I remember it as clearly as it happened. I had just finished the captain duties after school. It was a major rule in our institution that all the kids were to form a straight line (I know it’s redundant in itself but some Indianisms really get me pumped) as they exited their classrooms and walked down multiple corridors to the gate beyond. I loathed a lot of things about this particular school and this rule often left me feeling caged. Come to think of it – the last bell of school heralds a promise of unspoken excitement and things are meant to get crazy with everyone jostling, trying to get out of the institution first. It is an indication that they survived another day with our education system after all! Although I hated them, at this point of life, I can sympathize with some of the rules – they were probably put in place to ensure that no stampedes occurred.
As I walked back to class, to wrap my bags and head to Abacus lessons (Yes, I’d chosen to enrich my brain with the mental prowess of Abacus) I met my friend Zit (That’s the closest I can get to not revealing his name. It also helps that all girls find zits annoying. Pun intended). I must tell you beforehand that I’d studied my entire life (until 7th std) in a girls school and in this school, I had but a few guy friends.
Zit seemed to be in a perturbed mood. I thought I’d talk to him and figure out why was he so morose? Which girl had he fallen for so suddenly that he couldn’t smile and just be?
He refused to answer to my insistent queries and just smirked and sulked away. I packed my bags and went up to him, ‘Come on! You can tell me, you know? I’ll keep it a secret.’
‘Who’s the lucky one?’, I ventured. Feeling a little cheesy and trying to be the cool girl best friend they often show you in Hollywood movies.
Little did I expect the reply, ‘You!’.
I was momentarily stunned and laughed it out. ‘You can’t be serious. Come on now, take the suspense off.’
‘No, I’m serious. It’s you’, he persisted. Now the wind just knocked out of me. It’s one thing to pull your friends’ legs and another when you’re going to find yourself in a similar situation. I went to abacus class in a stony silence and my mind was in a tizzy. Was I to feel elated that someone thought me crush-worthy? Or was I to feel bad and angry that a ‘good friend’ had just made things super awkward?
All my teenage fancies and wishful thinking about the situation came to the right conclusion when after abacus Zit met me and said, ‘I’ve got a gift for you’ and he proceeded to take a wrapped item that looked ridiculously like a book. It was a weird feeling then, I was left wondering whether people began dating when gifts were exchanged? Was it just the girl who got the gift? How do things like these work really? I was tempted to take the book. (The surprise was killing me too. Would he just lend it to me so I could read it later on?) I denied the book and told him I’d err really ike to go home for now.
Life has a way of giving you answers when you really need them and that’s what happened.
Any semblance of romance that I’d gathered in the last few moments went out of the door as soon as I walked out of school to see Zit’s friends hovering about; cycling, playing, kicking stones and basically just waiting to hear from the brave one.
‘Did she say yes, macha?’
And that was that!