It was just another exciting morning. A day that some kids hate, some kids love. It was a mixture of both for me. We could expect another essay titled "First Day at School" from our English teacher. It was her favourite topic, and she would always tell us to write about it and submit it on the "second" day at school. Something I always looked forward to on the first day of an academic year was the new faces that one might get to see in the class. There were also a few entertaining nuts of the class who would cry their hearts out at being forced to sit in the class while their teary-eyed mothers stood outside the classroom and admired their kids sitting in the class.
I was seated next to Nitin as usual and we were making plans for the recess (and the classes had not even started!!!). And as we had been seeing for the past 3-4 years, tiny Vinay was simply refusing to let go of his father. This was a yearly scene which all the students of my class got to see. Poor Uncle Kamat would try to convince Vinay to go and sit quietly with the other children in the class but he wouldn't budge. He had caught hold of his father's shirt and was yelling a tantrum sometimes jumping and stamping the ground to emphasise his point. I didn't blame him either. Poor Vinay's scores lay at the bottom of the class and the class teacher made him seat next to Pravin, who loved to remind him of his "status" in the class.
These were the scenes we always witnessed on all First Days at school. However that day was different. I couldn't make out what exactly was making the difference until about 1 minute before the starting bell rang. Maybe it was the weather outside. The beginning of the monsoons in Goa always brought the sweet smell of the soil, the lush greenery around. I was staring out of the window, admiring nature's beauty when there was a knock on the door of the classroom.
"May I come in Ma'm?" a sweet voice said.
I looked around along with the rest of the class and my heart skipped a beat. Standing at the door was a cute girl, her skin color matching her white blouse of the uniform. Ms. Shilpa, our class teacher looked up and motioned towards her to come inside.
"Ma'm I am a new student." she proudly told Ms. Shilpa who promptly checked the roll register for confirmation. "The name is Simran."
I felt myself turning crimson as Simran came and sat on the bench right in front of mine. A gentle wind blowing from the window carried the whiff of her perfume into my nostrils.
"Nice smell." I thought to myself. Instantly a movie song started playing in my mind.
"Pehla nasha, pehla khumaar. Naya pyaar hai, naya intezaar......". I guess it was because I had seen the movie the day before or maybe the situation was actually ironical.
I tried to distract myself from her by looking outside. Wow. The grass seemed very green. The trees were swaying with the wind as if jiggling to a song. The rose bushes just outside in the school garden were prettier than usual. I could even sense music in the raindrops dripping outside the window. Was the cuckoo really singing on the mango tree? Hey, I was smiling to myself. I imagined myself as Aamir Khan, jumping on those grassy slopes with a sweater tied around my neck, singing happily and rolling on the grass. If there was a heaven, then I was surely in it.
I was woken up from my reverie with a nasty poke from Nitin.
"Ouchhh." I jumped loudly enough to attract the attention of the whole class, especially Ms. Shilpa.
"Which world are you lost in, boy?" she asked me. It took me a couple of seconds to realise that she had been calling out my name for the attendance. Giggles followed all around as I sat back on my seat. Simran had also seen me make an idiot out of myself and was quietly smiling. I looked down at my feet in embarassment.
The rest of the pre-recess session passed away without any incidents as I tried to concentrate on the class. It was very difficult as the wind would pass on the perfume smell every now and then and ocassionally her silky hair would blow back and tease my fingers on the desk. But somehow I managed to solve the sums that were given as class work.
With the ringing of the recess bell, there was the usual "Race to the loo" which I won. All clean and emptied, we returned back to the class to have our tiffins. Mom had put five Chakli's (a crunchy snack) in my tiffin and I munched away while Nitin too grabbed one of mine. Without fail, my eyes darted on the bench in front.
Simran was sitting all alone with a notebook and a pencil. She wasn't eating anything.
"Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to strike a conversation." I thought. I took out my pen and tapped her shoulder lightly (I was too shy to do that with my hand). She turned around and I got tongue-tied.
"Yes?" she asked.
"I...I...I...wan..." I stuttered.
"Huh?" she looked puzzled.
I recovered my senses and said, "You are not eating anything?"
"Nope, Ma is not well. So she couldn't make any tiffin for me." she said.
"Oh, would you like to have a Chakli? It's homemade." I offered with full generosity.
She picked one from my tiffin box.
"It's really nice. Thank you so much. You are really sweet." I felt blood rushing from all parts of my body to my cheeks.
"I am Ashwin. And this is my friend Nitin." I was a full and proper gentleman. She shook hands with both of us. I felt my pulse rate go up as she held my hand for those two precious seconds.
"I am Simran. Well, it's nice to have new friends. I am new to this town and this school. So I hardly know anyone. Where do you stay?"
So now things were beginning to move.
"I stay near Vasant Nagar. Nitin stays in Housing Board, very close to my house."
"Can't Nitin talk at all?" she asked teasingly. I turned around and saw Nitin staring sheepishly at her. He too was lost in wonderland I guessed.
"Yeah...yeah..I can talk...See?? hehe" he said.
"Nice to know that." she added modestly. "Well, I too am staying in Housing Board. I hope we can visit each other in the evenings. I might need some help in the studies, and I noticed that you were quite good in Maths."
Gosh. Why was all the blood only accumulating in my cheeks?
"Yeah sure." I said and the bell rang. However there wasn't the usual scramble of feet in the class. I turned around and saw that ninety percent of our classmates were staring in my direction with their mouths wide open. I felt more conscious and pretended to be highly interested in searching my books in my bag.
"She is really nice and friendly na?" Nitin asked me on our way back home after school. I could see that he was also lost in her thoughts.
"What do you mean? All girls are like that when you first talk to them. Afterwards they all start acting the same." My male ego spoke. But in my mind, I was doing additions and multiplications with Simran.
Reading till now, you might have thought that I managed to have those Maths sessions with her. Maybe I might have. Maybe my dreams then of singing and dancing with her on grassy slopes might have come true. Maybe she would have been my girlfriend. Maybe...Maybe....Maybe... Maybe all this might have come true. But fate had a different plan for me.
The very next day, Simran made friends with Alisha (my bitter arch-rival..remember?? read the previous post if you dont) and that itself burst my balloon of dreams. I don't know what Alisha told Simran about me, or even if she actually talked about me. But that friendship made sure that the conversation I described above was the longest one I ever managed to have with Simran. For the rest of the year, the maximum attention I managed from her was a cordial smile and with the end of the term, my parents had bigger plans for me. We shifted our home to a new city, "a place with better education" they said. They were right, though it took me much time to realise that fact.
I might have gone through the adoloscence phase of life like everyone, with hormone level rising and crushes galore. But as they say, the first one is always the special one.
Adios till the next post... :)