So once upon a time, I turned three and started going to school. There I met a boy, who was made to sit next to me (if I remember correctly, he was kicking and screaming and wasn’t too happy about it). The boy also happened to live in the same locality as I did. After the initial phase of sulking and ignoring, he gave in and accepted me as a part of his daily life, at least for the next one year, till we were promoted to Nursery II. And obviously, the cute, charming and hilarious little girl that I was, he soon became my friend. Or may be because I was the smallest in class, he found it easy to bully me. Before we knew it, he had given me all sorts of nicknames (none of them flattering), but he shared his lunch with me, so all was ok. We even started hanging out AFTER school, and being in the same locality meant we would also play together in the evenings, and get to know each other’s parents/friends.
Now, he was much smarter than I was, but he had terrible handwriting. And he was lazy. He wouldn’t pay attention in class, he wouldn’t take down notes and every evening, his mom would come to our house, and with a hassled look, borrow my notebook. So while I was an average student, he was a slightly below average student, purely going by marks. We had this perfect quid pro quo: I helped him with my notes and he made me laugh. Of course, I was hanging out with all HIS friends, and NO girl in class would even speak to me. I didn’t miss much…
By the fourth standard, he had decided he wanted to be a forest officer, while I had decided I wanted to marry “someone exactly like him”. Not him, because he was my best friend, but someone identical. But then we went to junior high and then high school. I was now starting to hang out with girls, and before I knew it, he started dating one of my friends. Suddenly I was this studious (I had to be an engineer you see), bespectacled kabab mein haddi who wasn’t welcome any more. So I studied harder and became fatter.
Anyhow, 12th standard was a mess thanks to organic chemistry, calculus and physics and my dream of being an engineering graduate in a reputed IT company in Kolkata was dashed to pieces. So my mom would often call the boy and ask him to cheer me up, the boy would bring me ice-cream and explain complicated Physics equations to me. Also, for the first time, the boy scored more marks than I did and went to a good college in Kolkata, while I had to “settle for” an Arts degree in Mumbai.
After that I am not quite sure what happened. The boy tried very hard to screw up his life and he almost succeeded. The worst part was I was no longer allowed to be a part of his life. My calls went unanswered and every time I landed up unannounced at his place, he wouldn’t meet me. So I lost my best friend, and after a point I gave up trying (too easily perhaps).
Until yesterday. When the boy called me out of the blue, I couldn’t believe it. Seven years lost in between, and we still spoke like we used to. He called me some of those unflattering nick names he had christened me with some twenty years back. But for a change, I was happy…
I have no memory of him as an adult, but the picture of the restless, naughty, tongue-in-cheek schoolboy is as vivid as it was two decades ago.