E18hteen – 1. A Walk to Remember

0/18 – Prologue

1/18 – A Walk to Remember

Abhi… I love you… I LOVE YOU… Isn’t this all you wanted to hear from me in all these years??? After every argument, every fight and after all that has transpired between us, this was all you wanted to hear Abhi. So yeah, I love you, I wasn’t 100% sure and this is probably the only thing that I never quite paid heed to my heart. Don’t snigger, you smug pig, I know the irony in the above line.  

You know very well as to who you are to me and I was seriously baffled by your unending need for validation. Now, after everything, if I actually think deep enough, I’m pretty sure this has something to do with me… A little bit, but definitely…

The Abhimanyu Arjunan Menon (well, your father went all Mahabharata on you) I knew, was one thing, one very thing in particular. He was original. A normal and original piece and not an eccentric and quirky whiz kid with an untapped potential. I’ve yet to meet someone like you, and those eyes of yours were the first thing I noticed, when you walked up to talk to me…. By the way, I’ve always wondered as to why it is that you walk like there’s a constant theme music running in your head and you even stand as if there are people taking your photos.

You were like the first guy in our class to come and talk to me. I was impressed. Seriously… you were polite, courteous and assertive in a subtle way. I liked you then and there. To term this as a crush would have been jumping the gun. But yeah, If whatever I felt for you had a starting point, it was this.

High school would have been less fun if you wouldn’t have been there cracking me up all the time. I thought I knew you better than everyone. I loved the way you made me feel about myself. I can still remember that day. The day…

The last Friday of the month, the day when we all wore something apart from our uniform to the school. I remember running to my Ma and asking her to make me look pretty. I looked at myself in the mirror and almost fell in love with the reflection. Well, my primary aim for that day was to make heads turn, and turn they did. I was elated, but there was something I hadn’t quite accounted for. Many heads did turn and then resumed its previous positions. Just one head held its place. There was only one pair of eyes fixated on me throughout the time I walked into the class and took my seat. An unforgettable gaze that was focussed, penetrating and filled with admiration. A gaze that never made me feel violated or uncomfortable. That is the day I thought you’d be mine, though I never got around telling it to you…  I didn’t expect the consequences of my inaction…

I didn’t understand how the guy who wouldn’t take his sight away from me became less affable as days passed. I couldn’t wrap my head as to how someone could be so oblivious to other’s feelings. I realized the need for distance between us, especially from my side. I moved away slowly and steadily. The only silver lining in this phase was the fact that you tried to understand the problem. But, your constant questioning just made me shut up. I couldn’t be around you anymore…. it was exhausting to see you with many other girls of our class, behaving in a way you once used to behave with me… I couldn’t digest the fact that I was not special. I felt that, yeah… this was it. This was the end of something beautiful. A full stop to a sentence that never began…

Then… the trip happened. The trip, which was the start of a love story that should have never happened.

NEVER

I turned the page aimlessly and looked out the window once more… No respite from the sun at all… I placed the sheet separately and lit up a cigarette before I could move on to the next page… The smoke screen gave me an aura of nostalgia and I went back in time… exactly 10 years back…

It was a Monday.

We were waiting for the teacher to finish calling the attendance and move out of the classroom. I was in deep conversation about last night’s episode of ‘Chithi’ with my friend, when I heard a voice that said “Ma’am, May I come in??” I just looked at the door to see a girl standing there, a very beautiful girl in a blue dress. Well, I did come to know later that it was peacock blue, but yeah it was a dazzling blue nevertheless. I just had to go and talk to her, especially before anyone else did because no one forgets a ‘first’ impression. I spoke to her and in the following days manoeuvred my way around the class seats by bribing, threatening, cajoling, basically went all politician on the other classmates, to ensure I spent maximum time around her.

Things were going smoothly till she had come to the school in that saree… There’s something about looking at a girl in a saree for the first time. It was, is and will always be magical. I still remember trying to act all Johnny Bravo and be casual cool about it, when deep inside I couldn’t help letting out a wolf whistle, dropping my jaw to the ground and playing her walk to the seat atleast a million times in my head. The JB casual cool attitude was still in place because I did have an image to protect at the end of the day. I couldn’t be around her in the same way like before. In my eyes, she was now in that quintessential beauty bubble and I was somewhere far away… extremely far away… I distanced myself considerably… not because I wanted to, but because I didn’t know if I could be normal around her ever again.

Then, the Trip happened…

Well she didn’t know the amount of effort I had to put in that to ensure things were a success…  The previous year trip was a disaster because none of the girls in my class turned up. This time, I wanted her to come along so I had to pull out all the stops. The phone bill in the preceding month had shot up, I’d to make a lot of calls to the parents of most of her friends to ensure she had it smooth, when asking permission at her place. I had to take her to a different setting to know if I could do something about the present predicament her saree had got me into.

Finally the day arrived, and we left for our destination by the train. Still trying to pull off the JB attitude, I walked past her seat nonchalantly with the headphones playing the new A.R.Rahman song from a SRK movie… Contrary to the popular perception of romance blossoming in trains, the journey was pretty uneventful. More than half of the girls were sleeping tight and the rest were huddled in a group, discussing something with the teacher who looked intermittently in our direction to ensure we weren’t upto anything fishy.

We reached the hill station and were given the tour itinerary. The various activities included something to do with heights, trekking and cycling. All the students were then asked to assemble in the common hall and were randomly segregated into teams. Though this was not a scene in a movie and I was not a huge fan of clichés, she was picked in my team. We weren’t quite talking to each other but were part of the same team for the next three days, three beautiful days.

Day 1 – Rappelling

I hate heights. I was made captain of my team because no one else volunteered and I was the only one who looked most lost in front of the huge rock in front of me. They thought that it would boost my confidence. They were wrong… very wrong…  Being the captain, I had to go first and I had the confidence of deer in front of the headlights on a highway. I held on to the rope for dear life and looked down to see my ‘friends’ egging me on and I knew they mainly wanted me to make a fool of myself. I was determined to not give them that satisfaction. Once i commenced my rappelling, their satisfaction turned into peals of laughter. A wise man once said that it is always interesting and highly important that we look at things in a different perspective. At 80-100 ft above the ground, I took that advice pretty seriously and couldn’t resist laughing at my friends’ funny postures which was a result of me being upside down… Finally, somehow I managed to climb down that big piece of pebble and received a rousing reception from them. Feeling pretty smug about myself, I walked back into the crowd. That is when I heard her call out my name, she walked towards me and gave me a band-aid to cover the scraped elbow i had because of the fall…

We started talking again…  

Day 2 was the day of trekking and as the ‘captain’, I had to lead the team from the front. She was at the back with her friends and we couldn’t speak much even though there were furtive glances in regular intervals. Even during the times we actually walked together, I couldn’t say anything because she was surrounded by her entourage. I began ruing the day I’d made them all come to this trip. Day 2 turned out to be a damp squib, though the stolen moments with her did make it just a wee bit better.

Day 3 – Cycling.

I believe Chivalry must be a naturally ingrained trait in everyone. But, this was a time when i didn’t even know the word Chivalry. We were ready to go on the cycle expedition and were given maps to find our way to the end point, which would test our team effort and lateral thinking. I was going around ensuring everything was in order, when i noticed that she had some discomfort with her seat. I was in a mental state where every emotion or expression of hers was magnified in my eyes. So I coaxed her into going back to the rental shop to get her seat arranged and returned in a few minutes to realise that our team had left us behind and went on. I now looked at her and she resembled me at the beginning of Day 1 activity, just that she was infinitely cuter. I then looked at her and said we’ll reach the place safely, she’s got my word… So now, I looked intently at the map for directions. Though, it was clearly marked, I had no idea how to go about it and I wasn’t going to tell her that. This was to be fun…

I still don’t know why we walked the whole distance with our cycles in tow, instead of cycling. Neither of us gave the idea for the same and neither did we question the absurdity of it. We talked about the past year and a half and were recounting the incidents that led us to this day. We spoke about the first impressions we had of each other,  discussed the directions in between and somehow believed that we hadn’t strayed too far away. We talked about the weather, the food at the hotel, the buffalo in our path that scared the living daylights out of us, our families, our tastes in music and movies, the common love for Orange ice-cream, our linguistic barriers, our strengths and weaknesses, turn on’s and turn off’s and during this animated conversation, we had no idea when, but we had held hands. We had almost reached our destination. Unwillingly, we moved away from each other and to our friend circle after managing the tirades of the angry teachers.

That night I met her just after dinner… She looked more radiant than ever… I walked upto her, held her arm and pulled her close. I moved a lock of hair from over her ears and said “I told a lot of things today, we spoke a lot. But I failed to mention something extremely important...” I moved away slightly, still held her hand, looked at her eyes and mouthed the words I LOVE YOU… She smiled coyly and her eyes were twinkling when she said that she needed time to respond. I adorned my JB attitude and said “Time is all that I have right now and that is completely yours”….

I was an IDIOT………

She took flucking 8 years to give me a reply….

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5 thoughts on “E18hteen – 1. A Walk to Remember

  1. Pingback: E18hteen – 2. You’ve Got Mail… | The Wannabe Writer

  2. Pingback: E18hteen – 3. Cast(E)Away | The Wannabe Writer

  3. Pingback: E18hteen – 4. Mission Impossible – ‘Dosth’ Protocol | The Wannabe Writer

  4. Pingback: E18hteen – 5. Shakespeare In Love – The Hatman Writes

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