“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds” – William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
Today afternoon I happened to be watching the movie ‘Little Manhattan’, a romantic comedy about the pleasure and pain associated with first love, and this got me thinking about my own first love. I was in Fourth Grade when I first fell in love, or had my first crush. He was the son of my teacher, and also my classmate. He was a very quiet boy, and I don’t think I would have ever really noticed him, if it wasn’t for one fateful music class. Our music teacher was teaching us the song ‘Edelweiss’. I recognized the song to be from the movie ‘The Sound of Music’, which was then and still continues to be one of my favourite movies. I said so, aloud in class – and was presented with a whole bunch of bemused stares. No one in my class had seen the movie….except Him. He backed up my claim, and the smile we exchanged then laid the foundation of our friendship. That day during recess, we spent a long time talking about our favourite movies, especially from among Hollywood classics – ‘Roman Holiday’, ‘My Fair Lady’, and especially ‘The Sound of Music’. This is the day I remember most vividly; and every time I think of him, an image rises unbidden in my mind. The image of a ten-year old boy and a nine-year old girl in pigtails talking and laughing under an ancient banyan tree in a school yard.
After ten years, I only remember bits and fragments of our relationship, but I suppose I remember all the good parts. I remember sitting next to him, cross-legged on the floor, while our seniors performed during the Teacher’s Day celebrations, and I remember him saying he found Bollywood item numbers trashy. I hail from a strictly conservative family, and item numbers were a strict no-no in our house. I had to listen them on the sly, and memorize them, to avoid being teased by my peers. I wasn’t particularly fond of them, but I could never muster up the courage to say so, because they were so popular. I thus greatly admired him for having the courage to make such a statement. We slipped out of the venue, and sat chatting outside.
Once our school declared a half-day on account of some reason that fails me now. I purposefully did not tell my mother about it, since I knew he would be waiting back in school for his mother, and I wanted to spend some time with him. My plan unfortunately backfired a little. What I hadn’t counted on was another of our classmates accidentally failing to tell his mother about the half-day, and thus instead of the two of us, there were three of us stuck together, but it still was a pleasant day. I remember the day our teacher asked us what we wanted to be in future, and he was the only boy in the class who said he wanted to be an Air Force Pilot, and we all had clapped for him – and I remember feeling so proud. I remember the two of us being chosen to act in the Christmas skit, and remember being immensely delighted about it, since now I could spend even more time with him after-school hours. I remember the day in the last week of the term, when the rest of our classmates had filed out to the playground for ‘Physical Education’ lecture, I remember him swiftly and clumsily kissing me on the cheek in the dark and empty classroom. He then gave me a sheepish grin, and ran out. I remember standing there paralyzed by shock for quite some time.
Soon after that term ended and vacations began. That summer my father was transferred to another city. I never saw that boy again. I don’t even remember his last name! When I joined Facebook, a few years back, I tried finding him in the hopeless labyrinth of a social networking site – in vain. I scanned the school page and the friend lists’ of those few classmates I had managed to find, but I never even saw his name mentioned anywhere.
I have had many crushes since then, but every time I watch ‘The Sound of Music’ or listen to ‘Edelweiss’, I briefly wonder about the first boy who gave me butterflies in my stomach. I wonder if he remembers me too, a girl he had clumsily kissed in primary school. Sometimes in a crowd I wonder whether he is actually quite near me, and whether someday we will both pass by each other on the streets, and never be able to recognize the other. Maybe we will pause for half-a-second, struck by a sense of deja-vu, and wonder where we have seen those eyes before.