I am Pandora, and this is my box.
It would be an interesting topic, this, everyone confessing about the things they have done for their crushes in the heat (?) of the moment. But then, we wait and we pause, and think how people would judge us if we were to spill the beans. And we just, well, basically keep quiet. Except I read a lady declaring all that she had done, and liked it so much, and it brought back such fond, and then disgraceful, memories that I simply had to write about infatuations of various sorts.
I realize now that I have always liked having a crush on someone or the other. I like the anxiety of it, the way your heart whoops and then sinks and leaves you feeling all flustered, and how meeting him becomes the focal point of your day. This is the point for Victorian moralists – and you would be amazed at their number, they seem to be swarming all over the place – to stare at me, agape, and say, “What a thing to say! You actually like crushes? How can you even like so many people, I fell in love with a single person in my life and married them and haven’t even thought of anyone else. Look at you being all modern…” Which might all be very commendable (and hypocritical and antediluvian as well), but then, I am not here to argue with anyone. I’m just remembering the silliest, stupidest, sweetest things I have done for the sake of grabbing someone’s attention.
The first incident I clearly remember is scrawling the person’s name in the blackboard. This might have gone unnoticed, if I hadn’t waited until after class to sneak up to his section and write his name in big bold letters, embellished with awry stars and flowers all around. Now that I see him in some Facebook pictures of friends, looking like an alien with his dirty gold hair and a snobbish gaze, I wonder what I was thinking of. But then I was an awkward, unattractive, out-of-place teenager, and he seemed to be a Greek God through all the final years of my schooling.
I got butterflies in my stomach when I caught sight of his satchel, I thought his stutter was akin to the heartthrob of the day, and so it was no surprise that I graduated to crank calls, and then mild stalking around school, and then, finally, the hallmark of shame — creeping up to another class and writing his name with abandon, except that the third day, four guys were lurking below the window to catch the miscreant. You can imagine my plight when they spied me. I ran down three flights of stairs and hid in the bathroom and could simply not face them from that day on.
The other big thing I have done for crushes is write. I wish I could also croon a lullaby or paint the male version of Mona Lisa, but words being my only tool, I wrote stories for them. Out of the two-dozen-odd stories I have penned, more than half have been inspired by crushes and featured them in the lead too. I wrote blissfully about the things that happened and those that I only imagined had happened with them, I described with great abandon their orange jackets and lisping voices and bunny-like teeth. Until one day, when a particularly ingenious crush called my bluff, and called me in the middle of the night to say he had found me out. Embarrassing it was, but then I was quite grown-up too, and being discovered this time was quite not as bad as the previous one.
One thing I did quite a few times, and I suspect it is the easiest and most obvious thing to do, was placing myself in my crushes’ paths (quite accidentally, of course). I would just be ‘passing by’ his home, or college, or hostel, or even the ‘junction’ where he gathered with his friends for evening coffee and gossip. Now that I have begun listing them, all that I have actually done makes me cringe. Like setting the alarm at midnight and getting up, all bleary-eyed, to listen to an idiotic program by a crush (and happily assume that all the sings were played just for me). Or buying someone a WAVE magazine in those days when I had to save my pocket money to do so. Copying their notes, letting them copy my assignments, striking up inane conversations when we had absolutely no reason to talk, pretending to like the books (or movies or songs) they like, always carrying around a water bottle in the faint hope that they would feel thirsty, writing third-person Facebook statuses, again (hoping against) hope that they would take it as a cue, typing their name into a ‘love calculator’ app that promised to find out how much they ‘loved’ me… The reactions to these actions of mine have been as diverse as the crushes themselves. The cunning ones have been flattered, the simpleminded ones have been bewildered, and the sensitive ones have simply stopped all contact with me.
Of course, these days, there is the facade of maturity that I need to cower under. But that has not dampened my spirits, not at all! Although the frequency of crushes, I have noticed, has dropped down drastically. There do not seem to be goosebumps-inducing people anymore. But anyway, for the crushes that pop up few and far between, the current trick I enjoy is staying Offline in chat until I see their name come alive in green, and then suddenly go Online and spring upon them (like a tigress, no less). And then I lay back, and enjoy their discomfiture, and mine, and let the show go on.
This article was originally published in Republica (The Week), October 19, 2012.