Memories From A Distant February
As sophomores in school, we were bequeathed with organising the farewell party for the parting seniors. Everything, to the very detail. I wasn’t very fond of my school which I had been studying in for barely a year. Eight months to be exact. But it felt longer. But this was an opportunity I looked forward to. With a rejuvenated vocabulary in the musical department, people in my class vouched for my musical expertise. It was quite overwhelming to be the centre of attention once again. Like I was in my previous school. But there was also the question of impressing the ladies. The only problem was-they were everywhere.
Me, I came from a neutral environment where girls and boys would sit together and be friends from start and thus, eased the awkwardness. This was different. This was chiefly a girls’ school with just two grades for boys who were stuffed in a corner of the third floor. They outnumbered us eleven to one. When most people would see this as a magnificent opportunity, I was no good at those. We had to cross a sea of girls in the lunchtime if we ever had to go anywhere. It always made me uneasy running into them in staircases where I’d stick to the railing to let the huddle of four pass through. Especially because our uniform sucked.
But socials were entirely different. I had the backing of my class-people to be given a slot for a song. I could play a bit of guitar too, so it was the perfect stage. Maybe finally, I was going to score with the girls and not be awkward in stairs!
For nights, I rehearsed in my head how the D-day would go. How people would be in awe of my performance. How I’d be proud to have won everyone’s admiration. How I would have the invisible badge of automatic approval.
On the D-day however, my voice broke. I shouted a bit too much and now, I was Bryan Adams. Luckily, I was supposed to sing Summer of ‘69. Unluckily, I sounded like a crow with a cold. I was panicking.
“Try to hold the microphone near your mouth.” a distinctive sweet voice called from my side.
She was looking at me as if I was a puppy stuck in the quicksand. I kind of was. I stared back at her like an idiot. She was gorgeous. Her white uniform top and Cerulean skirt was a little baggy for her figure. She was fair, her long, chestnut brown hair was put into a ponytail with a ribbon. She had big eyes that she had beautifully smeared with charcoal eyeliner. She was rather chirpy and smiled often which showed her canines. Canines, I have them too. I thought it made her smile even more beautiful. I had seen her once or twice in the passing. But I was too cowardly to speak to her. She was quite a hotshot, apparently. She was the Cultural Club Captain among other things.
“You know, it would hide your bad voice. You sound good otherwise.” she continued. She was singing a slot too.
“You think? Okay, like this?” I replied trying to adjust the microphone to move closer but the stand was so heavy, it just rotated at a very odd angle.
“Here, let me help” she said and she came and fixed my stand. “Try now.”
I tried. My nervousness showed through the amplifier. She smiled.
“Relax, you’ll be fine.” she said before she ran to her friends who were calling her for their rehearsal.
I admit that I’ve never hung on to more than one girl at a time. Maybe it’s the flaw in my romantic circuit. After that incident, all I could think about was her. I eventually didn’t do all that bad with the song.
We talked a few times after that, when Orkut was a popular medium. I would wait for her “scraps” and everything.
But eventually, my awkwardness got the better of me. I could tell that I wasn’t very popular. With my disdain for the school, I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I always whined and complained. And we fell out of touch.
Over the years I did run into her a few times, from a distance of course, when she was with her friends and I was with mine. I didn’t let her see me although I was certain she wouldn’t remember me. It’s funny how a city of millions can seem no bigger than a neighbourhood at times. At those moments, I did feel sad, wondering if I had acted a bit differently—less awkwardly perhaps—probably she would remember me too and a few years on, we could be friends again. But sometimes, you are not lucky enough to get second chances. Sometimes when I’m alone at nights, I revisit the last moment we had.
It was our turn of receiving the farewell. She draped a beautiful peacock blue saaree and sported a trendy, short hair which I was quick to notice. I can remember it like yesterday. She had her hands full and she was trying to uncork the tap of the water dispenser. I was not far away, so I assisted. We looked at each other and we both smiled.
“Thank you” she said. I nodded and smiled back in reply. And we walked away in different directions. Forever.