Legend has it that when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BC, fearing her husband’s death or any misfortune, his wife Roxana sent a sacred thread to King Porus. The thread saved Alexander’s life when Porus had him within range and only had to take a swipe but didn’t. Eventually, Porus lost the Battle of Hydaspes to the Greek King.
Trust women to throw up such dreadful surprises for you. If it weren’t for Roxana’s thread, Alexander would have been dead and Porus would have been undefeated.
If there was a Roxana for Porus, there was an Ipsita Das for me. She started it all in the seventh standard. Ever since then, I have not been able to trust another woman.
It was a normal day in Kolkata. As usual, I had fetched milk from a Mother Dairy booth, taken a shower, and dragging my school bag, I was off.
Even as I walked towards my school, I saw a few guys ambling around with their right hand – holding it a little farther away from their body. Their gait suggested that there was something wrong. Something that made them look at their hand at regular intervals but since I had been asked to come early by one of my classmates – a girl at that – I kept walking.
You know that smirk of satisfaction? One that adorns one’s face when one has everything in life? I had that smirk as I walked towards my classroom.
It was not every day that a girl came to me and said: “Rajan, why don’t you come early tomorrow morning?”
Did she want to propose? Did she like me?
I had decided that I would accept it as soon as she proposed. I was 13 years old, it was about time I had a girl to call mine.
She was smart and in the last 12 hours she had also started looking beautiful.
As I entered my classroom, I noticed that she was alone. “How convenient,” I muttered under my breath. As I looked up, I noticed a glow radiating from her face. She was far prettier than I had given her credit for.
I knew she wanted to say something important but was just a wee bit hesitant. I walked towards her. She stood still. I moved closer. Her innocence showed.
Through the corner of my eyes I saw that her bag was open and a greeting card was neatly placed next to it. My heart started pounding. Was it a heart shaped card? What will I have to give her in return? How will I arrange for the money to get her a return gift?
I stood there not knowing what to do. She smiled. The kind of smile that makes you ask for more.
“You take such good care of me,” she broke the silence.
I didn’t remember anything I had ever done for her. I didn’t know what “care” she was talking about but I didn’t let it show. Though I was only 13 years old, I had learnt that when one didn’t know what was going on, one only had to gaze back like Gautama Buddha to come across as the ‘all-knowing’ individual.
“I want you near me all my life,” she continued.
I loved this attention. This girl was definitely a conversationalist.
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As my thoughts raced all over, I started getting worried. How will I break the news to my parents? Theirs was an arranged marriage and would they agree to my love marriage? How will I convince them? What will all my uncles and aunts say?
I had decided that if my parents didn’t agree I would get out of the house. I would only have to earn money to study till class 12 and after that, I would pass the National Defence Academy (NDA) exam and start getting a stipend. We would then get married and our life would be on track.
“Lets do this before the others come,” she said. She was right, and I muttered a feeble “Sure, as you say.”
She came closer, held my hand and asked, “Rajan, will you be my Rakhi brother?”
She no longer seemed innocent.
Before replying, I looked behind my back to check if anybody had heard that. It was just the two of us in the classroom. I assessed the situation and came to the conclusion that not much damage was done.
“Seriously? I enquired.
She nodded. I thought I spotted an evil smile that only touched her lips for a brief second before being buried in her heart forever. It has been twenty-eight years since, and I can still visualize and play the scene and the smile in my mind.
I wouldn’t go into the details of everything that happened after that. It is too painful to be shared on an open platform but thanks to this incident, I ended up being smarter. Now, I don’t plan my whole life based on single sentences from girls.
Since this event, Rakhi has become a dreaded word for me. This is saying a lot because I have two sisters Deepa and Sumathy, who are a piece of art in themselves. For instance, last year, on the day of Rakshabandhan I received an SMS from them saying, “Bhaiya, forgot to send you Rakhis this year as well. Can you buy two on our behalf? Happy Rakhi!”
I didn’t mind it till I received a follow up SMS in the evening, “So where is our sagan?”