I think I should tell you a love story today.
NOTE : This is a true story which involves underage children, one of who happens to be me. Don’t worry, it’s not about child abuse and it certainly does not involve two kids french-kissing.
Okay, brace yourselves, here it comes.
I had never had a girlfriend. Not that many eight year olds had one those days, but still, I was the only student in the class who could count the first hundred numbers backwards, so I guess that signified as something. There used to be a girl on the second-bench, who possessed nice, sleeky pageboy haircut, which always kept me on the edge of my seat. Maybe it was because she was my neighbor and visited our house every week to deliver Mehndi leaves to my mother, I really thought there was no one like her in the whole universe. Well, back then, the universe undoubtedly stretched from my own house to my grandparents’ house, so it was not that big deal. Moreover, I don’t think I meant that statement in a positive sense back then.
She totally sucked at arithmetics, but she could draw ducks and sunflowers and all those pictures they ask you to draw in std.III very well. We would not communicate, because every time somebody struck a conversation with me, the first thing I asked that person was if they watched Shaktiman. And the girl did not have a tv in her house – which, then, struck me as the biggest tragedy of all time.
Anyway, so one day, my teacher caught me gossiping with my friends while I was supposed to pay attention to three-digit multiplication problems he was scribbling nonchalantly on the board, and as a punishment, I was made to sit with that girl for a couple of weeks. I remember crying and begging the teacher to forgive me, but that arsehole acted like his ears were wedged. And so, I ended up sitting next to her.
At first, she struck me as a peculiar person, for, one, she did not bring a Tiffin box, and two, she still used Natraj pencils while the rest of humanity had supposedly progressed to Apsara.
“What’s nineteen multiplied by eight? “She’d whisper in my ears as the teacher ambled through the aisle every Saturday Class Test. I’d fake deafness and leave that particular problem in my notebook unattended till I was done with the rest of the questions. Now that I think about it, I was a total asshole back then. Anyway, she’d return me the favor in drawing classes, and that’s how our enmity continued.
My friends soon kicked me out of the gang.
“You are not pure anymore. “They said, as if she was untouchable, and left. After a long time, I was alone, however, the good thing about this was that I did not have to share my Maggie with anoyne anymore. But that, of course, didn’t happen.
“What do you do in lunch time? “I quizzed the girl one day.
“Homework. “She replied curtly.
“What do you do at home then? “I asked, baffled.
“I help my mother. “She said, her eyes fixed at the worn-off texts on the yellowish page of her ragged book. I wondered if she was poor, like those children they showed on tv. I was instantly filled with guilt.
“Umm…here. Take my lunch. “I slid the blue Tiffin box towards her, adding, “But take only half of it. ”
I don’t know, maybe she smiled or maybe she glowered at me – I don’t distinctly remember – but after that, we were sharing lunch somehow. My friends mocked me big time for this.
“Hehe. Ravish eats with a girl. “One would say, and everyone would break into wild guffaws.
I considered, several times, putting an end to this lunch-sharing relationship, however, I could never make up my mind. I mean, I’d already started whispering back to her in Maths periods, and she’d already started drawing ducks in my blank notebook. So, it was kind of irreversible now.
One day, when she was busy fishing for a pencil in her bag, I wrote in her cursive writing book – I Love You.
When she saw it, she drew a smiley below that. I remember that moment – a foggy winter outside, and inside, a yellow bulb glowing quietly behind us. Our shadows stretched far on the floor, as if a part of an abstract painting. I still remember certain things about her. Her perfect hair, the algae-colored bag, the loop in her y’s, the brown in her eyes, and of course, the smiley she drew below my words.
We broke up as soon as my punishment was over. Back then, the company of my friends mattered more than that of a sweet little girl who drew ducks in my copy. I stopped sharing lunch with her.
She stopped coming to the school the next year. Her parents had admitted her to a cheap private school that’d just started. She’d still come to my house though, to deliver Mehndi leaves, but we behaved like strangers. My family left the city a year later, and I never saw her again.
It was a childish affair, but I am seventeen now, and I am yet to find someone like her, even though my universe is much bigger than what it used to be nine years ago.