Back in college, nerds attracted me. They looked like human crackers to me. Ignite them with a thoughtful lead of a conversation and they would talk on for hours, thinking you would be interested in them. I preyed on such people to keep me from getting lost in my own web of thoughts/thoughtlessness. Drug overdose on the college terrace made me feel like the king of the world. My own world that is. And my snapback to reality would be such people.
It was the eve of Diwali, when I sat in the college canteen, stoned to null and reading Sylvia Plath and her Ariel. (I sometimes thought I might be the stand alone reincarnation of Sylvia Plath. Our life and times, not mentioning the internal striving, are uncannily similar, something that freaks me to no end..more on it later) ..It was 6 pm and the canteen was almost empty. I sighed and returned to the book. When I heard footsteps closing in, onto my table.
One look at Shantanu and I knew, he was a perfect geek. Tall, shoulder length hair, dark rimmed spectacles and a Superman tee, supported my thought (yeah, Superman tee was for the nerd turned wannabe..true story!)..He had a heavy voice which thumped in my ears when he said, “Sylvia Plath?” …
Aargh, people who reinstate the obvious irk me to no end. I smiled, closed the book and let it skid over the table toward him. Hardback, a seriously depressed writer and a chick sitting in the corner table and reading, all oblivious to her surroundings must’ve turned him on. He smiled and mentioned, “Deep”. I stared at him, smirked a bit and in my “Yeah…Well” tone, got back to opening the page where I had left off. It was then, that he introduced himself. And I got to do what I do best. Listen.
He was from Allahabad,completing his degree in Political Sciences and aiming to become an IAS officer. He looked sombre, but sounded pompous. It intrigued me and in my mind, I drew two race tracks, side by side, one on which he ran and the other one on which I crawled. My crawling resembled a monkey-to-man evolution..his running resembled that of a steed. That formed my first impression of him. And the rest of the hour that we spoke, I only imagined the steed running, overcoming barriers with every turn he took. It made me happy. We had become friends.
We spoke for the rest of the year, him most of the times. He hated the fleece jacket I wore. He thought the fumbling of my hands inside the pockets was a sign that I had been distracted already, which for him, was a conversation dampener. Me, on the other hand, just nodded and smiled from time to time. And spoke about myself, whenever I had the inclination to.
He completed his degree while I was in the second year, cleared the IAS and moved to New Delhi. His proverbial proposal to marry me came on the last day we dined at Crystal, our favourite dinner place at Chowpatty. He knew, I’d say no. He seemed perfectly normal and I was happy, not to provide justifications for it.
I missed him though.
We managed to bump into each other six years later in Delhi Haat, while picking a piece of cane furniture. He picked the same “different” looking chair as I did…One instant I looked at him, the second unknown instant, I felt the infinitude of silence breaking and my heart leaping into tears of joy. The third instant, I was in an embrace that summed this tacit longing for him within me.
He walked me through the cross-linked streets of Delhi, telling me tales of how he had lived those six years. I spoke about how I had switched over to writing for a living..He smiled and in his heavy monotone mentioned “Deep” as if he were reiterating the first time he mentioned it…I chuckled, forming this image of us sitting on cane chairs, in the verandah of our house and him.. continuing with his narration of all things..Some that made sense, some that were faked up just to catch my changing expressions. I grinned. I had fallen for the nerd.
Three years down the line, I wrote an email comprising of these borrowed lines by U2…
“I saw you in the curve of the moon..
In the shadow cast across my room,
You heard me in my tune…
When I just heard confusion.
All, because of YOU, I am … “
And as I sit across this room, all dressed up as a bride waiting for him..I see myself “walking” on that race track I had built the first time I met him.
My metamorphosis had happened. And I think,the simplicity of love and someone intelligent enough not to glorify the feeling, made all the difference.
And I guess, when you love someone, you don’t really have to bother about showing it anyway. The eyes and the words say it all.
It was just a matter of time, in my case. And an open mind maybe.
—The story has been converted to the first person to add effect to its narration. —