When I was sixteen

I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls for the last week.

When I was sixteen

I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls for the last week, and one of the first episodes, where Dean is introduced, reminded me of the time I was sixteen. When I was sixteen, I was irrevocably, incorrigibly and unbelievably in love with a tall, lanky boy who had dark wavy hair, and eyes that shone. He was a footballer, and somehow I instantly liked him.

I remember spending too much time with him, going on long walks around my school, and holding hands a couple of times. We fought so much because there were simply more girls who liked him. I wouldn’t say he had eyes only for me. Of course not. All our teenage hormones were raging and he seemed to like all the attention. He liked some of the other girls too, if not all. Unfortunately, he spent more time with me. And I didn’t know if he spent time with other girls too. Anyway, wasn’t this too much to bear for a sixteen year old’s heart and mind while it also solved mathematical problems of integration and differentiation?

Unable to discuss this with anyone in my friends circle, I spoke about it with one of my aunts. I remember this distinctly, because we were on a holiday. We had rented a small cabin in the woods in Masinagudi, and while she animatedly explained to me about this night safari we were to go on, I was uninterested and distracted. She tapped me on my shoulder and asked me what the matter was. I blurted out by saying that it was about a boy. I was on the verge of crying. She consoled me and asked me who he was. I told her every little detail about him, from the way he moved when he was on the ground, to his decisions as a head boy, how handsome he looked, how elegant his diction was, how we texted each other incessantly, how his grandfather was in Kolkatta, how he felt insecure that his brother was more studious, and how we spoke to each other on Yahoo Messenger at other times.

‘Wow, is he your school hunk?’ she asked.

Yes! Maybe? Could be? Probably?

I didn’t know how to respond. Hunk rhymed with junk and I didn’t know what it meant. I went with it when I saw that she was smiling in a teasing way. I nodded my head and agreed. ‘Yes, hunk. School hunk’ I said swallowing and straightening my position on the chair I was sitting on, so I would appear confident in my choice of word.

It’s funny to notice how these things happened, and how obsessed I was with him. I distinctly remember texting him from my mobile phone, on which the three lines from the Aircel connection appeared if I stood close to the porch of the rented cabin. It was cold in the mornings until the fog cleared up. But it was worth spending an early morning outside with a thick blanket wrapped over me, while I rapped away on the silicone keypad of my black and white Nokia phone to this ‘school hunk’.

If my parents read this now, or ever, I’m sure they would laugh it off. But back then, it was too serious to have crushes and even worse to pursue them. So I never told my mother (who is my biggest chum and who knows everything about everything, including an embarrassing letter a boy wrote me once, but that’s for a different time. Plus the boy is such a lovely human being now)

We weren’t in a relationship, and yet, it took me eons to get over the words he uttered or his ability to make me feel jealous while he hung out with other girls. I reached home a week later from the trip and found myself staring at the meaning of the word ‘hunk’ in the Oxford dictionary - A large, strong, (sexually) attractive man. Now of course I omitted the word ‘sexually’ but was also fixated with it, because it was too much to take in back then!

Some years ago, he reappeared in my life as a terribly pained adult suffering from breakups and bad experiences after his time abroad. He also seemed lost and directionless. Out of the blue, he stepped up his interest towards me after so many years in the form of wanting to marry me, without even asking me if that is what I wanted. It is surprising how men come back from the dead with a plan of their own.

On some days, I wish my nostalgia hadn’t been tarnished by his reappearance. His crime, you ask? He introduced me to his parents as the girl he was in love with. His mother responded in the affirmative:

‘Yes, we know.’ His father smiled at me affectionately. Shocked and confused, I left their apartment building in a hurry, without ever wanting to have anything to do with any of them.

That was it. That was the last day I saw him, or them.

Friends who know this story, isn’t it funny to know that SO much has happened between these years?

PS: men and women out there, please date and marry writers (with consent of course!) You will be cast in lovely roles in every story. But also, don’t ever make the mistake of earning a writer’s wrath. We can turn you into a stone with no feelings. 😊

Photo by Dineslav Roydev on Unsplash