‘I’ entered the 11th standard A section class room of his new school and looked around with contempt. I adored his previous school, he didn’t want to leave it and come here but he had to. He went inside and silently sat on an empty seat besides a guy in third row. He didn’t have friends in this class; he looked around hopefully for friendly faces.
“No one is friendly, I’ll show them in exams” he thought in his childish prejudice.
Then ‘her’ entered the room. I saw her. “Man, she is beautiful!!” I thought.
Her went on to sit next to a girl two rows from I. He kept looking at her. Enter the physics teacher and I’s day dream ended. Classes continued one after another and I kept taking notes religiously. But in between he’d steal a glance or two towards her. Finally after the last class of the day as he stuffed his books inside the bag, I remembered about her. He turned to look at her but she was gone. Little disappointed, he went home.
Next day as I got ready for school, the only thing he was looking forward to was meeting ‘her’. He reached school and in the assembly line for prayer, he was searching her. But I was the tallest in the class and her was one of the shortest in the class- he couldn’t find her there. After prayer, as he entered class, he saw her- sitting there, where she sat the day before. He looked at her- she was a typical small town girl from UP, nothing special about her. She had a triangular face. Her sharp pointed nose parted those big beautiful black eyes with a hint of surma. Her long black hair was tied in a pony at her back. I fell in love. It was not the first time that I had encountered such effortless elegance, but it sure was the first time that I had acknowledged it. I was floored.
I wanted to know her’s name but he didn’t dare ask her directly. Who else to ask, he had no friends- you can’t go a stranger and directly ask him “excuse me, can you tell me the name of that wonderful lady sitting over there?” No you don’t do that. So I inferred – first he’ll have to make friends. And by the end of the day he was friends with the guy sitting next to him- S. As luck would have it, even S was a new admission and didn’t know her’s name. Another day had passed- I’s insides ached- I wanted to talk to her but he didn’t know where to start.
The next day same routine continued only that the last two classes were lab classes. The class was divided in groups and each group had been assigned an experiment. I went towards his experimental setup and waited for the other group mates to arrive. Just as I was about to study the experimental setup, he saw her coming towards him- walking, with all the divine grace that divinity could probably muster. Her came and stood besides I, silently.
“Have you too been given this group?” I asked.
“idiot!! Isn’t it obvious, why else would she be here?” he cursed himself mentally immediately after asking this.
Her nodded in agreement and I’s heart leapt.
“Hi I’m I” he introduced himself.
“Hi, I’m her” she introduced herself and the friendship began. I came to know her was Muslim. I was a Hindu. “Who cares anyway” I thought hovering in the completely alien cloud of emotions.
Classes continued, 11th standard got over and 12th standard arrived- friendship grew from lab sessions to class room and from class room to after school long chats and I’s feelings for her only kept getting stronger. I could still not tell her. “Man, she’ll say no” he’d think.
School days were about to end. I still didn’t have the courage.
It was the farewell party of 12th standard and overcome by emotions and with a sudden surge of inspiration- I got up and went to her. He took her to a quieter corner and told her all the feelings that he had for her.
Her listened and no, she didn’t say no. “I too like you I. But you are a Hindu and I’m a Muslim. We can’t do this. This is not to be. We can get into this now but it will only bring tears l for us both later. Let us please don’t get in this than regret later…”
Beyond that I couldn’t listen he lost the track of what her was saying. I took it as a No. He couldn’t fathom how the hell did that matter? He couldn’t understand why on earth did she care this much for the society? I couldn’t see the obvious but her did. The typical sensibility of the small town UP girl prevailed above I’s typical recklessness.
Eight years after, I opens TV and watches a debate going on the topic whether there should a Mandir or a Masjid at a particular place and he thinks “if only… her, you had shown a little more courage, we would have shown these morons!!”
But then suddenly I understands. Her did the right thing- in favor of her and his families. I feels proud of her- she had been both bold and sensible. Then suddenly, I feels pity on himself. Then he feels even more pity for his society “Unfortunate people- still held in petty issues of religion. Blissfully ignorant of the larger picture- love!!”