I have two nieces. One is 17. K's sister's daughter. And one is 10, my brother's daughter. I love them both unequally. Because my brother's daughter was born before my eyes and I looked after her as a new born. I have a special bond with her.
With my 17 year old niece, I try to be her friend. Hand hold her through this difficult transition from childhood to adulthood. She's the child of a single parent and carries the heavy baggage that comes with it.
One of the most docile and innocent 17 year old kids you'll ever meet.
Four days ago, a classmate of hers went missing. A girl who sat with P during accounts class. A girl she went out to eat pani Puri with. They used to go by the same bus and were living in the same colony. The girl was called 'modern, fast and with it' she had an ex boyfriend and wanted to be a model. Day one everyone assumed she'd eloped. There was comments galore and insensitive talk. To her credit P told us that she didn't see anything so she didn't say a word. She didn't indulge in the loose talk.
Day 2 a missing persons report was filed and a massive hunt was on. P was distraught terrified something bad has happened. She couldn't focus on anything and couldn't sleep.
Day 3 the kids were scared shitless that the cops would come to them for questioning. P was terrified what would happen but k sat her down and had a long talk with her. Reassuring at the same time telling her that life would throw up many more of these instances and she needs to harden up.
Day 4 the worst had happened. The girl that was missing was found dead. This is a 17 year old girl, a girl that studied with my niece. P cried and couldn't believe what had happened. There was speculation of sexual assault and the probable scenes replayed again and again through her head. She wanted to keep talking about it and we spoke to her with as much patience as we could. Helping her process this was important. It also told me that while she has been exposed to a lot of things, at her core she remains a girl with a sensible head on her shoulders, who evaluates risks and threats and tries her best to manouvre her path.
Day 5. The school declared a holiday and to take her mins off this I took her to class with me. I put her with a partner who was quiet and gentle and she did well. We came home after class to the news that an arrest has been made. The culprit, an old classmate and a boy the victim was in love with had strangled and killed her to get her off his back. P has met this boy. He's some sort of a hero and legend In their school. She couldn't believe it was him who did this. She kept asking me how a friend could do this. I had no answers.
This is a 17 year old. Who murdered a girl he was no longer interested in romantically. Who teaches them this stuff. Who makes them think they'll get away with this or that it's ok to kill someone you don't like anymore?
My in-laws moved to an apartment on our floor two weeks ago. I have a feeling this situation would have inflicted even more trauma on us if we were not together. I have never been more thankful to be around her than now. I am trying to sleep but cannot.