|Artwork by Samatha Zaza : www.cldfx.com|
Let me narrate a recurring memory in my life. There was a senior of mine in Wynberg Allen (a boarding school in Mussoorie where I finished my Plus 2), who I deemed the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world. Now there could be many reasons for that. I'd been in a boys' school for 8 years and hadn't seen too many pretty girls. Heck, I'd hardly seen any girls till then. Nevertheless, there was something special about her. Perhaps, it was her confidence in the knowledge that she was desired by pretty much all the boys at school. Perhaps it was her natural athleticism, or that she could look so beautiful in spite of no make up & with the compulsory, nerdy double-plait. Every time I'd lay my eyes on her, I'd blush. The warm, comforting sunshine of Mussoorie had nothing to do with it. Rather, it seemed to dim every time she'd walk by, as if paying homage to a form more radiant than itself!
I never, for once, had the stomach to tell her how besotted I was, but I guess some things are so obvious that they need not a word. Oh, to silently sit in the wings like a mute, secret admirer and catch a glimpse of her occasionally smiling at me. Yes, it was a massive, MASSIVE crush, and something close had never happened before, never after. When she passed out of school, my first thought was (I kid you not): "How am I going to get through one whole year without seeing her every single morning?" At that tender, innocent age, a term like "this too shall pass" did not exist for me. Heck, for that one crush, it hasn't till today! Since that overwhelmingly cheesy encounter 13 years ago, I have overcome my awkwardness around women & met extremely smart, talented & gorgeous ladies. But something about that time, the circumstances & her face refuses to let up.
What is my one indelible memory of her? Accidentally bumping into her in a dark alley on the eve of the annual Hindi play. I was running late (as usual) and was hurtling full speed down the path to the auditorium when I almost knocked her over; she in resplendent white, like an angel sent from the purest heavens, just for me. She held her breath; she wasn't allowed to be outside & obviously feared being caught. I, on the other hand, was awestruck; arrested by her downcast eyes and the strands of hair blowing over her face. Even though it was dark, I could see her pale skin glow ever so bright. And I wondered, where is the goddamned background music when you really need it? We stood there for what seemed like an eternity, locked our breathless gazes for the briefest of moments and walked our ways. And to think that this could happen only in a film! Those surreal moments stay locked in my memory to this day...