As my feet dragged towards college, the usual park that lay by en route wore a rather colorful atmosphere today. Intrigued and looking closer into the park, eyes fell on a neatly clad boy with a rose in his hand that hid behind his back with his gaze fixed to the ground and facing a girl who stood with head held high and a steady smile. My eyes realized it was a proposal that was shaping up and the girl had taken up the role of a Goddess, completely ruling that six feet of ground that spaced them. The words ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ – be it any, would be the most heaviest words of the minute that had the power to transform the youth to the man he would turn out to be.
I looked away bestowing them privacy and paced my steps towards my destination. Well, it was the last graduation year at college and very soon the institution would bid itself goodbye.
But witnessing the scene at park kindled the memories of my first year at college. As the mind drowned further, it recalled the first day when I had entered the class and the eyes fell on a girl who sat in the corner of the third row bench draped in a green salwar. Green always was serene and beautiful but the charm had taken the color to a notch higher that day. As I sat down finding a place nearby, the heart blurted out, “Man! she is so cute”.
A voice beside me broke into my reverie, ‘Hello’. Turning to the voice, I realized it was time to make acquaintance with new faces.
“Oh! Hi, I’m Rahul”, and the other voice replied back ‘Krishna’.
Our conversation was cut short by the lecturer who barged in to take the hour in her control and it began with the introduction of the names of the students and each time a female’s voice broke out, the heads of every male turned up in that direction. The whole atmosphere was so lively. Each one had broken out from the confinement of fixed uniforms and instead sat in color attire and the school bags had got replaced with a note-book in hand and a pen in the shirt-pocket. Amidst all this, a new relationship with the male beside was in parallel shaping up as the company seemed comfortable. With all these feelings, the first day of college had come to an end.
Days turned into months and the bond between Krishna and me had grown stronger and close enough to reveal each other’s secrets, but except for one which I was not comfortable yet to share with him as it was the matter of love and shyness does prevail in love. Through the passing days, the ‘green salwar’ that once had made its mark in the heart was reciprocating its love back blessing the eyes with the changing color each day. The micro break moments made her eyes tilt in my direction bearing a tiny smile born from her lips, which politely turned away after the act. This daily regular act of the salwar, in turn strengthened the secret love making it stronger and stronger feeding it with her regular smiles. But my love being shy did stitch the lips tight and also forced the eyes to pretend to look away from her.
The tiny smile had become the purpose to live and sit back in those benches while the lecturers came in to dirty and white wash the black board and also making the ink of the pen flow into the pages that actually took pleasure in resting in the pockets instead.
The turmoil of speaking to her was eating me up but I consoled the heart to wait patiently to find the right moment to burst out the hidden feelings, someday. I wondered how sweet her voice would sound coming from those lovely lips that always bore an incredible smile between them and if that smile were to find its place for the entire journey of life, what else one would wish further?
The heart had decided to pour out the feelings on Valentine’s Day to the smiling lady. The heart also decided to disclose the hidden secret budding love story to Krishna as well once the proposal met its successful acceptance. The mind had grown restless and tired of the two-faced existence – One face which enjoyed the smile and the other face which forced to hide the real emotions. The act also made me feel guilty for hiding my true face from my best friend too. It was indeed difficult to wear a mask that hid the feelings and I pondered, how difficult it was for Mr. Spiderman to hide his emotions of deep love for the girl in his neighbor behind the red mask.
As the last day day of the mask set in, the night kept me awake rehearsing the act of presenting myself to a girl who knew me, only through her smiles. I looked proudly at the great actor in the mirror, that she had turned me into.
The rising sun of the next day quickly shook me up from bed and hurriedly placed me into the best of the clothes on earth and off I rushed towards the college, carefully tucking the set of chocolates and a rose into the college bag from the money that was borrowed from Dad’s pocket.
The day continued with soft music rolling in the ears and soothing fragrance raising the spirits and an uncontrollable smile pushing itself on the face. All the scenes of romantic movies were roving around in the mind and there I was – A boy fully charged up, ready to step into the world of romance.
As I stepped into the college gate, my eyes searched for ‘green salwar’. I looked towards the college gate waiting for the entrance of the lady until my gaze was disturbed by the feel of palm on my shoulders. Turning right, my face met the eyes of Krishna.
“Hey, Rahul! what makes you wait here, not going to the class, today.”
I had to quickly place the mask back on the face and smiled at him.
“Nothing Krishna, errrrrrr…..I was feeling a bit hungry, let me get a quick snack and meet you in the class in sometime, what say?”, I quickly uttered.
Before even he could reply, I realized the gates had greeted the footsteps of the ‘green salwar’ that had turned into lovely pink today. As soon as pink salwar noticed me waiting, she turned her steps towards me and the tiny smile soon accompanied her. The heart thumped harder, shocked with her display of courage to walk up.
“Will she take over the role of proposal today!, …..ohhhhh…….where’s my mask?
With the advancing steps of the pink soul the heart was lost sailing high and she being a few feet away, I quickly pulled back the heart to ground as she would need it any minute. As she drew nearer to me, slowly the tiny smile moved away from my face and it almost disappeared from the vicinity.
“Happy Valentine’s Day” roared the sweetest voice on earth and the gift travelled out from her bag.
I turned aside to catch the glimpse of the tiny smile that had turned wide now displaying the set of teeth too. My etiquette suggested me to move away to a distance far. The side of my eyes caught the glimpse of the exchange of gifts and the love words uttered.
Reaching classroom, as I sat down alone on the bench, lost in deep thoughts that continued for a while, Krishna entered in. I quickly hooked on the old mask to hide my emotions – a new one this time.
“We are from the same school and like each other right from high school, sorry man!, for not disclosing this secret to you but I wanted to tell you about it today.” replied Krishna with joy. Heart had lost its spirit and the mind was thoughtless on what to react. Luckily the mask came to the rescue, and the face managed to smile and wished him luck and regards. Well, the face had mastered the art of acting.
It was sad that I had to wear this mask again, but this time, forever. My love for ‘green salwar’ and ‘tiny smile’ would lay hidden deep down the layers of the mask. I laughed at the misconception my heart had developed and fooled the innocent eyes, which took it for granted what it saw. I cursed those eyes for having been so innocent, well let them pay for their deed and I blessed them with deep tears.
As these memories ended and reality put me back into the present day, I stepped into the college gate. The college looked colorful and I wondered whether it was some special day today. I looked at my watch for the date and there it was – Feb 14th – Valentine’s Day.
“Hmmm, how many hearts would break today”, I sympathized their agonies in advance.
Lost in my thoughts as I continued walking toward the class, I saw a pretty girl approaching and I looked into her face. The girl noticing that she was being watched quickly threw her gaze into my direction and slowly a smile forcefully pushed itself on her face and her eyes met my innocent eyes.
I immediately dropped my eyes to the ground and sent a warning straight to my heart –
“No! Not again”.