“Jealousy Kills” is one of the outstanding stories of the first biannual International Short Story Contest 2018 written by Madhumita Aluru, JSSIS, Al Barsha1, Dubai, UAE.
I still remember that day when all this began, when my friends and I had gathered around my phone, ready to make my first ever HyperChat account, reducing the phone brightness to zero, hiding our heads under the bed sheets, cautious of my mother finding out. I remember being overwhelmed of the feeling of freedom overtaking me when one of my friends, Shreya whispered into my ears, “Just be careful, it’s like a drug, once you get addicted, you won’t be able to differ between the online world and reality.” I never really acknowledged those words of hers with all the excitement going around, although I can’t deny how relatable those words were with what happened to me next. You see, in eighth grade I wasn’t the queen bee of the school neither was I the slightest bit popular, but just the opposite. I only had 3 best friends with whom I spent most of my time with, who knew me inside out. A few days later I checked my account and was shocked at seeing that I had already gotten over a hundred followers.
I was constantly posting pictures, selfies, constantly chatting and circling my life around the drama that happened in my grade that I had never expected eighth graders to deal with. The next few days went in a flash. I felt overwhelmed, as then I not only listened and gossiped about others drama, but I was dealing with the same drama and gossiping about it too, and not only to my three best friends but to all my hundreds of followers on HyperChat. Honestly I never realized how from hundreds it kept growing in number till it reached thousands, and that is when everything changed in my life.
As I reached school the next day, I caught people whispering, smirking and giggling behind my back. I hesitated and rushed to my three best friends, Shreya, Riya, and Gita when Gita cut me off even before I could start speaking and said “Why would you do this to so many people? Just because you’re suddenly queen bee, doesn’t mean you get the right to call names and make rude remarks on appearance and dress” and it didn’t end there, next came Shreya with her own accusations, “Oh, so now were not as cool as all your other friends huh? So now I’m too fat and ugly to be seen with?” and then Riya too “Great, so now I’m a pock face! I remember you always making fun of me for my spotty face but why do it in public now? So that everyone thinks you’re way better than us in the aspect of appearance?” I was devastated, and died inside a little more, each time they threw another accusation at me. And it didn’t end there, it seemed like all I ever did was talk trash about everyone from my account. All I could think at the moment was why they could be possibly thought I said all those things about them, about my best friends? As the day went on I was practically isolated with no one to talk to. I walked back from school alone as I couldn’t face the embarrassment I would have to if I went by the school bus.
As soon as I reached home, I finally felt a wave of relief, which didn’t last long at all as I heard dad bellow out “Come right here!” I had never heard dad fuming with such rage before. There I saw not only mine but also Riya’s and Shreya’s parents standing furious. I immediately understood why they were there. As I stood before dad, drenched in shock, fright and most of all embarrassment trying to make sense of it all. I stood there for hours as my parents talked over the issue and apologized profusely. Although I tried my best to defend myself it seemed impossible in front of Shreya’s dad who was a policeman. Suddenly Riya’s phone and Shreya’s phones both got notifications, calling them mean names. Both of them exchanged looks of confusion and disbelief. As the message was sent from my account, and my phone was confiscated at the moment, it couldn’t have been me. Shreya immediately showed her dad the message and the jaws of all our parents dropped. Now it was confirmed that I wasn’t the one sending those mean messages to everyone.
Just then Shreya’s dad asked me whether I had ever accessed my account from someone else’s phone, laptop or device. I thought hard and well but immediately went into denial mode when I realized that I had accessed my account from Gita’s account. Shreya’s dad then got the entire police team in this case in charges of cyber bullying and using someone’s identity to perform illegal and wrong tasks.
First the police checked all the student’s phones including mine whether my IP address had been hacked and they were surprised when it was revealed that none of our phones or our IP addresses was hacked. They proceeded to locate the IP address of the phone from which phone the messages were being sent. This search went on for a few days, meanwhile all the phones of the people who had been affected were on lockdown including mine. Then one day the police came to take my parents and me to the person who was using my account’s house and the moment I got out of the car I was rooted in shock. It was Gita’s house. My jaw dropped, my knees felt weak, my heart beat raced ten times faster.
When the police put down the evidence in front of her and proved her guilty, they first asked her how she had access to my account when I had never given my password to anyone. This only left me with the question, “Why would you do this to your best friends? What did I ever do to you?” Gita then explained how, one day when I had logged onto my account from her phone I had forgotten to log off, and therefore she had access my account. When I asked her why, she confessed saying, “You have no idea how jealous I was of you. You always had the best dresses, the most lustrous hair and the best looks. You were the most popular and everyone adored you. On the other hand no one even looked at me. You excelled at whatever you attempted where as I could rarely manage my class work well nor am I as smart or as pretty as you. I hoped that by doing this people will think of you as a mean, and a rude person, and you would fall from grace. They do say jealousy kills, poisons your heart, and darkens your words and thoughts.