We look forward to 28th December every year, a great occasion to get together for the 1980 matric batch.
Annu joins us with her husband and children. During discussion she jokingly calls me foolish.
‘ Are you playing games with me?’
Pages of memory turn over afresh.
It was the last year in school. I used to flee from school after recess and play games in the nearby stadium, quite unbothered of the eventuality. Next day, the class teacher’s thunder and caning showered on me. Old habits die hard. Corporal punishment couldn’t tame me either. But Annu looked crestfallen, tears welling up.
Dev, my bosom friend could sense something fishy.
“She loves you.” he confirmed.
Being a last bencher, I flicked him aside. She was the topper. But her tears germinated the seeds inside me.
I did not dare to meet her, let alone talk to her.
“Tomorrow’s the last day.” She eyed me in the recess.
“It’s the green signal! Chance comes once. Write a love letter to her.” Dev nudged me when I sheepishly kicked the foil ball and told him.
The farewell started. The teachers and students recounted their sweet bitter experiences. I was looking for an opportunity to hand my love letter to Annu. She looked at me time and again. But I marked our P.E.T. eyes traveling from me to her and back. Needless to mention, he had Ph.D. degree in love affairs. He added two and two.
He moved like a ghost and stopped right next to where I sat. I started trembling. I was frisked by the policeman and the letter was retrieved from my pocket. It was embarrassing!
Luckily there was no name but a betel leaf pierced with an arrow and the words ‘I LOVE YOU’.
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