20.3.13

The One.

When I was nine-years-old, I was standing in the old conference room at the CCFC, that has long since disappeared, peering out the window at a couple of boys playing table-tennis. I was with Jahnavi and the two Biswas sisters - Jayatri and Raji - and we were all crowded round this window, silently watching the boys.

There was one skinny, bespectacled one, with dark hair, who caught my eye. 

"Who's that?" I said.

"That's F.A." replied one of them. (I refrain from using the full name although I'm pretty sure anyone who's studied at La Martiniere will know who I'm talking about, I'm just going to call him The One from now on, which isn't creepy at all, obviously). 

"Oh," I said, deciding I was in love.


In the following years, I stalked this poor boy remorselessly. Jahnavi and I would sit around in the Pool Room (a dark and dingy room with a pool-table) and watch him play pool. We rarely played ourselves. We just sat there, for hours on end, staring at him. 

One day, I decided to embrace my femininity, and I walked into the Pool Room wearing a little skirt. Jahnavi snorted and said, really loudly, in the presence of The One, "Haha. Why are you wearing a skirt? Are you trying to be cool?" 

The next day, she sidled in, wearing a mini-skirt too, but I won't dwell on that.

We used to go swimming, and The One would swim often too. He was a brilliant swimmer, and I spent many memorable hours skulking in a corner of the pool, watching him cut his way effortlessly through the water. 

Once, when I was standing by the side of the pool, Jahnavi pushed me into it, right on top of him as he was swimming, and we both sunk to the bottom. I don't remember what happened after that, but it definitely wasn't the start to a beautiful friendship. 

Another time, we were at the deep end, and he swam up to the deep end, and I, trying to show off my own aquatic skills, attempted an underwater swim. I ended up kicking him on the groin, but by the time  he recovered from yelling and began to search for the culprit, I was at the other end of the pool. Fastest swim of my life. 

Then Jahnavi and I discovered that his favourite song was Crazy Town's 'Butterfly'. We both landed up at the club the next day with a butterfly proudly emblazoned on our t-shirts. 

There were sleepovers where we would ruthlessly plan how to win over The One. I hatched an elaborate plan one night. I took out an Archie comic and showed it to Jahnavi. The cover had Jughead reading Archie's horocope to him. The horoscope said, A pretty woman in blue will reach out to touch you. Archie was looking extraordinarily pleased - who wouldn't want to be, er, touched by a pretty woman in blue - but unbeknownst to him, a police-woman in blue was standing behind him, ready to catch him out on a parking ticket or some such thing. 

"This is what I'll do," I said to Jahnavi. "I will go to the CCFC tomorrow, and I will wear blue, and I will have this comic sticking out of my bag, and when I see The One, I will accidentally drop it, and he will realize it's a Sign from the Universe and we'll live happily ever after." 

It was a fool-proof plan. How can you ignore a Sign from the Universe? 

But the Universe had other plans. The One wasn't at the club the next day, he didn't come for a few days, and I eventually ran out of blue clothes to wear. 

The highlight of my, er, association with The One happened when I was about eleven, and I was in the car, winding my way through Snake Lane (the twisted lane that joins Palm Avenue to Ballygunge Place). I was sitting in front, chatting with Sabir, when another car passed us. Very slowly, because the lane was so narrow. The One was sitting in the car. We made eye contact, an expression of horror dawned on his face, and he quickly looked away, gazing at the graffiti smeared wall next to his window with extreme concentration. 

Undaunted, I rang Jahnavi as soon as I got home, and told her the entire story. 

"DO YOU KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?"

I can always trust Jahnavi to rise to the occasion. She knew exactly what it meant. 

"IT MEANS HE RECOGNIZES YOU!" She yelled triumphantly. 

Then there was the memorable time when I detailed my pure and true love for The One in my diary, and made the mistake of taking my diary to school. Jayatri got her grubby paws on it, and began reading it out loud in Assembly, much to the delight of everyone standing around. I spent nearly half-an-hour chasing her around school afterwards, and after an inconclusive tussle in the field, I finally got my diary back. I never took it to school again. 

The One passed out of school soon after I turned fifteen. I was in love with someone else by then (that someone being Bastard, he was the one I was trying to impress when I lost my teeth, common-sense was still a few years away for me) and my obsession had fizzled out, but something remained. I still felt a pleasurable leap in the pit of my tummy when I saw him outside school, or swimming at one of the clubs, there were a few weak moments where I would stalk him amidst a crowd, but by-and-large, I left the poor boy alone. 

I never saw him after he left school. I heard about him in the news once (and felt rather proud that he had pyromaniac tendencies), but I moved on with my life. Jahnavi added him on Facebook, but I never did, although I would visit his page now and then and stare at his profile picture. It is because of him that I am aware of how dismal Facebook's privacy settings are. 

In college, about twice a year, I would be lying around with nothing to do, and I would say to myself, "Hum, I wonder what The One is doing now," and I would google him. 

I did this once just before graduating college. I found him on LinkedIn. According to LinkedIn, The One was in Delhi. 

The One was in Delhi. I was in Delhi. 

I was, temporarily, taken over by my ten-year-old self, and I spent a good ten minutes leaping around my room shouting, "It's a sign! It's a sign!" 

But I never saw him, fat chance while I was tucked away in North Campus, and then I went back to Calcutta and forgot about him again.


Last week, the night before Mawii's birthday, I met her in TLR in Hauz Khas for drinks. Nain, Rheu, and Vikram, you know, Mawii's boyfriend, the one she cuddles in inappropriate places, were going to join us, but they were late. 

For some reason, we started talking about The One. 

"I just realized it's been more than eight years since I last saw him." I said to Mawii. "That's nearly a decade." 

And we started talking about how quickly time had flown, and all that. 

Then the others joined us, and we started drinking. After a while, Mawii and Vikram went downstairs. Vikram returned two minutes later, looking slightly confused.

"Mawii sent me," he said. "She says to tell you that she's in the room where you had coffee with Ketki the other day, and that someone called The One (note: he did not actually say The One, he said The One's real name) is there." 

I nearly knocked over the table in my hurry to get downstairs. I have never moved so fast. I flew down the stairs, and to the little verandah where Mawii was. I didn't look left or right, I just walked towards her, and then turned to face the rest of the room, and I saw him. 

The One. 

He was, naturally, talking to a white girl who was taller and thinner than me. 

We lit cigarettes and stared surreptitiously at him. My heart was beating incredibly fast. It was just that it had been so long, it had been years, and I'd been talking about him just an hour before, and if that wasn't a Sign from the Universe, what was?

I stared at him for a bit, and then I realized that staring like an imbecile at someone is a lot less fun at twenty-two then it is at twelve. 

So I went back upstairs. He came up later, and my college friends started nudging each other. I had a strange flashback to Jahnavi nudging me at the CCFC all those years ago. He sat down at the next table for a while, and though it was quite nice to have him there, and to be transported back in time, however briefly, I didn't get much satisfaction out of it. 

"You should go and talk to him," said Nain, who was attempting to chat up his friend so we could get him at the same table. 

"Nah," I said. "I don't look cute enough today."

Which was true. 

But what struck me then was that I didn't really want to talk to him. I was happy just staring at him now and then, and when he left, I didn't really care. And I realized, in that moment, that The One was absolutely nothing compared to this-person-I-sort-of-love (I'm just going to call him Boyfriend on this blog until I think of a better nickname) and I felt very old and very wise and very over The One. 

Maybe it was a Sign from the Universe, a Sign saying, Trisha, congratulations. Even though you have sighted The One after more than eight years, you did not humiliate yourself, or make an attempt to stalk him through the club. You eyed him a few times, which is natural when you see an old crush after years and years, but you didn't do much else. You've done it. Twenty-three diaries after the one about The One, and you are a Normal Woman.

I felt extraordinarily pleased with myself, until the next morning, when I went through my phone and noticed that I'd sent Boyfriend some ever-so-slightly-creepy text messages the night before. I was stalking his facebook photos at the time of this discovery.

Oh well. You win some, you lose some. 




PS I was talking to Boyfriend about what nickname I could give him on this blog, and he strongly objected to being mentioned on this blog at all. I said, you know you should be supportive of this. I have 35 followers. Boyfriend said that Justin Bieber has followers so that doesn't prove anything. And then he suggested that I call him Socrates. I said no, and then he said, 'K' and when Boyfriend says, 'K' it means he is becoming hostile.

Anyway, I don't need his input. I've thought of a nickname. He will be known as Pill (Person-I-Love, with an extra 'l' to symbolize his hostility towards this blog). So that's sorted then.




5 comments:

Priyanca said...

This is one of the nicest post I have read recently anywhere...

Anonymous said...

Ah... the joys of unrequitted love!

trish. said...

I have to say, unrequited love can be great fun if you go about it the right way.

Priyanca, why, thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

Mmm... and the left way?

Anonymous said...

It's still me, that girl from LA living in Indiana, and I really like keeping up with your posts. (Yep, guess that sounds creepy) but isn't it creepier that I read your page and NOT tell you I'm reading it? :)

I'm in my late twenties, and I remember being in a very similar situation as you, but it was not so many years after the fact. Isn't it indeed a nice thing to look at something and know that it's not right for you anymore? It definitely helps one to feel like somehow, somewhere, in some time, you've changed your mind so much from how you "used to be," and perhaps this means that I too am growing up. Wishing you all the best. :)