About A Boy- Part Un
“I need to tell you something,” he said, smiling shyly.
I absolutely love to hear secrets. It makes me feel like I’m an honoured person, someone who can be trusted and is, and someone who the other person depends on to make a call.
“Okay,” I said eagerly.
“Here’s the thing,” he bit his lip and looked confused, “I have a crush on Karuna.”
“Ooh, whee! I knew it! I knew it!” I did my little ‘I-knew-it’ dance, waving my arms in his face and jumping around.
“Look, stop acting like a kangaroo and give me some advice.”
Better and better. Not only was I being trusted with a secret, I was also being asked to dispense some wisdom. I put on my yogi face, and leaned forward with an expression of intense concentration.
“Tell me all, my little friend,” I intoned.
He rolled his eyes but decided to ignore my flippancy. This after all, was a matter of life and death.
“How do I tell her that I have a crush on her?”
I mulled over it and then thought of my secret fantasies, about the boys who I had crushes on. They would tell me they liked someone and when I asked “Who?” would say, “C’mon, I’ll introduce you.” Then as my heart sank, further and further, into my platforms, they’d lead me to the mirror and say, “Look, there’s the girl I have a crush on.” Sigh. Of course, my fantasies always ended there. I was, after all, only 14. But still, even thinking about it today makes me all mushy. Re-sigh.
So haltingly, I told Rajat about this, leaving out the fact that it was my own personal fantasy. Also leaving out the fact that I knew, if he used it on Karuna, that it would be lost to me forever.
“That’s a great idea!” he said, eyes sparkling, “Myn, you’re a genius!”
I smiled wanly. Even though someone else was going to benefit from my romantic daydreams, it was nice to be told I was a genius.
So we planned it all out and set off for Karuna’s house. She lived right down the road and it was only a brief walk, which we spent in silence. Though I do remember as we walked through the weeds that Rajat took my hand casually and we swung arms equally casually. It was nice, to be able to hold hands with someone who was just a friend, and I think that’s when I first realised it.
Karuna’s mother, like my father, worked in the government service, which means a big cushy house, which gets bigger and cushier the higher you climb. So we weren’t kids who had to share our rooms, we had large-ish dogs and plenty of space to walk them and occasionally, our parent would send us the “office car”, an ancient creature called the Ambassador which for some strange reason, the Indian government seems to love.
We found Karuna, alone in her room, in her usual position--- sprawled across the bed, legs in the air, cradling the phone on one shoulder and playing with her dog’s ears.
At the sight of us, Dumpy (that family gave their dogs the most unimaginative names. Dumpy was actually Dumpy III, of a long line of black labradors, all called Dumpy) heaved himself to his arthritic feet and pretended to bark.
“Shut up, Dumpy,” said Karuna, and then quickly hung up and quickly threw her arms around Rajat. “When did you get back?” she asked, when they were done hugging, and she was able to look nonchalant. Karuna never showed too much enthusiasm if she could help it, especially around boys. I, observing her, stuck my hands in the back pocket of my shorts too and pretended to look at the framed photographs on her dresser.
They made small talk for a bit and Rajat kept shooting me meaningful glances, so as planned, I announced loudly, “I have to go to the bathroom.”
“So then go, Mynna, don’t make a formal announcment,” said Karuna and she and Rajat fell about cackling. Traitors.
I left the room, only to go into the living room and press my ear on the connecting door. I heard Karuna’s rather nasal laugh, muted, and Rajat saying, “So, I want to show you the girl I have a crush on.” Then silence and then Rajat, hopefully, “What do you think?”
This wasn’t turning out the way we had planned. Karuna was supposed to blushingly acknowledge Rajat’s feelings and reciprocate in a similar manner. I heard Rajat’s voice rising, getting slightly panicky, “Yes, but?”
Karuna said, “I’m sorry.” Softly, like she meant it.
Time, I decided, for me to intervene. I re-appeared, grabbed a distressed Rajat and headed for Khan Market. Nothing a Coke wouldn’t cure.
(stay tuned. more to come!)