Just a few days ago, I got enrolled into my second year of
I had first seen her in the library, and then after a few casual glances exchanged; I was introduced to her by a common friend.
Oddly, her name made me go into a funny bit of nostalgia, not because I knew her previously, but because I knew a hilarious incident related to her name.
She said her name was Justin…
My childhood days were great adventurous times. I used to spend half my time outside the house in some or the other way. My mother used to find excuses to keep me off the house in some pretext or the other, the prankster and tazz-like whirlwind that I was! Sometimes I would be sent for extra curricular activities, sometimes to recreational classes. And this way in my first twelve years, an attempt was made to make me a jack of all trades! I would be sent to singing classes, and also to calligraphy and fine arts courses. I would be trained for dancing and also every weekend, I would be made to don a white robe, tie a long, loose and weird belt on my waist, which had to be tied by some weirder knots which I never figured out how to do myself. And the place in question was the weirdest; my karate, or as the instructors there used to prefer, my martial arts classes. And man they were full of peculiar incidents!
A particular one which I vividly recollect is the time when we had been taken to their bi-annual field trip of a week at Panvel.
Now at such times, students, or rather ninjas from all the branches spread in the city, would assemble together. Special training would be given by the top notch echelon of the institute and even the higher degree examinations (yes, believe me, they used to conduct paid exams!) would be taken over there.
I remember that the hall where we used to be trained and practiced was a tad bit walk away from our dormitories, and these bloody heartless twitches would make all of us, the young (I was twelve, and there were people younger than me!), and the old, up to that huge hall, which we had termed as room of echo’s, on account of the rebounding sounds issued in the place.
Now we were all organized in these strict files, and assigned partners randomly, in a way of order of standing. Usually people of the same class got to partner themselves, but once or twice, because of the serpentine queues, you could end up with someone really unknown. And that day I had.
Now I was twelve at that time, and naturally, hormones had not kick started their activities in my body as yet; and hence my affinity and amiability towards girls was hugely restricted. And particularly, I did not like ending up paired with a girl on the to and fro rounds of the room of echoes (you would have to hold their hands!! Eeesh!) Thus I was fairly relived that day, when my hand was held by a slightly intimidating guy who looked some two-three years older to me; having a crop of hair that seemed to be hacked off in a brutal fashion which didn’t suit him. There also came a sort of a subdued and delicate vibe from this person, as if his exterior frame was just a deception and he actually was a very frail and kind person. Even when he held my hand, there was this touch of frugality which tip-toed on the border of being feminine!
“Huh! What bozo!” I thought. “Cant even hold hands with the pre-requisite firmness!” To compensate for his weakness I strengthened my grip, to give a signal; be a man, hold tight!
He looked quite astonished when I did this, as if to say I had no etiquettes! But he spoke nothing, and just turned away his face. I thought I saw something reddening in it, but didn’t pay attention. I was in one of those jovial moods when I wanted to talk to everyone around, and I would have chatted him up even if he would have been a stone.
“What’s your name, by the way?” I asked
“Justin” he replied without turning away.
‘Justin’ I thought. ‘Cool’
“So Justin, where do you come from?” I cheerily asked, trying to sound extra care-free.
I think I missed my mark, because he looked more and more uncomfortable. The grip was progressively slackening, and I thought he was trying to sidle it off. I reinforced my pressure, and this time I distinctly saw him turning sunset red.
“Vile-Parle” he mumbled, hoping, I think, that that would shut me out, and slacken my grip. It wasn’t so although. If anything, it made me more curious.
“So that means you must be under Jugnu sir! How is he?” I asked.
Jugnu sir was our district head, and of all things I knew about him, he taught at Parle was one sure thing.
“Fine” he replied, his tone degrading to mortification.
What was making him so embarrassed, I thought? Was he one of those weirdoes’s that my friends were discussing previous day, who behaved peculiarly towards other guys, I wondered? Dunno. But this item is particularly strange…!
I gave up the idea of continuing my conversation with him, thinking it would not be fun. As it is we reached the hall in another minute, so my mind drifted easily.
Next day, as I trundled back to my dormitory after the evening session, I overheard the conversation of my two seniors. And their conversation was about this same guy Justin.
“Did you see her, man… damn sexy, huh?” one asked the other, his expression almost drooling. These were some just-turned-seventeen year olds and I guess had their hormonal activity going on in strong force.
“What? You prefer tom-boys?” the other one replied.
“No man, I mean her hairstyle is not so great, but did you catch the figure? Dude…” he replied, his voice dreamy, as if he was into some un-mentionable fantasy.
Thinking that these big dodos were misled, I decided to correct them. Unfortunately.
“Are you talking about that Justin who’s got that colossus height? The one who looks like he can knock the wind out of you, but can’t even kill a fly? Nah! He’s a guy.” I said, feeling I had brought enlightenment to two foolhardy idiots.
They stared at me for full two minutes in astonishment, wondering, I guess whether I was a human or not? Admittedly, at twelve I was lot smaller than them. That should have intimidated me, but it did not. I felt a strong sense of arrogant superiority. As if I was some super intelligent, big brained know-it-all and they some petty laymen. Stupid, idiot, foolish me.
Then suddenly they both burst out laughing, and my arrogance turned into chagrin. What was so funny?
“You got to grow up before you talk about girl’s kid” the first one said, pulling my cheeks in a rather un-innocently, reprimanding way.
“How will you know, you tho might not even be getting arousals!” the other guffawed, and gave a victorious high five to his partner, as if he had made a match-winning slam dunk! And then they moved on.
Next day I decided to scrutinize that guy/girl properly with my friends. When we were standing in our usual parade line in the morning, I and my chums minutely observed him/her.
I was aghast! He was indeed a girl! What am I speaking, she was indeed a girl. She was having this curvaceous body that would have put any normal guy to shame-of-suicide. Again I was laughed at and more humiliatingly, because it my friends this time who did so.
I was completely subdued and morose after that incident for a few days. I decidedly vowed never to use my big-useless dung of a brain. Apparently that trip was spoilt.
But on the last night, when there was this party thrown for every student to have a time of their lives (although it was preferable to stay asleep, the management and arrangement was so pathetic!) this girl Justin accidentally got just behind me in the queue for dinner-buffet. It was my turn to turn red and avoid things this time. She however had something else on her mind.
After she loaded her plate (I scurried off with an almost empty plate, to locate a deserted, Justin-free location), she caught up on me and smiled a wide smile.
I was taken aback at first and didn’t know what to respond. Strangely, I could still see only a guy in her face. Or maybe it was because I did not look anywhere below her eyes. But there was a strange glow in them, almost as if winking. She wanted to acknowledge my ignorance and stupidity. More importantly, she wanted to let it pass off. She wanted to absolve me of any guilt or shame…
Justin was a girl… But more-importantly, she was my first girl-friend.