Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Fireflies at my window - I

I was never the bullying type- well, being the shortest girl- not counting Aruna Rani, I guess helped! I was generally very tolerant of all the girls and a lot of them came to me with all their problems and strives in life- from poor marks to boyfriend trouble.

But Anoop and I rubbed the wrong sides almost immediately. It wasn’t a novelty to him; he rubbed wrong sides with everyone. I met Anoop when my uncle and aunt moved in to a new colony. He gave me one look top to bottom and smiled a very sarcastic smile. I immediately was ruffled. I tried to work up a sarcastic smile but he was long gone by the time I figured out what I wanted to do.

Playing cards was the thing to do in the afternoons. Early afternoons to late evenings, we would sit on the verandah and play the same game again and again. And the nearest I’ve come to any kind of physical activity was play shuttle with the kids in the colony. Anoop was a terrible player. I was the next terriblest!

But he soon picked up the knack of the game with the thing that boys have for aim and precision. And I had to push myself to actually play with him. Thanks to him, I became better at the game and the netted wire drawn across my racket actually touched the feathery shuttle cork a few times.

He studied all the time. Did anyone study in the summer holidays? Let me rephrase that- did anyone in their senses study during the summer holidays? He was curt and couldn’t answer a decent question when asked. In the world of children where cruelty existed with a meaner streak than anywhere else, he was the scapegoat.

I was sitting and solving the Hindu crossword- please read on- the one in the ‘Young World section’ and racking my brains at the several unfilled grids, when I felt a shadow over my paper.

“Crimea”, he said.

I knew it was an answer. But there were several unfilled grids and it could fit anywhere!! He pointed at the exact place and said again, “Crimea”

I took the paper and went inside. I stopped solving crosswords that day.

He was used to being rebuffed, ignored and scorned. Pradeep and I were sworn enemies. But we had one thing in common, our dislike for Anoop. Pradeep would pull him into innumerable verbal duels and endless tripping. If I felt bad about the whole thing, I kept quiet. The last thing I wanted to happen was to get romantically linked to Anoop!

We shared a common compound wall. His room and mine- when I stayed there in the summer were almost at arms length- or so I felt! I’d opened that window once and had seen him standing by his window and looking out. I closed the window and never opened it after that.

“Can you lend me ‘Lila: An Inquiry into Morals’?”, I jumped out of bed hearing his voice.

I hadn’t even heard him come in! Knocking on doors, asking an ‘excuse me’ didn’t exist then in my life. I would have laughed at anyone who’d done that; but I was mad at Anoop coz he didn’t!

“I don’t have the book”, I lied.

His eyes fell on the almost fluorescent green colored book on the table. I blushed a darker shade of the almost black brown that I was.

“This one is for you”, he said and walked out of the room leaving behind on the table a book.

I picked up what he’d left on the table. “William the fourth”. I didn’t know he knew I read books like this! I realized slowly why I always found among the total disarray of books at the local library, just the Williams arranged neatly on the rack that was almost undiscovered save by me and another person, for I would find if not Williams at least decent reads on that rack all the time. And I would in return for the act of kindness leave behind books that I liked and wanted to share. Of course I was curious to know who the person in question was, but I enjoyed the anonymity and the faint trace of romance that comes along with such things.

I realized that the ‘other person’, who ensured that I had something nice to read all summer long, was Anoop. Who better than Anoop would know the dusty steel grey rack existed- he who lived there almost half the day? I wanted to run behind him with Lila in hand, but I didn’t. I sat there feeling sick and empty.

I didn’t know how to react after that on seeing him. I didn’t know why I disliked him, or if at all I actually did. Such complex thoughts were new to my life then. With growing trepidation I realized that I actually didn’t have any reason to dislike him. And once this fear crept in, it brought in a host of other emotions as well.

But the image of the boy the whole colony loved to hate was to be maintained. I would still make rude remarks about him and scorn him with a look I was soon practicing to perfection. It was to save my own skin. If Pradeep found anything amiss with my taunts, he never said anything. So I guess I must have done a convincing job. I never went to that rack or even that side of the library. I never got decent books many a times, but I never went to ‘our rack’ ever…


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hmmm... lovely, beautiful, etc.. outdated words coming from me... you leave me speechless as usual... and as I said, if I were for sales, you bought me over and over again...

6:30 AM  
Blogger Arvind Iyer said...

hmmm...lovely, anonymous boy turning poetic..

Peer pressure is the most common phenomenon cutting across age, sex, RACES (if I push the limits). It is the feeling that makes an 8month old baby push the other baby down while the friendly aunties chat. It forces us to conform or break away, quite often making us the OPPOSITE of who we are. We can fight it, but not escape it...Amen.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Arvind Iyer said...

What would you grade yourself (out of 10) :) ?

7:37 AM  
Blogger hope and love said...

poornima.. your blog always make me nostalgic..
this one brought back so many sweet memmories.... of
love hate relationships..

9:00 AM  
Blogger arvindiyer said...

Ur Data Bank is full of things like this? I mean where in the world would u remember the book, the color of the cover and the like? Ahhhhh....Anyways..How be u? Long time no hear?

8:37 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Dalloway said...

Fadia: I guess a lot of guys in Mauritius would be happy with the sale huh? And yeah- I'll be rich!

Arvind: He didnt turn poetic! Fight and escape one cant??

Grade... I wouldnt stop to judge someone, I would lose out on loving them if I do so...

Hope and love: Maybe you can post about it...

Arvind: Those are the only things worth remembering...

No hear? Ah- wait for the weekend!!!

9:14 PM  
Blogger hope and love said...

but then who was the illusionist..?
i liked his/her comment a lot..

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wonder how u remember such intricate details..keep writing...its going great...

2:58 AM  
Blogger Swathi Sambhani aka Chimera said...

hi Poornima
am a first timer to ur blog, njoyed reading ur rants.

wud definetly make it a point to return

3:28 AM  
Blogger Just Me said...

I was in Grade 7 when I read my first and only 'William' - yeah it was a leatherbound version, from the school library.

I wonder what Grade you were in, to be able to practice such perfected nastiness on Anoop.

Peer pressure is horrid.

3:26 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Dalloway said...

Hope and love: 'The self referential pepople will inherit the earth, the Illusionist will just fade away gracefully into fame...'- that's the reply via mail I got, for your question as to who the Illusionist was- courtesy the Illusionist of course!

Anon: I have no clue who this is!!! Thank you and I hope I will...

Swathi: Thank you and welcome again.

Just me: I was in grade 3-4 change over period when I read my first William.

'Perfected nastiness'? Sigh and to think I met you only once!!

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi this is anon and not anymore..i am suresh and i am new visitor to your blog...sorry for concealing the identity...was overpowered by the wish to comment than to reveal who i am...need to say that it was unintentional as is evident now...take care

10:03 PM  
Blogger hope and love said...

OMG..!! the illusionist is really fascinating..

10:45 PM  
Blogger Praveen said...

Your writing has invoked in me a feeling of sympathy towards Anoop. Especially the part where he leaves the book behind having been denied the book he wanted.

1:32 AM  
Blogger Buccaneer said...

Where do you get the photos from? and hey do u use photobucket.com ? or something else...

2:28 AM  
Blogger Just Me said...

Yeah. The perfected nastiness thats stereotypical of kids in Grade 4.

I remember this dumb female at class. I was playing with my pen and ended spilling ink on her skirt. Which wasn't deliberate.

So she gets furious, takes her pen and makes this tiny dot on my shirt ?!?

That's perfected nastiness. You can't be nasty that way in a 'natural' kind of way. Peer pressure makes you what you're not.

12:05 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Dalloway said...

Suresh: Ah, I finally get a name to put the anonymous thing to! Thank you again.

Hope and love: I agree.

Praveen: Sympathy. Yes that's what I felt too...

Buccaneer: You were the one who helped me discover photobucket!!! And photos- I am a research analyst for Christ sake! I do my 'research' properly! ;o)

Just me: Well, she is dumb alright! I cant imagine a boy making a tiny dot in return for a liberal splashing- deliberate or not!

9:12 PM  

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