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Me versus The Slanderers

This is the English translation work of my Indonesian short story "Aku versus Tukang Fitnah': https://ugc.production.linktr.ee/9276967c-7731-476b-9da9-9231035ce11a_Vol.36DEC2023.pdf?fbclid=IwAR0wWVah00-SATg1xj3Zx95Et3SquVeIs8wHaoB7pJZoeJyfNra4CFaivvE

By Ruby AstariPublished 4 months ago 5 min read
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Me versus The Slanderers
Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

I’m an angry person. I admit it. Nobody’s perfect, but I won’t make that an excuse to just lash out at anybody. I’m not the kind of woman who simply throws a hissy fit or just hit anybody when I feel hurt or that my wishes are not granted. I find that too childish.

At least according to some people who really know me, my anger is quite terrible. I’m not the kind to directly snap at you or respond at once after an attack. I usually still restrain myself to patience to give the perpetrator a chance not to do that again.

However, if they still haven’t changed or they’ve even gotten worse with their attitude ... hmm, they’d better watch it. Still, my anger usually starts from feeling cold before it slowly warms up until it starts heating up ... until it suddenly explodes in the end. It’s like somebody quietly turning on the microwave and letting it burn to explosion or someone setting up a time bomb.

This is why not many people can get me directly when I get angry ... until I suddenly explode. I don’t just show it right away.

Slandered at School and Campus

A long story short, when I enrolled at this high school, there was a girl who disliked me, yet she had pretended be friends with me. She told me that none of the other kids in our class had liked me, so I’d better be grateful that she still wanted to be my friend. At that time, I hadn’t known anything about narcissism, gaslighting, or a manipulative friend who would like to control me for their own personal benefits.

When we moved to the next level a year after that, I began to learn the truth. Nobody had liked that girl. Although they didn’t worship me, they didn’t hate me either. She had to move school when she flunked the class. I forgot about her.

College years were worse. Another female student had tried to steal my idea for our Pre-production Radio Class back then. When we were assigned to prepare our pitches for a feature show – I came up with an idea of an educational topic on HIV/AIDS in 2000. The girl – whom I’ll just refer to as ‘I’ – claimed that the professor had thought the idea unfit for the assignment.

When I told my friends that, they suggested that I ask the professor directly. I was startled when she approved my idea. One of my friends grew suspicious. “What if ... that girl wanted to try to steal your idea, so that was why she was forbidding you. Stop telling her things then. She can’t be trusted!”

I wish I’d been able to take that advice back then. Unfortunately, I was compelled to be in the same group as she was on our Documentary Pre-production Class. Although there were three other students in that group, I had already felt uncomfortable with her. The thing was, I was not doing much but acting all bossy. During meetings, she’d mostly sat down in the corner, reading her book. It was obvious that she’d only wanted to boss people around and do as less work on her part as possible. Not only me, other kids had started feeling displeased with her attitude.

Thankfully, we could change groups at the next semester. Unfortunately, ‘I’ had taken all our meeting materials, no idea why. I was a little upset with the other kids for their lack of inisiative to ask her for them, so I decided to email her about them. I’d asked her nicely, but she replied rudely: “Okay, since you’re the producer, here!!”

Awful rumours about me were spreadt during the senior year. “I” had told every one in our class about how “rude” I’d been to her. Despite the hurt she’d caused me, I decided to remain quiet. Many didn’t believe her, anyway. There were those who had defended me as well: “Really? I don’t think Ruby’s like that. You’re probably just being too sensitive with her straight talk.” I heard that “I” pouted at the response.

If anybody dared ask me directly to clarify, I simply showed them the last email from “I”. (Yes, at that time, I’d already used “digital footprints” as evidence.) “I” was even stupid enough to have told my best friend about me, which of course she directly had after that.

I’d never confronted “I” over her wicked slandering about me. What for? I didn’t want to waste my precious time for cowards who still had the audacity to show their fake smiles at me, yet they were bitching about me behind my back.

The Silent Anger

There were still other stories of me fighting off the slanderers with my silent anger. Adulthood doesn’t guarantee our safety from such petty cowards. Some of them may have sucked up to your own family that you were treated like ‘the black sheep’ in your own home. It would be a lie to deny the pain when your own family buys the lies others feed them about you. Just wait, no matter how long – it will all be revealed. Your family will be sorry they have hurt you because of these people, although they may not directly apologise to you.

Especially friendship in adulthood. Unfortunately, you’re bound to meet people like them, those willing to seek attention this way. If they don’t mock you while claiming it’s just a joke, such people will tell you tales about A, but they’ll also tell A stories about you. You’ll be surprised when you and A compare what you hear from the same person. You both will probably be shocked and deny: “No, I never said that about you!” Uh-oh ...

I was hanging out with a best friend, a friend, and a new acquaintance at a restaurant one night. At that time, I’d just been laid off and I didn’t have enough money. However, my best friend had asked me to accompany him with a promise: “I’ll treat you this dinner.” I thankfully agreed.

Who would’ve known? After that, night, I heard that The New Acquaintance detested seeing me receiving treats from my own best friend. We hadn’t known each other that long, but she dared call me “the leech” – as if I were that disgustingly low. When my best friend defended me like hell, explaining to her that it had been his idea (I never reject free offerings or I’d be a hypocrite!), The New Acquaintance had more audacity to say: “Then Ruby should’ve known better not to take an advantage of you that way!”

My best friend could only calm me down at last, urging me to ignore the crazy things she had said about me. Especially when it turned out that she was already notorious for being the problematic one in some other local communities. It is true what wise people say. Sometimes we can only sit and wait for the truth to come out by itself.

What can we learn from my experiences? It’s normal to feel hurt, but don’t let it get the best of you. Let the slanderers tire themselves out, since they’re the ones wasting their time and energy to spread evil lies – which will soon get back at them. We all know who are the really unhappy ones here.

Meanwhile, why don’t you just focus on yourself and try to do your best to help people. Nobody has the right to force you to forgive your slanderers right away. It’s still your call. Choose what makes yourself feel most peaceful. You know what you need.

- The end -

Secrets
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