He was 17 going on 18. Four letter word LOVE was taboo so far his conservative family was concerned. Eagle eyed parents were always suspicious of his activities as he was prone to defy their orthodox ways which were mainly negating the perception of an adolescent’s desires and aspirations. He was interested in extracurricular activities, loved to watch movies, used to day dream and was an extrovert. As a normal boy of his age does, he used to fantasize while looking into the mirror and harping on to be the next Hrithik Roshan and Ranbir Kapoor. Three grand, gorgeous and beautiful ladies of tinsel town viz Aishwarya Rai, Depeeka Padukone and Katrina Kaif had caught his imagination. He used to adore them like a moth attracted to a lighted candle with irregular adolescence dreams both wet and dry making him crave for the carnal knowledge and pleasures.
Here was a girl of his age in his residential block. She was an ordinary neighborhood girl but his imagination could metamorphosis her into a girl with Aishwarya’s infectious smile, Katrina’s figure and Deepika’s dimples. When he saw her first, she was checking a Hanna Montana’s video at a neighborhood video parlor. A strong urge set upon him which made him to conquer his fears and to approach her. Fear remains till mind stomps it. Once the fear is stomped, there is no looking back.
“Hello,” he muttered almost in her ears. She was startled and backed off two steps. Finding that a smiling neighborhood boy, standing in front of her, did not mean any harm; she looked around and said rather sheepishly, ‘hello’. That was the beginning of friendship between the two.
Soon he found out ways to meet her not at a secluded place but at the crowded ones e.g jagrans, melas, markets, temples etc. They talked but mainly through their gestures looking odd and funny sometimes for the onlookers. She always responded to his gestures but was never actually comfortable. A strange fear used to grip her. A fear, which led her to pray for his well being. Once she met him at a corner of the block and he dared to hold her hand first time calling her ‘Deepu’ which left her aghast at his brash behavior. She jerked her hand out of his and almost shouted. “What ! I am Reetu not Deepu.”
“No, you are my Deepika, my Ashweria, my Katrina, all rolled into one. Three in one.” He said naughtily. She coyly asked him, “and who do you think you are? Salmaan Khan….? “ He saw her run towards her residence laughing with one corner of her dupatta(stole) in her mouth. His day was made. The age old dictum ‘ hansi to fansi’( if a girl laughs, she is yours for sure) was coming true in his imagination. However he never approved that dictum as he always felt that every girl had a right to smile and her smile should never be construed for her easy availability. Smiles are deceptive too, he had read somewhere. He definitely had a strange crush on her as always. He felt to be waiting for her appearances. He always felt to be dancing and talking with her. His mind worked overtime enjoying every moment with her, even forgetting his studies as he used to feel her presence around him every now and then.
One day he took courage and confronted her in the market place under a tree. She was puzzled at first but smiled and beckoned him to come near her thus encouraging him to speak his mind. Mustering enough courage, gulping down his own saliva, he held her hand and said the obvious three words, “I love you.” She was stunned but her eyes betrayed her emotions while some pearls dropped from the corner of her eyes. She became uncomfortable and felt as if she was trembling. She said in low tone, “no, I like you but I am not supposed to love you. You are not from my caste.” Profusely sweating & shivering she ran away leaving him brooding over his utterance and worried about subsequent consequences unawares that a person was watching them across the road.
In the evening he was sitting with his father when a stoutly built man barged in with his dream girl . #@$&#****#@$&# That was it. The end.
His first crush was guillotined at the altar of caste system leaving him searching for the answers.
At his age was it undesirable to fall in love?
Was it only one sided love?
Was it, what agony aunts/uncles used to call, infatuation?
Or was the time not ripe for a budding love to take its roots in the social system that still abhors relationships between two different castes?
Questions about relationships by the society keep raising its head like a hydra time and again, now and then.
All rights reserved/Tribhawan Kaul
Disclaimer : This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.