Friday, September 04, 2009

That Red Sweater

The year was 1996. I was 12 years old. The year when India lost to Srilanka in a tear jerking World Cup Semifinal. It was also the year when a mouse haired, red sweater wearing, blue jeans totting girl sneaked a peek into the classroom for VI B. A guy seating in the middle of second row from the door looked up from his ink stained notebook (he never got the hang of ink pens), his eyes never wavered from the door while the teacher talked to the inappropriately dressed kid.

The kid went away and the class resumed its dull pace, I always hated Hindi classes. This hate stemmed from the fact that I couldn’t wrap my head around rules of when to use the “badi matra” and when to use the “choti matra”. I still hate Hindi! I don’t know what it was but in those days and in our school especially there was a line that divided the class into girls only area and boys only area. It was much like quarantine to protect against cooties. Yours truly on the other hand has always been blessed with a strong immune system and managed to sit in any row he liked, which usually tended to be the second row: the one in the girl’s part of the class

Afterwards as the classes resumed the aforementioned girl returned to VI B so did my heart to my mouth (or does it go to the stomach in these cases, I could never be a doctor). She was now officially a part of VI B and the Hindi classes or any other class for that matter wouldn’t be as boring as it used to be. Poets say love comes and goes in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, in high school, it goes more than it comes.....And then from somewhere, I don't know - it just came to me.

There is nothing more terrifying than calling a 12 year old girl who you like and whose number you have flicked off from the class’s attendance register (what don’t look at me like that this was standard procedure in our school). It is at these times when you need balls of steel or a particularly mayhem happy cousin to make that first call and thrust the phone in your face. It is at these prophetic moments that one makes statements that sweep women right off their feet and into your lap, I gulped the hard lump that was forming in my throat and rose up to the occasion and asked her “What was the homework given to us in the Hindi class?”. Yes, I am fancy like that. Time rolled by and I used to call her daily, she had taken over the role of my personal homework reminder services.

Around the end of 1996 a funny thing happened: 1997. Not that anyone was paying much attention. It was February and 14th day of this month had lately assumed a lot of importance, it was a new fad at that time. I had secretly bought a UNESCO card! Buying one of those fancy Archies card would raise too many uncomfortable questions with my mom and let’s face it my parents were never too big on pocket money. I sat there on the second last bench of the second row while she sat on the third last one. Whole day had come and gone by with me dilly dallying the timing for the exercise of my card delivering competency. The moment came right at the end of the school day and I gave her the card or rather held it out to her while asking about the day’s homework. The rest as they say is history and she still has that red sweater.