Continued from: Pehla Nasha, Love and Valentine’s at 16

An hour early at the examination centre, I reached carrying a golden jazzy poly bag of Pall mall, besides the examination board and geometry box of Camlin. My dadaji, who had taught me tables and algebra, and had practised trigonometry with me asked me why I was carrying two bags? I replied, “Reference books RS Aggarval and RD Sharma.”

The secret was something else. The bag had a pair of goggles given by a foreign visitor aunt, perfume dad had gifted my mom; it was a Chanel perfume procured from a duty free shop on their anniversary, a rose I had plucked from the flower pot of the neighbourhood aunty, a lip gloss —the only makeup I had — and a big bristles brown comb…. I was in love. This is how you are suppose to dress up… At least that is what I learnt from Chitrahar.

Since all the washrooms were locked for the fear of kids putting chits in their socks and belts, the milky window mirrors of classroom were my only refuge.

So, in my unique Sunjay Dutt hair style with goggles on, and flower ear studs, pink lip gloss and mom’s perfume and dad’s black foreign-bought wind cheater, this lover girl was all ready, as she stood just near the examination centre gate waiting eagerly for her Prince Charming. When last bell reminding for the examination room entry rang, I had no choice but to enter! My Mr India was still invisible.

Inside the examination hall, as soon as we got our exam signing sheet, I saw the Prince of my heart striding in an elegant prance… As if I heard the guitar, the sitar and the bongo playing all at once in my heart! all together

He was as cool ,casual and unconcerned….

Was he aware of the existence of someone who had planned to spend a lifetime with him, had even thought of naming our kids Ashee and Nishi! Anyway, next problem was: How do I seek his attention? So within 15 minutes to thee am starting, I asked for an extra sheet, within 1 hour I had asked for water four times, and in 1.5 hours, I had coolly asked the invigilator if I could leave since exam was over for me! All kids looked at me wit awe. Is she from some other galaxy?

The Christmas Tree girl waited for Mr Cool for 1.5 hours anxiously at the door outside boys’ toilet.

He never turned up.

Fast forward, four more exams had passed and now the last exam was my last chance…

Chance to loudly convey my love! Jab pyaar kiya to darna kyaa… But, but, and but… My parents came with me and waited at the exam centre so we all celebrated with a restaurant lunch.

End of Boards. Now was summer holidays time and a long, long, long wait… Will I ever see my love? Would I ever hear his voice? Will we ever dance in the rain as in the movies or shout each other’s name on a mountain where it echos….The Bollywood movies and the 70s generation.

Now my only mission was to search him out. So I called every available person on the phone directory with the same surname as he… To ask if their son was in XYZ Convent School as I had found his id card. That was the only Sherlock Homes or should I say Pankaj Kapoor technique I knew. When nothing worked I got an idea, on the result day instead of my school I could go to his and definitely see him! But I was only 16 and was not allowed to go out without mom, for there was no Ola back then.

Suddenly I started becoming sad, losing any hopes to meet Mr Loved. Cut to class 11th, I had joined a maths group tuition. There, I made a friend who told me she studied in the school next to the school of Mr India!

So I convinced her to at least get me his picture from last year’s progress register.

To be continued…

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