Thursday, 26 April 2012

Growing Up

 “You can’t play with us.”
“Why not?”
“You’re too young, that’s why.”
“Please, Aryan,” the little girl whined.
 “Go. Home. We don’t want to play with babies,” said Radhika, wrinkling her nose at the last word.
That was the last straw. Anu turned around and fled from the garden. She scrubbed her cheeks roughly, making them muddy. Running as fast as her little legs could take her; she went to the only place where she knew she would find comfort.
“Mommy,” Anu sobbed as a woman with a heart shaped face and curly black hair opened the door. She had an apron tied around her waist and her hands were white with flour. Anu hugged her around the legs and began to cry in her skirt.
“Anu?” she said anxiously. “Are you hurt?”
Anu’s sobs were the only response she got.
She walked to the washbasin, which was a difficult task with a four-year-old hanging on to her legs for dear life. She quickly washed her hands and picked up her daughter.
“What happened?” She asked as she walked to the sofa. She sat down with Anu on her lap. Anu’s head was on her shoulder.
“What did he do?”
“W-why am I only four years old?”
“Because you were born four years ago.” She laughed.
But Anu only cried harder.
“What did Aryan do, baby?” She wiped Anu’s tears.
“H-he s-said I was too young to play with him and his friends.”
“What were they playing?”
“G.I. Joe Saves Barbie.”
“How about we play the same game right here?”
“I want to play with him!”
Anu’s mother rubbed her back soothingly
“Hi,” he said, awkwardly. He was standing in the doorway of her room.
She looked up at him. Her lips were turned upside down. She didn’t respond.
“I’m sorry.”
“Go away!”
“You can play with us, Anu.”
“I don’t want to play with you.”
He looked at her pleadingly.
“But, I’m still only four years old.”
“Its OK. We’re not going to play G.I Joe Saves Barbie, anyway. Its stupid.”
“We are playing Hide and Seek with walkie talkies in the evening,” he said brightly. “Will you come?”
“How will we play with walkie talkies?”
“Its simple. Whoever hides can have the walkie talkies and they can talk while they’re hiding.”
“I don’t have walkie talkies.”
“You can play with mine.”
“Who all are going to be there?”
“Sarthak, Tanay, Sneha, Radhika, you and I.”
“I don’t like her.”
“Neither do I. She threw my G.I. Joe yesterday. He was about to die.”
“Yup. We’ll make her Seek first if you come today.”
“OK.” He grinned.

“Do you want to comb my doll’s hair with me?”
“Fine,” he said, grudgingly.
5 years later
“I haven’t seen Aryan for a while now,” her mother said. Anu was entranced by how her mother ironed her uniform. There was not even a single crease left.
“I hate boys.”
“You do?” Her mother snorted.
“I do.”
“OK, where is this coming from?”
“Kripa told me that boys are stupid. And they stink.” Anu wrinkled her nose.
“No, they don’t.”
“They do. Kripa said I’d have to hate boys if I want to be friends with her.”
“Sweetheart, those people who become your friends with conditions laid out aren’t real friends.”
Anu stared at her mother with a blank face.
“OK, let’s put it this way: what if Aryan started ignoring you because his friends asked him to?”
“He already did. He didn’t call me for his birthday party, remember?”
“And you felt terrible, didn’t you?”
“He did apologize.”
“I can’t be friends with Kripa then.”
“You don’t forget your old friends for new ones, Anu.”
“Do you want to go to the beach tomorrow?” she spoke into the receiver.
“Why don’t you go with Kripa?”
“She and I aren’t friends anymore.”
“She said I can’t be her friend if I be friends with you so I broke my friendship with her.”
“Why didn’t you choose her over me, then?”
“Cause. She’s. Kind. Of. Boring.”
“How?” He smiled.
“She kept going on and on about how many babies she wanted to have and what their names were going to be. And then she asked me how many babies I wanted to have and I said, ‘I don’t know how many babies I want to have.’”
“So what did she say?” said Aryan, clearly enjoying this.
“She called me stupid,” she said morosely, while fidgeting with the telephone wire.
“She called you stupid?”
“She’s not wrong there, at least.”
“Shut up, Aryan.”
He just laughed.
“So tomorrow? Beach?”
“I’m in. Call the others.”
“OK. Bye”
4 years later
“So, are you prepared?”
“Preparth bor bhot?”
“Finish eating first. I didn’t understand a word.”
“Prepared for what?” he said, swallowing the last of his sandwhich.
“Your 10th standard board exams,” she said, taking smaller bites from hers.
“Don’t be stupid. School’s not even started yet.”
“I heard you have three different textbooks for Chemistry, Physics and Biology.”
“And that you have to study Shakespeare.”
“That’s right.”
“So are you scared?”
“Nope.” He reached for her sandwhich.
“Stay away from my sandwhich. Don’t finish yours so early next time.”
 “Share and care. OK, a little, I guess.”
“I am a little worried about my exams.”
“You are?”
“Well, you’re making me by telling me how much I have to study.”
“Its OK.” He sighed. “What if I don’t get good marks?”
“That’s impossible. You top everytime. I wouldn’t be passing in Math at all if it weren’t for you.”
“I don’t top everytime. Radhika beat me in History and Science last year actually.”
“Oh. So do you talk to Radhika?”
“Yeah, she’s cool,” he said nonchalantly. “We study together after school sometimes.”
Aryan looked at Anu quizzically.
“But she threw your G.I. Joe.”
“She did?”
“Of course. Don’t you remember?”
“Not really.”
“I don’t like her.”
“Cause she threw my G.I. Joe when I was a kid?” He laughed. “That was so long ago, Anu.”
“So, what she’s your girlfriend now?”
“Have you kissed her?”
“No! It’s not like that. We’re just friends.” His face was warm.
“Where did that come from?” He bumped her shoulder with his.
She continued to eat her sandwhich.
“So do you like someone?”
She didn’t answer.
“Do you? Come on. You can tell me.”
“I can’t tell you.”
“What! Why not?”
“Whom do you like?”
“I asked first.”
“I’m not telling you.”
“Then I’m not either.”
2 years later
“So, you’re dating Omar, huh?”
“Is he the same guy you liked two years ago?”
“No.” She paused for a beat. “He didn’t like me back.”
She just smiled.
“What’s it like?”
“Its OK, I guess.”
“Do you like someone?”
“You’ve met Poorvi, right?”
“She’s kind of cool. But…”
 “Radhika will be shattered.” Anu snorted.
“For the millionth time: Radhika and I-”
“Are just friends. I get it.”
“I like Poorvi. She’s funny.”
“Yeah. Maybe her. I don’t know.”
“So how are you coping with Shakespeare?”
“I love it!”
“Comes from the girl who was terrified of even opening the textbook.”
“Yeah. But, it’s not that tough.”
“Its not.”
1 year later
“I dumped him.”
“He was annoying the shit out of me.”
“He got pissed when I even spoke about another guy, let alone spoke to one. And, he would fight on the lamest of things like, ‘Why didn’t you call me back?’ or ‘Why can’t you come for an action movie?’ I mean give me a break. I’m just your girlfriend. I’m not married to you, douchebag. It just got on my nerves after awhile.”
Loud, raucous laughter was the only response she got to her ramblings. Everytime Aryan tried to speak he would be overcome by laughter.
“I’m the worst girlfriend ever.” Her voice was muffled because her face as buried in her hands.
“No, you’re not.”  He put his arm around he shoulders, squeezing lightly. “He really was a, what was the word you used?”
“Right. Douchebag.” He gazed at the ocean. The sun was setting now, disappearing into the water, tainting the sky with a beautiful orange. He loved coming to Nariman Point. And visits with Anu made it all the more entertaining. 
“So what’s up with you? How’s college?”
“Its OK for now. But, my seniors tell me that it’ll get tougher.”
“Did you get ragged on your first day?”
“OK. A little.”
“What did they make you do? Dance in your underwear?”
“No.” He snorted. “Its not like how they show in the movies.”
“What subjects do you have?”
“Um. Well, in the first semester we have History of Architecture, Graphics and all that. We first have to learn the basics of Architecture.”
“You’re lucky you know what you want to do. Mom keeps telling me to finally decide.”
“I thought you had it narrowed it down to Business.”
“Yeah. But, I really do like English.”
“You could get a BA in English or something.”
“I know. But, Mom wants me to do something more professional.”
“You should do what you like.”
“Do you get everything that you like?”
“No. Nobody does.” He paused. “But I do try.”
One Week Later
“I told you that I try to get everything that I like.”
“Well, I lied.”
“I haven’t tried to get one thing that I liked.”
“Get to the point, Aryan.”
“I like you.”
“I wanted to tell you when you told me you started dating Omar. I wanted to tell you when you asked me if I was kissing Radhika. I wanted to tell you when you thought I was into Poorvi. ”
“Why didn’t you?”
“I thought you weren’t interested in me. And I didn’t have the nerve.”
“And, now you’re saying this…this…profound thing over the phone? Whatever happened to romance?” She sighed.
“Come one, Anu. Don’t leave me hanging here.”
Her body shook with silent laughter. She was barely holding on to the phone.
“I get it if you don’t like me. Its completely-”
“-cool. Really. We can go back to how things were before and put this-”
“You want to know who I have liked all along?”
“What do you mean by ‘all along’?”
“I mean-all along.”
“Why didn’t you tell me, then?”
“I thought you weren’t interested in me. And I didn’t have the nerve.”
He laughed.

1 comment:

  1. hi....hopefully you ll become an author someday