Readers Write In #15: The Forbidden Kiss

Posted on April 29, 2017

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It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.

I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend’s wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batchmates. But what I didn’t know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.

I was almost sure it was she. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her. And then about 60-odd seconds later, when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell.

The first time I saw her, I could vividly remember being enchanted by her bubbly smile. It had innocence writ all over it in bold letters. She was an absolute beauty. This only, to my disappointment, meant that I could only dream of her.

Why? You might ask. Firstly, I was the most average guy you could ever imagine. Secondly, I was the most nervous, with girls, mainly because never really got to have a female friend; it was almost a taboo talking to girls, so never really talked casually to girls of my age as long as I can remember.

I found out that we both had taken French as our extra subject. I was excited.  In our first class together, I waited for her to come and made sure I sat next to her. We were four students actually, a girl and a boy and us.

I intentionally forgot my pen that day and asked her if she had an extra pen. Fortunately, she had and offered it smilingly. I’d make sure that I’d go pen-less to the class everyday so that I could borrow hers, and in the process catch a glimpse or two of her amazing beauty.

Naturally as you can expect, my grades in French were horrible, because, I had something more meaningful to gaze at, someone so beautiful to look at, than those jumbled alphabets.

One damned day, the French teacher decided to pass the time on me. You know, if a teacher knows that someone is unable to answer, they make it a point to nag that particular student. She wanted to me to translate “You are a woman” to French.

With the very limited knowledge of French I hadfrom peeping into Janani’s notes, I said, “Tues ma femme” addressing her and the whole class (or to put it in a better way, the remaining three) started to laugh their asses off and I didn’t know why. I wasn’t exactly liking my teacher’s face either, which was fuming with anger.

She was embarrassed perhaps, as she didn’t scoff at me and advised me to listen to the class more intently from now on. Phew!

Janani walked to me after the class, and as I was about to ask what I goofed up, she stared at me for a moment and burst into laughter the next second and I joined her too. It was beautiful to see her smile; it just made her more attractive, prettier than she already was.

“You know, you just said, ‘You are my wife’ to our French teacher?How romantic!’” she said still laughing. Oops, now I know. “You just replaced unewith ma, you know, the former is a partitive article while the latter is a pronoun roughly meaning, my”.

So, I had declared publicly in the class that the French teacher was actually my wife. Great! To steer away from my mockery and humiliation, I said, “Oh geez, I need a better teacher. You’re quite good in French. I wonder if you’d help me”, I asked her with a rather serious face, though the embarrassment of calling a 65+ year old grandma, my wife, couldn’t be digested as yet.

She looked into my eyes with a sarcastic smile, “You haven’t brought your pen today too?” she asked. I reacted as if I was surprised, “Yes, you know, I’m fortunate that you lend me yours every day, that’s so lovely of you, you know, see you gave it to me today too. I just keep forgetting it.”

“What about this then?” she asked pointing to my pen in her hand.

“Well, that, that is…well how did you get it? I mean I couldn’t find it anywhere. I searched for it, but you know, I thought it was lost”, I said beating around the bushes.

“Ah! I got it when it fell from your pocket when you got up so fast, to answer that million-dollar question”, she looked smug as if she had just solved what Holmes wouldn’t have, in his life time.

My cover was blown. I indeed brought my pen every day, just in case, you know. “Ah okay, I thought like, ah nothing, well I will remember not to keep it in my pocket hereafter, ah no, I meant that I’ll bring it to class from now on” I stammered as I rushed back pretty embarrassed.

The next day, I didn’t ask for her pen and silently was beginning to taking notes, when she pushed her pen towards me asking, “You’d need a pen right?”

“I think, I do”, I said with a gentle smile as welooked each other right in the eyes, this time I felt drawn towards her more, than ever. Her smile felt prettier. This was the beginning of “How I met my love”.

From then on, there was no looking back. Our relationship started blossoming from the second year. I mean we were really into it. 3rd year was the best. We celebrated our Happy First Year Love Anniversary.

I had set up my room with candles. I made my best to keep the room clean. Girls! If your boy cleans up his room just so that you could enter it and not feel uncomfortable, then marry him!

It was serene, beautiful, and her presence made it look just perfect. We sat together and shared a cupcake with a candle on it. It was simple and yet wonderful.

I leaned onto her; looked into her eyes. Took a heavy breath, held her head very gently and leaned even more. She leaned back. We both looked into our eyes as if it was the first time we were doing it.

I could hear her hush. I could no longer wait. I whispered “I love you” and she whispered back “always” and we looked each other again before retreating to finish off our cupcake.

That was our love. And we were madly into it. Things seemed just way too perfect that I began doubting its existence.  The final year approaching, we decided to lessen our lovey-dovey stuff. We, instead of cuddling beside each other, helped ourselves to do well in the final exams. And it worked, obviously.

Now, before every major exam, there was one huge carnival aimed at easing ourselves.One among the many contests was a beauty contest.

There was this self-acclaimed so-called beauty, when all she was, was just someone who knew how to present herself beautifully with shitloads of makeup.

She’d been the reigning queen for the past three years. Janani was never into this stuff. During the initial years, I wanted to convince her to try it out and I was damn sure that she’d kick Zoya’s ass with ease, but didn’t have guts, moreover we had otherthings to do at that time.

But this time, Zoya was flying way too much, her ridiculously high pride fueling her. She was pretty sure that she’d be the first person to win it 4 times in a row and create a history of sorts.

I couldn’t but feel frustrated knowing fully that she didn’t deserve even a slice of fame this bitch was enjoying. Her bossy nature and immeasurable pride made her everyone’s punching bag. She was so lost in her loathly pride, that she didn’t realize that she was a beauty without brains and that she was so much hated by others, ah,except by some of her equally detestable friends.

My friends and enemies alike didn’t want her to win. It was understandable. Before it was just a competition, but now, it was not letting her create a piece of history. Obviously, none of us had done anything to create history but, we wouldn’t let her do too, because all she did was being a bimbo she was.

Hence, they approached me to convince Janani to take part in it. I, for my part did my best, but she still hadn’t made her mind on it. But you know what people advise people with no brains to do? Keep their filthy mouths shut.Zoya obviously hadn’t heard of this advice, I guess.

Hearing the rumor that Janani might finally participate, she did her best to avoid her from participating. She, instead of pouring water over fire, poured in a heavy amount of oil, to face consequences which we will presently see.

She had apparently said, “Oh! Wouldn’t your boyfriend be humiliated if you lose? Oh! I’d love to see his head hanging so low, obviously they’ve bet their money on him thinking a loser like you will win” with a smug smile that made her look like a whore who had just had sex.

But Janani was insinuated and charged to her, “Know what? I had doubts regarding joining this or not. But now, it’s all clear. Get ready to get your ass kicked cheapo”

That was it. That was really it. The competition followed sooner than we thought and Janani, my lady love, clearly emerged the winner, besides beating Zoya by a humiliating margin, which seemed to suggest that all her fame were a mere alms generously offered by Janani over the years, 3 to be exact.

One thing I knew was thatZoya never looked this angry and I knew revenge was in store. Thereafter, I was more protective of Janani.

Zoya would never forget this insult, especially of this scale.She was reduced to some other girl. The queen was dethroned. This was too big an embarrassment for anyone to forgive and forget, but Zoya seemed to do the exact thing, which was, well, weird.

Everything went well, with no traces of Zoya trying to do anything suspicious. We were delighted and looking forward for the college farewell party.

The most-awaited day came. And it came with a bang! We both dressed impeccably, more so because I wanted my friends to be jealous. Yeah baby! Yeah!

The exams were over. We got ourselves a degree. We were elated and Idid things I was warned by Janani not to –booze.

My memory began fading away slowly amidst my eyes turning misty. I felt dizzy for a moment. My recollection of that dreadful night kept haunting me. I hadn’t known what had happened in the party, except that we kissed for the first time.

My friends said I was found unconscious in the party and when I woke up, she was gone. I heard a crumbling sound in my pocket as I stood up. It bore nothing and I couldn’t make anything out of it, until I found “With love, Zoya” at the back.

But, Janani had gone. I never got to explain her, the story of my side. One thing was sure. I was drunk that night, quite heavily. The hangover still hadn’t set out.

Fast forward to the present, I could see her recognize me, whilst not so happy. I wasn’t the neatly-shaved, well-groomed young boy any more. It was four long years and just couldn’t get over her, and I badly hoped that she would still be single, for I still loved her and why she broke up with me, was baffling me.

There was an announcement regarding the delay of our flight by 3 hours. The airport seemed less busy today. I wanted to make the most of these three hours.

I said a “hi” with a forced smile. She greeted me back. I asked if it would be okay if I had a word with her. Emotions were brimming in my heart and eyes were misty. I just felt like hugging her as tightly as I could and beg her to come to me back, forgiving anything that made her break up with me.

“I really, really don’t know what made you go away from me,” I said my voice already cracking, “these four years without you; have been like hell, with guilt constantly pricking me where I wronged you”.

I couldn’t look into her eyes. My head somehow stayed low with shame of which I was consciously unaware of. Maybe, my sub-conscious mind knew. I couldn’t control it, my voice became mushy.

I handed over what I thought could be a justification on my part. That parched piece of paper, with “With love, Zoya” written over it. I knelt down to her and pleaded my innocence.

That was when I felt tears from her eyes.  I looked at her. She woke me up, and well, kissed. She was still crying. I couldn’t get anything. “I’m really, really sorry. I shouldn’t have left you,” and oddly, she kissed me once again. Odd.

She was emotional. I was happy. I got kissed twice now, the second one being on the lip, what else do you expect?

“How was it? Our first lip-to-lip kiss?” she asked visibly excited. I was baffled, but said it was the best one.

“Remember the night you were kissed by at the party?” she asked me curiously. “Well, I didn’t kiss you for sure.”

Zoya, I thought. The bitch carried a grudge; a revenge well taken.

Well, children, you know, that’s the story of “How I met your mother”, as we apparently had you.Yeah baby! We finally did the goddamn thing!

This short story was written two years ago, for Times Of India’s Write India contest, by Amit Joki, who comments here.

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