Life has its funny side. It springs unlikely surprises, at the most unlikely moments. Funnier still is that sometimes you don’t feel the emotions you are expected to feel. Time was it, a few years back though, when I felt the sun setting and rising around a very beautiful girl- meaning she was all my universe. Time was when I knew what jealousy was (for the record, I have tried to read Nancy Friday’s celebrated treatise Jealousy, but unfortunately the clinical discourse made the topic even more nebulous instead of scattering the clouds)- and its various aspects. Thus I was jealous of her younger brother, I was jealous of her house peon(!), I was jealous of her parents, I was jealous of the world which shared her. Without commenting about whether I have shifted my universe from her backyard to elsewhere, let me say that (thankfully) I have got rid of this funny feeling of jealousy. And I testified to myself yesterday on this very account.
Now a new girl has joined my class this year. She is a very attractive and talented girl, and it would take me a few pages to catalogue her various accomplishments and talents. But then attractive girls are in the habit of setting certain psychological upheavals in the placid horizons of innocent guys (like me), and so too I found some part of my universe relocating itself around her Nosering. All my wish in this world was to find myself around her nose, or as I put it in Bengali :ami tomar nakchhabi hote chai (I want to be your nosering). In my misery, I even composed a poem:
I want to be your nosering
There’s been much confusion
Over a proposal,
The red-red rose is old,
And I guess all of them are sold,
Archies and Hallmark are candy floss,
And great economic loss.
Amir and Ash chatted their way
In a Coke bar and found themselves in dismay.
Pastry is bad for cholesterol,
So mundane a cream roll….
What more remains?
Let me rack my brains…
O Poetry is so boring, and Keats is long dead…
Perhaps a present…some mattress, and a bed?
Or should I stand at Chowringhee and sing
“Sweetheart! I want to be your nosering!”
This was supposed for the wall magazine; however, editorial intervention prevented inclusion of this cute little piece beside her nice and difficult poems. As of now, this poem is not included in Poems section of my website. Weeks and months passed by without further annoyance to either quarter, and in the meantime I have been successful in relocating my universe to the erstwhile address (picking up all the bits and pieces that I had generously scattered in the different parts of the college like a Roman commander). And then a certain enquiry followed.
She enquired a mutual friend if he had given her phone number to me. She has been receiving crank calls (to be differentiated from blank calls) which has been a cause of annoyance to her excellence. I don’t know how girls can so presumptuous as to imagine me of such heroics- after all I am such a cute and innocent piece of dumb meat (ain’t I?). Now, without commenting anything about if it was me who annoyed, I was highly flattered by the personal interest she evidently took of me (reportedly she had used my name in the enquiry- doesn’t she know anything of subtlety? After all, have I ever taken her name?) But the incident to follow after that has been the real clincher- I mean, I am having real fun after so many months.
Many, many months back I had heard of her boyfriend. Some people of my class had seen her with someone in the department (and just after that, that very day, she came and sat just beside me in the balcony, waiting for the class to end. What coincidence!). I found that pretty interesting. And yesterday I myself witnessed something.
Yesterday was the student’s seminar at our department. After the seminar I found her excellence mounting the same bus as me, a little after me. She was with a tall and fair Bengali guy (well, Bengalis have the most insipid faces, and you can tell them from a mile) who wore a yellow T-shirt. Wait a sec! Isn’t this the same guy whom I saw at the seminar? Well, did he come to attend the seminar, or to attend to someone else? Seems the latter. And what do I see next? Well, both of them are standing in the beginning. She gets a seat shortly, and she is sitting just opposite me (now if the same thing had been shown in a movie, you would have laughed at the preposterousness of the coincidence). She does not see me in the beginning. Suddenly her ‘item’ goes to the door enquiring something to the conductor (that’s ticket collector). Now nothing separates us- and now she sees me. Unfortunately I cannot tell you anything about her expression, engrossed as I was looking at Mr. Yellow T-shirt and (as they say) sizing him up, with a face expressing amusement and even suppressed laughter (the expression which she must have seen). T-shirt comes back and stands like a bodyguard- and literally so. I take it that it was her boyfriend. If yes, then I have never seen such a morbid couple. Only now and then she talked, and there was no spirit or animation. It was as if I was witnessing a sixty something couple. Soon the funeral ceremony ended, and in reversal of chivalric roles, the damsel follows the knight. It takes an age to get down the three steps of the bus, and a certain reluctance of not turning back to give a parting look (or even enquiring). And the last rites are performed.
Such scenarios are only fantasized, and hardly ever comes in real life. It came, I saw and nothing was conquered or ravished. I should have expected the hunk (well, whatever, he was not a hunk) to come looking for me, after getting enlightenment from his damsel as to their company. Poor show, Mr. Yellow T-shirt remained a gentleman, and so could not be a hero. Or perhaps the heroine abstained from providing enlightenment (which would be injustice to the poor soul, Mr. T-shirt). Whatever, what could have been a real spectacle, turned out to be a Becket play. Absurd.
But this absurdity infuses spirit.
Vladimir: Well? Shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let’s go.
They do not move.
Waiting for Godot