This is gonna be a ‘three part story’… It’s about a 16 year old girl, getting admitted to high school and falling in love…
‘Today is the first day in my school…
I found the school buzzing with wailing small kids, teenage students discussing voraciously how they had spent their holidays and parents watching their children walk to their respective classes.
‘Don’t cry, baby. Ma is not going anywhere. You’re going to love school. Now smile,’ I heard a mother consoling her three and a half year old kid, wiping his drool, with the handkerchief pinned to his shirt.
‘Hey guys!’ I heard someone say behind me and it was followed by a hard slap on my back. I felt a pain rising slowly on my spinal cord. I guessed soon who it was.
‘Hi Toony,’ I said turning to meet her.
Toony, short for Tanya is my classmate who walks like cartoon characters, to be precise, like a Donald Duck. So, she’s called by many names and is famous for her hard slaps on other people’s backs like the big dog in Tom and Jerry pats his pup.
‘How ya doing?’ she asked.
‘Fine,’ Naina replied, ‘How about you?’
‘How do I look? I too seem fit, right?’ she mocked.
‘No, I thought your stomach’s bulging out, revealing a part of your belly,’ I said irritated, still the pain finding its way upwards in my body.
She gasped and inhaled deeper to pull her stomach inside, exhibiting a wry face and marched off (sorry, waddled off like a duck).
‘She deserves,’ said Naina.
‘Forget her, let’s find our friends,’ I said. Then Naina parted.
I walked through the ground floor corridor, in search of my friends. Not even one of my friends was seen. But I sighted a few of my classmates – Justin, Leo, Nithin, Angel, Sonia and Shiny.
‘What’s up?’ Justin asked me, waving.
‘Saw any of my friends?’
‘Yup, on the last day of the last year.’
I glared at him for his silly joke.
‘Can I place a request?’ I asked.
‘Please don’t tell this joke to anyone else. Otherwise, they’ll become your fan, forever,’ I said smiling.
He nodded and said, ‘OK young lady, as you wish! I understand you are jealous of my other fans.’
I raised my eyebrows at him. This is my first lengthy conversation with a boy. I’d never even talk to boys unwanted. Even if the talk is about education related, I’d keep it short.
‘Never mind,’ I said to Justin and went off in the same direction that I had come. Exhausted, I reached my class on the third floor, the last floor in our school.
As I entered my class, a group of girls jumped from behind the door shouting, ‘YAAA…!’
I shrieked and jumped with a start, pulled my hands closer to my ears and backed off, away from the door, with my eyes closed shut.
I bumped into someone (actually it was my backpack) and I turned to face that person. It was a boy, in blue jeans and black T-shirt that read ‘I’m born intelligent’.
‘Oops, sorry!’ he said.
‘No, I’m sorry. I’m the one who bumped unknowingly.’
By now, I was blushing and I turned towards my classroom, to know the source of yelling and where had the entire shout died away, when I had bumped into the boy.
I saw my duo friends, silently giggling and staring at us both. They know that I’m quite weak, when it comes to chatting with boys.
I think the boy must have noticed the girls too, so he said, ‘That’s fine younger sister. Do you know where class eleven is? This big brother belongs there. And I’m new to this school. So, can you help me?’
He must have thought that the girls would soon spread a rumor that a love story has blossomed between the bump. That’s the reason I guess he mentioned, younger sister and big brother.
I laughed inside. It is natural for everyone to think, that I don’t study in high school, as I’m so short. I’ve got quite used to that.
‘Which group?’ I asked when we had enough silence.
‘Biology with Maths,’ he replied.
I pointed out to the board, above the door of my classroom which had a paper stuck to it that read, STD XI.
‘And, by the way, I’m not your younger sister. I’m your classmate.’
And, it was his turn to blush this time.
‘I’m um… am terribly sorry. Anyway, nice to meet you. I’m Lewis Simon,’ he said embarrassingly, holding out his right hand for me to shake.
I had to consider the situation.
If I shake his hand, then the rumor is sure to spread double-quick. If I don’t, then the rumor dies. That’s the civilization, I live in. Rumors play a major part. However I never shake hands with boys, as a matter-of-fact.
So, I said, ‘Pleased to meet you. I’m Tejashwini.’
He held his hand, right out there and looked at me enquiringly.
‘Never mind, anyway sorry,’ he said eventually, realising I’d never shake his hand.
I shrugged and went inside the classroom. All the classes in our school had two doors (one for girls and the other for the dominant gender – boys) and I watched him enter through the other door.
‘Ooh…’my friends cooed, when I entered the class.
Oops, sorry. I forgot to introduce my friends to you. This is Alice and Lindsey. Well, they’re my naughty, chatty friends who keep me engaged in happiness, ecstasy and joy. They’re my good company, encouraging and assisting me in all my good and bad channels of life.
‘So, you’ve got a new friend, I see,’ said Alice.
‘I see, that you are jealous of my friendship,’ I rejoined.
‘Also, you’ve learnt to talk better,’ she mocked.
‘So have you,’ I retorted.
‘Good morning children!’ boomed a happy voice in front of the class.
We all stood up and I peeped above the heads of my classmates, to see the person who had wished us. Hannah Ma’am dressed in her best and wearing the usual smile on her face, stood facing us.
‘I’m your class teacher for this year,’ she said and paused for a while to notice our response.
When none exhibited any enthusiasm she continued, ‘To whomsoever I appear an alien, I’ll introduce myself,’ she laughed coyly, ‘I’m Hannah, your Biology teacher and class teacher for all those who are seated in this class.’
‘Please take your seats everyone and stay quiet for a while whilst I take attendance,’ Hannah Ma’am ordered.
Those who were standing hobbled to find a place and soon the class remained silent. I craned my neck upwards and tried to count how many new students had arrived.
I found Lewis, in the third bench, busily chatting and had attracted most of the boys’ attention, as I could see each one, trying to squeeze their body among others, to hear well.
He was facing the boys sideways and I noticed that, he had a short French beard trimmed lightly and his hair was in a not-combed manner. I guessed it must be the latest trend among boys to tousle their hair after combing, to bring out the heroic effect.
I was keenly observing him when Hannah Ma’am called ‘Tejashwini.’
She was marking the attendance register and it never struck me Tejashwini is my name. I continued watching him, when Hannah Ma’am called out again. Even then, I didn’t respond.
Lewis led a searching look inside the class and caught me watching him intently. He raised his eyebrow and pointed out a finger, in the direction of Hannah Ma’am. I gave him a quizzical look and just then Lin nudged me.
‘Answer your attendance,’ she whispered.
And it was then I realised my dumbness and cried, ‘Present Ma’am.’
‘Have you forgotten your name?’ Hannah Ma’am asked me.
I stood up, shook my head and gave a sheepish grin. I saw her glare at me with folded hands.
‘No Ma’am, it’s just that I’ve got used to everyone calling me Teju,’ I lied with humiliation.
By this time, I had attracted the attention of all the boys and the girls in my class.
‘That’s fine. May be from tomorrow I’ll call you Teju when I take attendance,’ she said with the grin ascending her face again.
I too gave her a grin but a relieved one, as I hated Hannah Ma’am getting annoyed by me.
‘A penny for your thoughts,’ Alice said as I sat down, ‘But what in this whole world were you thinking of?’
‘Alice, just leave it,’ Lin said.
Then she turned towards me and whispered in my ear, ‘Now, thank Lewis for alerting you.’
I immediately turned my head towards her, stunned.
‘Yeah, I know. Just go on,’ she whispered again, so that Alice was out of earshot.
I turned my gaze towards him and noticed him still looking at me. I mouthed a thank you and he nodded.
Then he asked me in hand signal, why were you looking at me?
I nodded a nothing and quickly turned my look, blushing.
‘Hey Lin,’ I called out to her, ‘Don’t interpret anything. I was just curious, how he befriended other boys so soon. I’m not interested in him.’
‘Should I believe that?’ Lin asked me sarcastically.
‘C’mon! You know about me! I’m not good at talking with boys,’ I cried.
‘OK, cool down,’ Lin said, ‘Chapter dismissed.’