“You’re dreaming again,” my brother glared at me, “it’s that Anjali Tandon, isn’t it? You haven’t heard a word I said.”

He could be kind and helpful when in a good mood. Which was not often. A battle scarred veteran of several doomed love affairs already, he had turned a bit cynical. At 17, five years older, he towered over me.

“I’m not dreaming about her,” I said defiantly.

“You are. You think she’s your girl, isn’t it?”

“She’s not.”

Yet in my feeble show of defiance, I felt happy inside to be teased about Anjali Tandon. Though no one else knew about it, least of all Anjali herself, she was My Girl. Mine alone.

Pretty as a picture, dazzling smile. I was sick with longing every time I caught a glimpse of her walking around or bicycling with her girlfriends, pretending to ignore us boys. There were several girls of my age in my neighbourhood, but I had eyes for only Anjali. We never spoke to each other though. To tell you the truth, it was just as well, for I was sure I’d be tongue tied and wouldn’t know what to say. But I’d whisper her name to myself often.

Time hurried on.

One day my brother came to my room and sat down beside me. I was pensive as usual, looking out of the window. He looked serious, as a bearer of bad news usually does.

And sure enough, he said quietly, “I saw your girl yesterday. At the movies.”

“She’s not my girl.”

“She was with a guy. Pavan Kaul. My class.”

I turned to look at him. He wouldn’t meet my eye.

“What were they doing?”

“You don’t want to know.”

What were they doing?

“What else? She was giggling a lot.”

I was stunned. Clutching at my last shred of hope, I asked feebly, “But it was pretty dark, no? How could you see anything?”

No answer. Squeezing my shoulder, he got up and left. I knew he was telling me the truth.

I walked up to my bed and lay down, my face in the pillow.

So this was heartbreak, I realised. If I felt this way, my heart must be broken. But the tears didn’t come. Actor Rajendra Kumar would cry at the drop of a hat in all his movies because he was always heartbroken. How did he manage? I thought of Rajendra Kumar. Then my lost love. After a while I forgot to think about either and fell asleep.

Next morning was a perfect day. Winter holidays were always glorious. Shouts woke me up and I rushed to the balcony.

“Aren’t you coming?”

It was the neighbourhood gang with all their cricket paraphernalia. Then I remembered – today was the big match with B Block, something we’d looked forward to for weeks. I grinned in delight.

Then I remembered that my heart was broken and my life was over. I glumly shook my head and went inside.

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Beetashok Chatterjee
Beetashok Chatterjee is a seaman by profession. This old sea dog is also a wannabe poet/writer, avid reader, music lover, movie buff, cricket enthusiast and a restless spirit.
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