Crush - Is the word an euphemism for unsuccessful love? Or is it an abbreviation for crushed love? Are all things with the name Crush destined to go kaput? - remember that beverages company? Whatever the etymology, I am not a great fan of the word; I prefer muse. Nonetheless, let me take a business class, window seat jaunt by the time machine down the memory lane. Don't expect a six/seven year journey - it is something more like a 20 year one and I am 23 :)
It was a time in history when, the great Cold War ended, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, India was not yet economically liberalized and a pesky kid's parents decided to put him in kindergarten. My parents always pride on the fact that I was the only kid who was not wailing and throwing tantrums among the 40 odd group, when I joined "Rose Mary School, Tirunelveli". Maybe they won't be so proud if they are aware of the fact that their son was smitten by a pretty girl standing at the class entrance.
This seno rita happened to be my school Principal's daughter. I was not sure what her age was. I guess now in hindsight to be around 25 (Yes people! I was 3 and she a score older). I am still bleary about what her name was - something like Chitra/Rita, I don't know. But I was as sure as a fish in water about certain things. She wore the most exquisite peacock themed sarees (Or was is it herself?)- of all shapes, varieties and hues. Most of my childhood drawings were centered around peacocks. She also taught me to draw human stick figures and a menagerie of animals ( rat deserves special mention).
Her smile was one of the reasons I believed in most of the Hindu reincarnation mythologies my parents were shoving down my inchoate brain. You know she could have easily been the Helen of Troy / the Nandini of Ponniyin Selvan in her previous births. It was that kind of smile for which wars were fought and world maps redrawn.
Scientists say that the initial vital steps that aid in this process called love, happen through the olfactory organ. Her strong, flowery perfume is still fresh in my mind that I bet I can recognize it's odor even now. Maybe it's time they changed the proverbial 'Love at first sight' to 'Love at first sniff'. I still vividly recollect me popping up unnecessary queries in class like 'Miss! I can't open my box','Miss! I cant close my bag' etc., just so that she would be at my side and I could inhale her scent.
Some of my friends know that I have a huge e..umm..what's the word?..ah..enchantment for Sameera Reddy and Shalini. This, sure as shooting, flows from their bewitching eyes and swarthy complexion - two things they share with my first muse. Face maybe the index of the mind but eyes are the index of the face. Such huge muttaikannu eyes they were - why do people go to temples seeking salvation, when they can just watch her expressive eyes? Take the best of Shalini from 'Alaipayuthe' and spice it up with the best of Sameera and the resulting montage would still not be close enough.
She was my teacher for the next three years teaching English and Maths intermittently .
Amma : What did you learn today in school?
Me : Ma! I have a doubt
Amma : What, lost your rubber again?
Me : Illa ma. How long will it be before I become a big man?
Amma : Hmmm! Depends
Me : On?
Amma : If you eat all the greens in your lunch box and don't lose a crayon a day it will take some 15 years
Me : 15? That number after 14? F**K
Amma : Come again?
Me : No ma. New word. They taught in school. Can I not become old now, right here, right now?
Annoyed by my insistence, Amma looks up with a suspicious glance.
Amma : NO. I guess you have to wait
Me : Ok! But after 15 years, will you remain the same age or will you get old too?
Amma : Gawd! We thought sending you to school would cure your questioning-on-trigger disease. It has only got worse.
Me : Never mind ma. FOLK.
Amma : What?
Me : FOLK - that was the new word they taught.
Amma sheds her cynical look and happily proceeds to hear his son's overinflated version of his exploits that day. Phew!
Me : Why da English miss dint come for the last few days?
X : You donno baai? she marry soon. So only not come (he blabbered in spoiled English)
Me : What the hell for? I mean, why do people get married?
X : He..he..small baai. Ithu kooda theriyaathu? (Dunno this itself?) So that she can have babies
Me : Oh! I am just curious. What is all this baby matter? Aren't we 40 babies already?
I tried hard to put up an ignorant face.
X : No idiot. She want own baby. Don't tell you dont know that angels deliver babies to women only if they married
Me : (suppressing my giggle) Yeah, I know that. Will she come back after her marriage?
X : No. She moving to America
Me : F**K
X : What?
Me : That's the name of the angel that delivers the babies to their mothers.
X : Yeh bai! I dint know that only
X runs away to his group of friends determined to flaunt his newly acquired knowledge on angels and demons. Poor kid! All he needed to know was two more alphabets, 5th & 19th ;)
As she was taking a flight to the USofA, a lot many doyens of capitalism were flying from America to India to increase their bank balances. India was liberalized and a tiny Indian heart was devastated. America to me, after this incident, became kind of a place where all the good people managed to end up finally and I wanted a piece of that mystical land, where people dint litter & spit in public places. This opinion has changed of late though. A lot many girls after her- this time of appropriate age group- had perfectly slipped in to her shoes, keeping that fountain of inspiration flowing continuously. Salute to ye all!
It has been 18 years and I have not seen her since. Maybe she has teenage kids she can call her own "babies". Maybe she came back to India. Maybe she never went to America in the first place. May be that song "Oru ooril Alagae.." was inspired by one of Gautham Menon's childhood muses. Maybe "Poetry in motion" was written for someone like her. I may never know. But one thing I know for sure: Years later, when my hypothetical children ask me for the definition of the words 'grace' and 'poise', I know that I will give them a convincing answer.
The story looks good without any closure, doesn't it? Life mostly resembles an open ended mutual fund with the only end being our last breath. As we further travel towards the final stop, a lot many share a ride with us. However difficult, each have to get down at their respective stops for changeovers to their own destinations and its only logical you let them. I can pride myself on the fact that I always let go. Some girl with the same destination as mine may find me in this journey and possibly we will share a laugh or two, grow old together, sitting by the window seat of this time machine we all seem to be trapped in.
* Since childhood is in a land far far away, most of what we hold as memories about that part of our lives is predominantly suggestive - yours truly included. Most of my retentions about my first muse are hazy and might be prone to some interpolations. Only the italicized dialogues are completely true as it is well known that 5 year kids from early 90s used the F word profusely and had a wonderful cognizance about which courier service delivered babies to women :P
* Even though before joining kindergarten, I had asked a girl's mom to marry her daughter to me (not a hyperbole and the victim was 2 years older than me) just so that I can have all her toys, I have decided not to include that as my first crush.
* People (read Sundar and Prasanna) who expected a front row seat to a full scale confession about my adolescent infatuations, I got three words for you: In your dreams!
*This post is competing in the following contest by Blog Adda ( http://blog.blogadda.com/2010/06/09/first-crush-stories-blogs ) though I wanted to write one on this topic for long. So two birds in one stone