|Photo credit: Shashi Nayagam|
The ripple in his white school shirt had the power to turn her knees to water. She only had to shut her eyes and that tensile walk would come back, a rolling sort of stride. He was tall, salt and pepper shock bouncing in the hill breeze on those rare occasions he swiveled in her direction.
One did not turn and gaze back, you see. It was the 1970s and well brought up teenagers pretended the other gender did not exist. There was awkward shame, a sweaty palpitation, neurons hissing and crackling if you were caught staring at your object of interest. Glances had to be stolen, furtive and flickering. At fifteen, you were fighting a losing battle against hormones. And all they did was, call it puppy love!
She thought of mountain peaks every time he came into her line of vision. His frame intruded into her sleep laden eyes at night as she lay imagining what it would feel like to fly off a cliff, diving into the open skies. Just once had they gotten close enough during a class picnic photograph for the whiff of freshly cut grass to take root in her nostrils.
When the teacher droned in class, lessons simply ebbed against the roar in her ears. Her body faced the blackboard but her spirit would be aligned with the right hand corner where he sat, focussing hard on the instruction. It was no use fighting, her skin blushed all over and thin fire washed the pores.
This state of dopiness would have continued unabated had her half yearly report card not come in to her parents, all covered in red ink. Here she was as a direct fall out therefore, ensconced in the family car, ruminative of the chain of events at home leading to the drive today. She snapped out of her reverie as the driver killed the engine and turned to her, “Your appointment is in five minutes, baby.”
She walked into the building bearing a blue sign: Dr. Asmita Pathak, Clinical Psychologist and Self Esteem Expert.