Only later I realised it was indeed for me when he sneaked a flower to me through his friend. He cared, he cared!!! Our romance started in the earnest. He would buy the greeting cards at Archies in Janpath market and leave it there for me to collect. No there was no way he could personally give them to me. After all our parents knew each other well and we could not risk ‘chopping the nose of either family.’
This made us very creative. We devised ways of interacting which perhaps did not exist before. We started teaching cricket and badminton to colony kids, we got ourselves invited to birthday parties, we became self-appointed help to all events in the area and we sometimes got to exchange a letter or two. Some friends helped with the letters but this system collapsed when they started insisting on reading the letters before delivering.
We were both rather serious about our studies so lot of talk centred on competitive exams and books. And preparing for exams also gave us some liberty to spend time in presence of each other not alone though. So our silent love in the eyes kind of romance continued.
And then we did something scandalous which created a very strong bond between us which was almost unbreakable.
We smoked cigarettes together in Hazratganj. I clearly remember the panwalla’s expression when we bought two cigarettes and said please light them. He was shocked but nonetheless handed over the rope which hung in his shop and was lit at one end. We lighted our cigarettes amid disapproving glares of the passer byes, girl smoking!!! I was thrilled and knew this was a thick as thieves’ life time kind of bond. It’s another matter that we could hardly go beyond two puffs.
I was enjoying this feeling of falling in love, I felt so alive, so ecstatic, I was walking in the air humming songs, I noticed all the butterflies, I cried in movies like Love Story, I continuously day dreamed, and yes the world was too beautiful.
We never discussed our relationship or future, neither of us had the guts to start the conversation. We were simply enjoying the “old fashioned –rationed” kind of romance. I did not know where we were going but it didn’t matter for I felt it will last forever.
As exams approached we got a bit busy with studies, he really want to crack the IITs and I supported him fully by dutifully collecting notes for him from his friend’s houses and getting them photocopied.
It was summers and time for results of IITs entrance to come in. We were waiting with baited breaths. The results were declared…. he had made it to IIT Bombay!!! Oh My God Bombay was so far off and only meant films to me. But I was elated …more than him.
Soon it was time for him to go, we said goodbye, I gave him a diary, and that was it. No promises, no I will write to you, no I will miss you, no nothing from him. Going to an IIT to study computer science was perhaps worth sacrificing even a 100 romances at that time. I was devastated.
Anyhow I put on a brave face and tried to carry on with life as usual. I just could not bear the thought of anybody sympathising with me. So I just grinned and hid my pain. But such tactics don’t work when you have a brother who is not much younger to you.
One fine morning just as I was getting a grip on my life he casually said Didi I think you have been dumped. Whew…..Thank You very much for telling !!! I mean who needed enemies with such brothers around.
From this day onwards I became the female version of Phate Haal Majnu. I could not sleep, I could not eat, I did not meet anyone, I was unkempt and I just sat with a lost look . My constant companion was my dog.
To complete my experience of heartbreak I endlessly listened to sad songs and gazals. It was during this phase that I learnt some valuable stuff about life.
First lesson was that you could not really understand and enjoy gazals till you had a broken heart. I really felt the lyrics of Ranjish hi sahi , Humko kiske gam ne maara and Chupke chupke . I also discovered Bachchan Sahab’s Madhushala. It was intellectually quite enjoyable; in fact I started enjoying this new understanding of fine words to the extent that several of my friends started wishing they could get dumped too.
It did not last long though…..I mean this immersion in devastation. By some divine intervention just a few days later this amazing looking , aspiring model kind of guy moved into the flat above us!!! Can you even believe it!!! And my Mom had invited the entire family for dinner.The “Phate haal Laila” Look immediately went out of fashion. And along with came the valuable lesson number two of life.
“Blindness caused by crush is rather temporary.” Much to my surprise I began to feel that Mr. IIT wasn’t that great actually, he wasn’t that great looking either, he wore glasses and he was too geeky etc etc etc .
I had heard everyone saying that first love is hard to get over especially for girls. My first crush never even became a password later in life. Was I not normal?
Sometime back I ran into my original IIT brand Mr. Crush. We were checking on to the same flight. I looked at him and I was like is he? Is he not? And when I realized he was giving me the same looks, we connected. We chatted and laughed like old times, we couldn’t believe the things we did back then, I mean it was over 20 years. I felt as if the two decades had not passed and he sure was geeky. We shared our life events after that fateful goodbye. Once we got out of the airport to get into our respective vehicles he said we were so silly
I said no we were love-struck
He: I am sorry for causing all the pain, can we meet again sometime.
I : No I have got Madhushala and memories now. He looked puzzled.
I just smiled and got into my car.#love
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