Aarushi and the Insidious Life of a Rumour

Trial by Error | The Aarushi Files

Aarushi and the Insidious Life of a Rumour

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré


he summer I was fifteen, I went on a date with a nice boy in my year at school who “liked” me – we sneaked into a patchy screening of Grease 2 and held sweaty hands in the dark environs of Chanakya cinema. This was New Delhi, a naïve, hormone-charged Age of Innocence in 1987.

The morning after my date with romantic bliss, my teenaged dragon-slayer date morphed into a regular tell-all creep with a talent for embellishment. By third period geography, everyone in class believed that my bruises (from basketball practice) were love bites. By the time the bell rang at the end of the day, I was the slut who could be felt up by anyone willing to give me a ride home in a red Maruti. I laughed it off, not realising how much this mythology would define my entire adolescence. Even so, I escaped relatively unscathed. But I became aware of something larger and more important: how dangerous rumour can be, how ignorant assumptions can sometimes end in real, inescapable tragedy for people, families, and society as a whole.