There’s a saying, “first love and first kiss will always stay fresh in your memory”. My first kiss came at the age of 21 with my fourth love, whom I happened to marry, so my wife’s the only girl I ever kissed. I do remember when and where it happened.
My first love is also still fresh in my memory. I was in 12th standard and she was in 10th. I was friends with a few of the boys from her class, so I used to visit their class during lunch intervals and got to see her. One of the boys there was in love with her and I was assisting him with suggestions and advice on how to win her heart. But eventually I fell in love with her and started to work behind the back of the other guy. She co-operated with her eyes and occasional smile.
She was just like any other small-town Tamil Brahmin girl. She was fair and of medium build. Her hair was neatly parted in the center and arranged in two braids and occasionally adorned with flowers. Her forehead always bore the sign of a traditional Hindu girl with a thin line of sandal paste carefully smeared between her eyebrows. Her eyes were plain and calm but became alive and full whenever I happened to stare into them. Overall, she looked like a serene beauty in her green and white half-saree uniform. I couldn’t recollect seeing her in any other dress than the uniform.
Our school was one of the oldest in the district so we had stone buildings and large verandahs. Our verandahs bustled with noise and excitement at the end of every session-break and in the leisure hours. Students moved to and fro in large gangs howling and whistling on their way. Amidst all these, whenever she passed my classroom, she never forgot to take a quick glance at me and sometimes a half smile broke on her lips which she struggled to conceal.
Time flew past and soon we came to the end of the school year. On the last exam day, I wrote a long love letter and gave it to one of her friends and asked her to hand it over to my girl. That proved to be a huge mistake. The girl did give the letter to her, but also informed the ‘Other Guy’ about my antics. The ‘Other Guy’ was enraged. He went straight to the girl and demanded an answer. I later came to know that she told him that she only liked me. But the twist was that the ‘Other Guy’ was also her family relative and he threatened her that the affair will be told to her father. She cried and told him she will give back the letter to me. But the guy grabbed the letter from her, photocopied it and circulated amongst his classmates. Sensing that the situation had gone out of my hands, the next wise step was to say “escape”. I did just that.
I left the place instantly and rushed to the bus stand. Later I was told that a group of thugs, the ‘Other Guys’ friends were searching for me after I left. When I was waiting for the bus, the girl also made her way to the bus stop and seeing me she quickly signaled that she wanted to talk. We rushed into the first bus we got, but a large crowd of people also got into the bus and I was pushed towards the back and she went further in front. The very last chance to talk to her thus got squashed. When she got down in her stop, her eyes searched for me in the crowd. When her eyes finally found mine, it was already filled with tears.
I do not know what she wanted to tell me. In our hometown and especially in schools a boy talking to a girl other than his classmates is like a major crime. So I never got to talk to her. Not a word ever was spoken between us. Only our eyes spoke.
It still pains a lot when I remember the final scene. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she bid farewell as the bus started moving away from her stop. I never saw her again.