Category Archives: Campus days

Nonlinear equations

Yesterday, again, the Mohanlal starrer classic movie Chandrolsavam played out on TV. It released in the theatres during my college days in Coimbatore, but I have see it, all these years, over and over again, not bored even once, not jaded even a single time. There can be one and only one reason for that – the natural beauty of Meena.

Meena in Chandrolsavam is something special. Sans makeup, without the glamour, she played out one of the most beautiful faces for a character ever in Malayalam cinema. And every time I see her in this movie, reminds me of the girl who was there with me at my class XII Maths tuition, whose name I never bothered to ask, and on whom I had a huge crush on.

Mathematics to me was not exactly like what it was to Ryan Philip in Monkey Pen. I liked it, but I was not so cool at it. I was one of the better students in class in all other subjects, but there were always someone else who were better at Maths than me. Rank 1 and 2 was not my cup of tea. It was meant for my other contemporaries, one who is now a scientist at NASA, and the other guy, one of the best heart surgeons at AIIMS.

So, when the option came up to opt for Maths with Science, or Maths with Commerce, I took the easy way out. I felt learning Maths with Physics and Chemistry was far tougher than learning Maths with Accountancy and Business Studies. While others took up Science after tenth grade, I moved to Commerce.

This marked the difference henceforth between me and those who were my bench mates up to high school. While they are in NASA, AIIMS etc, here I am, making my contribution to public service and nation building. Heh! Funny part. I use more Maths in my life and work than both of them.

Once in twelfth, my parents decided that I needed tuitions in Maths to help my grades. And I obliged.

The classes of Rajendran Sir were quite boring. There were just two of us there, as students – Me and Najeeb. We were the best students in Commerce. All the nerds had already moved to Science the last year, and we were the two that was expected to be there but ended here, and were competing for Ranks 1 and 2 in Commerce against a team of not so study-smart mates. Not that we were the masters in Commerce Maths. We were just that 70-75 marks category. But others in our batch were even worse. So we were like kingpins of the Wild West – no challengers to gun us down.

It was one of those days that she made a grand entry to the tuition class of Rajendran Sir. And it was love at first sight.

She was from the Science batch. At school, girls were in the morning shift, and we boys in the afternoon, therefore, we never got to see each other before, despite being from the same school. Though, love at first sight had happened before this, and many times after too, at that moment it was special. I was kind of mystified seeing her. She looked exactly like Meena from the movie Sandhwanam, sweet, delightful and cute.

And suddenly, Maths tuition classes started to look interesting.

I did not quite like the fact that Najeeb too was ogling at her. So I set the record straight that evening. I categorically told him – “Dude, Nair girls fall for only Nair guys, so back off”.

“But, how do you know she’s Nair? And, it doesn’t look like she’ll fall for you, especially comparing your Maths scores and hers!” –  was his desperate reply.

Damn! He put the nail right across where it pained the most. I had no reply when someone starts comparing marks. And with that he had drained whatever guts I had to talk to her, let alone propose.

Days passed on and on. She used to come in, smile sweetly at me and Najeeb, listen attentively to Sir when we drooled, solved all the Maths problems with extreme unfussiness while we struggled, and went back in chic while we packed our bags in a hurry. She wouldn’t stop her smile till her father came up in the car to pick her back to home, while we waited for her to go. Once in the car, we would wave her goodbye, unmindful of the fact that she would never turn back and look at us to acknowledge. After all, we were a pair of low scoring Commerce guys who doesn’t deserve a good deal of attention from a girl from Science batch.

This went on and on till the start of the board exams, and for the first and last time, I was to see talk to her at the end of the Maths exam, while we were waiting for the school bus to go back home.

Even at that time, I was just smiling, without enough guts to start a conversation. It was she, who broke the ice and started off.

“How was the exam?” – was her question.

I was still smiling, that kind of smile that’s a mix of hope, contentment and despondency at the same time.

Seeing no reply coming from my side, she asked again- “Oh! So it didn’t go well? Problems were a bit tough isn’t it?”

I heard a chuckle behind me. It was Najeeb.

He really enjoyed this question that she asked me. And he was taking extreme pleasure in that I was getting psychologically weary by her presence and questions. I decided just not to let him have all the fun.

“Yeah! It was… easy… superb… excellent… good… kind of… interesting… tough!”

I was overflowing with all kinds of emotions. I started off poise, and then the answers trickled down to a combination of doubt, hesitation, apprehension and timidity. I was a 70 marks guy, trying to sound out like 90 percent, and it showed. Flop show!

Just then, we heard the honking of the school bus, and she started to run off to catch the best seat.

I just had a split second to get something out of her, at least her name. I was in shambles that all these days, I never bothered to garner the wits to ask her name at least.

“Which part of Kerala are you from?” – was the best I could muster at that time.

Running into the bus, she bellowed – “Calicut! And today is the last day of school; hope to catch you back there in homeland! I’m flying back tonight! Not waiting for the results!”

I stood still, looking at her, waving at me. The smile stood frozen on my face.

Gone! Gone with the wind! Clean bowled! Like in those days Shoaib Akhtar would send back Indian batsmen to the pavilion hitting the middle stump on the first ball. And there, I was still holding on to a few qualms!

For the first time in my life, I regretted not picking up Science for higher secondary. If then, I could have at least got the chance to have met her before. Or even after.

I regretted not asking her name even once before. There was no chance I could locate her back in India, not knowing a name, and with just a face in mind. After all, there was no Facebook then, or even emails.

And there ended, a one sided love story, even before it blossomed, lost to providence, like a plummet of rainwater that goes missing after it falls into the ocean.

Today, somewhere, she must be a Doctor or Engineer, and I guess, wouldn’t even remember a character like me. But, every time Chandrolsavam plays on Asianet, somewhere in the bottom of my heart, a ray of hope come running to mind, to see her once again.

No. Not to declare my long forgotten love for her or something.

But, just to ask her what her name is. At least, now!

Epilogue:

As I said before, this is not the last time I fell in love, or the first time. It was just a passing phase here. The story of love at first sight that worked its magic can be read here.

Trace this incident back to the first few months of the new millennium, between January and April 2000. Hrithik Roshan was one film young; Sachin had just 11 years of international cricket under his belt, same as the age of Virat Kohli then; Mammotty was looking older than today at just 50 years; Rajnikanth’s Padayappa was running houseful and rocked the theatres; dial-up internet was considered superfast; and students did not have mobile phones with WhatsApp then. A tough time to fall in love.

Advertisements

The paintings on the wall

It was the last few days of college. I was beginning to get a different kind of feeling in my heart and soul. It was an assortment of gloominess, desperation and few other feelings that you usually associate with separation and parting.

I had made some good friends, got actively involved in student politics, bunked classes for movies, and done all that needs to be done to make college life the most memorable.

And yes, I had also met my first love…..

February 2003 was tough. It was the last time I could walk through the corridors of SN College the way I was doing now. After that, there were holidays, exams and then by the time college reopens I would be a Bachelor of Commerce, and doing Masters somewhere.

During the lunch break, I stepped out of the classroom. Walking past the Post Graduation department and the Commerce staff room, I inched closer to the Malayalam department. No, there was nothing special here, but this was the only way that I could move to reach the Economics department where my sweetheart would be waiting for me in her classroom.

The girls in Malayalam department knew me well. Right next to the Economics department was the Mathematics Department, and this was where I had first tried hard to woo a girl, and failed miserably. I was after this unsuccessful attempt that I get to meet and get hooked to my sweetheart. (That’s a small and sweet story; most of you would have already read it here).

So, every time I pass by their corridor, they would ask – “Innu Maths aano Economics aano subject?” (What’s the subject today – Maths or economics?).  The BA Malayalam girls would sometimes make fun of my failed attempt at wooing the B.Sc Maths girl.

I usually get goaded hearing this. My most common reply was – “Onnu jeevichu poatte pengalae, enthayalum njan Malayalam padikkan udeshichitialla”(Please let me live, sisters. Anyhow I don’t intend to learn Malayalam). My Malayalam, at that time, was a bit crass, so I could never even think of hooking up with a BA Malayalam literature girl.

Crossing this hurdle, I climbed the stairs towards the Economics department.

There she would be waiting, just starting off her lunch. It was that time of my college life that I would not bring lunch from home, and what she brings was ours. Once lunch done, there would be a walk across the patio of the college.

It used to be the shortest and sweetest one hour breaks of my life. It used to get over in a jiffy. Then, after that, we could meet only after the last hour. The walk back to the bus stop, just 200 meters, would take us almost an hour. (Mom always used to wonder how I reached home late after college)

This day, I took the regular walk to her class in the afternoon. There she was as usual, ready with her lunch. We finished lunch, after that, it was time for the regular walking sessions. Her face was unusually ashen that day. Maybe, that my term at the college was ending, and she had still one more year to go – I thought.

She did not speak much that day. I noticed that there was a flurry of emotions that was going through her pallid face and expressive eyes. Add to that, a tinge of moisture to her eyes.

I asked – “What?”

She said – “NothingL

It was a response that was almost a whisper. I could barely hear the words. It was like, she would cry any moment.

I looked at her. It was then that I noticed that she had taken her bag with her.

I asked her – “Are you not going back to class? Why did you take your bag? In case we need to bunk class afternoon, my bag is still back there. Need to get it”

She just looked at me, did not say anything for a moment.

Then, she took her bag from her shoulders to her hands, opened it slowly. Her hands were looking for something inside. Slowly, she picked something from it. It was nicely wrapped in the gift paper, a sweet pink colour paper with lots of roses and hearts.

Leisurely, she placed that into my hands. I took it.

Now, as GB Shaw said – “First love is only a little foolishness and a lot of curiosity”.  I was not always the archetypal amorous boy, so my first intuition was to ask – “Is this something to eat?”

Boy, some questions that you ask have the potential to ruin your love life even before it begins. And I did not want to take that risk. So I slowly held this question back.

“Darling, this is my gift for you. I wanted to give you a special gift, something I made with my own hands. So this is it”

She is a wonderful artist. And the gifts were a set of three paintings that she had created – just for me. It was wonderfully designed depiction with the perfect mix of her skill as an artist and her love. I did not unwrap it then, but when I reached home and opened it, what I saw was the most beautiful paintings I had seen in my life.

“Do you know why I am giving you this?” – She asked.

I did not reply. I had realised why she was so silent that day. Why her face and eyes were so expressive. She wanted to give me a part of her which was so valuable – her talent.

Seeing that there was no reply from me, she continued.

“This is for you to remember me always. You look at these pictures, you will see. You touch this, you can feel me. You hold them in your hands; you can feel my love……”

And there was a lot more that she said. It was in Malayalam, and those words are poetically too beautiful to be in interpreted in English. As Plato said – “At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet”

I hung these paintings in my study room – all three of them prominently displayed in the most beautiful spots on the wall. That day, I looked at these for almost three hours before I slept. She was right. There was love written all over it. And I felt lucky that I had three beautiful treasures hanging magnificently on my wall.

“Love is a canvas furnished by nature and embroidered by imagination”

Time and years have passed, almost ten years. These paintings still adore the same wall, and nothing about them has changed. The grace and elegance of the paintings still exuberate by just looking at it. And every time I glance at it, the lovable and sweet memories keep flooding back to my mind. Most love stories don’t end up with a “happily ever after” climax. And this chapter in my life was one of those tales. We have moved on different paths later on in our lives.

They speak her words – “When you start to miss me just remember, I didn’t leave, you let me go and you lost something great forever”. 

 

**********

 

Epilogue

Some of my friends reading this would want to tell my wife this story and have some fun watching her get under my skin. But don’t expect that to happen. She already knows this story, at least a major part of it.