Is trusting a person you consider a friend really so stupid?
When I was 16 years old, having fallen head over heels for a girl I barely knew, I lent her Tk15,000 (an amount I had saved up walking everywhere instead of using up the rickshaw fare my dad gave me and ditching the occasional month of coaching) so that she could buy a gift for her boyfriend at the time.
What made the situation worse was that, unbeknownst to me, she was going to leave the country with no intention of returning the money. This I later found out and, spineless as I was, infatuated as I was with selfless desire, I made no attempt to ask for the money back.
This is a story that is received with understandable amusement to whoever is willing to listen, and everyone has a good laugh at the stupidity of an infatuated young boy trying to impress a girl he likes.
The conclusion that we call come to is a simple one: I was young and stupid, and I shouldn’t have given her the money. But also that she was a piece of work who had taken advantage of a boy who had felt powerless to say no, who was willing to do anything to receive some love back.
Let us assume we are friends. Let us assume, for a moment, that we have known each other for some time, and we feel close to each other as friends do.
Let us, then, imagine that we meet regularly for coffee and use that time to catch up. Maybe we discuss film or literature or the stock market. Anything and everything really, there’s little we feel that we cannot discuss.
One day, perhaps, you ask me a question, a favour: “Do you know anyone in company xyz? I would really like to work there. Just give him my CV, please, if you can. I’d really appreciate it.”
Friends as we are, I happily oblige. And it pans out. And you start working there. And you move on to bigger and better things. And we see each other less and less. I feel somewhat betrayed that you’ve forgotten about me and, as a friend of yours, I feel somewhat hurt. After all, I was the one who helped you get that job in the first place.
Perhaps it had been wrong of me to expect you to remember me as a friend in your rise to success, as your life became busier and busier. When I tell my friends about you, they tell me you were always like that, moving on from friend to friend, and leaving them coughing in the dust.
But stuff like that happens. Maybe I read you wrong. I should’ve known better. But you were a friend. What could I have done really?
A cousin of mine was born as pretty as her mother had wanted her to be. Such importance was given to her beauty that, throughout her life, the lesson she received was that this was all that mattered.
This journey was not a pleasant one to witness. Her mother kept telling her how much she needed to take care of her skin and figure, applying beauty product after beauty product to “improve” her, ignoring the rest of her in the process.
It was worsened by the fact that, when she would try to do anything else, she would be criticized constantly for being unable to do so, for being less competent than her peers, for not being smart enough, or independent enough.
From every single angle, voices rose which told her that she was not good enough.
And, so, that’s what she came to believe. And that’s what she became. Dependent, incompetent, and unattractive. Unable to meander through life’s various problems with an iota of confidence.
When social media erupted with a series of posts which exposed Facebook groups which shared naked photographs of girls, and a girl who had blackmailed someone with “nudes,” and a guy who would gaslight girls into sharing their naked photographs, the inevitable question which seemed to have formed in people’s minds was this (paraphrased, to some degree): “Why would these girls send naked photographs of themselves in the first place?”
Why would a young boy lend a girl he barely knew Tk15,000 when he was clearly being played? Is not being mature enough, not having enough experience any excuse?
Why would I help out a friend who would go on to forget that act of kindness? Is trusting a person I considered to be a friend too stupid? Was it my fault that I had wished to do a favour?
Why would a girl who has not had the worst life in the world not have any confidence herself? If she’s too mentally weak to believe what the rest of the world told her, she probably didn’t deserve that feeling of self-worth in the first place, right?
Maybe these comparisons are futile, maybe it’s not all apples to apples, oranges to oranges. But, at least, next time, when the same thing happens, maybe we can learn to ask a different question.
SN Rasul is an Editorial Assistant at the Dhaka Tribune. He can be found everywhere @snrasul.