Written by: Mulpuru Raviteja; Edited by: Dhawal Pratap Singh
There are more than 6 billion faces on the earth and each one is unique. We meet people, remember them. Then, we meet new ones and forget the previous ones. But some stay engraved in your mind forever. This is about one such face. It has been almost five years since I last saw her. I don't know where she is, how she is, what she is doing, whether she is happy or not. In fact, I don’t even know if she exists or not.
This is not a love story. This is the story of my love!
All this started when I probably did not even have the understanding of the word ‘love’. I was in class VIII. It was one of those days that my parents decided to visit my neighbour’s school and they took me along too. Reason? Our schools came under the same management. The exam dates, progress report collection date, and many other events of our schools used to take place more or less on the same day. So, i had to leave my dear Mario game and go to school to waste my Sunday. We proceeded to his school. I stayed outside in the playground as my parents went to see my friend’s performance. I was banging my smiley faced stress ball on the wall with full force to vent out my frustration of wastage of my Sunday holiday. Why was i tagged along when i had no work here? In fact, they knew that I was leagues ahead of him in studies.
“Excuse me, can you go to the other court? We have to practice here.” A voice said to me. “O.K”, i said and turned towards the other side of ground. That was the first time I saw her. My whole body got stuck as i soaked in her beauty through my eyes. She was as beautiful as Aishwarya Rai in Taal which i had just seen yesterday. Her beautiful eyes, innocent face, cute smile and the heavenly look captivated my mind, heart and soul. Suddenly, i realized that she was also staring at me although her stare was that of surprise while mine was of admiration. Somehow, i managed to put my body together and moved myself away from there though my eyes were still stuck at her. I heard my parents calling me to go back. Damm! Why did they have to call me and cut short my joyful moment once again? But I could never forget that face. As we were leaving, i nudged my friend and asked him about her. I got to know that, that girl was a student there and a very intelligent one too. The whole journey I just kept imaging circumstances when i could get a chance to come to my friend’s school again and see her. There were lots of chances, but luck didn't favour me. That was it.....I never saw her again. Somehow, even God was conspiring to cut short my joyful time. Just like everything wears away, my mind started forgetting her. And as time passed by, I couldn't remember her.
Time passed and i moved on. In further attempts to cut my fun, my parents enrolled me in a coaching institute for IIT-JEE in just class IX whereas normal nerds start preparing for JEE in class XI. Thus started the hectic routine of my life which has been continuing till date.
School –> study –> lunch –> coaching –> study –> dinner –> study –> sleep –> study –> school.
Finally, the schedule started to take its toll on me. I was caught sleeping in the class and, no wonder, the teacher sent me out of the class for that. I was standing in the corridor waiting for the class to get over and go home. It becomes really irritating to pass time in such situations. Somehow, the boring class seemed more welcoming as it atleast gave me a chance to do nonsense at the back of my notebook and pass the time. Right now, i was tracing the path of the lizard travelling on the wall in front of me. As the clock neared 5, students started exiting from the class opposite to me and i lost track of the lizard. Suddenly, i saw a familiar face in that crowd. It was the same girl whom i had seen an year ago at my friend’s school. I rubbed my eyes to check if i was hallucinating. No, i wasn’t. It was indeed her. She was wearing a sky blue salwaar-kameez which made her look as cute as Preity Zinta in Kal Ho Na Ho. My eyes just kept tracking her till she was visible no more. It was then i realized that i had reached the gate of the institute. I turned around to see my classmates asking me what i was doing there. I went back to the class, took my bag and started on my way home. I couldn't believe what was happening with me. Fate had initially separated us and later brought us to the same place. Though we studied at the same place, I never got a chance to talk to her initially. Reason? I was on the engineering side and she was on the medical side and our class timings, exam timings etc. were different. Though I was happy that i got to see her face often, at the same time I was really eager to meet her, talk to her, introduce myself, know her name, her background, know everything about her and get close to her. Suddenly, i started to like biology. All the cells and classification used to remind me of her. I even scored 99/100 in biology whereas my score in maths was 87/100 in my school exams. I even tried to convince my parents to let me prepare for medical exams instead of engineering. But my doctor parents did not listen. Two doctors were already there in my home. Now, an engineer was due. So, i decided to concentrate my energy on finding a chance to talk to her. This did happen. At last, my brilliance in studies helped me in some way. She used to top in her field and I used to top in mine and so our names used to feature on the toppers list always. Hence, we had a lot in common! As I knew her before, I thought of taking the 'topping the exam' point as an opportunity to somehow meet her. But, God had some other plan in mind.
I was scanning through the result of my last phase-test on notice board.
"Are you Akash?". I turned around to see that it was her. I Just could not believe my eyes. I was shocked, surprised, excited, overwhelmed and what not. Somehow i held my calm face and replied "That's me...what do u want?"
"I see your name every time the list is put up and also my friends tell me a lot about you... it's you only right?"
"Yeah, you are talking to Akash. But who are you?” I thought of appearing totally oblivious to her.
“I am Sanjana. Just thought of meeting the topper one day.”
“Oh! You are “THE Sanjana”. Even I wanted to see you some time...looks like your name never comes down the list....a regular player I suppose...." I replied. I thought of showing off some style in my talk so that she gets impressed by me.
Then she continued talking about her interests, goals, plans for the future, school life, and academic life. That’s one of the setbacks of these nerdy coaching institutions. No matter how beautiful a girl comes up to you, she will always talk about studies and studies only. But i was happy that i was getting to know at least something about her. I was making progress in my love life. In due course of time, we became good friends. Whenever I used to get some free time, I would leave all my work aside and rush to meet her on some pretext. Once i even asked her a doubt in biology saying that i did not understand that topic when it was taught in my school. Talking to her used to give me a great joy and relief. I used to forget the world in her presence. One smile on her face helped me forget all the worries in my life. Maybe this was the moksha feeling that my parents and grandparents used to discuss in their free time.
From our small talks, I could learn that she hailed from a poor financial background. Her parents had a small job. It was very difficult to make the both ends meet. I also came to know that she was studying there with scholarship that covered her tuition fees, laboratory fees and conveyance charges. Also, it was available only to the few people who topped the entrance exam, conducted by the institute as a part of the selection procedure.
As time passed by, final exams were at the helm. So our meetings became sporadic and also short lasting. I had, sort of, lost touch with her. Suddenly I came to know one day, that the classes for her batch got over a week ago. My feet found it unable to stand. God has once again cut short my enjoyment. I couldn't digest the fact that I will not be able to meet her again. The time that i used to spend with her was now spent roaming idly in the streets of the area hoping that i might get a glimpse of her somewhere. Out of my shyness, I had not even asked her phone number or where she lived. Now, i hated myself for it. What a stupid i had been! Everything around used to look useless and i was nothing less than the love-torn ‘aashiq’ that they portray in Hindi movies.
Like this two months passed by. Somehow i tried to get over her. I even convinced my family to go on a foreign tour so that I can get my mind off her. Though i dint get over her, the trip was quite enjoyable. I was even approached by two prostitutes in Paris! I passed my class IX. Once again, I came to the institute to give its entrance exam for getting admission into class X coaching. The moment I reached there, the reminiscences of the past kept troubling me. The walls, on which we used to sit after the classes, the canteen where we used to have a burger and a coffee during the break, the tree under which we used to have conversations. The sight brought thoughts about her back into my mind. The exam duration was spent less in thoughts of physics and more on recalling memories with her. I gave the exam and went back home. Few weeks later, I had to go back to check the results.
I don’t know who said it but it is indeed true. “History repeats itself.” I saw her. I simply kept staring at her. A new lease of life got blown into me. Maybe God was just saving the best for me for the end. I couldn't control the joy and happiness I got in seeing her after such a long time. Had there been no one around, i would have surely punched in the air a thousand times. Now, without wasting any second, I went straight to her. I felt like the Hindi movie hero approaching the heroine as they do at the time of happy endings. I said “hi! Where the hell have you been? How have your life been? What you did in the holidays? What all exams did you give? Did you go anywhere on a vacation? How did the final exams go? How was the entrance test result? Little did I realize that I had thrown such a flurry of questions at her in a single breath. The excitement had gone way over the top and was flowing like the Belagio fountains. In fact, all the people surrounding me were staring at me as if I was some lunatic babbling anything nonsense.
BUT she was unmoved. She didn't reply but pointed at the result sheet. Her name was, as expected, in the topper's list at the position of eleven. But her face was lacking everything that had made me fall for her- no smile, no glow on her face. I could not guess what was wrong with her. Definitely, rank-11 could not be the matter of worry. Was she so much of a nerd who thinks that life has ended if their position goes into double digits? I couldn't understand what troubled her, why she was dejected and downhearted. She just didn't say anything. (more in next part. Please stay tuned)