Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The rules of the game.

The school head boy should be dating the school head girl..the topper guy should be with the topper gal and so on went the unwritten rule in my school for generations. Although dating as defined in the modified Kerala edition of the Oxford dictionary had certain restricted meaning than what the general audience would come to think. Stolen moments of private conversations behind the library, walks to home from tuition classes and if you were all right with being called risqué a brief holding of hands under the desk during physics lecture pretty much constituted the idea of malluland high school dating of the 90s.

Then again the gulf returned kids, the boors as the culture custodians would call them, pushed the limits with the occasional exchanges of err Toblerone bars and glass-tubed pencils which never seemed to run out of pointy nibs. Ahh the audacity. We the boys of the local breed (aborigines in their eyes) were crude male forms with a strange affliction which caused tongue paralysis in the vicinity of the sacred feminine. We liked to think that it was the pencils and the toblerones that made the gulf returnees a rage among the girls. Well you see both sides had fair arguments.

One such ‘assimilated but still an NRK’ knight in shining Nikes (Bata and Carona shoes were what the rest of us wore..and those weren’t exactly shiny) was the head boy of our school, the topper of the class and my best friend. He was smart and handsome and to top it off wore glasses which had strings which hung behind his neck. (For a brief period sometime in the nineties those rimmed glasses with strings became a fashion rage in my school and every boy worth his salt developed sudden bouts of myopia. Despite my valiant claims that I couldn’t read beyond the second line in the ophthalmologists alphabet chart my doctor, the quack hmmmph refused to believe that I needed glasses. I even tried reading ‘C’ as ‘X’ and ‘E’ as ‘W’). In short my friend let’s call him Paris (from the Greek Epic of course) had everything going for him save for a queen by the side. And when our lady Helen was appointed the school’s head girl our Gulf returned Paris (you see the irony?? I don’t) had all the bells ringing inside. Tall, fair and medusa-esque eyes (really, the boys found it really tough to see her in the eyes. God knows why) Helen was right out of Homer’s epic.

My match making ailment was at its unabated peak despite several Grecian tragedies and it was still decades later that I learned the valuable lesson of not poking my nose in another couples affairs.

Me: Dude, Helen brushed aside her hair from her face when she was talking to you after the Assembly today. Swear, that means she’s interested in you.
Paris: Huh, really??
Me: Yea I read it in the Reader’s Digest article on body language and cryptic signaling
Paris: Let me do an analysis in my Commodore 64. That should give some conclusive results
Commodore 64 was the computer that my friend Paris had got from Dubai last year. Whenever we had an disagreement on anything he would throw in the argument that his Commodore 64 said so. And since we didn’t even know what a computer was at that time we would just have to fold in to him. For example one such argument was whether Hitman or Hulk Hogan was the best in WWF (oh remember those days when it was WWF and not WWE??). I said Hitman but apparently the Commodore had told Paris that it was Hogan and that was the end of the argument. How could I even question what a ‘Computer’ said?
Days passed with several such apparent cryptic signals being sent out by Helen in the general direction of Paris which only I could see initially. But soon enough Paris was starting to see them as well.
Me: You know man I think it’s high time that you ask her once and for all if she likes you or not.
Paris: Hmm…I think so too. You know yesterday while she was standing in the bus stop her left foot was pointed in my direction. That is an indisputable sign isn’t it.
Me: Of course, I’m sure your Commode will agree
Paris: Dude its Commodore not Commode.
Me: Err,,right for all I care both are good for just one purpose.
Paris was well and truly bitten by the love bug by first term was getting over. All that was left was to summon up the courage and walk up to the lady herself and ask for the fair maiden’s hand. But then again it was a mere formality right? It was tradition that was on his side. You know the head boy and the head girl and so on.
Me: What the hell are you waiting for. You don’t want to wait till the term is over. By the time we come back after the holidays the whole momentum would be gone.
Paris: It’s not about momentum my friend it’s about the moment. The right time my friend, the moment is all that matters. As the greek poet Pontius Pilate said Give me the right moment and I would change time.
Now I was really convinced that he had lost his marbles well and truly.
The term exams were fast approaching and time was running out. It would be the holidays soon and two weeks in adolescent time is equivalent to a decade. Paris and I used to study together for the exams at his place. On the night before the dreaded maths test we sat in front of his Commodore 64 and typed out a detailed love letter. Now that I think back it wasn’t a confession of love but more an argumentative thesis on why Helen should accept his proposal. At a time when two hundred word essays seemed bigger challenges than swimming across the English Channel our collective brains churned out a five page letter of love in neat calligraphy written using red, blue, yellow and green Faber Castell sketch pens (of course from Dubai).
On the last day of the exams, Paris in his smartest uniform shirts and trousers and shine black Nikes trailed Helen at a distance waiting for the right moment. The right moment came an hour before the last exam in the afternoon when he spotted her all by herself sitting under the mango tree beside the school ground going through her tuition notes when our man approached her like a cheetah prowling up behind an unwary deer.
He stood beside her and with a clearing of his throat said a well rehearsed nonchalant ‘hello’.
Paris: Hello. Did you study?
Helen: (with a quizzical look on her face. Obviously it’s the day of the exam who wouldn’t study) No not at all. You?
The rest of the conversation was lost to me as the mercurial wind changed direction away from my vantage point. But I could easily make out what they were saying thanks to the Reader’s Digest’s article on lip reading. The conversation went thus.
Paris: Iraq was really cold yesterday.
Helen: Haha Mrs. Mathew’s dog had three kittens yesterday.
Paris: Oh really? Mr. Mathew must have some hand in it.
Helen: Yea yea Shakespeare had arthritis
Paris: Are you sure? Iraq is in Africa no?
Then I saw our man Paris slowly put his hand inside his trouser pocket and fish out a pack of chiclets (His stock of Toblerone had just ran out) and held it out to her.
Again quizzical look.
I thought she wasn’t going to take it from him but success she takes the pack from his hands with a smile.
Seeing his moment arrive Paris takes out the letter from his shirt pocket and gave it to Helen.
Quizzical look change to puzzled one. But she takes the letter from his hand and starts reading it. Expression changes again. Reader’s digest didn’t say anything about that particular body language. I’m confused. Midway through the letter she pauses to open the chiclets pack and pop the gum in her mouth.
After what seemed an enternity she is done with the last page as well. Again no expression.
She then folded the letter very deftely and made it in the shape of a paper plane and then took out a pen from her pencil box and scribbled something on the side of the plane. Smiles at Paris, gave the plane to him and walked away.
Paris looked down on the plane in his hand and had a confused look in his face. Oh yea..that’s exactly like the illustration in Reader’s Digest. I went running to him to know what she had written on the plane. It read – “The plane that crashed without taking off”.
Hmm..Dude, Chiclets just doesn’t do what a Toblerone does.


idledays said...

manikutta ithu thakarthu... keep on writing...
btw its dijo here.

Heart Break Kid said...

ROFL ... wonderful Mani ... kidilolkidilam!!! :

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

Hilarious as hell narration! The reader's digest tribute was awesome. Also loved this punch line: "It’s not about momentum my friend it’s about the moment." And of course, what a witty slap by the girl. She's got style I say!

Ritu said...

Really funny. Congrats on the blogadda pick

Neena Padayatty said...

Reached here late...but thankfully humor is timeless...good job!Like the way you handle sarcasm :-)

rachna said...

Good sense of humor with equally smart tag lines :)