This post has been written for the BlogAdda contest ‘My First Crush’.
One advantage of getting to write this post in the hiatus between your 1st and the sophomore year of college, some people would presume, is that you remember more of the first time you experienced the tingles of childhood romance in all its innocuous sanctity. Though it might be somewhat true, I think I would remember my first crush even as my bones age and sinews deteriorate. Just some entity related to that time would bring a tsunami of images, and it wouldn’t be just nostalgia that afflicts you as you reminisce the time.
The Year of our Lord 1999 (also the Year of the Rabbit according to our commie neighbours) saw me as the 9 year old exemplary educatee in my third grade, replete with the oiled, immaculately combed hair and the shiny new satchel. I, as I remember, was forever the knowledgeable dweeb, the Obiwan among a bunch of gibberish rendering tiny-tots, the one in the class who constantly answered each of the teacher’s questions in the class in order for her to instantly sort you out as the au courant. It didn’t take more than a week to procure my first Good Conduct batch, which I would smugly display while shushing a pair of gossipers who weren’t paying attention to the teacher.
She entered the class one fine sunny day of April. People had been languidly listening to the drone of the teacher, ‘twas the Hindi period in progress I guess, and a steady buzz emanated from some corner of the class which I wasn’t very much inclined to quell. A sudden childish female voice from the doorway grabbed everyone’s attention before you could yell ‘fire!’.
“May I come in ma’am?”
I spun. The silhouette of a girl was perceptible, with the sun directly behind lighting up the sleekness of her short brown hair undone. An affirmative from the teacher made her step inside, and respiration was suddenly rendered impossible.
A face that could redefine sweetness. The thin, shapely brows arched over her brown eyes. Her lips moving while time froze, as she greeted the teacher and took a seat that the teacher assigned to her.
“This is *Minni.” The teacher’s voice invaded the sugary slideshow inside my head. “She had been ill and could rejoin the school only today. Any help she needs regarding the work lost will be fulfilled by you.” She then proceeded to take my copy and give it to her for completion of her work.
That was the first time she looked at me, her face filled with gratitude. God, I wanted to hug her right then.
The rest of the half an hour of the period was spent repeatedly getting distracted to look at her poring over the copies, scratching out mistakes, biting the end of her pencil in the most demure manner possible. At the end of the period she came to me and handed over my copy, murmuring “Thanks” in the fleetest of moments before she took off again.
The days went by, with her ascertaining my prowess as an academician and borrowing the rest of the class work from me. It was as if a balloon had welled up inside me, making me float to the bench of every chatterer in the class to berate them when they had been told to keep silent. It wasn’t exactly surprising that I wound up at Minni’s desk more than just frequently, telling her in the softest of voices to just pipe down her tone slightly. She would nod her head in acquiescence, her hair bobbing up and down, offering me the most cherubic of smiles.
We would play together in the Games period, she and a couple of friends. It was some weird game named Cut the Cake (the rules of which I fail to recall). One particular period we disagreed on something and I completely lost it, hitting her on her arm. She didn’t even wince; moreover she grabbed my hand and twisted it, evoking a grimace which I tried to camouflage with a forced chivalrous laugh. She let go immediately as the bell signalling the end of that session of Games period rang off in the distance.
That night I smarted under the pain, my head in a nimbus of awe. A girl who had me completely in her power. A girl who could make me weak in the knees with a mere glance. A girl who could twist my arm as easily as picking up a feather. With that I keeled over, hugged my pillow imagining it to be her and counted petals of umpteen roses before I snored away. Mater said in the morning that I had been smiling in my sleep.
It went on like that. I would be sitting inside the class, stealing glances at her every now and then. I yearned to hold her, caress her fingers, and stare at her smile. My fondness was steadily starting to embark upon depravedness, so much so that at its zenith I ended up picking her pencil when she wasn’t around and licking its end, and relished the stark wooden flavour knowing her lips had touched the same earlier. The incident sickens me now, but the moment at the time was bliss.
All good things must come to an end, so they say. This one did on the day of the annual concert. A choir group had been constituted out of grade 3 and 4 students. Minni and I were there too. For 3 weeks we were taught the songs ‘Top of the World’ and ‘Roses on Raindrops’ unto perfection. The night of the performance saw each member of the choir dressed resplendently. I couldn’t take my eyes off Minni. A white top and a black skirt. A rosy pallor on her cheek, outcome of makeup done on the girls. She looked heavenly.
We were ushered on the stage for our performance. A sea of doting parents and affectionate teachers greeted us, which became obscure once the floodlights went on. The last minute instruction,that of not squinting against the light, was turning out to be in vain. Anyways we finished our repertoire, the sound of applause cascading to a halt before we bowed and made our exit.
We were put up inside a classroom until the end of the concert. Addy, a friend of mine, had brought with him one of those Love Cards they used to give away with Coffitos, the coffee flavoured candy. The card had two slots where you and your partner (girl if you were straight) would press for a few minutes. The slots would then glow with specific colours which would then be compared against a chart to know your compatibility. Two reds meant you were soulmate material. Kinda stupid really. But it was the current craze among 9 year olds.
Everybody kept clamoring to try it out with different partners. I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw Minni approaching. I knew right then. She wanted to do it with me.
I stood up, inching my way towards the card, and so did she. The card kept passing hands before, all of a sudden, it found its way back to Addy. Minni was standing right beside him.
Addy asked her if she would do it. She glanced at me in askance. The others told her to hurry up. I looked at the floor. She said yes.
Not a problem, I told myself, I could do it after they finished. The 2 longest minutes of my life passed right then until someone yelled “Red!!”
I looked at them. Minni stood with her mouth slightly open. Addy beamed a shameless smile to everyone in the vicinity (the bastard). She looked back at me, the card in her hand. She had started to stride in my direction when suddenly a teacher pilfered into the classroom.
“The concert is over children. You can go home now.”
A general stampede ensued. Before long she was lost amidst the milling crowd.
We didn’t talk about it the next day. Neither the day after. Never at all. Our talks between classes lost its sheen. Before long we were sharing just general niceties with each other.
The academic year came to an end, and we never even said a formal good bye. I had it in my mind she was lost forever. It didn’t hurt, it didn’t devastate. It just left me a whole lot confused.
However, that was only until I got a crush on someone else in the 4th grade. It would take me years to realize that I had been condemned to a lifetime of proximity infatuations…
*Name changed to protect privacy.