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So, when I moved to the nearest town for my grade 11. I was a traditional, innocent, shy and a girl with very low self-esteem.

I was barely 15. There were a few girls from the 3rd year at the University staying next to my place. They found me cute and almost a kid-sister. These girls were different, they wore shorts, miniskirts, spoke English fluently and sounded super confident. I, on the contrary, being a village girl who wore salwar suits, long skirts and even a saree.

After repeatedly excusing myself on being invited, I finally agreed to be part of a small in-house party. Needless to say, I stuck out like a sore thumb. Everyone there spoke English, was dressed in stylish clothing and sounded confident. I just stood there with a pause, unmoving, zapped and with the conviction of an alien. Of all the boys present there pursuing medicine, law and engineering there was this guy who was different in every sense. He was least read and the most confident. In a while I discovered that this gentleman was the president of the student’s political party. Since I have known myself, I always liked kind, brave, honest people and people who helped others and kept promises (I’m a follower of Swami Vivekanand). He seemed just like one of them. He just ticked all the boxes albeit on the wrong sheet which I would discover shortly but for that moment I was slipping into love.

I swiftly accepted when invited the next time, expecting to meet him again. I walked into the room to find this chap standing on the balcony, my eyes fixed on him, the way a child fixes her glaze on his favourite toy. Sheepishly, persistently, and oblivious of everyone around me, my eyes rolled over him repeatedly. Admiring the way he spoke, what he spoke and the way he conducted everything. I was certain I had found my fav toy and would not let this go. I was aware and helpless at my trans-fixation of this man, but I let my heart rule me, for the first time. By the time I left the party I was worse, almost sure that I was in love.

As I floated through my pink thoughts and endless dreams the doorbell rang. My neighbours, the hosts of those parties, had decided to check on me, to see if I was well and to know how I found their friends and parties. I told them it was different from what I had seen earlier in my life but none the less I enjoyed it to the T. After a brief girly chat, one of them mentioned Rohit to me and without much chatter, I was asked if I liked him. Typical to how girls in those days reacted, I smiled and bowed my head in agreement. As I blushed, they teased me, and as they teased, I almost dug my head embarrassed to my teeth.

Next day the girls called me home, I went half wishing to see the guy again. They were once again pally, loving, though a little nicer this time. Once the pampering was over the tone gradually turned colder, sinking my heart. It turned out that I was rejected. My feelings, my thoughts, my expectations were officially discussed with him sitting across a table, my property was put under the hammer without me knowing about it. As it turned out it was hammered. These girls without my permission had passed on my feelings to him and he had quickly turned me down. He saw me as an eager teenager from a villager, primitive, almost uneducated but yes pretty. I did not fit his idea of a new age girl, too unfit to be loved. I till that moment had some idea about what love was but now I had a very certain idea of what being rejected in love was. I broke down and was offered a shoulder which I freely used. They were sympathetic towards me, almost certain that I deserved this. I was not fit for love.

Years went by and not much happened on the dating scene but my love for books paid off. With a sound performance in all subjects my application for guest faculty went through and I got my first job at another university not too far away. Pay was paltry but phenomenal in the sense that my first paycheck equaled the amount I had in my pocket when I had left home 5 years ago. The feeling sitting in the staff room was of DeJa’Vu, feeling of being a misfit. I was surrounded by men and women who were much older, much better educated and much more experienced than I was. The difference this time was that this time I was being paid to be different. I liked the respect and attention my job gave me. I was treated as a prodigy and almost like a pastry by boys who barely a year or two younger than I was. Nonetheless I always maintained a stern gaze and demeanour. I loved the power and adulations that were flowing.

The dreamy village girl was once again daring to dream, wishy, happy, confident, looking straight through the air I was walking through the alleys of the university when I heard my name being called out. I turned around to see it was that man who had rejected me 5 years ago. My confidence deep inside me melted but thankfully not vanished. I felt that pain and insult run through me again. I would accept that I was scared that I would once again be treated the same way. I picked myself up very quickly and said hello with a tone that I thought was too meek. He asked if I remembered who he was, to which I wanted to say no but before I could say a no, yes made its way out of me. After a few niceties what he said confused, hurt and pleased me all at the same time. He complimented that I looked ravishing, confident and almost another person. I confirmed I was still the same albeit with thin coat of varnish. He accepted that it was a bad idea to reject me that day. His eyes had popped out of his socket staring at me. I felt avenged, relaxed and as if I had crossed over to a new chapter in my life. To his embarrassment and my delight, I thanked him for turning me down because that moment changed me like nothing else would have. I excused myself and walked off to the next lesson.

Deep in me there was nothing new, I wore and looked the same. Possibly when you feel great you look great. I had changed and changed for good



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