13/03/2017 by Siddiqui Fayesal
There was a boy of 19 who fancied a girl in his class. In his eyes there wasn’t another prettier face in the whole college. At least, not the attainable pretty. The beauties were abound, but they lived in a wholly different universe. They spoke only oily English and their Hindi was such that they were forced to speak in an accent. Their tummies were flat, their navels pierced, their smiles perfect and their clothes short.
Mind you, he obviously found them pretty, and rightly so, but he never fancied them. No one, no matter how perfect their legs, how accented their Hindi and how flat their midriffs, could come close that girl who wore that pink tee shirt on the very first day of college. his triumph lay in the fact that he found out what her name was; on the FIRST day itself and that too without any stunt.
Every time he thought about his luck a faint smile spread across his plain face. Just thinking about her, her voice asking him if he knew what the word “Ornithologist” meant, and then her face lighting up with a 1000 watt beam when he answered a soft yes. That smile not only lit up her faced, but also his life, he liked to think. He began walking straighter with unbounded confidence.
All this came crashing down when he saw her talking (and, gosh, smiling) with another guy. He deflated faster than a pockmarked rubber tyre on its last inches. His shoulder slouched, his smile vanished and his new gait ruined. He convinced himself that there was, perhaps, a filial relationship between them, and slowly succeeded in convincing himself further that though she smiled she looked positively bored.
This went on for a whole year. Their relationship status was lying in a deep muck in the ignored corner of the 5th basement of a 100 storey tower, but the young man didn’t give up. He still hoped that one day she’d wake up from her slumber and have the irresistible urge to ask that handsome boy’s hand in holy matrimony, or at least suggest an explicit amorous activity like… Nah! He was too shy and cultured to that. Instead, he told himself, that he’d kiss her forehead (when she would faint and he would carry her all the way to their wedding bed) and they’d live happily ever after.
Such were his hopes. He could only hope, as he didn’t have the guts to go speak to her without breaking into severe conniptions. At the end of the first year, he told himself (as Rocky’s score rumbled in the background) that he’d “do something about it in the next year”.
The new academic year began and bestowed upon him the stain of perpetual crap. Their classrooms were separate now.
Oh, the anguish! When would he find the excuse to go and ask her the time (he had consciously learnt to forget his watch), when, oh when???
“Excuse me, are you done?”
Stunned, he turned around to come face to face with the angel of Love and Wholesome Married Life.
“Oh. Yes. I was done. I AM done, I mean. Sorry to keep you waiting. I was just moving away, he stuttered and then thinking there won’t be another window any time sooner, he asked, “What’s the time, though?”
The year slipped by like the sweeping seconds hand and the only progress he’d made was to run in to her at bus stops and railway station platforms (after diligently studying her schedule).
But, still, he only asked her things that had to do with the weather, the time, the late hour of the bus and other exciting things that painted his sad little life. He, at times, for obscure reasons, pretended to NOT see her standing at the bus stop (Let her seek me out, eh).
The struggle continued well into the last year of their education. He had managed to speak beyond the time and weather. He was almost happy about having her as a friend. The kinds that don’t speak for weeks, but when they do, they speak of normal stuff like the new Harry Potter book or why was she late the other day.
Maybe she’d love him yet, he’d think. Maybe she’ll see the dude underneath the dork, he’d tell himself. The feeling (imagined) brought warmth to him.
The warmth lasted just as long as a twice boiled stale coffee.
In the 3 years he had never thought of outside influence! His confidence shattered and with depression making out with his bad luck, he tried to forget her.
he began penning bad poetry. He rhymed ‘flower’ with ‘bitch, didn’t deserve an hour’; ‘death’ with ‘bitch, didn’t deserve the wealth’and drowned himself in halal drinks.
Time went by.
Now, some 10 years later, he sat besides his wife and laughed about it, holding the Rose Day card that he never delivered, but kept safe for some weird reason. He had fallen for her, and more importantly, she had accepted him by loving him with passion that he hadn’t known existed.
No amount of midriffs, accentuated Hindi or reddish cheeks with pearly smiles could equal his wife; the woman who had as slightly weird smile and couldn’t really pronounce “tintinnabulation” without breaking into fits of laughter. It wasn’t tinkling like a ‘lady’s’, but hoarse and loud.
But when he held her, the Earth stood still and his heartbeat raced.
He was again a boy of 19 who fancied a girl.
The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.