Yesterday, again, the Mohanlal starrer classic movie Chandrolsavam played out on TV. It released in the theatres during my college days in Coimbatore, but I have see it, all these years, over and over again, not bored even once, not jaded even a single time. There can be one and only one reason for that – the natural beauty of Meena.
Meena in Chandrolsavam is something special. Sans makeup, without the glamour, she played out one of the most beautiful faces for a character ever in Malayalam cinema. And every time I see her in this movie, reminds me of the girl who was there with me at my class XII Maths tuition, whose name I never bothered to ask, and on whom I had a huge crush on.
Mathematics to me was not exactly like what it was to Ryan Philip in Monkey Pen. I liked it, but I was not so cool at it. I was one of the better students in class in all other subjects, but there were always someone else who were better at Maths than me. Rank 1 and 2 was not my cup of tea. It was meant for my other contemporaries, one who is now a scientist at NASA, and the other guy, one of the best heart surgeons at AIIMS.
So, when the option came up to opt for Maths with Science, or Maths with Commerce, I took the easy way out. I felt learning Maths with Physics and Chemistry was far tougher than learning Maths with Accountancy and Business Studies. While others took up Science after tenth grade, I moved to Commerce.
This marked the difference henceforth between me and those who were my bench mates up to high school. While they are in NASA, AIIMS etc, here I am, making my contribution to public service and nation building. Heh! Funny part. I use more Maths in my life and work than both of them.
Once in twelfth, my parents decided that I needed tuitions in Maths to help my grades. And I obliged.
The classes of Rajendran Sir were quite boring. There were just two of us there, as students – Me and Najeeb. We were the best students in Commerce. All the nerds had already moved to Science the last year, and we were the two that was expected to be there but ended here, and were competing for Ranks 1 and 2 in Commerce against a team of not so study-smart mates. Not that we were the masters in Commerce Maths. We were just that 70-75 marks category. But others in our batch were even worse. So we were like kingpins of the Wild West – no challengers to gun us down.
It was one of those days that she made a grand entry to the tuition class of Rajendran Sir. And it was love at first sight.
She was from the Science batch. At school, girls were in the morning shift, and we boys in the afternoon, therefore, we never got to see each other before, despite being from the same school. Though, love at first sight had happened before this, and many times after too, at that moment it was special. I was kind of mystified seeing her. She looked exactly like Meena from the movie Sandhwanam, sweet, delightful and cute.
And suddenly, Maths tuition classes started to look interesting.
I did not quite like the fact that Najeeb too was ogling at her. So I set the record straight that evening. I categorically told him – “Dude, Nair girls fall for only Nair guys, so back off”.
“But, how do you know she’s Nair? And, it doesn’t look like she’ll fall for you, especially comparing your Maths scores and hers!” – was his desperate reply.
Damn! He put the nail right across where it pained the most. I had no reply when someone starts comparing marks. And with that he had drained whatever guts I had to talk to her, let alone propose.
Days passed on and on. She used to come in, smile sweetly at me and Najeeb, listen attentively to Sir when we drooled, solved all the Maths problems with extreme unfussiness while we struggled, and went back in chic while we packed our bags in a hurry. She wouldn’t stop her smile till her father came up in the car to pick her back to home, while we waited for her to go. Once in the car, we would wave her goodbye, unmindful of the fact that she would never turn back and look at us to acknowledge. After all, we were a pair of low scoring Commerce guys who doesn’t deserve a good deal of attention from a girl from Science batch.
This went on and on till the start of the board exams, and for the first and last time, I was to see talk to her at the end of the Maths exam, while we were waiting for the school bus to go back home.
Even at that time, I was just smiling, without enough guts to start a conversation. It was she, who broke the ice and started off.
“How was the exam?” – was her question.
I was still smiling, that kind of smile that’s a mix of hope, contentment and despondency at the same time.
Seeing no reply coming from my side, she asked again- “Oh! So it didn’t go well? Problems were a bit tough isn’t it?”
I heard a chuckle behind me. It was Najeeb.
He really enjoyed this question that she asked me. And he was taking extreme pleasure in that I was getting psychologically weary by her presence and questions. I decided just not to let him have all the fun.
“Yeah! It was… easy… superb… excellent… good… kind of… interesting… tough!”
I was overflowing with all kinds of emotions. I started off poise, and then the answers trickled down to a combination of doubt, hesitation, apprehension and timidity. I was a 70 marks guy, trying to sound out like 90 percent, and it showed. Flop show!
Just then, we heard the honking of the school bus, and she started to run off to catch the best seat.
I just had a split second to get something out of her, at least her name. I was in shambles that all these days, I never bothered to garner the wits to ask her name at least.
“Which part of Kerala are you from?” – was the best I could muster at that time.
Running into the bus, she bellowed – “Calicut! And today is the last day of school; hope to catch you back there in homeland! I’m flying back tonight! Not waiting for the results!”
I stood still, looking at her, waving at me. The smile stood frozen on my face.
Gone! Gone with the wind! Clean bowled! Like in those days Shoaib Akhtar would send back Indian batsmen to the pavilion hitting the middle stump on the first ball. And there, I was still holding on to a few qualms!
For the first time in my life, I regretted not picking up Science for higher secondary. If then, I could have at least got the chance to have met her before. Or even after.
I regretted not asking her name even once before. There was no chance I could locate her back in India, not knowing a name, and with just a face in mind. After all, there was no Facebook then, or even emails.
And there ended, a one sided love story, even before it blossomed, lost to providence, like a plummet of rainwater that goes missing after it falls into the ocean.
Today, somewhere, she must be a Doctor or Engineer, and I guess, wouldn’t even remember a character like me. But, every time Chandrolsavam plays on Asianet, somewhere in the bottom of my heart, a ray of hope come running to mind, to see her once again.
No. Not to declare my long forgotten love for her or something.
But, just to ask her what her name is. At least, now!
As I said before, this is not the last time I fell in love, or the first time. It was just a passing phase here. The story of love at first sight that worked its magic can be read here.
Trace this incident back to the first few months of the new millennium, between January and April 2000. Hrithik Roshan was one film young; Sachin had just 11 years of international cricket under his belt, same as the age of Virat Kohli then; Mammotty was looking older than today at just 50 years; Rajnikanth’s Padayappa was running houseful and rocked the theatres; dial-up internet was considered superfast; and students did not have mobile phones with WhatsApp then. A tough time to fall in love.