Ayesha! Every school has an “It” girl and Ayesha was “The One” for St. Mark’s high school. She was the perfect package actually. Tall, athletic body, dusky skin that shimmered with the touch of sunlight, slightly brown wavy hair that hung till her waist: these are just a few of her characteristics that I am jotting down here. I could actually go on and on about her looks and eventually I would have to borrow words from other languages; but I still won’t be satisfied with it. If you are already impressed with only her looks, then, lo & behold, there’s more to it! She had a refreshing sense of humor and a captivating personality that nobody could ignore, even if they tried their butts off. She had a breath of fresh air around her. She was a member of “The Mathematics Champion” club, “The Science Enthusiast” club, “Rhythm” club and also “Pranrutya” club. She was basically here and there and everywhere. All of us used to wonder about her source of energy and the reason behind her suspiciously everlasting happiness; but we could never really narrow it down to a single point. She was the mystery girl of our school and the dream girl of every man who had ever laid his eyes on her.
She had a very few number of friends in our school, not so much like friends; but minions! And she always hung out with only those minion girls. I always thought the reason behind this was the creepy boys of our school, who had scared her off with their slimy comments and indecent behavior. I always believed that she had a good heart.
I am Daniel. I was the boy who stood at the back corner at the assembly, who seldom used to collect the homework notes from the others for our teachers to check and validate. That used to be my moment. My moment of interaction with rest of the class and then I used to be dragged into the oblivion again. I had one friend and one friend only. That was Ayesha. Well, not exactly! I am talking about my imaginary version of her. I had taken the picture of our class from the yearbook and had made a cut-out of Ayesha and I used to keep it hidden in my books closet. I used to finish my daily rituals and I used to talk to her till I fell asleep (The cut-out of course!)
Although I was the invisible guy of our class, my grades always helped me shine, intermittently at least. My name used to appear at the top of the list. I was the topper, I mean! J Let me tell you this, it was not very hard to score the highest. When you have zero social skills, zero friends and zero self confidence; there’s not much that can distract you from your studies! Books become your escape.
I shared the math and science club with Ayesha. I used to watch her every cute little gesture from the corner of my eye; but never really had the courage to even sit beside her. I used to notice everything about her – the way she used to tap her feet continuously if she had a doubt, the way she crinkled her tiny nose when she got an answer wrong, the way she used to chew the end of her pen when she was thinking deep – everything. The students around me gossiped about Ayesha being a troubled girl, an alcoholic at the age of 14, a chain smoker, an easy target for one night stands, and so it goes. I could never bring myself to believe even one of these rumors. My heart wanted her to be pure and pious – exactly like my imaginary version of hers. I longed to find out the truth. It was very ambiguous for me to decide if she was worth all the love, affection and attention that I was showering at her. (Though she did not have the slightest clue about it) I had to find out; I had to satiate myself.
As luck would have it, she came and talked to me after a few days, only for a brief moment, just to let me know that the science club meeting was cancelled that day. I stood there grinning ear to ear like a fool and as she was turning away from me, I brought myself to utter the words very carefully, “Thanks for letting me know”. SHE SMILED! She smiled at me! That was it. That was the big moment, the biggest achievement of my life. I was feeling like Shahrukh Khan in one of his romantic songs, shot in front of snowy hills, tall pine trees, stretching his arms in his own unique style that the girls could just run into his embrace and melt away. So, the point being, Ayesha Abraham had smiled at me 😉
I was determined that I would speak to her at any cost on the next day of school. I got up early, bathed for almost one hour, stood in front of the mirror for 15 whole minutes to comb my hair perfectly. I was not looking any handsomer than the usual days; but I felt content that I had at least put my efforts to it. I went down for breakfast and my mom started laughing when she saw me wearing my school uniform. Before I got all confused and irritated, mom told me that it was a holiday that day. It was “Gandhi Jayanti”. Not that I liked the father of our nation much; but I just straight out hated him at that moment. I felt disheartened as I had made up my mind that it was the day when I pour my heart out to Ayesha. I went back up, lay down on my bed and suddenly it hit me, “So what if it is a holiday today, I can still talk to her. I can go to her house. She knows me, she will surely be happy to see me and when she hears me out, she will smile at me, again!”(I was a delusional stupid kid, what can I say!)
I told my mom that I wanted to go for a drive to the lake and read some books there, she happily agreed. I knew the address for Ayesha’s house. I drove there and stopped at the huge traditional gate. When the security guard asked me who I was there to see, I smirked and with pride, I blatantly blurted out that I was one of Ayesha’s friends. He gave me a “Whatever” look and opened the giant gates. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the garden of their house. It was in no way less than any national parks that our Government has designed and has tried to preserve, if I might add, hopelessly. I reached at the door, parked my Wagon R next to a line of Mercedes, Polo, Duster and a Range Rover. If you are wondering about me driving at the age of 14 and my license, don’t worry. We live in a happy small town, there’s no issue with the Police until you get caught for something serious. In my defense, I would say that I am an observant, careful driver, so my parents never stopped me from driving our car.
Anyways, back to the point. I walked over to her door and rang the door bell. A governess came and held the door open for me. She asked me who I was with utmost politeness and then directed me to the lobby on the first floor. It was not a house; but a mansion. My whole life I thought of Ayesha as a princess and this house was the proof for one of my imaginary points about her. As soon as my mind was off scanning the house lobby, I realized that I was almost shivering, I was sweating like a pig and my palms were as cold as an ice brick. I sat there for almost 20 minutes and then I got up to find the loo. I felt as if the entire water content of my body was waiting to get out. It was never so intense, ever before. I kept running here and there in search of a loo and finally, inside a room, I found one. I swung open the door, marched towards the toilet and oh! Relief!! When I came out, I saw Ayesha standing there, staring at me with her mouth hung open, with so much surprise that is hard to explain. I figured that it was her room, the pink walls, the stuffed toys and the furry cushions were my clue. I stretched my hand towards her and introduced myself. She made a face like she was looking at something disgusting. She started shouting for the Governess and on her arrival; she blasted her left and right for letting me in. I did nothing, I was still watching her. I was watching her roaring like a crazy person, mercilessly scolding the governess and pointing her finger at me and calling me filth. I saw her holding a half burnt cigarette in the other hand. She was violent like a wild lioness. Her eyes had turned red, the cute veins on her forehead were now popping out. I could vaguely concentrate on the words she was saying – “First of all I have to go to that classless school, be surrounded by classless morons like him, act all nice and good so that the teachers don’t complain to my parents about my behavior, and now I have to entertain these losers in my bedroom as well? I just want my pocket money and my pot, damn it! Tell this bastard that I won’t sleep with him cause he can’t possibly give me anything I want in return”. I wanted to pull out my ears out of my head. I didn’t wanna believe a single word I heard. I wanted to come clean, explain to her that my intentions were not cheap. But by then she had assembled a bunch of guards to kick me outta there. It took me a few seconds to wrap my head around what was happening. I was being dragged out of there like a lost wild animal; the irony – I was not the one who was acting like an animal. May be there was no point in saying my feelings out loud. And the rumors were not entirely untrue. She was nothing like my Ayesha. I came back home after the dream of my life was shattered in front of my eyes. We didn’t even have a tiniest bit of conversation after that day. I was happy as the invisible kid now. I didn’t expect an apology from her and moreover I knew my stature in her eyes, so I made all my wishes vanish into the thin air.
That single event was a life changing experience for me. I stopped judging the cover and always tried to read the book before I arrive at any kind of conclusion about someone.
It has been 11 years since that incident and I got a piece of news that Ayesha is getting married today. So now, I am writing this down, smiling to myself, feeling nostalgic about the “cut-out Ayesha” in my book, wishing good luck for her future, and resting all my feelings that I might have carried through all these years.
Here’s to all those lover boys and the breathtaking girls! Cheers!