Part 2- Love Letters, Leave Letters and All That
In the first part, before the interval I had left you dangling with me holding a love letter artfully inserted in my biology record book during lunch time. A record book which had been part of a pile on a table beside the door and which the biology teacher on entering the class asked us all to take and go home. I wasn’t supposed to have seen it then, for it clearly wasn’t meant to be found before I reached home where i would pull out my hair in suspense and frustration. But fate being kind to me, i had idly turned over the pages of the record before popping it in the bag and had discovered the evidence fresh on the scene of the crime. I discreetly started making enquiries all around and word of what had happened soon spread over the class. But the biology miss put an end to the ripples of disturbance by briskly rapping over a few heads with her wooden ruler.
It was later that evening when I was standing chatting to a group of friends over at the basketball court (we merely chat there, we don’t play) that one of my classmates, a short little girl called Girija, sauntered over to where we were standing in a group and standing off to one side to be clearly visible to me, started giving me meaningful looks and little nods of the head. Now, to tell the truth i had never fancied this girl for right from the beginning i had slotted her in the friend zone and it’s difficult to change suddenly and try to look at her with new eyes. So as i went up to her i was rapidly thinking over all the ways i could say “no” to her without making her a lifelong enemy and I started off by saying “look girlie, give me some time, this is all so sudden, never thought you felt this way about me”. She impatiently waved my words off and said “hellooo, not me, you fool. The letter writer, do you want to know who?” despite her brusque manner of resolving my internal mental conflict, I was hurt by the abrupt way that she had turned down my refusal. The stupid conceited, head swollen girl, why couldn’t she be a proper little lady and allow me to refuse her? Why did she have to be the first to refuse me? Anyway what was wrong with me? Can’t she fall in love with me even if I didn’t love her?
Mistakenly taking my silence for some sort of internal turmoil at her words, she softened her words and spoke gently “we have been friends for a long time and that’s why I am helping you now by betraying my close friend. It’s Sujatha. She has been talking about doing this for a long time. She wants to distract you just before the exams, so you will not beat her and get first rank. She just wants to distract you. From studying”. I knew that she was crazy but this crazy to score the first rank? It scarcely seemed probable at first thought but then on thinking again it made perfect sense. Girls knew the weaknesses of boys, give him an anonymous admirer and he would think of nothing else till he had found who it was. It made perfect sense plus it had been shown on TV recently- on a movie called “Lesa, Lesa” where actress Trisha drives actor Vivek mad with anonymous messages. So that’s what this was about- a straight copycat from a film scene. To tell the truth I was actually disappointed for a bit that i had no secret admirer.
I spent a long time thinking on what to do next. I could no more be distracted but it would be difficult for me to stay in the same group of friends as if nothing had happened when one of them had done this behind my back. In the end, I took my other friend Girija’s (my informer’s) advice and as she had told me to do, I went straight up to the biology madam in an otherwise empty staff room and handed over the letter. I saw the utter shock on her face, when she glanced down at it and realized that I had given her a love letter (she was unmarried then). But before she could say anything I told her in a accusatory tone “found this inside my biology record yesterday miss” and I stood there watching her like a hawk.
My biology miss went red in the face and spluttered a bit and said “i never, well, i will see who wrote this, I will get to the bottom of it, you go now” she finished strangely looking very embarrassed and barely meeting my eyes. And so she must have done, for the next period she again asked for all our records to verify something again and i saw her during lunch time pouring over the records with the letter in hand. She never told me the results of her investigation but later on Girija shared the news to all the class (with a gleeful chuckle) that Sujatha had been called into the principal’s room. No one told me what the principal said to her but the class learnt later that she had been given an extended study leave from that day on and sent off home to prepare for the public exams. We never met again for she skipped the farewell meet but all that extra time to study must have been really useful for she scored great marks and got a seat in the prestigious Kilpauk medical college.
Meanwhile life goes on, I lost touch with my batch mates after school and didn’t know what they ended up doing in their lives. But just once on a hot summer day I happened to notice a name bored in one of the by lanes of Mylapore with the tag of Dr.Sujatha. And something prompted me to go in a check it out if it was indeed my old school mate. The doctor wasn’t in but a very talkative receptionist confirmed that it was indeed her and she was now a practicing dermatologist (skin specialist) with a husband and two kids to boot. I hurriedly left the place after giving a false name to the receptionist to fix the appointment for the evening. So that was the end of the anonymous letter story. I never did find out who wrote it to me. And oh, i forgot to add one tiny little detail. My biology miss, reduced my internal assessment marks by ten marks as punishment for receiving love letters. So if both Sujatha and I were punished, I still wonder who profited from that love letter.
So that’s the only brush i had ever had with a love letter. Unlike my contemporaries, i always preferred the more direct approach of shouting it out. Most of my proposals in the following years involved yelling out loudly across the quadrangle (so half the college could hear) “hey, you want to go out with me?” That kind of direct approach is my style or was until my college mate Anitha put me firmly in place once. To learn what she said to me and which changed my whole approach towards girls please come back tomorrow to read the next post.
(Please return tomorrow for Part 3 of this story)