I’ve never really spoken to her. Except that one day. That day, it felt as if it was fate itself that had thrown us together. I hadn’t the opportunity to talk to her earlier, or the courage, later. More than five years have passed since that one day, but I still find myself thinking of it, it almost haunts me.
She wasn’t a stunner, but she could charm you with her wit and intelligence. She had numerous little faults, but when you spoke to her, you couldn’t notice any. She would half turn, place an elbow on the desk, raise an eyebrow slightly and listen to all you had to say. Her eyes had a depth of understanding to them, and yet they could sparkle with mischief. You could get lost staring into them for too long. Not that I did any staring, but I just knew.
On that day, I was asked to represent the school in a debate, and told that she would be my partner. I could have hugged the teacher who gave me the news, and it took extreme self control to prevent myself from doing so, especially after she asked the two of us to go and return together. You’re probably wondering what the big deal was, taking a girl to a debate isn’t the same thing as taking her to a movie or a coffee pub. But I could already see myself taking her on my bike to the debate, coming up with a ferocious display of oratory, at the end of which she runs up to hug me, and then taking her out for a quick celebration. And for someone still in school (or maybe it was just me), that was a lot.
Head spinning with such images, the two of us walked out of the school. I walked to my bike assuming that was the only way we could travel together as decreed. It was the first of many wrong assumptions I was to make that day.
She smiled when we got to my bike, and said she had an autorickshaw in mind. I tried to talk her out of it, but she wouldn’t budge. That was when I first suspected that the twinkle in her eye, didn’t probably indicate mischief. Finally we decided that she would take the auto to the venue, while I followed on my bike (I was still hoping to try again to get her on my bike after the debate was over).
I got to the venue first, and as I waited for her, I tried to think of conversation topics. I was sure we would just sit there chatting, lost in our own world, and probably even forget about the debate. Wrong again.
Apparently she had never won a debate before, and was desperate to do so. She was keen on listening to all the other participants, and even made notes on a small piece of paper. I sat next to her, silently, only stirring to clap, when she did. This was interrupted only for a short while, as we went on stage for our turn. Even after we returned, she wanted to listen to the other participants, so any conversation was out of the question.
The results were announced, and we didn’t win. This briefly gave me some hope. I quickly tried to lend her a supporting shoulder to lean upon, to help her through that distressing time. As it turned out, she didn’t need it. She shrugged off the defeat with a smile, to my disbelief. To round off a day of miscalculations, she told me her father’s office was right opposite, and he would drop her off, leaving me alone on my bike.
Looking back on that day, it wasn’t any of my snuffed hopes that I remember, but an entirely different aspect of the matter. It was only later that I realized that I had lent her a hundred rupees that day. She had asked me for the money soon after I was told she’d be my partner, and I had no clue what it was for, but I felt very excited that she had asked me. She later told me that the money was my share for her auto. Her understanding of ‘travel together’ led her to make this arrangement.
Although I’ve lost larger amounts of money, it is this sum of hundred rupees that always comes back to me. Not only were the day’s events terribly painful, it was stuff that I had paid for! Like I said, more than five years have passed since that one day, but I still find myself thinking of it, it almost haunts me.
P.S. Just to be clear, this is an exaggerated version 🙂