Sunday, September 2, 2012

The growing up ~ part 1

It was 11th standard and all hell had broken loose. We had changed apartment one more time and the stability, the only continuity in life –School- had ended. Waters of innocence were beginning to clash with rocky realities. Time spent in reading abstract books, was now spent in doing trial and error with real life situations. Quadratic equations, Boyle’s laws, Thermodynamics, Bunsen burners, periodic tables, tundra region, dadabhai naoroji; nothing taught in school was of any use. Plus it felt strange being a teenager and at the same time being in college, amongst people, I knew little about. So to escape the not so pleasant reality my mind tried going into the future or to the past. Future was unknown, maybe 12th standard and more studies, so past it was!

One rainy day, sitting at home, having bunked college again, I was browsing through my telephone diary and there in front of me was the telephone number of a schoolmate, which I obtained from a common friend. Mentally, I had put her in the good looking bracket. By the 10th standard, the list had grown and there were about 10% of girls in the good looking bracket; the ones of more interest were the ones who were approachable, a little independent,

I had been thinking about her since a few days, today I just picked up a notebook and started writing my feelings. Finishing the write-up, I closed the notebook with a sigh and an urge to know more about her. So I picked up the phone and dialed her residence number. She picked up, and said “Hello?”
“Hello Good afternoon, I am calling from MTNL” I replied speaking in a deeper voice, in an attempt to sound older. “We are doing a re-validation of customer details, and going through the records we found that your address is not updated in our records….”I said pausing. “So, please give your address”. I concluded unconvincingly.

“What?” She said and then started conversing in the background with, who I believe were, her sister and mother, in her mother tongue, which I did not understand, but surely they must have discussed the validity of this odd request, coming out of nowhere. My heart beat faster. But then she said “Ok. Write down “.... Goregaon, Mumbai”. I wrote down as she gave her complete address, smiling to myself thinking, how I had got what I wanted. Maybe the thought of MTNL personnel turning unfriendly made her give out the details. Whatever her reason, but it was a lesson that lying and boldness makes it easy in this complicated world.   

Later that day, as the rain stopped, I walked a few blocks and reached the apartment complex of Kishore; my school friend since many years, and now my one link to solidity in a, now, liquid, changing life. Some called him a scientist and thought his knowledge was of no practical use; their interests confined to non-intellectual fun pursuits; games, girls, movies etc. Me on the contrary appreciated the knowledge he possessed and shared. His bookshelves were as full as mine were empty.

I whistled the unique whistle which only we knew. His head peaked from the grills of his third floor apartment and disappeared.  He came down. His mother was watching from above. We sat down under the coconut tree.

“I just read that 150 people are killed by falling coconuts every year” he said patting the stray dog which had started to linger around his legs. There were some coconuts on the tree; we decided to go for a walk, the dog followed us through the winding streets lined with small apartment complexes of  2-3 floors.
Our talks had no limits it covered the neighborhood to faraway stars, no topic was off limits.
“You know I am in love.” I exclaimed feeling a load lift from my heart, having expressed the inexpressible. 
“With whom? “, he asked
“xyz”, I replied
“The girl from our school, wow, since when?” he asked surprised.
“I realized this only after leaving school. I have written a letter too”, I said bringing out a crumpled handwritten page torn from a notebook. He read it

“Dear abc,

You would be surprised to read this. But I have to confess that I have always been fascinated by you. But, I could not admit it earlier, as I was leading a double life in school.

I wanted to participate in elocution competition. But I did not. I just fooled around with those who wanted to do the same thing. I DID participate in quizzes. I also wanted to participate in debates. But I did not.
In the adrenalin rush, I conveniently forgot that on my first try, on stage I had forgotten the elocution topic itself. The odds of me being hit by lightning were more than me becoming a debating star.

The letter went on mentioning the great and respectable things I wanted to do but could not, trying to clear up my image in one go- which was at best that of a joker- and in the end concluded with 
“..I was a joker but that was not the real me. The real ‘me’ loves you. “

Yours truly,



This letter would redeem me.

“Is this a LOVE letter, this is a SUICIDE letter?” Kishore said, utterly disgusted with the content. I was rudely awakened from my hormonal daze by that harsh feedback. Also surprised as, I thought, he was not really a top authority on the subject. But maybe he had read tons of books and had significant knowledge on the topic who knows?  He continued “You are admitting to having a dual personality. From my point of view that’s ok since many have multiple personalities you have only two. But write something else in the letter, it needs more work. Anyway, what are you going to do?” he asked.

“I have her address, “I replied triumphantly, recounting the clever way I got her address, concluding with “I plan to go visit her house”
“And do what?” he asked.
“I will say I’ve come to take this household survey, and then act surprised that it is her house I stumbled into! I will elaborate that I do this survey thing along with my studies.” I said, furthering my sincere & non-jokerish credentials.
“I don’t know what company you are keeping in college” he said shaking his head. 
“Of all kinds of interesting people, accept lecturers.” I replied. Many years later I realized they were potential gangsters, and I would become a mini don if I had continued with them.
“Next, what, go selling washing powder door to door?”
 “Now stop that, this is serious.” I asserted.

We had reached back, near his building, after taking a walking tour of the area. His mother called out “Raju” his pet name. “Its dinner time, I have to go, see you later and all the best”.

Saying he vanished, leaving me to think about what best I could do. I would skip college tomorrow as well, I decided - there were more important things that sought my attention- and go to a new-found address.