She sat there, next to the window, admiring her shiny red nail.
I looked on.
She gazed outside, at the passing headlights.
She started searching for something in her handbag.
I was inquisitive.
There was a small click.
And I heard the sound. Faint, only in my left ear. But still it was clear, over the din of the bus, rumbling through the state highways of North Bengal.
SP Balasubramanyam sang “Tum Se Milne Ki Tamanna Hai” in my left ear, and I thought ‘I have met her already’.
She looked at me and smiled. “Enjoying?”
“Yes”, I said. “I will ask dad to get me one too”.
“Yes, you should buy a Walkman, and also buy some nice cassettes. Buy Saajan, its superhit. That guy, Sanjay Dutt, he limps in the film, but he is the real hero. And Madhuri can dance so well….” She went on telling me the virtues of the superhit film from last year, and I dozed off. (Well, this habit of dozing off mid conversation will come back to hound me throughout my grownup days)
I dreamt of telling my classmates not to tease me anymore, or I’ll call my girlfriend, who had promised me to use her long nails to help me in my fight. “For Justice, For Honor, For the last starfruit/guava on the tree”…
I found out from an acquaintance almost a decade later that she had passed on to a better world, after a bout of a strange fever, at the early age of 20. That’s around the time I was close to 7-8 years old.
My first girlfriend.