So I guess you all know about how MFK has absolutely no feelings for anyone right? Well, wrong. Turns out we do have a lot of feelings for this one person called S and if one were to let Facebook put a label on this relationship, it would definitely read ‘It’s complicated’.
So a few weeks back MFK called me up and again began with the whole spiel on how there are no feelings and more people from our class have fallen into the abyss of what they believe to be love, but surely is nothing more than their pituitary gland acting up (her words not mine). I just asked if she was just resurfacing this conversation over and over again because she was walking straight off the cliff with feelings for someone. There was silence followed by a shrill “Didi! How did you know?”
What followed was a battery of questions from me as a pseudo-parent/teacher/friend and she just begged me to come to Bombay so that we could speak about this in person and far far away from her mom. So go to Bombay I did.
I landed at her house and she wasn’t there. Her mother complained that this is the fourth time she is trying to get her hair right and hence is at the neighbour’s place. Her mom then worriedly shared that MFK has been distracted for the past few weeks and her grades both in her school as well as coaching classes have dropped. I would be lying if I said I knew what was going on. While her mother was complaining, MFK walked in – her hair done in a braid I could simply not fathom. She looked beautiful and I realized that in my head I kept seeing her as my 5th grader while she has grown up to be this awkward girl-woman. Her eyes welled up when she realized that her mom had told me all about her recent grades. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was not pleased. She kept her quiet as her mom and dad told me about how she barely listens to a word they have to tell her and how it is always as though she was mentally checked out. They did admit that she was putting in a lot of effort but they also didn’t miss to tell me that she was their only hope – their ticket out of this way of life.
While we were leaving to go, her mom called me to the side of the one room they all lived in and whispered, “Please talk to her, she is just not the same and I miss her” I am pretty sure MFK heard it but we both pretended like that didn’t happen and left. In the auto, I couldn’t help but ask what happened. Her eyes welled up again, she told me about how she has been distracted for just three weeks and how she is now back to being herself, she told me about how she felt her parents only noticed when she slipped up and not when she was doing great, how she didn’t care about what they thought because she knew she was going to do well. This was the kid I knew – my friend, my insanely level-headed kid and my kick ass student.
When we were walking, I asked her about S and her face lit up. He is very sincere and good in studies, she replied (as D said, if we had the brains to use these as criteria for crushes when we were 16, we would be far less embarrassed about our choices!). She began to like him when they were sitting in the same row next to each other at coaching class and soon enough (in one day!) realized that she is losing focus. She asked to be moved to sit in the back of the class and all was fine. She would think about him only while walking back from class to home and during dinner because that’s when she had the time. But then soon S realized that he liked her too. He began to ask her for pens to write his test, asked her stupid doubts in chemistry which she just knew he already understood and worst began walking to the back of the class (to where she was sitting) during tests to take extra supplements when he didn’t have to! She was getting really flustered by his weirdness and THAT’s what has been happening for the last three weeks. It took a lot of effort on my part to not want S’s head on a plate – how could this guy not see what he was doing! I know he is 16 as well, but I am on team MFK and if any boy is messing with her head, well then – he has me to answer to.
So now over chocolate cake, she declared that she has decided to completely ignore him as well as stop thinking about him. She has given herself time till end of September to get over this whole thing because she is aware that you cannot turn feelings off like a faucet (and also because it’s her birthday end of this month. Her point being she would grow out of it because it is her birthday after all). I just sat there listening to her, just thinking how this kid has grown up to be this amazing girl-woman who is so hard on herself and so admirably with her eyes on the game. We then moved on to discussing other things such as the Olympics and her dislike for trains but somehow in my head I kept circling back to the fact that how much ever I wanted to fight her battles for her (move S to another state), she is on her own now. She is figuring out this world and is doing a beautiful job at it. While we were getting the cheque, I just asked her about the situation with her mom – she bristled and said that her mom doesn’t understand anything. I reminded her that her mom has no clue about S (for the better!) so it is kind of hard to figure out what all of this is about. She didn’t say anything but changed the topic to some other girl who likes S’s brother and how that was panning out (not too great apparently). It was a relatively quiet auto ride back to her place and while getting down from the auto, she just said, “I am going to let Ma braid my hair the way she likes it for today” and hopped off to run back home.
All I was left with was this immense sense of love and a voice in my head reminding me to not go looking for S for a ‘talk’.