have NLB next to his name? –R

Because he’s a nice looking boy. Now stop asking questions and objectify him. –T

He’s got a nice nose. –R

Come on you can do better. –T

He’s yummy. Like a Klondike bar. -A

Karan Singh

We all know how you feel about Karan Singh. Anyway he’s very cute. And he has a nice face even if he is a little podgy. –R

He’s the cutest. And not even podgy. He’s just nicely rounded. –T

He’s a fatty. –A

Dhruv Thapar

He’s very nice and he has really nice eyes. Also he looks like he’s a good hugger. –R

I must agree. He’s very nice and quite talented. I mean the pipes on that boy. It’s a pity they’re usually being used to sing songs about penises. –T

I like Dhruv. He’s nicer than Karan at least. –A

We aren’t comparing, just objectifying them individually. –T

Karthik Singh

I’m sorry T but he’s definitely better looking that Karan. He’s tall and has exceptionally nice eyebrows. And also he laughs a lot more. –R

Fine maybe he’s marginally better looking than Karan but only marginally. And Karan has much nicer eyebrows; it’s just the podgy thing that puts people off, which, hello, shallow much? –T

It’s not even shallow. Karthik’s def my favorite Singh. And he’s way better looking than Karan. Don’t even try to deny it. –A

Varun Nair

Well we all know what R thinks of him don’t we ;) –T

That was like a three second crush. Why would you even bring it up now? –R

Fine, but even though his mouth is massive he’s quite cute isn’t he? In like a scrawny way. –T

Just in the name of objectification I must admit that he is very cute. –R

Eh he’s okay. –A

Suresh Swaminathan

Really? Bowel Movement Boy? –T

You said interesting. And he’s definitely interesting. And pretty cute too. And stop calling him Bowel Movement Boy. –A

Fine I’ll agree with the interesting bit but the cute part is pushing it a little don’t you think? –R

Umar Khan

Really? When I started this list it was meant to purely be the objectification of boys. You can’t objectify boys like Umar. –T

Well it’s interesting boys now isn’t it? And he’s incredibly interesting. –R

I’d have to agree with her here. I think Umar and Suresh tie for coolest person on this list. –A

Are you even listening to yourself talk? We literally haven’t even included one person on this list (well apart from Karan who’s actually good looking). –T

Biased much? Suresh is definitely better looking than Karan. –A

And Umar’s just as nice looking. I mean I know I said he had a nice face but Umar’s way cuter. –R

You people are crazy. –T

12:29 p.m.


This is boring. –T

Really because you seem super into it. You’re such a suck up. –V

I am not a suck up. I just like Miss Poori. That is all. –T

Like her? You’re weirdly obsessed with her. You know that right? –V

Shut up I am not obsessed with Miss Poori. –T

Yes you are. The only person you talk about more than Miss Poori is that Karan guy. –V

Excuse me I don’t like Karan. –T

Not my Karan. That other Karan. –V

Your Karan? –T

Yes my Karan. We’re going to run away together. –V

And I do not talk about him. I actively avoid talking about him actually. –T

Fine you don’t exactly talk about him but you bring him up sometimes. Unnecessarily. I mean we’ll all be talking about something and you just mention him. –V

Do I really? Well that’s kinda sad. More pathetic than sad actually Yeah definitely more pathetic than sad. –T

I gather it didn’t end well. –V

I’m actually surprised you haven’t heard the Karan story. –T

Despite what you think, not everyone is talking about your love life. It’s neither interesting nor important. –V

You’re a dick. You know that right? I’m not even going to tell you the Karan story. –T

Just shut up and tell me what happened. –V

Fine. There was a boy called Karan Joshi. I liked him. A lot. –T

And? –V

He liked me back. –T

That doesn’t sound horrible. You’re just being overdramatic again aren’t you? –V

He had a very hot, very nice girlfriend. –T

Ouch. So what happened? –V

Well we went out for lunch. And we were supposed to go with someone else but he cancelled the night before. So we went for lunch, just the two of us and then, even before my beef came to the table he looked me straight in the eye and told me he liked me. Which was nice. And then we kissed near the bathroom, which was even nicer. But then I actually went to the bathroom to pee (which was obviously a bad idea) and when I came back he was like “I’m so sorry. I can’t do this. I can’t cheat on her.” And I was like “It’s okay I understand.” Even though I didn’t. I mean he had been perfectly all right with cheating about three seconds before that. I mean what? Did he forget he had a girlfriend? –T

That was a bitch move. From both of you actually. Never thought you’d be a dirty mistress. –V

Wait I’m not even done. So I told Amira who then yelled at him for being an idiot. Which was very nice of her but he got super mad at me ‘cause I had promised not to tell anyone. But I mean I just told people what happened. He literally forgot he had a girlfriend. So really? Who was more of a dick here? –T

Him. But only just. –V

He broke my heart. –T

Shut up. You’re so dramatic. He didn’t even. I’ve seen people with broken hearts. You don’t even care about it anymore. –V

Okay maybe he didn’t break my heart but he humiliated me. I mean his girlfriend moved out of the country and he still picked her over me. And she was so dumb too. –T

Some of your anger seems misplaced. I mean it wasn’t her fault her boyfriend was a dick. –V

I know I know. I just spent most of two years wishing she would go away. It’s a hard habit to break. –T

It’s okay. Jealousy isn’t a good colour on you though. I mean I could practically see you turning green when you talked about her. –V

Okay enough about me. I mean you’ve heard my sad story. Now tell me about you. –T

Nothing for your ears. You’re too innocent. And your story isn’t even that sad. I mean you just weren’t very good at cheating. –V

Ugh it wasn’t even cheating. I mean she left the country and he hadn’t even talked to her in ages. I just sort of assumed they were done. You just heard the story about me being an almost-homewrecker. I’m not even innocent. Now spill. –T

Key word being ‘almost.’ –V

Fine, when was your first kiss? –T

I prefer not to talk about it. –V

Okay now you’ve piqued my curiosity. Tell me. –T

You’re so annoying. It was last year. –V

Come on I practically gave you my life’s story. I need details. –T

Fine. It wasn’t exactly a traditional first kiss. –V

That’s all right. My first kiss was one of my best friends’ cousins. It happened late at night. We were all sitting in a dark room for some reason and he just turned around and stuck his tongue down my throat. And then she didn’t talk to me for about three weeks. –T

It’s worse than that. –V

It can’t be. I spent the next year making out with him on and off. And he wasn’t even that cute. He was kind of flabby. –T

Mine was weirder than some best friend’s cousin. –V

Well don’t keep me in suspense. –T

Fine. God you’re persistent. You know how people usually start at first base. Well I might have not done that. –V

Whaat? –T

I may or may not have skipped the whole making out part. –V

So where did you start? –T

Third. –V

Oh gross. Someone gave you a blowie without even kissing you? –T

No no. It was a handjob. Don’t you know your bases? –V

Don’t you know your bases? Anything before oral sex i.e. handjobs, boob action and fingering is all second. –T

I’m sure you’re wrong though I hope you aren’t because second is slightly less weird than third. –V

I’m never wrong. –T

What because you did so much with best-friend’s-cousin? –V

Shut up. I just know these things. –T

Sure sure. –V

1:48 p.m.


Food: Blergh- Yellow chicken and roti

Since lunch doesn’t appeal to me at all today I can write a running commentary on what everyone else is saying while they eat.

Karan: I see the sacred journal has made a return. I’m actually very curious to see what’s in there.

[I just smile because no way in hell is he seeing what’s in here. He’ll run for the hills and never return.]

Amira: I know, now she’s going to be weird and anti-social again.

Varun: She’s always weird and anti-social.

[That boy has been getting a whole lot meaner.]

Me: Excuse me. I am actually sitting here. I can hear everything you’re saying.

Amira: Good then maybe you’ll stop dragging that thing around. I wanted to send your eco teacher flowers when he complained to Mathura and made you leave it at home.

Me: I think you should all stop being mean about my diary.

Varun: Then stop writing in it. I mean you’re literally writing in it right now. As we’re talking. That’s just weird Tara.

Me: [Mumbling.] You’re weird.

Amira: Just put the thing away and talk like a normal person.

Me: Fine but I’m mad at all of you. None of you ever get to touch the sacred journal again.

Varun: [Deadpan.] Oh what a tragedy. How will I live without writing dumb notes in your journal?

Karan: Wait you’ve actually written in the sacred journal? I thought no one was allowed to even touch it.

Amira: She has literally all the notes we pass in English inside it.

Varun: And in TOK. What are you even going to do with it? Look at it when you’re old and alone?

Me: I am not going to be alone I’m going to have many many dogs.

Varun: You’re just sad. Now stop writing in it.

Me: Ugh fine.

2:27 p.m.


So apparently Amira thinks that Ragini and Umar are destined to be together. But they are so not. If anyone’s getting together it’s her and Varun. I mean she definitely liked him. I don’t know if she still likes him but I think it would be super cute. I know I’m right because Varun is so much more Ragini’s type. I mean he’s skinny and smart, which was basically Karan Joshi. He would be my type too I suppose, except Karan’s just way awesomer than him. And nicer. Varun is such a bitch.

3:16 p.m.


So I just got pulled out of Hindi (not that I’m complaining) and well it was just kind of weird. So I go to Buttback’s office and the music teacher’s there.

“Is everything alright?” I asked, beginning to panic a little.

“Oh everything is fine,” the music teacher said.

“The Principal was very impressed by your voice,” Mrs. Buttback said, sounding highly suspicious as she should well be.

“Thank you?” I said tentatively.

“She wants you to sing the school song,” he said. “It will be a duet as always. You and Yogini will sing it for the opening ceremony for the Orion International School Fest.”

The OIS Fest was quite a big deal. A bunch of different schools came from all over the place to compete in random creative events like Street Plays ad Write Your Own Song competitions. The opening ceremony was basically the school orchestra banging away on instruments for about two hours and before that two people had to sing the school song. Apparently I was one of those two people. And I must admit, getting to sing it did give me a bit of a kick because you know who usually sings it? That’s right, HB.

“I’d be happy to,” I said, though really considering the only reason the Principal thinks I have a good voice is because NLB was nice enough to convince the band to play my songs in a lower key. But I mean I’ll figure it out right? It should be okay.

But then I realized that the OIS Fest is literally like three days before the play. I mean I won’t be able to do both right? But I asked Mrs. Buttback and she said it was fine. Apparently they had asked Mrs. Trask already and she was all right with it. I’d just have to miss Assembly for a couple of days before the OIS Fest and practice instead. Which was fine with me. I mean who even cares about leadership speeches?

So I got back to Hindi and when Ragini asked me why I had to leave, I said rather loudly that it was because they wanted me to sing the school song for the OIS Fest. And you should’ve seen HB’s face. It was priceless. First she became awfully red and it seemed like she was going to say something. But she just let out a weird huff and turned away. Victory really is mine.

4:57 p.m.


Okay that was pretty much the worst thing that has ever happened to me (okay maybe not the worst but it’s up there with the pretty bads at least). But as people have pointed out before I tend to be overly dramatic so I will attempt to be completely objective in my retelling of this story.

So I had finished with my Rizzo stuff and I was watching Jyoti wailing ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ with some energy which is quite incredible since we’d been basically killing ourselves for the last two weeks and I was dying already. I mean my ‘There Are Worse Things I Could Do’ had been completely lackluster as HB so kindly pointed out.

I was just sort of humming along and someone dropped into the spot next to me.

“Congratulations,” he said, his warm voice sending tingles down my spine. “I heard you’re singing for the OIS Fest.”

“Thank you,” I said, well aware that the person he heard it from had probably yelled at him for about half an hour about how unfair the whole situation was.

“This whole play thing is fun,” he said. “I’m glad Sowmya made me do this.”

Of course he would bring up Sowmya. I didn’t actually know what the deal with them was really. I mean I always figured they kind of liked each other but you can bet Sowms would’ve told everyone if they were dating. And I figured I might as well ask.

“So you and Sowmya,” I said casually. “You two are together right?”

He looked at me flummoxed. “Of course not,” he said. “We’re just friends.”

“Really good friends yeah?” I persisted.

“Yeah,” he said. “I mean she was basically my first friend here. But we aren’t together.”

“Oh,” I said pretty successfully keeping the glee out of my voice.

“Wait,” he said. “Does everyone think we’re together?”

“Um…kinda,” I said.

“I swear,” he said. “I don’t like her like that. I mean I kind of like someone else.”

“Really?” I asked, my heart beating unaccountably fast for some reason. “Who?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “I don’t think she likes me back.”

“You never know,” I said. “She might.”

“No she doesn’t,” he said, definitively.

“Well you aren’t going to know unless you ask her are you?” I said. “I mean for all you know she could feel the same way and well…it just seems silly not to.”

“I suppose,” he said, sounding thoughtful.

“Come on,” I urged. “Just tell me who it is. I mean you already know all the gory details of my torrid past.”

He laughed. “I wouldn’t exactly describe it as torrid,” he said.

“Please I was a dirty mistress,” I said, echoing Varun’s words.

“I think that might be pushing it a little,” he said, still smiling.

“Well I was a dirty mistress for about two minutes,” I amended. “Still it has to count.”

“You’re a good person,” Karan said, his dark eyes practically searing into my soul. “You didn’t deserve that.”

“I probably did,” I mumbled.

“Don’t be silly,” he said. “Whoever called you a dirty mistress is ridiculous. There’s nothing dirty about you. I mean look at you Miss-I-know-the-meaning-of-obdurate.”

“Varun said I was a dirty mistress,” I said. “Even though he’s a lot dirtier than me to be honest.”

“Varun’s dirty?” he asked skeptically. “That Varun? Over there? Dirty?”

“You’d be surprised,” I said faux mysteriously. “He’s got quite a past.”

“Like what?” Karan asked, still sounding rather skeptical.

“Well you know how most people go from first base to second base and then to third?” I said. “Well he skipped both first and second and went straight to third. I mean I think he just skipped first but apparently a handjob falls under third.”

“Oh woah,” he said, his eyes drifting toward the scrawny boy who was talking to Umar rather intently. “I did not see that one coming.”

“I bet that’s what he said too,” I said with a grin.

“You two are pretty close now aren’t you?” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “He’s a nice guy.”

“He is,” Karan agreed.

“So now tell me whom you like,” I said, poking him in the side. “You can’t just say something like that and not follow up.”

“I can’t,” he said. “I especially can’t tell you.”

My heart was literally in my mouth at this point. “I swear I won’t tell anyone,” I promised. “No one.”

“You promise?” he said, giving me that searing look with his gorgeous dark eyes.

“I said did, didn’t I?” I replied. “Now tell me.”

“It’s Amira,” he said quietly. And I pretty much wanted to cry.

“Really?” I asked, pretending to be excited by the news though I really wanted to rip my hair out.

“Yeah,” he said, running his fingers through his curly hair. “I mean we’ve been spending a lot of time together. And she’s on my bus and she’s really cool.”

“I know,” I said, rather hollowly, but I don’t think he noticed.

“Anyway can you please not tell her?” he asked. “I mean I know you’re best friends but I sort of feel like I can trust you.”

“Of course you can,” I said, in a businesslike manner to hide the fact that I was sort of dying inside. “You’re secret’s safe with me. Oh and don’t tell anyone about the Varun stuff. I don’t think he wants the general population to know.”

“We can have a Tara-Karan Pact,” he said, his eyes lighting up.

“What is with you people and pacts?” I asked a little bitterly.

“I dunno,” he said shrugging. “But how about if one of us says ‘mum’s the word’ we know that it’s a secret that absolutely has to be kept.”

“Okay,” I said mechanically. “Mum’s the word then.”

“Mum’s the word,” he agreed.

5:20 p.m.

Waiting for the buses

I’m a terrible friend. I mean I know that it isn’t Amira’s fault that the boy I’m madly in love with likes her instead but I just can’t help it. After rehearsal we were just talking and she kept going on about something that BMB had said and I dunno. I just sort of snapped at her. Which I know is wrong. Believe me. I feel horrible about it. But I just couldn’t help myself. I mean I suck as a friend. But I just couldn’t help it.

And she’s so nice to me too. Like I know she’s basically making Karan sit with us all the time because she knows I like him. Dammit I wish I were a better person. Let me make a list of the ways I have been a horrible person today. Just to make myself feel a little worse about this whole situation.

Reasons Why I Suck

1. I called Lovely fat.

2. I told Karan Varun’s rather weird secret.

3. I snapped at my best friend because of something as dumb as the boy I like liking her instead.

I am definitely going to hell. And you know what my hell would be right? An eternity of HBs and Lovelys.

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