…I still remember that day. It was the month of august and I was in my eleventh standard. (Sweet sixteen you know!!) Those were some days… I used to literally crave to go to school. We just had had our long holidays and everybody was full of new spirit, new plans, new hairstyles, new books (?) and well, stories of new girlfriends or boy-friends… Yes, new was the air all around. We would play dumb sheraz in the school. We would play truth and dare and dare hitting our favorite teacher’s back when she was scribbling things on the board. I started breaking some of the school’s rules and some others of mine. In fact it was only then when I learnt to bunk school in order to watch movies…
Funny, that time is, in a person’s life. Isn’t it? You feel an inexplicable change occurring to your mind and your body. A strange freshness enters your lives and you yearn to do something new. Something different from others. You want to make up for all that time which you now think you wasted in all that mugging and crapping in tenth class. Suddenly you feel an urge to make more friends. You become more and more sociable. In fact it is the same time when most of us start taking interest in opposite sex….
A Flashback: KV Borjhar, Guwahati, August, 1994.
There is a ‘smart’ boy with neatly parted hair and a handkerchief strung over his shirt pocket. There is a cute girl with a pink smiling face, well groomed bobs and a yellow-red daisy duck bag on her back. With an invisible corner of his left eye, he tries to look at resplendent her. ”She is beautiful.” But his right eye is caught by a pair of squinty eyes. The teacher makes the new girl sit with him. The girl says hello and graciously offers her hand. “But she is a girl!!” He says hi and graciously refuses to accept them….
I have this very peculiar theory about boys that most of them want to have girlfriends only because they want to impress their boyfriends. Having a girlfriend is usually considered a matter of greater manhood. You feel ecstatic when your friends call your girlfriend their bhabhi. Having a girlfriend is also beneficial when it comes to parties, picnics and all that social stuff. When you have to prove how much sociable you are. In fact the more the number of girlfriends one has, the greater he is considered a dude…
…So, I was in eleventh and most of us were fed up of firstly the boards and then those endless holidays. Results were out a long ago and people were jubilant (as well as surprised) with their more than expected percentages. I was especially on a high. I had topped the school and had been continuously showered with ‘unnecessary’ praises ever since. But in spite of all that ‘highness’, there was something that I felt was missing. Something I was very unhappy about. I was considered a nerd. A bookworm. An introvert who seldom engages himself with others. And honestly speaking, I never liked that. I wanted to erase that image. I mean I was good at sports too. Why did people fail to notice that? In short, I wanted to be a hotshot, a dude… One who studies as well as enjoys life. And I thought having a girlfriend would make me one….
Another Flashback: KV Amla, near Nagpur, August, 2003
There is a ‘geeky’ boy with bespectacled red eyes, perfectly groomed hair and a badge over his shirt pocket, with class monitor carved on it. There is a girl with a radiant smile on her face, sitting across the boy on the same desk. The boy offers her a chocolate and she stands up, making way for yet another girl. There are many of them…in fact, the entire female population of the class, by the look of it… The ‘new’ girl ‘also’ ties a band on his hand. The occasion is simple: it is Rakshabandhan…..
…After a lucky start to the day, the protagonist lands up in school. With a blue-black rucksack, with a pink tee inside it. And as soon as he sees her, he decides to run away…
..Being a discipline prefect was never a cup of tea for me. But then, the princi loooved me so much. Moreover I had no other option. She simply called me one day, into her private office and gave me the badge to wear. And when I said what, she said yes. I once again opened my mouth to tell her that the mystery man, who had blasted the teachers’ toilet the previous year, was actually the person standing in front of her. But then she entered the office and I immediately looked down and submitted myself to her (princi, mind it!!)….
…So, my dear princi made me to stand on the entrance to check other students’ shirts, pants, shoes, ties and whatnots. I thought about the classroom. “She must have come by now. Ravi must have come too. He must have greeted her before me.” But I took a deep breath, tried to relax myself and punished a boy by making him stand on his knees because he had forgotten to wish good morning to me…a senior I mean…
Ravi….now, you don’t know him. Right? OK. In the most succinct of forms, I can (safely) say that Ravi was my best friend. We used to sit with other. We used to eat with other. Sometimes we used to ‘sleep’ with each other too. But we were not chuddy-buddies. Mind it. For me, sanitation comes before friends. Rahul and Ravi had replaced Viru and Jay in our school. But there was a problem. And it was that I hated him. I hated him more than our chemistry teacher. In fact I hated him to such an extent that I wanted to break our friendship forever. And I hated him because I somehow thought that she had feelings for him…
…In the English class that day, the teacher decided that it was time for some break and so she made us enact PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. There was no doubt that she would be made Elizabeth. Even Ravi whispered in my ears that she looked amazingly stunning in her b’ day dress. Considering the moment to be apt, I started asking him whether he had greeted her before assembly, but then our teacher saw my mouth open and decided to make Ravi as Darcy (instead of me?). I said what. My teacher asked what what? Then I said OK. And so she made me Mr. Bennet…
I don’t know why but I strongly believe that parents today seldom know what is best for their children. I mean take the example of a 15 year old kid. He goes to school. His parents want him to come first. He goes for coaching. His parents want him to clear all the entrance exams of the world. He goes to cricket academy. His parents want him to join the Indian cricket team. In short, his parents want him to be a studious geek who goes onto represent his country in cricket or in Olympics after getting an excellent rank in IITJEE? I mean what is this?…
But luckily (?) my parents never demanded me of anything. One day, I told them I wanted to join coaching institute to prepare for IITJEE and they said OK. I tried telling them that our neighbor Mr. ( )’s daughter also attended the same institute (who by utter coincidence, is in my class), but they did not listen and pretended paying more attention to whatever they were doing at that time. By the way, did I tell you that she lived very near to my house?…
…After being haunted with a new appellation of Mr. Bennet for all the remaining periods, I decided that giving her my gift just after school would be a useless idea. So I made up my mind to do the ‘rituals’ after coaching classes. “I would also propose her the same time. Evening is the most romantic hour of the day.” I thought. I also decided to neglect the unusually long discussion between Ravi and her at the cycle stand…
A Flashback: Connaught Place, Delhi, August, 2006: I am here in CP. My favorite place to hang out. And guess what? I am here to purchase a gift for my girlfriend…. ??…. OK.OK…. Soon to be girlfriend… There are some more people with me. But they don’t know I have come here especially to get a gift for her. Ravi is in a very pensive mood. “But he agreed to the plan very easily and almost excitedly. What is he thinking so fiercely?” Anyways, we are frolicking around doing the usual thing that we prefer to do when we are here…
A deviation: I tell you a little secret of mine. I am an ardent fan of Salim Ali. I like him very much. And I like him because I like birds. I love them. In fact I love birds so much so that once I had decided to become an ornithologist and not a dentist. It is another reason that I failed to become the latter too. Anyways, it is my unfathomable love for birds that I like to go to CP. There is a whole paradise of birds there. From ducks to sparrows. From koels to hummingbirds. Even birds from foreign lands flock there. But I especially like chicks. They are the best….
Flashback continues: So, I was in CP. With my friends. Doing the thing we like the most. Bird watching. Or rather bird-hunting. Yes…
Another Deviation: There is a very lovely poem by John Keats. You must have read about it, I am sure. Its first line says: “A thing of beauty is joy forever.” I love this line. I like to see birds not because I want to keep them in cage. It is just I want to enjoy the beauty around. What do you call a beauty? Something which arouses your senses. Something which forces you to say Wow. Right? Then tell me, what is wrong with bird-watching if I am a man and I feel good when I see beauty in birds…
Flashback continues: So, I was bird watching in CP. And there was a bird. She was breath-taking. Really. Her perfume completely blocked my nose. But then she was wearing a flaunting black skirt. A huge bag hung over her shoulders. A huger uncle (?) beside her. “Hey, what are you doing?” He barked. And the next second, I was back to my home. Too much observation is actually not good for health….I say….
….So, after the coaching classes, we took our cycle and started going home. I (or me, I am confused?), Ravi, Rohan, She and three other friends of hers. “I will get ten minutes after everyone leaves her. Best of luck.”…
I have this very peculiar theory about girls that most of them want to have boyfriends because they are always in a need of someone to carry their shopping bags and lipsticks and diamond rings. They are in search of some porter. A porter who pays for carrying their stuff. A boyfriend also comes in handy when they are in a mood to see some bull-fight. For fun you know. There are many examples. Ramayana and Sita. Draupadi and Mahabharata. But then it is not always true. They like indulging themselves in cat-fights too. EktaJI being the general. But most importantly they want someone, to shower on, all the love that they have in their larger than large heart…..
..“So….happy birthday…”…”What are your plans for today?”
“Oh, nothing in particular actually. Why?”
“Nothing. Nothing. Just asked.”
(A few seconds of silence)
“Rahul, Do you consider me as your friend?”
“Friend? I love you, honey….”
“I will tell you one thing but please don’t laugh at me.”
“He he he..”(To show her that I am a funny character!!)
“I think I am in love.”
“What? Shit!! I mean when? How? Who is he?”
“Actually I don’t know whether it is love or just infatuation. I need your help to sort it out.”
“But, who is he?….that Baster….I mean it must be infatuation. I mean it can’t be love. I mean love does not happen at such an age… (Useless argument)”
“You don’t believe in love, then?”
“I believe in it. In fact, I feel that love is the most important thing in the world. The world revolves around it. Only the luckiest of people fall in love. But most of us are not that lucky enough. Not everyone gets the love he deserves from the one he loves. (Like me…). But that is different. Temme, who is that lucky guy? Ravi?….He is good actually….”
(Seconds pass…)(Her phone rings..).
“Listen, I am in a bit of hurry. Will talk to you later.”
“Hey, but wait. I got something for you.”….”It’s a gift actually..” “ I hope you don’t mind.”
“Give it to me tomorrow. I am really late. Mumma must be waiting.”..”BBye.”….
A tear trickled down my nose. I was sad….Quite a day it had been….
You get up early. You feel like sleeping once again. Perhaps you did not sleep last night. Your father is shaving with some white froth on his face. You say good morning to him. He replies with a nod. And then:
“Your mumma found a pink tee-shirt in your bag. Are you in drama or something?”
“Mmmmm…Oh, yes papa…”
“And who is this Lady Gouldian Finch?”
“She sms’ed you.”
“When? What did she…..no..it is he actually…what did he write?”
“Check out for yourself. And who is she… I mean he?”
“Just a friend. A drama guy.”
And then you see your inbox. There is indeed a message from Gouldian Finch(CLICK). A message sent exactly at 12 AM…And it reads:
HOW DO YOU FEEL?