My parents had my head shaved as an offering to some God, without any consideration of how I would feel about going to school with no hair on my head. I dreaded the teasing I would have to endure from other kids. My mom convinced me that there would be other kids too who’d have shaved heads over the summer vacation. With that small consolation, I entered the class and stared around. In the vast number of heads bobbing up and down, as kids screamed, fell down, laughed, stared pointlessly, pulled each others’ hair, ate chalk and so on, mine was the only shaved head. I made a note in my mind to bawl at mom the moment she came to pick me up from school. And I also made a note to thrash any kid who’s tease me for the lack of hair on my head. Minutes passed, I was sitting in a corner munching my snacks in the break time. Then I don’t remember how it happened or why (maybe I refused to share my snacks), a boy kid laughed at me and called me ‘mottai’ which means ‘shaved head’ in my native language. I was furious but turns out I was not much of a macho back then. So instead of entering into a fist fight with him, I dutifully went and reported to my class teacher about it, adding a few more tears than necessary. After witnessing the scolding and thumps he got, I resumed munching my snacks with satisfaction.
Over time, the above incident was forgiven and I had become friends with him. I don’t remember how but after all I was 4 yrs old and all it took to win me back then was sharing a snack or a chalk. So how I reconciled with him doesn’t matter. We both sat next to each other and I would chatter all day while this kid listened to me patiently. This continued and my class teacher started keeping a keen eye on me as I kept talking, in class, out of class, during class and any minute I was with him. Turns out she was waiting for a chance to meet my mum and complain about this incessant talking and soon enough, the opportunity presented itself. I had scraped my knee big time while playing and mom took me to the doctor before school. It got late and hence mom dropped me till class to request the teacher to excuse me and my bandaged leg. Once I saw this kid sitting next to a vacant seat, expecting me, all my tears vanished. I wanted to run straight to him and tell about the story of my bandaged leg. And so I did, without even collecting my bag and lunch from mom, and started my show while he looked on. Meanwhile, my teacher lost no time in complaining that this is exactly what she was talking about.
During the awarding ceremony at the end of each year for the toppers, I was sitting next to the same kid. We were sharing the first proficiency prize. My mom had decked my hair with jasmine flowers which have those gorgeous red velvet-like flowers in between. We were bored to the core with all the chief guests talking on and on before giving away the prizes. So I suggested to my now best friend that he could pluck the red flowers one by one and we could play with it. So we did for another 10 mins, without any concern about the onlookers. By the time I went on stage, there were only jasmines drooping sadly from my hair.
We both has become so close that we formed a kind of rowdy gang and started dominating others. I don’t remember what this was all about but remember wanting to be with this kid even as a sidekick. Of course being in 2nd grade, we wouldn’t have been much action than talk. Anyway the news reached the teacher which again resulted in a complaint session and twisted ears this time for me. He was spared because he was the good boy, topper always and she believed it was my influence that’s getting him into trouble.
We became the best of friends. I’d do anything for him. Of course there were a lot of fights but it was always forgiven and forgotten. I looked up to him in anything I did. He was the competitor for me whom I tried very hard to beat but could never. As a joke over a fight, he set me lines once. He said I had to write a set of useless lines over and over again until my diary was full of it. You wouldn’t believe me, but I did it. It was because of him I passed my physics board exam, it took him one hour and endless patience to make me understand how the current could flow in opposite direction of the coil. Yet, he did it. He dragged me along with him for all the competitions he participated in. We won quite a few prizes, though the credit for most of them went to him.
A lot of things happened after grade 10 that turned our lives topsy-turvy. We went to different schools, then different colleges. A lot happened in our lives separately and together. But all that is there to tell you now, to complete the tale, is that I cannot believe that I am married to that boy kid who teased me for my shaved head in my kindergarten. Even more, I cannot believe that is the first meeting I remember of us. When people ask how we met for the first time, I think of it and burst out laughing. There were no romantic looks across the bar in our story, there was no tingling touching of hands, there was no looking into each others’ eyes. All we had was a shaved head, and boy did we make a story out of it!
When I think back, I realize the enormity of knowing someone for 22 years when your age is 25. Heck, you only know your family before you’re 3 and you don’t remember anything of it. So as far my memory stretches back, he is there. People ask us, don’t you get bored? Nope, after all these years, we still have many firsts and no lasts.
Until later 🙂
P.S: To my amusement, he kept denying his involvement in the naughty incidents I have written about. He keeps denying still and will do so forever. He says he was such a good kid and would never tease another kid like that. And I say – Heck, you were 3. At that age, what would any kid know about being nice 😛
P.P.S: He is still a kid, in so many ways. I can see the shade of that kindergarten personality many a time, now that I am living with him. 🙂