I had been planning to write Part II for quite some time now, but work – that infernal thing – had its ugly tentacles wrapped all around me. At least when I wasn’t playing cricket or gallivanting across Scotland, that is. And thus, I never got down to completing this saga of undying love…
We were a few months into the eighth standard when Amit decided that what he felt for Nisha was the real thing – lowe. By that time, however, there were scores of people in the ranks of her admirers. There was this chap who used a blade to carve her name out on his forearm, and the three or four chaps who would suddenly become as violent as Zinedine Zidane when Nisha happened to walk past an informal football match. As for me, all I did was glance surreptitiously at her – something I reckon she never noticed (at least I think she didn’t. I’m very subtle).
But Amit was in a class all by himself. He would walk into class about a minute after Nisha did, and keep his head tilted at ninety degrees to the teacher throughout the day. Repeated admonitions (and a few strokes of a wooden scale) from the teachers did nothing to diminish his passion. After about two months of this rather obvious display of his lowe, Amit decided to take the great leap forward.
He walked upto Nisha during the lunch break. Nisha was eating her lunch with that (decidedly plain and fat) girl who stuck closer to her than her shadow.
Digression: The author has never understood this female trait by virtue of which every hot chick has a plain chick hanging around her all the time. This is a truly global phenomenon, and the author has seen white women and Oriental women do the same too. Explanations to this interesting phenomenon will be greatly welcome.
He spoke loudly, like the aan singham he was (and probably still is),
‘Hi, Nisha, eppidi irukke?’ (Hi, Nisha, how’re you?)
This must have been rather perplexing for Nisha, considering the chap had never bothered to do anything but stare at her all day.
‘Er…yeah, well, I’m fine.’
If Amit were one of those smooth Don Juans, he would probably have waxed eloquent on the beauty of the bees, the birds and the smelly brown liquid that was provided us in the name of drinking water. But no, none of that for Amit! He believed in getting to the nub as soon as he could.
And thus, the third sentence that Amit ever said to Nisha was,
‘Aey, naan unnai lowe pannaraendee’ (Hey, I’m lowing you—forgive me, there’s no exact translation of this immortal phrase into English)
As I sat three benches away, trying not to look, I felt as if someone had just driven a road roller over the rolls of fat on my stomach. I visibly winced. Being unaware then of the success rates that porikis enjoyed in the game of lowe, and having watched too many Tamil movies than was good for me, I expected Nisha to break into a demure smile, giggle and run away.
At which point the hundred extras would arrive from Kodambakkam and begin dancing to a tune.
At which point the passion that burnt deep (two layers of fat beneath) within me would be extinguished faster than Bush’s hopes of victory in Iraq.
So, nothing could have prepared me for what happened. Nisha directed at him a stony glare from those green eyes of hers.
‘But I don’t love you, okay?! I’m sick of you staring at me. So kindly desist from making a fool of yourself.’
Upon this, she flounced away, followed closely by her chamcha.
Most people would have taken this most emphatic crushing of their crush to be final. But Amit was not one to give up so easily. He reasoned, with undeniably warped logic, that the problem was the competition.
And he reasoned that the best way to deal with the competition would be to eliminate it.
The guy who took a blade to his forearm was threatened with a fist bigger than his blade if he tried anything in the nature of funny business again. The violent football players soon saw that Amit could be considerably more violent than them.
It was then that I took that ill-fated path of striking a conversation with Nisha.
It was as I was trying to worm her phone number out of her (after having spent 5 minutes discussing the character flaws of our English teacher, and how I had, in spite of his hating me, scored 33 on 35 in the last test*) when a friend asked me to step outside.
It was not a very happy self that waddled out of the classroom. I was about to expostulate on good manners to my friend when he told me that Amit wanted to see me at the playground.
Fear chilled me to the marrow. Amit was sure to threaten me with physical violence, or worse still carry it out. I told my friend to tell him that I had suddenly taken ill, and had therefore decided to go home. I began to run away as fast as I could when I heard quick footsteps following me.
I was not much of a runner. My last sporting achievement of note was winning the frog jump when in UKG, unless one counts the silver plate I won for coming second in the three-legged race in my third standard.
However, I felt that I was running like the wind. But by some freak of nature, Amit jogged past my quivering double chin, and placed a hand across my chest to stop me.
As I bent over double trying to regain my breath, Amit spoke to me (translated version presented for convenience),
‘Dai, I thought I’d told everybody to keep off my girl.’
‘Amit, honestly, I was merely asking her for her notes.’
‘Who are you trying to fool, you lavdae ka baal (pubic hair)! I know you were trying to get her phone number.’
Some bastard was spying on me! I condemned his black soul to the depths of hell (if he’s reading this today, whoever he may be, he may note that the curse still holds).
I tried a last, desperate gamble.
‘Macha, I was trying to get her phone number for you!’
‘Dai, evantaedaa velayaadarae? (Who do you think you’re fooling?) I have her phone number, and I know where she lives.’
That was interesting. I turned to him and asked him interestedly, ‘Where?’
‘Now why do you want to know, you mayir pudungi (means about the same as the swear word above)? You’re trying to steal my girl from me, aren’t you?’
‘But…Amit, she’s not your girl.’
‘Dai, what the fuck do you mean? She’s mine for all eternity.’
Maybe, I thought, I could reason with him,
‘But machcha, she told me that she’s not your girlfiend, and never wants to talk to you in this life or the next.’
If I were a wee bit smarter, I would have known that this was not the most tactful line to take. A lesson lies here for all young boys starting out in life – do not try to convince a poriki of the futility of his lowe. Violence will indubitably follow.
Amit spoke slowly and quietly, through clenched teeth,
‘Oh really? And do you lowe her?’
‘Er..yeah, I kinda like her.’
‘You fat piece of first bencher shit! That was your game all along!’, he screamed.
What followed for the next ten minutes was the most macabre and painful exhibition of violent behaviour I have ever experienced in this short life of mine.
It also crushed my crush forever.
Amit continued to moon over Nisha. He spent most weekends hanging about the vicinity of her house in the army colony. It was on one such weekend that the good Colonel, home on leave after a frustrating few months spent consorting with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, became aware of Amit’s presence outside. The good Colonel tolerated porikis just a little more than he tolerated Kashmiri militants.
A reportedly painful lesson at the hands of an Army jawan quickly extinguished any lowe that still burnt in Amit’s bosom. All I could think of when I heard of this diverting anecdote was, ‘Jai Jawan!’.
*Yes, I know. I was (and still am) unbelievably pathetic when it comes to chatting a member of the opposite sex up.