My Father’s Stories: The Last Jog

 He tells his stories in the afternoon while my head rests on his belly, bobbing rhythmically to his breathing and occasionally shaken by convulsive laughter. The anecdotes evade any chronology or pattern; they are just random, like all memories are, flitting from this to that, a decoration here, an omission there. These recounting of snippets from his life and of those around him aren’t always original, I’ve heard nearly all of them multiple times throughout the years, but it’s a testament to my father’s art of story-telling, the finer nuances of his hand gestures, the adequate peppering of inconsequential details, the gradual build-up of laughter and its patient wait at the threshold for just the correct time with pauses so befitting, and a sense of observation so keen that my mother can’t help feeling the suspense of how a story would end, despite hearing it umpteen times in their thirty three year old marriage!
My father is a funny man, he could always make me laugh with his quips; but I never fully appreciated the veritable treasure of his humour until I too started to look for it in the little incidents that populate our lives. One mundane morning, we were sitting in the verandah reading the newspaper when we heard a cuckoo bird’s call. Others might close their eyes to lose themselves in this melody, but I tell my father how the cuckoo bird lays their egg in the crow’s nest, and later the parasitic young cuckoo destroys the eggs of the very crow that had raised it as its own! My father listened to it and, without looking up from his paper, he replied, “Hoboi aru. Kauri’r mukh khon ebaar monot pelua sun, dekha tei burbok jen nalage janu?” (That’s expected. Try to recall a crow, hasn’t it always looked like an idiot?) His deadpan humour gets lost in translation here, but I can’t help my snorting laugh every time I spot a crow.
I’ll write a series of my father’s stories on my blog now. No linear chronology; not all of them are hilarious; some are too preposterous to be fabricated even; some are so daring, I shudder. These are just random tales I want to share, about my father’s childhood in a village near Jorhat, his college years, his ‘angry young man’ persona at the start of his career, carrying off astounding acts of rebellion to convention and authority, and mainly his detailed observations of the people around him. Today I begin this series with an incident that occurred to one of his friends. I won’t elaborate every detail. I just assume you will imagine it quite well from what I chose to tell.

The Last Jog
 My father’s friend, KD was mortified when the doctor pronounced that his paunch would lead him to an early grave. During an evening ‘adda’ session, this knowledge created uproar among his friends as the Jorhat (my hometown) of the early 70s was a clueless virgin of the fitness trend that swamps us today. After a volley of suggestions, they came to the conclusion that physical exertion was the answer. But how can one find means of sweating his brow while living in a town that excludes rigorous physical labour in the immediate vicinity, and working at a 9 to 5 job where the only exercise is when one stretches the hand to get the lunch box from under the table? In an age much preceding gyms, how can a grown man exercise without having to resort to borrowing his daughter’s skipping rope and how would he fit his ‘exercise session’ into a busy day? A wise soul, much ahead of his time, suggested getting up an hour early to go jogging. My father claims everyone applauded heartily at that moment.
So KD, a man given to as immaculate a planning as its execution, bought a new pair of sports shoes and an alarm clock. He continued to have the effusive enthusiasm and support of his friends all through out the selection of the said items. They didn’t want their friend to die. The thought touched him and brought a lone tear to his eye when he was alone.
On the night before his first jog, KD swears he had set the alarm clock for four am. After the shock of the first ring died down, the determined man sacrificed his sleep and tied his shoe laces in the dark, not wanting to wake up his wife. As he stepped out into the dark hours of early morning, he felt such jubilation at the thought of assured longevity that he didn’t quite mind the loss of sleep. The cold air hit his face as he started to jog. 
He found it curious that not a single person was out on the road, but reasoned that everyone were fit enough to indulge in precious sleep. He felt comforted by the distant whistle of the policeman on night patrol. After running for around twenty minutes he reached a crossroad with one road leading to the courthouse and a large ground adjoining it while the other continued into smaller by-lanes a little ahead. Now my father describes the area near the ‘Judge’s Field’ in Jorhat as quite eerie (‘joyal’ was the word he used) back in those years. There were stories about it being just the place to get clubby with the ghosts of those who were executed by public hanging under the British regime. Now KD wasn’t a brave soul, he was in fact on the opposite end of the courage spectrum. But emboldened by the surge of endorphins and the surety that early-risers would soon be thronging the roads, KD made for the Judge’s field.
He decidedly avoided looking at the century old courthouse and the thick grove of trees around it. He summoned all the Gods he knew as he entered the Judge’s field alone and continued to jog. Suddenly he was startled by a loud sound and cried out ‘Aiyyo Bupai! (‘Aiyyo Father!’ the translation kills it), but steadied his racing heart when he realized that it was the courthouse bell announcing the start of another hour. Four more strikes of the bell will soon follow to announce five am. He waited. And waited some more. 
A wild fear crept in the heart which he had steadied only a minute ago. The sun had not risen for so long, the roads were still empty and the bell had rang just once. Of all the places on earth, he was jogging all alone at the haunted Judge’s field at 1 am! Such realizations would have killed a weak heart, but KD survived despite being the possessor of a heart of questionable strength, as he emphasized in so many retellings of the incident to all the people that came into his life thereafter.
He was quick to gather his senses and run for his life at a pace that surprises him even today. Who knows, what supernatural object might have lurked amidst those dark trees and traumatized Jorhat the next morning with the spectacle of KD hanging from a tree, replicating the horrors of the past! This incident wiped all traces of any rigorous physical activity forever, with special emphasis to jogging, from KD’s life. He gave away his once-used shoes to a distant relative and stashed away the cursed alarm clock. He often had nightmares of that fateful night. He continues to have a paunch and still hates courthouses, especially the haunted ones.

What The Weather Makes Us Say

Why My Sister is Darwin’s Re-incarnation?
It was a harsh winter in the mountains of Tawang and I entertained the poetic tragedy of being frozen to death and be discovered in spring thaw. But my sister had strong survival instincts as evident in her statement below.
Me: It’s so cold, I’ll turn into ice.
My Sister: It’s so cold, I’ll turn into a polar bear.

The Curse of The Snowy Mountain
My newly-wed friend returns after a honeymoon in the snow clad mountains.
Me: How was the honeymoon?
Friend: (loud, excited voice that reached husband in the next room) It was so much fun. (in conspiratorial whisper) But you know he is still irritated.
Me: Why?
Friend: It was so cold, he couldn’t get it up…(just then friend’s husband plops on the sofa next to her)..couldn’t get up the mountain, you know, it was freezing weather on the trek. (Straight face. Not a flicker of emotion.)

A Family of Helens
On a day when the humidity made me want to jump into the nearest river, a friend called up and told me about their family’s collective summer tribute to an iconic “dancer/item girl in the Hindi film industry.
Friend: It’s so hot, na? We are down to wearing the barest minimum. There are four ‘Helen‘s in our home now. Ma is ‘Big Helen‘, Ba (elder sister) is Helen‘, and I am Mini Helen’. Deuta (father) is ‘Topless Helen‘.

When I Insulted A Pig
After twelve hours of being trapped in the poorly ventilated ‘labour room‘ wearing plastic protective gear and breathing in the nauseating smell of afterbirths, my friend resented when I compared us to ‘sweating pigs‘.
Friend: Don’t insult them. Pigs glow, only we sweat.

The Death of Maternal Affection
An aunt known for her scrupulous attention to hygiene was aghast that her own son didn’t inherit it. On a humid summer evening she made the grave mistake of rebuking him in front of a host of relatives.
Aunt: It’s four in the evening. Why are you so lazy? How can you go through such a hot day without taking a bath?
Cousin: Arrey Mummy, I may not take bath once in a while, but even you take bath  just once a week in December.

Debut of The Dazzling Scalp
It was a hot hot day and I was waiting under the embarrassing small shade of a coconut tree. I could feel the sweat patches growing on the outfit that took me five hours to decide on and worse, the hairspray-induced bounce in my hair deflated and drowned in a pool of sweat. Humidity dealt me a cruel blow.
(Ex-)Boyfriend: Sorry, I’m a bit late. Why are you standing in the sun? Come on, let’s go. By the way I never noticed it earlier, but your scalp is so white!

The Highest Testimony Of Love
Monsoons in India bring out the “Fear Factor” contestants in us when we take leaps of faith over the submerged gutters and manholes in our daily commutes. Cars float and not all of us have boats in our garages. Every morning we bid emotional farewells and wonder if we will be back home for dinner or float down the underground sewer. Add to that the deluge from overflowing drains that makes us want to amputate our legs or soak them in Dettol for a year. A friend waddled through this disgusting flood to her fiancee’s home on his birthday.
Friend: Happy Birthday! I couldn’t go anywhere to buy a gift. But this is your gift. Just look out of the window and see what I walked through. Just see for yourself how much I love you.

When The Wind Blows
While watching Marilyn Monroe’s vain attempts to keep her dress down as she stood provocatively over the air vent: 
Friend: If I had those legs and if I had that dress, I’d wear it only on windy days. 

Photo Courtesy: Isabella Bannerman


I read a hilarious blog post on my college senior’s blog, about a rickshaw puller’s unwanted fatherhood looming large in his near future and his hopes of being the local do-gooder by donating sperms to his childless sister-in-law! As bizarre as his family dynamics sound, such preposterous encounters are more common than you think. The post reminded me of a similar incident in March when I was posted in a God-forsaken remote village in Kamrup under the NRHM scheme.
The Setting: Last autumn I found myself standing precariously on a boat of questionable strength and crossing a river to get to my work place. The official quarters I was allotted had a rickety roof populated by giant owls that did a midnight jig right over my bed, and doors that refused to be bound down by locks. Add to that electricity with a mind of its own and patients that seemed (to me, at least) to leap out of bushes at 1am to shout out loud about babies about to pop out (which is a valid emergency) or a back itch/wrist pain that is suddenly unbearable (seriously?WTF!)! 
There were good moments, in the calm and undisturbed country side where people still danced to 90s film music, and newspapers were shared among ten households. Cars were a rare sight, so was Maggi noodles. Strangers stopped you midway and ask where you were going and where you were coming from, that’s the sole conversation-starter. It felt refreshing to be cut off from all the noise and the polluted air and the need to stay connected; but the sameness got on my nerves after a while. 
There are only so many beautiful sunrises you can marvel at after umpteen sleepless nights of delivering 4kg babies of petite seventeen year old mothers, who on repeated questioning admits to being a recent teenager! My mind went reeling at such shocking disclosures and my attempts to educate them on the proper age for childbearing or use of contraception only turned them hostile. They fretted over girls who remain unmarried at the ripe old age of fifteen; ‘such burdens’, they lament. The unfortunate girls who failed to strike a matrimonial alliance by the time they had turned seventeen were married off to old widowers or became the second/third wife of pot-bellied men older than their fathers. The women look old; they look fifty when they are twenty. They asked me if my kids were in school, considering these women turn grandmothers before hitting thirty! I didn’t want to shock them out of a decade’s growth that I’m 26 year old and unmarried, so I tell them that my kids are studying in the sixth standard and they feel satisfied at the familial progress of my life.  They breed like rabbits. Half of their lives are spent with a pregnant belly. Contraception is a dirty word; and as one husband, who had brought his wife for a third abortion, sagely put it, “We can’t deny what God gives us“. But they don’t hesitate to kill it when it had just started to sprout limbs! The women with bulging bellies stand at the threshold coyly, a baby at their breast and a trail of toddlers chewing peanuts and rubbing noses on their mothers’ sari. It’s surreal; these people, these lives, this place.
The INCIDENT: A blind man of eighty came to the health center towards the end of OPD hours. He was escorted by his wife who looked haggard. The man had a luxurious and flowing white beard and reminded me of Father Christmas, and in this case he happened to wear a blue checkered ‘lungi‘ (as absurd as it sounds!). He was reluctant to state his complaint and instead smiled creepily, almost lecherously. It disturbed me and I turned to his wife, but she looked too defeated to answer. It was two in the afternoon and a sumptuous lunch awaited me, so I conveyed my urgency to go home. The nurse who had come to close the windows in my room scolded the old man for his reluctance.
After much dawdling, the man said “Baideu, mur ‘sexy’ eke bare nai.” (Translation: Sister, my ‘sexy’ isn’t there at all)!!! What on earth was that? I went through stages of disbelief, facepalm, more disbelief, trying to maintain a straight face, furtive looks exchanged with the nurse who was equally dumbfounded; all in that single second when time stood still. Suddenly I could no longer face the man even though he couldn’t see me; because it was difficult to fathom why this eighty-year old Father Christmas look-alike had walked five miles to this remote hospital to complain about a dwindling sex life! To my utter embarrassment, his wife’s indifference and the nurse’s delight, he began to boast of the sexual prowess of his heydays and how he had managed to impregnate his wife ten times and even the first time they did it! I wished I had left for home earlier. I stopped his monologue and asked him his medical history. He didn’t have any major problems, and reports of a routine health check-up done at his grandson’s (!!!) insistence a few months ago were within normal limits.
The dilemma that I faced now was what medicine to prescribe; I was at sea when it came to such ailments. The only topics taught by the visibly embarrassed professor during my undergrad days were the causes and diagnosis of erectile dysfunction and the side-effects of sildenafil. That’s it! I didn’t even know of the availability of any medicine apart from Viagra. So, I jotted down sildenafil (quite certain that it won’t be available in this remote corner and he had to source it from Guwahati) and the lowest possible starting dose (25mg) and when to take it, which posed another problem because I just couldn’t bring myself to say out aloud the sentence ‘Take it an hour before you have sex’ to a man older than my grandfather. The nurse helped in conveying the directions. Thank God for that. 
I went back to my official quarters which was just a stone’s throw away, glad that the ordeal was over. I had just sat down to lunch when there was a knock on my door; it was the boy who ran the local pharmacy and the Father Christmaslurking behind him! He had come to inform that they had the tablets “Dr.X”(What a name! What a name!) in stock and was it okay if he gave them to the old man. I turned crimson, looked at the composition (sildenafil) and mumbled yes. The old man looked ecstatic. His wife cowered in fear about what awaited her at home!

In retrospective the incident is hilarious but in that moment I wished I was anywhere on earth but there. To my dismay and the pharmacist’s delight, the word spread among the circle of old men in the village and Dr.X’s sales sky-rocketed.

I am still recovering from the shock of such incidents.

As I Chew On Bon Bogoris…

I ate wild plums today.

Bon Bogori, for my Assamese readers. Red, juicy, salted ones.

Food can be a source of comfort and often trigger nostalgia. I think ‘wild plums’ and I am transported back to my school days. The ride back home from school, shirt sleeves finally rolled back, tie knot loosened, slouching on the backseat of the car (a white Fiat), listening to the same cassette of Kishore Kumar songs and eating wild plums I had bought during lunch break from the vendor outside school. This routine rarely varied during the half an hour ride. Except on Thursdays when my sister and I got pocket money to buy an ice-cream. I would keep reminding her from the previous evening onwards that we had to collect the ice-cream money before leaving for school the next day. Because there was a high probability of forgetting it in the early morning rush of bathroom queues, last minute homework, reading my favorite Archie comics while having breakfast, jostling for space in front of the mirror while combing our hair, tying shoelaces (a pain even now), packing my school bag and lunch box; and I used to wake up just an hour before school started!

I remember a very comical situation I got into (and I have an innate talent for such kinds) during that 7am ride to school once. There was this girl in my class, PKY, whom we used to call tubelight owing to her much delayed understanding of what was being said. Once on the way to school, I saw PKY waiting for the school bus. I told her that I’d give her a lift but she smiled and replied that she doesn’t want to bother me. But I was insistent and she agreed to travel the remaining three kilometers to school in my car.  I had to buy a notebook on the way and stopped at a stationery shop. While waiting for the shopkeeper to find the two-lined notebook, we saw PKY’s bus go by and we smiled and waved to our friends in the school bus. But when it was time to pay for the notebook, I realized I had forgotten to bring my purse. And my purse was in my school bag! I panicked. I had no option but to send our driver back home to get my school bag while PKY and I walked two kilometers to school and reached quite late. She never took a ride with me to school again! I still remember the look on her face that day, trying hard to suppress her anger and mumbling curses against me while I was trying very hard not to giggle. I’m still not able to suppress my giggles every time I’m reminded of PKY.

My Hair…(Almost) Gone with the wind

The social network Orkut had a question in the personal profile section, ‘What is the first thing people notice about you?’
I so wanted to write liquid eyes, tall stature or dimpled cheeks. But who was I kidding? Even a one-eyed drunk can notice from a mile away the disaster that is my hair. My unfortunate hair. Forget a silky, glossy mane; I don’t even have common, dull, thick hair. How do I count the ways to emphasize my point!

First is the sparsely populated scalp! Sometimes I feel I have like what a hundred hairs, which is reducing at an alarming rate! At the age of 23, I google for “female pattern baldness” and “hair transplantation”!

Second is the limpness. The world might change overnight and the sun may rise in the west but my hair would refuse to fluff up. And then I discovered mousse. God bless the makers of this miracle product!

Thirdly, the humidity factor. Humidity and extreme dry weather, both have disastrous effects on my hair. It doesn’t add volume as such, but turns me into a live demonstration of static electricity. Strands of hair flying in all direction; and untamed at any cost except for maybe shaving it off completely.

And the last, but not the least, the consistency of ‘bad hair days’ that it maintains. The rest of the world at least has a rare bad hair day, while good hair day continues to elude me. I was born with the unmanageable and unstructured curliest curls ever in our family.

And now I’ve no option but to wear my hair short to conceal the alarming hair loss. I’ve tried every remedy in the book, but in vain. I never thought hair could cause so much distress. Nearly every romantic Hindi song has at least one couplet praising the heroine’s lovely long tresses. I’ve been searching in vain for a song without the mention of those damn tresses that my beloved might someday be able to sing for me! It wrenches my heart when I see those shampoo ads and long, jet black hair blowing in the wind. I guess I’ll never have that. Or maybe I would. Let me google for wigs now.

"Things I wish I hadn’t said in school" aka "What was I thinking?!?"

1. “I am absent”

(In response to the query why I’d not submitted my homework the day before)

2. “Miss, she took my copy and (longest pause of my life as I’d the sudden realization that I didn’t knew about the existence of the word ‘tore’) fali dile.”

(‘Fali dile’ is the Assamese translation of ‘tore it’)

3. “My mother is blind”.

(Because I couldn’t explain to the teacher that my mother is myopic and had difficulty helping me with the school project at night)

4.“Pride has a fall.”

(Because the two guys sitting immediately in front of me were making a huge racket and I wanted to say something to quieten them!)

5. “Sir, I can’t attend the sports drill today.”
“Personal problem of a girl, Sir.”

(And worse…I used the ‘personal problem’ excuse nearly three times a month and felt smug about conning the PT teacher!)

6. Teacher: “How come you failed on the spelling test?”
Me: “Because I was trying to fail the guy who sat next to me!”

(Once there was a spelling test, and the guy sitting next to me didn’t know anything and was trying to copy from me. I thought I would mislead him, and deliberately wrote the wrong spellings which he copied while I was sniggering all the time. Then the teacher announced we have only two minutes left to submit our papers. I panicked. I erased all the wrong answers and she took the copy from me before I could write down even a single spelling. The guy who sat next to me and I, both of us scored ‘zero’ on the spelling test. But the teacher said at least he attempted to write the spellings, while I submitted a blank sheet! My parents were called to school the next day!)

7. “I couldn’t wear the sports shoes today because my mother gave them to the barber.”


8. Teacher to me: “Nice Haircut. Who cut it?”
Me: “Mistry!”

(I was seven, and my father used to take me along with him to the local saloon, where the barber was called ‘Mistry’ by everyone as is the habit in India to call the common workmen so. I hadn’t learned the word ‘barber’ yet!)

9. My friend: “He called me names. He called me a cow.”
Me: (in all seriousness) “Don’t feel bad. At least he didn’t call you a lizard or crow. Cow is a useful animal. You can give milk and dung to everyone!”

(Our friendship wasn’t as strong as earlier after that pep up talk I gave my friend)

10. “Avoidable reasons” on my absent note.

(I missed school one day because I overslept. I vaguely recalled a friend once writing “avoidable” or something on her absent note. She had written‘Unavoidable reasons’. It was a big word for me and I could only recall it entirely. Thankfully, the teacher had a sense of humor and didn’t scold me)

"Life of ‘Pee’", nervous boyfriend and hawk-eyed parent…perfect recipe for my first date!

I went after lunch to two of the few book stores in Guwahati which can boast of a good collection of books, from the latest bestsellers to the classics, covering a varied and interesting range of books. “Western Book Depot” and “Papyrus”, situated at Panbazar. If you happen to spot a fat female browsing through books at these two bookstores often, oblivious to the world around her…well, that most probably is me. I had spent many happy hours browsing at these bookstores every month, and save money all year round to splurge on visits to these shops. By the way, I bought three books today…Milan Kundera’s “Slowness” and “Ignorance”, and “Recess: A Penguin Book of Schooldays”. Reviews are due next month after I complete reading them.

Anyways, this post is not about the pleasures of endless hours of browsing at bookstores. I had already written about my fascination for book stores. Today I want to share a very memorable incident in my life that occurred at the “Western Book Depot”. My first date. Or my first date turned disaster. You must be thinking what’s wrong with me to have chosen a bookstore as the location for my first date. Read on to know why.

I fell in love for the first time four years back when I was 19. I was never interested in the guys I had grown up with, or studied together. And the whole concept of casual dating and testing the waters for a few months is something I can’t identify with at all. Add to that my introvert nature …and I would’ve remained single till I was 50 if I hadn’t met him! He was 5 years elder to me. Completely different backgrounds…he was an MBA student at IIT, Kharagpur, while I was a second year medical student in Assam. We met online. And I liked him instantly. He was witty, intelligent, caring and I absolutely loved talking to him. Friends first…and then in a year became a little more than friends. But we had never talked about meeting; and were quite happy with our conversations online. I admit I was scared that the comfort level in our relationship might change when we meet in person…scared of awkward silences in conversations, or that we might not have anything to talk about. When he got his MBA degree, and was about to leave for his new job…one night I received a phone call from him, saying that he’s on his way to meet me and arriving in Guwahati the next day.

May 14, 2005: To say I was petrified would be a huge understatement. My father is way too protective of me and my sister, and we weren’t allowed to go anywhere alone. I had no other way but to seek permission and go. That day I told my mother about him…the most awkward conversation of my life! She was OK with it but forbid me to meet him alone. Back to square one! He called up on reaching Guwahati, and I told him of the dilemma I faced. He was quite supportive and didn’t sulk. But I so wanted to meet him, I was ready to do anything just to see him once. I told my mother I had to buy a new book and have to urgently go to “Western Book Depot”. My mother, who was already suspicious after I mentioned him to her, was adamant on accompanying me to the bookstore and worse insisted on taking my sister and aunt along too! I was on the verge of tears. But this was my only chance to see him. I frantically texted him to meet me at the bookstore and warned him that my mother would be with me. He said he didn’t know the way around Guwahati and would accompany a friend to find the store. I was in such a hurry…I forgot to even comb my hair on the way out! That too the first time he saw me! The last thing I cared was how I looked; all I wanted was to see him once. We reached the store at 6pm. My mother got down along with me, while my aunt and sister waited in the car. I pretended to search for medical books. After about fifteen minutes, my mother said she would wait for me in the car. I was so relieved. As I waited for him, I decided to gift him a book. He had mentioned a few days earlier that he wanted to read “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel. I got the last copy of the book available in the shop for him. At around 6:25pm, I heard two loud, excited voices in the shop. My back was turned towards the entrance and when I turned around; I saw him and his friend. I smiled at him. But he didn’t reciprocate. I was taken aback. Didn’t he recognize me? After a moment’s confusion, I realized he was deliberately trying to feign that he didn’t know me. The reason: there was a lady in the book store who he thought was my mother!! He came and stood beside me but carried on the little act of being strangers, and instead turned to a man behind the bookstore counter, and asked whether “Life of pi” was available. The man answered, “Life of ‘Pee’ toh nahin hain. Last copy inhone (pointing at me) purchase kar liya.” (“Life of ‘Pee’ is not available, she purchased the last copy”).We were all trying hard not to laugh at the man’s pronunciation of the book title. I then turned and gave him my gift, the same book. He smiled at me, and by now had realized that my mother wasn’t in the shop as he had earlier thought. As he took the book from me, the bookstore owner went, “How kind of you, ma’am! Giving him your book. And that too free of cost!” They hadn’t yet realized that we knew each other and I turned the kind, helpful girl in their eyes. I had already spent a lot of time in the bookstore, and was worried that my Ma would come in and find him near me. I asked him to leave, quite reluctantly though. It was hardly for ten minutes that we saw each other that day…the first time…and he had to leave. As I walked out of the shop five minutes after him, I saw that his bike was parked right next to my car!!! Of all the places available, he had to park near my car, with my mother sitting in the car! I hoped that she hadn’t realized who he was. And I drove off, without daring to even look at him a second time in my mother’s presence. After few minutes, my mother remarked, “So you met him? He seemed nice.” I nearly had a cardiac arrest, when I realized that my mother had recognized him. How on earth did she know? Turned out that when my guy had parked his bike right next to our car, she overheard him tell his friend that I had asked him to meet me in the bookstore. And after all the trouble we both went through to keep the meeting discreet!!
That relationship ended long back, and he is happily married now. But I still can’t stop smiling thinking about my funny first date-turned-disaster, the nervous look on his face that day, my hawk-eyed Ma on the lookout for a tricky Romeo out to trap her daughter and instead finding a bumbling fool, and me savoring each second of those ten minutes of my first meeting with my first love. Short and sweet, a memory so special that it would last a lifetime. And, the bookstore will always remain special too.