Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Chapter 3: A Most Eventful Chapter

With school behind me, and a more than decent rank in the entrance exams, I proceeded to the National Institute of Technology, Calicut ( Formerly, Regional Engineering College, Calicut ) The institution is rated as among those ranking only next to the IITs in terms of academic excellence.

And thus, I proceeded with brimming enthusiasm and zeal to the most prestigious engineering institution in Kerala. The first thing I noticed upon reaching the place was the acute sparseness of the female population there. And that was a great put off.

And incidentally, in the first semester, there was a choice between the C Programming Language and the (supposedly) tougher C++ Programming Language, and the more enterprising students including me decided to pursue the later. And that turned out to be even more unfortunate because our class was totally devoid of girls !!! I don't know if that is supposed to reflect at an abject lack of enterprise among the female community, but anyways.. And this also caused our teachers and professors to take a particular liking ( [dislike]!! ) to our class.

Anyways, the first semester dragged on without much incidents, except that I scored the scariest ever marks in my life in mathematics that semester. Then I happened to run into this girl who was in my branch. (First two semesters, classes were not branch wise, and so she was in a different class from me) I got to know that she was an academic sensation with a scary high GPA in the first semester.

There was this lobby-cum-staircase-landing at the entrance to the main block in college where we guys, particularly the ones from my class (as I said, we were the more enterprising lot) used to hang out to watch the birds as we put it. And often I made it a point to happen to be there at the times classes are supposed to disperse and very often I would catch her glance as she ambled down the stairway, and she'd smile at me. And I loved it.

I don't know what is it with men, but when a girl smiles at you, you feel something inside I don't know what to call it; affection?? Probably..

Anyways, her academics was another thing which stirred a dormant ram in me. At that point in time, she was the branch topper. And I was somewhere down in the twenties in my class, which did not exactly suit my liking. And then there was this branch change possibility for two students topping each branch, and at that time, I had this obsession with the electronics brand and sure as hell wanted to be one of those two.

The second semester saw a steady development of a strong attraction in me towards her as well as a steady sky rocketing of my academic performance. And sure as hell, I was second in the branch at the end of the semester.

One of the incidents I do remember about that semester was a lunch we had together. Her, me and one of our mutual friends. I don't know what to say, I guess I was overwhelmed [:D]

Anyways, that semester too came to pass. And we were in the third semester. And now, with all the common-to-all-branches subjects covered, we were put into branch wise classes and came fully under departmental jurisdiction. And oh, by the way, I did get the branch change possibility, but I repudiated it on account of the fact that Computer Science was a simpler discipline and involved less rigorous study than electronics. Honestly, I don't know how much my decision was influenced by the fact that she too rejected the branch change option and chose to stick on to Computer Science.. Speak of obsession !!!

And the funniest part was, because neither of us chose the branch change option. Another girl from our branch got the opportunity to avail it and move into Electronics. And the guys in class were breaking their heads over it, for the most obvious reasons !!!

Now in the third semester, my roommates were state-mates of hers. They both knew very well about the stirrings of enamourment in me and used to pull at my leg a lot over that. I once remember a distinct occasion when one of them teased me as to what I would do if I were to go over to their place where it gets pretty cold. And I retorted with something like I'd snuggle up to her !!! That kind of gave me the last laugh on that occasion, but I was wondering how she would react if she ever came to know of it. Most likely she'd find the idea downright despicable.

Now some where down the line in that semester, my room mates came up with the idea that I should somehow obtain a photograph of hers. Then towards the end of that semester, once the semester exams were over, it was decided that the more daring and more enthusiastic and more sillier of my roommates was to ask her for a photo on my behalf. It was kind of a bet and if he was successful in obtaining a photo, I was to treat him to a Milk Shake.

And he did go up to her and ask her for the photo, and I made a point to wander into them while he was trying to cajole her into giving me the photo and he was totally exasperated at me over that. Anyways, she did not acquiesce to oblige me with the photo, and she was either totally dumbfounded or completely confounded by this uncanny request.

Anyways, that semester passed and it was vacations. And I suddenly felt an intense urge to let her know about my feelings towards her. And so I concocted this idea of writing an email to her, a FREAKING email !!! Oh god, I still feel like hiding behind the closet in embarrassment that I should propose to her through a freaking email !!! But true to history, that too happened.

I wrote her a mile long romantic email, better called love letter, and I got a foot long reply succinctly summarising what I anticipated, and enclosing an "apology for being blunt," and an entreaty that "we stay friends.." And I too played along and agreed graciously to being good friends.

The vacations came to an end and it was next semester, the fourth. And most naturally I was embarrassed initially to face her. But some where down the semester, I did apologise to her. It was a funny situation, me finding it difficult to articulate words, and she finding herself in a most awkward situation. Some of my friends were indignant that I apologised to her. As they saw it, I had every right to love her; and most naturally she has every right not to reciprocate any feeling, but that does not repudiate my right. And the other friends knew zilch about the happenstances.

Yeah, well, to be truly honest, I did cherish the idea that in time she will come to see me in the true light, and so I hadn't quite given up on her. But then towards the fag end of the semester, because I was running into her far too sparingly, I started feeling bad. The totality of all that transpired started to sink into my head and I started realising that there was no point in pursuing that fantasy. And at the same time, I also knew fully well that so long as we were in close proximity, I would always harbour a soft corner for her. You know, its like, in the class, my glance would drift from the teacher and eventually come to settle on her, and I'd be watching her when I ought to be listening in the class.

Thus in an attempt towards self preservation, I switched places and moved to the other corner of the class. My interest in the class weaned; as I said, in the first semester too I wasn't exactly doing awesomely in the class. It was chronologically around the same time that I ran into her that I came to be a performer, whatever may the reasons be. However, my interests in the class did persist till the end of the fourth semester and the effects of the weaning only started showing in the fifth semester.

Another event of interest during the fourth semester was a value education project. I grouped up with some of my friends who too shared a general inclination towards the girls and we conjured up an idea to invite some of the girls in our batch into our project group. And the invitations did happen and they were graciously accepted, and we formed a group of four guys and five girls. Now that was something outrageous in NITC where the general sex ratio is worse than 3 guys to a girl. But anyways, we did have quite some merriment out of the project.

And I came out in flying colours in those two semesters, the third and the fourth. I scored a perfect 10 GPA in both semesters. I don't know what it is with love; but for me, when I feel that I love someone, no matter if that someone loves me or not, I feel safe. I feel like I have somewhere to run to. And I feel revitalised and capable of anything. And just when I don't have anyone to think about, I feel so vulnerable. I feel a void..

Or maybe I'm fantasising. Maybe it is that the subjects in those two semesters were really interesting. But personally, I feel the former viewpoint did have a role. The passion fuels the adrenaline I suppose.

In the fifth semester, the symptoms of the weaning of interest in classes began showing. It was very obvious to me. But then I still was the tallest among the dwarfs. Still, that was no solace for me. I knew I was falling down. But then that semester had something good to it, the operating systems laboratory, or the nachos lab as it was designated, because we used an operating system simulator called nachos. Most guys hated this lab because it involved a rigorous investment of time and intellect into it for a single credit lab. But I loved it, it was my vent to my acute lack of things to do and I dedicated hours upon hours burning midnight oil into it. I guess I became a workaholic to divert myself from the more depressing facets of life.

The fifth semester passed and the sixth semester dawned. The classes were getting even more boring to me. And something else that annoyed me was that the girls in the class as a bunch were displaying a propensity towards the back benches. This essentially meant that she too was moving her seats backwards and that brought her more closer to me leaving me in a crammed position in so far as my attempts to stay away from her were concerned.

Anyways, this semester too dragged on, and during this semester, I was becoming more and more friendly with the other girls in my class. All the guys, I was good friends with. But then there are these unnecessary formalities and sentiments when it comes to making friends with the girls, and particularly I wasn't exactly the guy who rocked.

And towards the end of the semester, I felt a genuine need for the guy-gal attitudes in the class to change. The status quo was something like the girls were bunched in one group and the guys in many non intersecting groups. And to set an example as well as personally to make better friends with my female classmates, I decided to invite a couple of them to sit beside me in various classes. And the class reaction was quite corroborant with what was anticipated; the raised eyebrows and the subdued comments. I could bet that half of those guys would have given quite a lot to swap places with me but didn't quite have the balls.

And then came the day when I decided to take a gamble and ask her to sit with me. And she refused me with a stated reason of finding it uncomfortable to sit with any guys. Well, that was a lie through the teeth and once the idea was kind-of accepted, there have been numerous occasions where she did take a seat beside various guys. Anyways, to be downright honest, her refusal did hurt me more than I anticipated, and it was a difficult effort to suppress the tears welling up and give the impression that my eyes were red due to strain throughout that hour.

That evening, there was a lab session and she approached me about something, and the look on her face gave me the impression it was something serious. However, I was caught up with something at that time and could not devote attention to her. All the same, at a later point in time, I did ask her what it was about. Most naturally I was speculating it had something to do with that mornings happenstances. Anyways, she feigned forgetfulness (or so I thought) and played about so that I left it.

The sixth semester passed and then came the seventh semester. And in that semester fell her birthday. And this time, I thought I'd make a present of something to her. And on her birthday, I went up to her and proffered her a gift. Well, it was a small bracelet, which I thought would look good on her. And initially, she very vehemently refused to take it from me. It went on to such an extent, I just gave up on it and walked away. I guess that made her feel a little bad. She came back to me with something like, if it means so much to you, then I'll take it. And at that point I told her I'll wear it on her hand. Now she freaked out totally on that. She quipped something like "only husbands are allowed to wear an ornament on a woman." Now that was downright preposterous, but then, that was her stance.

I never gave her that bracelet. All the same I did keep it with me until the end of my course, for whatever reasons, god only knows. At the time of return from NITC, I trashed it.

Anyways, that incident did make a deep scar on me. And at that time I was deeply agonised and wrote her another freaking email; however I'd spilled too many personal issues on that email I decided I seriously needed to keep away from that girl to avoid self induced jeopardy.

Now this time, it was a real full-stop. Of course, there again were occasions when my gaze would wander from the class and rest upon her. But I kept a firm distance. Around this time, I had a stint with another girl (the next chapter) but then, that again recoiled (nothing new in that !!! [:D] ). Anyways, I kept away from her for most of the rest of my life in NITC, except for two occasions.

One was the class trip. There were points in time when the situation warranted me to talk to her. I was having my reservations, but I did deal with her congenially, or so I believe.

The second occasion was when I was throwing a treat for some of the girls in my class over my birthday. I had not invited her, but she happened to drop by. And I offered her a seat, and initially she came around and sat herself in the seat next to me. However, pretty soon I guess realisation stuck, and she moved to a seat further away.

Well she didn't exactly take a treat from me, although she did join us and sit with us throughout the treat. And she did look so really beautiful sitting there right across me. And to date, I still wonder why I did not disregard her denial and buy her a Tricone ice-cream !!!

And in the meanwhile, there's this final year day celebration at college. The only occasion when girls are allowed entry into the boy's hostels. And at that time, I was hoping she wouldn't drop me a visit, but she did. That felt really uncomfortable. The saner half of my brain told me to keep my distance, but I couldn't help it that my heart was throbbing faster. Thankfully, I did not play the most hospitable host and she left my room pretty quickly.

Anyways, that chapter is closed and sealed now. I'm out of college after completing my collegiate education, and now the probabilities of my running into her again in my life are as low as zilch.

Still, there are so many things I'll remember about her, some good, some bad, some pleasurable, some hurting, and I know I'll remember them for a long time to come. And in spite of whatever that I wanted from her, which she could not give, she did make me happy at some points in time, and that is what I loved about her, and that love is what made me happy in her presence, and I will always remember her with warmth in my heart, love her and keep her in my prayers for that..

She was wonderful !!!

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