My first day at College was a riot of bright colors and smiling excited faces. The fresher’s party was on the terrace of the building. Loud music played from booming speakers and the crowd swayed to the thumping beats of the song- “summer of 69.” That’s when I saw him. It was his confident stride, his chiseled features and his beguiling smile that mesmerized me. Was he even real? How could someone look so good? I saw him dancing with a group of his friends and fervently wished that he would look around and be enchanted by seeing my cool moves and dancing prowess. But he didn’t notice me. I lost him in the crowd but I hoped to see him again.
The next day at college as I walked into class, I saw him! As luck would have it, from all the eight divisions from A to H, he was in my class. I felt like breaking into a celebratory jig. I sure was running high on good luck. I unabashedly stared at the back of his head throughout class. For the first time in my life I was unable to look at the blackboard and listened to the economics teacher halfheartedly. Instead I decided to concentrate on ways and means to talk to him and get him to notice me.
In a desperate move to get his attention I signed up for the competition- ‘Stand up Speak up’ where the participant has to pick up a chit that contains a topic and speak about it for 2 minutes. It was an impromptu speech competition and my topic was ‘Social networking sites- a boon or bane?’
I have always been a confident girl but talking to a class of 75 students on the first day of college is a difficult task. Add to it the need to sound smart and witty and to impress a guy you have a huge crush on and I was a nervous wreck.
With the experience and expertise of participating in and winning several elocution competitions, I gave a good speech. The thunderous applause at the end of my speech said it all. I was selected for the next round. He must be blind not to notice me now! Smug and satisfied with the outcome, I strutted back to my desk and hoped he would come along and congratulate me but after class he just walked away without even a side glance.
I was dejected and decided that if I kept waiting for him to approach me, I would be kept waiting all my life. I resolved to find out his name and muster up the courage to approach him and talk to him. I went down to the canteen and checked the roster of the Junior College students. I knew his roll number and when I read his name, it sounded familiar!
He was the same guy who my physics tuition teacher had praised for consistently scoring excellent marks in every weekly physics test and always ensured that his diagrams were neat and labeled. I remembered being amused and had imagined a fat bespectacled pimple faced nerdy geek who would ace every physics test. I would never have known that the physics genius was a hunk who would have a troop of giggling girls trailing after him wherever he went. I would often see him in the college canteen surrounded by girls. Almost every girl in college would talk about him and agree unanimously that he was extremely good looking and so many of them had a crush on him. I fantasized about getting his undivided attention and even his glimpse in the college corridor would make my day.
The College prom was in December, and I often wondered, would he ask me to go with him? I knew it was wishful thinking but I hoped that some miracle would take place and he would ask me out for prom. Even though it was a foolish notion that didn’t have even an iota of realism, I didn’t quite give up the hope because well, love sees no logic.
On Tuesday, a week before the prom I turned around during my English class and, yes, there he sat right behind me. Should I introduce myself? Or maybe just smile and say hi? Calm down Kaajal. My heart beats escalated to a frantic pace, it thumped so hard I was sure it would end in a coronary thrombosis! I wiped my sweaty palms against my jeans and turned around to face him.
“Ummm.. Hi, I’m Kaajal and I uhh…. I think I know you.”
I managed to mention the physics class and how we shared the same tuition teacher. I ended my monologue by asking him, “So how much did you score in physics in your boards?”
Oh God! Why did I ask that? How stupid? I felt like smacking myself for asking such a silly question. The harm was done. He looked at me with mild amusement and said he scored an A+ in physics. I had visualized a memorable and fun conversation but in reality this was the worst sort of anticlimax! That was my first and last conversation with him.
From his luke warm response and lack of intent to carry on with the conversation it was clear that all the romantic notions were only in my head. This conversation would definitely classify as one of the most mortifying experience of my life. I saw him at prom with another girl. My love story had ended before it even began.
I truly understood why infatuation was called a crush- because it crushes your heart and it’s painful. For a few days I was sad and unable to comprehend his lack of interest in me. I was smart, intellectual, and confident (most of the times) and always immaculately dressed. What did he not see in me that he saw in his prom date? I wondered with disdain.
It was a blow to my ego and self-confidence. I thought I wasn’t good enough, pretty enough or fun enough to have a date. I felt negative about myself and was very critical. I often found something lacking in me and cringed whenever I thought of that mortifying experience. Over time, I learnt to love myself and picked up the pieces of my heart, letting go of all the negativity. Unrequited love has never been easy for anyone and it wasn’t for me too. Now when I look back, I realize it just wasn’t meant to be. This encounter taught me a lot about loving myself and about being confident and accepting of how I look and who I am. It also taught me to respect another person’s choice.
Today, I choose to erase the hurt and mortification and only remember that I had the courage to go for what I wanted. If nothing else, it’s liberating to know that I do not have to live with any regrets wondering about the possibility of me having a friendship that would blossom into a love story if only I had tried to break the ice with him. I learnt to cherish that heady feeling of having a crush. I am still a romantic at heart and believe that someday someone will walk into my life and make me realize why it never worked out with anyone else.