Lemme start from Jan 15, 1981, the day I first realized what a schoolboy crush was. It hit me, almost like a huge cricket bat across my face, and I was in love. Kakali, the object of my crush (and as I later discovered, of so many others in my class), was rather blanched, almost like a Caucasian. And that made her stand apart. She was sweet, no doubt, but not really good looking. There were other little girls who were far prettier than Kakali, but she had the "right" complexion to tilt all the pre-adolescent attention to her side of things. We were only ten years old. All of us.
Now we had seen white women in pictures. Mostly pictures in the magazines from Soviet Russia (they used to translate their magazines into ALL Indian languages!!). And also in the National Geographic magazines my dad used to get from his office library. But the latter usually carried photos of African and Latin American tribes, and also of chimpanzees and gorillas. Of Indian shepherds too, at times. So, we had to devour the pictures of the bovine, buxom, Russian women, but white nonetheless. As text never meant anything to me in those days, I just remember the pictures. And now as I try to reconstruct the articles that came with them, they were probably about workplace environment, pollution control, gymnastics and huge ugly trucks (with the white lady in the driver's seat).
But there were women in them. Women who we mentally disrobed everyday (tough, they mostly wore dungarees), experiencing a funny throbbing sensation somewhere deep inside. We were growing up together. Into this entire generation of hungry perverts.
And Kakali walked in. With her red hair and pink lips and light-brown freckles.
The initial silence gave way to utter chaos. It was nothing but a sudden need for seating rearrangement, if I may call it that. There were the shy guys too who quietly looked away. I was one of them. And soon Kakali was sitting between the strongest of the monsters, Subbu and Kumar. A few rows behind me, although I could feel her presence with every hair on my body.
After all these years can I blame her for my not learning algebra?