I tucked my right arm behind my back and lifted my left arm up to a 90 degree angle to the rest of my body and asked: Ma’am, may I go to drink water in a sing song tone. If you’re Indian or have been to school in India, you know what I’m talking about.
Yes, but come back quickly.
I collected the gate pass and walked clumsily to the water cooler that was at the end of the corridor, my grey divided skirt swinging from side to side as I walked. As I approached the water cooler, I saw him. I nearly peed in my panties out of nervousness.
He was three years my senior, and insanely good looking. He was my favorite teacher’s favorite student (although I later found out just how creepy and inappropriate my History teacher was) and I often found myself looking for him in House meetings and Sports meets and Annual day functions. I had something to say to him, but I could never gather the courage. We crossed paths several times but he never once looked at me. Seniors never did, unless you were really hot or really popular and I was neither. All I was was a socially awkward eight year old who wore translucent pink glasses that were so thick you could burn paper in the sunlight with them.
I stood there, in line behind him as the guy in front on us filled his bottle. Mister bent down to drink water, and I started praying he would turn around and look at me. Then he did.
I began to breathe again. Then he walked away and I found myself wanting never to let that moment end. I had to tell him. Now.
He turned around.
You look like an actor on Banegi Apni Baat. His name is Rituraj.
He smiled and waved as he walked away. I could bet I saw a twinkle in his eye as he imagined looking like a TV Star.
Meanwhile, I dragged my clumsy feet back to the class and to being a socially awkward eight year old. As the years progressed, I found my groove and forgot about this incident.
I never spoke to him for the next 15-16 years. We later met at work, where he and I hit it off instantly. He was funny and I was smart. We grew up in the same neighborhood and went to the same school so it was easy to talk. And because we were both still married at the time, we never once wavered from the ‘just friends’ routine. Coz we really were that. Just friends. At some point I even thought he was gay!
None of us remembered the Rituraj incident until one day, we were on a break with fartsypants and Giggles (yes, the same straight friend who indulged in a sex chat with a girl just for fun) and some others, and the conversation went in the direction of “Which famous personality do we most resemble”. I said I looked like Kajol, but people laughed and said I looked more like Kate Beckinsale. To be honest, I didn’t see any merit in arguing with that 😉
Anyhow, Mister thought he looked like Emran Hashmi, but I disagreed and told him: Emraan? Yuck! He’s ugly! I think you actually look like this guy who used to star on Banegi Apni Baat back in the 90s. Rituraj. He was also on another show called Tol Mol ke Bol. Cute guy!
And then he said: You know what, someone once told me that. I was in school and this puny girl who was wearing ridiculous pink glasses came up to me and told me I looked like him. She made my day. Imagine looking like a TV actor! Then I went home and watched an episode and that broke my heart. The guy looks like a monkey! Can’t believe you actually said that!
And then I told him that puny girl in the pink glasses was me.