The story goes back several years. So many years that, I must, in fact, force my way through the mists of time to get there. The year was 2001, and I was an impressionable young lad of 17.
Those familiar with my first crush will also be quite aware of the finesse with which I hit on women I had a soft spot for. I very strongly doubt if Casanova would have attempted to woo the chickadee of his dreams by talking of his Unit Test marks. The Capulet family wouldn’t have had to bother with the vexing conundrum of where to dispose Romeo’s body if his courtship had followed the lines of mine.
Siddhu circa 2001 was not much different. All I knew of romance I had gleaned from trashy Tamil and Bollywood movies, and the occasional Mills and Boon. Any further romantic interests I may have had in the intervening years never happened because I was held up by that bane of every Indian teenager’s life – the Board exams (the equivalents of the O- and A- levels, to the uninitiated). Having partaken of no form of physical exercise for more than three years, I resembled a bowling pin more than anything else. If an egg were to point me out to a bean, the bean would probably have said, “Goddamn! That’s a bleedin’ geek!’
But it was in 2001 that I finally finished school and entered the hallowed portals of college. The college I entered, or the coridoors therein, weren’t particularly hallow, but there you are. I felt liberated – after twelve years spent mucking about wearing an ugly school uniform, I could now wear what I wanted, and do what I wanted.
Liberated in this fashion, I noticed her. She was a moderately pretty girl, but I would not have considered her particularly special. If it weren’t for a certain other blogger (you know who you are, you bastard – assuming you’re reading this, of course! ;) ) deciding to kid my pants off about her, I would have given her nary a second glance.
But that was not to be. “The Warrior” was supposed to have a crush on Maya (name changed), and that was that as far as the aforementioned blogger was concerned. I had, of course, watched too many Bollywood movies for my own good. That, and the fact that my hormones had been suppressed in favour of Physics, Chemistry and Maths between the ages of 14 and 17, resulted in me having a huge crush on her.
I began to behave in ways that were completely alien to me (and most right-thinking men). I started wearing XXL tee shirts so that my paunch wouldn’t show (as much), actually started combing my hair so that traces of my simian ancestry were less pronounced, and began to *ugh* listen to Backstreet Boys.
Using the devious wiles that are the hallmark of the Warrier clan, I managed to worm her phone number out of her, and placed a call.
‘Hello.’, said she.
‘Hi…’, said I, rather effusively.
A silence that one would call pregnant ensued.
‘Who is this?’, she asked, finally, and rather suspiciously.
‘It’s me, Siddhu. That guy in your class, y’know.’
‘Oh, you – that guy who’s always in the first row! Hi…’
Today, I would probably known – unless I were hitting on a geek with thick glasses – that this did not bode well. But at that point in time, I believed strongly in the magnetic aura around the first-row geek.
‘Yeah, that’s me, alright! You’ve got that one right!!’
She grunted in assent, and followed it up with one of those pregnant silences that are the bane of the clumsy lover.
After about ten seconds, I managed to stutter,
‘Uh well, have you done the Engineering Math assignment? I had a doubt in question 2.’
About two months later, I strongly believed that being a first bencher had its advantages. After all, did she not call me almost every day? I studiously ignored the fact that:
- Most of the calls were to ask me something about some course or the other, or were merely because I had called her earlier.
- If we were not talking about some math problem or the other, I was doing all the talking – I had told her about how I had prepared for my board examinations, how I had delivered a hard hitting speech as a member of the opposition in the National youth parliament, and how I had found calculus fascinating when in school. (The last one was a particularly huge blunder; because it was also a lie!!)
- She was friendlier to at least a dozen other chaps than she was to me, and often shrunk away from carrying a conversation out with me when those blighters were around.
I also considered it significant that she:
- Thought I was a nice guy. Her exact words were more along the lines of ‘I like you. You’re a nice kid.’, but nevermind.
- Thought my bright yellow tee shirt (my all-time favourite) made me look like a fireman. Her exact words were, ‘The glare from that shirt’s so terrible you look like an emergency worker. You should burn it!’, but nevermind.
- Found my plans to buy a motorbike when I turned 18 highly amusing. Her exact words were, ‘You’ll look so hilarious on a motorbike. You’re so not a motorbike person!’ – but ah well, I had read on one of those self-help websites that getting a girl to laugh was important.
- She actually said ‘Hi’ whenever she saw me. This was particularly comforting for one who had been studiously ignored by the opposite sex for all of seventeen years.
It was as I sat in my room with the Backstreet Boys crooning away on my computer that the idea began to grow on me. It was a mere nebulous thought when ‘Larger than Life’ was playing. It began to take shape when the Backstreet Boys had told me that they wanted it that way. By the time Nick Carter asked me to show him the meaning of being lonely, I had made the decision.
I would ask her out.
But now, the question arose as to how I would go about doing it. I had just dismissed the idea of getting down on my knees with a rose on my teeth as a tad theatrical and was contemplating as to which Bollywood movie would give me the best ideas when the phone rang.
‘Hello,’, I said, some inane Backstreet Boys song still playing away in the background.
It was her. To say that my heart leapt would sound a shade like Erich Segal, but that was how it was (call me a douche if you will).
‘Hi, Maya. What’s up?’
‘Well… I got this problem with understanding how Flemish joints work…’
We spent the next fifteen minutes discussing Flemish joints and other similarly weird creatures that crop up if one is ever unfortunate enough to study Civil Engineering.
After that, she seemed to be in a hurry to leave and was about to hang up, when I spoke,
‘Hey, Maya, got to tell you something…’
‘What? I really got to go and meet this guy in about twenty minutes.’
‘Uh…well… I really don’t know how I’m supposed to say this…I really like you.’
This was supposed to be the moment when a bouquet of flowers enveloped the screen, and we cut to a song in the Swiss alps, with Maya running down a slope towards me. But it was not to be…
‘I mean, I really like you. I’d like to, you know, like, er…you know, ask you out…’,. This was not going as planned, and the last few words were spoken in a hushed whisper.
‘YOU?? You want to ask me out? So what do we do if I do say yes…?’
Now that was a toughie. I racked my brains. Having never really been the kind of chap who steps out of home if he can help it, I had no idea as to what couples did, once they became couples. After deciding that saying ‘We’d make out’ would be a trifle premature, I said,
‘Er… we could go to the cinema, y’know…?’
For the next two minutes, all I could hear was a hyenaesque laughter from the other end.
After she had presumably finished wiping tears of mirth off her face, she spoke.
‘Siddhu, you’re a really sweet chap’ – heart leap time – ‘ but I really…uh well…let me think about it; I’ll tell you tomorrow.’
It should have been clearly apparent to me that these were famous last words, but I persisted.
‘Er…okay, I’ll wait for your call.’
The days passed me by. My phone remained silent.
And then it rang.
‘Hello …?’, said I, eagerly.
‘Hello yourself’, said the voice at the other end.
It was not Maya. It was another friend of mine. And before I could say anything, she spoke.
‘Okay, now who the fuck is this Maya?’
‘I hear you’ve been making a complete pest of yourself with her.’
‘What do you mean??’
‘Well, I heard from Aakaanksha that you’ve been this total ‘hyper case’ with Maya, and been coming on terribly strong. Don’t you have any common sense? Is that how you ask a girl out?’
‘B..but how do you know? And who on earth is Aakaanksha’
‘Oh Aakaanksha is Tripti’s friend. And Tripti knows Sandhya. Sandhya, Divya and Shyamala had met up with Maya, who told them about how you keep pestering her with phone calls, and behaved completely hyper with me and begged her to go out with you.’
‘Shut up! I don’t care if you’ve made a fool of yourself. You’ve made a fool of me too! They asked me if I knew you, and I was stupid enough to admit you were my friend. And then they laughed and asked me if you were a rotund little fuck who insisted on making a fool of himself by pestering a girl to the point of irritation.’
A pregnant silence followed, this time of my own making.
Now that I look back upon this sordid episode, it was not entirely a loss. It inspired me to work on getting rid of that paunch, at the very least. And it has also cured me permanently from asking women out.
The author realizes that this story of his ineptitude in matters of the heart (or to be more honest and explicit, something a little further down) may ensure that he shall never get laid again. At least not until he decides to ask his mother to find him the suitable girl from somewhere in the middle of Kerala. Therefore, he takes this opportunity to beg pretty women to prevent the aforementioned horror from ever happening. As always, age no bar/caste no bar/race no bar/religion no bar/height no bar (as long as you don’t mind midgets)