Edit: I have traced my very close friend Amit Taneja in FB. We studied together in GFPS till 8th. I addressed him as Tanu then. I had kept a little unwell today. Cramps..!! Evening, when the cramps had left, the Mood swing had set in. Tanu had sensed it. A couple of sms later, we talked. The other day he was definitely surprised about how I had remembered that ugly incident. This evening, we spoke about it at length. I have no words to express how relieved I feel after discussing about that moronious episode with him. He too had remembered every detail of that. I learnt today that he too was badly affected because of some stupid lady’s equally stupid thought process.
At that little age, I was outcast- I was treated like one. None of the boys would speak with me. Neither the girls would. After sometime, Tanu had started to converse with me though. Nishant had made my life nothing short of a hell. He would ridicule me no- end. He would mock at me. Passing by, he would utter some unpleasant tease. Gaurav Seth and Bimal Narang too had become neutral. They would speak with me i.e., so would Manish Gupta.
Often in Library period, out of sheer naughtiness, we used to bunk the class. We derived pleasure out of ma’am’s constant calls for joining her in the Library. The whole period would go by just walking till the Library and turning “on change of mind” and sit giggling back in our class.
One such period took the simple childhood out of me- of whatever was left. Tara Robertson ma’am had come in our class and discovered us bunking. She had taught me in KG and was our English teacher then. We were caught! She had slapped me and had demanded to know “why was I sitting in a class full of 10 boys alone?”
She had seen me sitting on the 1st bench “doing absolutely nothing” with Tanu. He wasn’t well and we had all joined him to cheer him up. I had only tried to wake up a “head down” Tanu, when that lady had barged in.
The class boys were monkeying around mocking a cricket match. I know we were at fault bunking the Library period, but were we to be involved in “something else”? This was/is India, we had no Cable TVs, and the Computer Science classes had just started. “Internet” was alien tech. We didn’t have access to Erotica; I learnt the coinage barely a few years back. We came from respectable families and had been completely oblivion to the facts that develop between a Man and Woman. Even though I need not justify; I am putting it across since I only understood her questions after I had joined College. No, I was not dumb, I had a boyfriend only after 2 years from then. That she had demanded to know our Level of understanding the Sexuality and probably “some conductance” towards it; the realization only dawned upon recently.
For all these years I had sat wondering about what had made her ask the questions that she did? Why did she slap her pervert mind on to me? Why did she scold the boys separately? Why weren’t my parents called and apprised of our bunking the class and also of what she thought of- we were up to? Tanu shared that his parents were definitely informed that he was in an empty classroom holding her hand. Really? Why couldn’t 2 students hold each other esp. when the other one is feeling low? Why the hell Public schools are? Why can’t all be out into Government schools? Was she already “active” when she was all of 13? Bloody, was she not paired up with her hubby? Hell, didn’t she make love to any man?
We talked about it at length yesterday. Even if we were to be left alone; what max we could have ended upto? In a school classroom? With a bunch of kids in the class? With absolutely zilch knowledge of “what happens when a boy and a girl hold each other”?
All the boys in my class would not talk to me since that very moment; not even the girls. I, like a loner would sit quietly in my class. Himanshu had changed his seat and not speak with me- anymore. Boys would taunt me; I wore glasses till 2 years back and hence was then termed “blind”. They would treat me like some leper. I hadn’t said anything against anyone much less having complained. My closest of friends- Himanshu, Nishant, both the Amit-s, Bimal, Gaurav, Sukhdev; they had all simply outcast me. Nishant had managed to turn the entire class against me. It was surprising to understand how someone close could have done this!
What had I done?
Back home there was a constant stress on me for changing my school; I had finally decided to shift then. That particular instance had just taken my love away for that school once for all. I was too bruised to be doing anything else. Ms. Robertson would talk to me like I was the least scorer. She had a great mix of ruthlessness and mock in her tone. I wish to see her again and talk to her now that I understand what she had asked about back then. I really wonder what society did she hail from- the same one as I am also a part of- NOW? Yes- Prude and Hypocrites.
The remaining of the 6 months rolled by; we were passed and promoted to 8th in March. I was not invited around this time at Himanshu’s place for his d-day celebrations. Back of my mind I would keep evaluating Himanshu. If he wasn’t able to handle a bunch of 37 total students in the class, how on earth would he fight for an Inter- Religion/Caste Marriage with a girl like me? He had crumpled down under some gross misunderstanding and did not make a single attempt to talk to me. He never tried to know the truth, much less then talk to the class or at least try it out. How was he to settle the differences that his parents might raise at the time of our affair?
I had then reached a conclusion. One that has proved itself to be damn right; a few times already now. Something, that he also quietly had agreed upon. I had almost wanted to write “shamelessly” too.
I had sat for the school admission entrance in LIS and had passed. I had kept trying to reach out to him; he had shut me off. Manish had tried to put some sense into him, by making him understand that he should be talking to me- no matter what. He had incessantly harped upon that he should let the class resolve their issue- if at all with her, on their own.
One day, I had passed a book to him saying he should look at that certain page number. I had asked him blatantly that if he really loved me. He was to write a reply and pass it back. He didn’t; only a verbal message came in saying that he did but ..
The school bell had rung and I had silently bid Manish farewell; he had known that that was my last day in GFPS. I had picked up my bag and walked towards the door. Himanshu knew that the next day i.e., 16th May onwards, the school would be closed for 2 months for Summer Vacations. He hadn’t stopped me, had not said a word, had not held my hand and asked me why I was sad. He had often made me sit straight and asked that what’s wrong, when the Domestic Issues had managed to surface all of a sudden in the class. He would hold me straight, wipe my tears, get me some water and make me speak up- only I never had shared what was happening.
I had sadly looked at him from the class exit door. He was calling Manish wanting to speak with him. My legs were giving in, they didn’t want to walk me. I had dragged myself to my bus. I looked back at him one last time; he stood with Manish talking to him in pretty heated manner and didn’t see me looking at him.
He was stood outside his bus- GF-3 and was shaking while talking to Manish. How he had let go of me when he knew that we wouldn’t get to speak for the next couple of months. It didn’t bother him even a bit that what if..
I then did what deemed fit to me and changed my school. What was the fun of being somewhere where I was not wanted, not even by one of them? It may seem a very cute little sad love story.. Hold on, it’s anything but that. It’s an ugly, sad and a long story. I feel within- that the situation how it is today, is not how it was supposed to be. I feel within that the Destiny is calling for yet another and a final episode. An episode that would put everything into its place. A conclusion that would bring about a sense of achievement of a higher attainment.
Perhaps, this is what I had dreamt of the other night.. The lady screaming could have been Ms. Robertson and my cousin both, the boy was surely Himanshu. Bimal may have wanted me to hang around.
I am quite pleased with the fact that I am now sharing things that I haven’t shared with anybody; not even remotely. What an Extreme!! Here I am, with no one around for me to share my Life or Thoughts with; all I have is memories.. and there it is- I am posting it all across, for everyone around the world- to read it over.
Afternote: I Thank Tanu and my Destiny both; to have it brought me come full circle. For me to be able to talk about that one ugly incident after 20 years, is nothing short of a miracle. I was able to share my hurt with someone who was equally hurt. One who had suffered equally, if not more. Was affected similarly and by the same thing.
Tanu, your friendship is unique. For many reasons. You had stayed friends back then, without sharing that you too were affected badly. You remembered and recognized me after all these years. You accepted me exactly how we were and as if these years had not happened. I had posted this across as a sad post earlier. Today, I edit it as a Happy post. I have uploaded your greeting cards that I had stored in my “Archives” Folder.