The first was Anne Frank, whose 13-year old photo was of the most beautiful girl I could ever imagine. As a 10 year old boy, I couldn't fall for anybody else at that time. Anne Frank, the girl who, if cryogenically preserved and brought back to life today, will be my girlfriend forever. I will make sure she never gets to shed a tear. I will make sure she never runs out of food. And many of you out there must have fallen for Anne like I did. It wasn't unnatural. Many of my friends were in love with her too. We were of course in love with little Priyanka Gandhi at the same time, because she was the most beautiful Indian girl we had seen, but then, Anne was dead and gone, and indelible from our memories, whereas Priyanka was probably still wetting her bed on troubled nights.
And another collective crush was on Nazia Hassan, who brought disco to India. Everybody I knew was in love with her. All the girls were in love with her brother, and their LP Disco Diwane was a must have in all homes, save the ones of the proletariat, who shunned these American influences on their carefully preserved culture. They welcomed Allen Ginsberg with open arms and Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong were revered, but The Beatles? Trash, I tell you. That's gonna ruin your culture.
I agree with the Bengali proletariat. Poor guys. But anyway, Nazia's LP was coveted as much for her picture on the cover as for the songs.
Meanwhile, most of Enid Blyton's characters had made a rather boisterous entry into the collective psyche of the school students. Sometimes to such an extent that the girls chose either to become the tomboyish Georgina (George) or to become Anne, the perfect British blond schoolgirl. We heard of sausages and bacon and made our parents run to Janata Variety Store in Benachitty to find out what these things meant. That man had canned food: the food of the whites! Every time we passed by, we looked at the Russian, German, and British engineers and their wives buying their monthly provisions. We were certain that they read Enid Blyton too and got the idea of having sausages from her stories.
I was in love with Anne of Famous Five. With the character, believe me! She was small, sweet, a little foolish at times, scared of darkness, and needed protection. Can't really explain to you here how she appealed to me. And to add to my wonder, they started telecasting the Famous Five series produced by BBC at more or less the same time. No, maybe I am wrong... maybe I had moved to Alistair Macleans by then, but I was in my early teenage years when they showed Anne on TV. We had a portable, b/w TV and the transmission wasn't clear, so it was difficult for me to get her name from the credits. Sometimes the credits move too fast, don't you think? I think I got her real name and also the address of the BBC, but don't know if I could finally muster the courage to write to them about her address. Maybe I did. I do remember that I never got an answer.
Many such crushes followed: Suchitra Sen in the movie Shaar-e Chuattor (Seventy Four and a Half), Meg Ryan, and later Helen Hunt. I would watch their movies and stay mesmerized for days, but all of this faded after a few days. There was also Carrie-Anne Moss in that list but I hadn't noticed the Anne in her name until recently. I was growing up, feeling responsible enough for my age, happy with the Anne I married (she too is afraid of the dark and needs a lot of protection) until another Ana arrived in the scene.
And this is Ana de la Reguera. She looks too beautiful for someone who can fall for Jack Black, but the beautiful sister in Nacho Libre looks like someone you can keep on the altar and worship all your life. A google search of her images will yield better results, am sure (if you want to see her posing in the nude), but I like her in her nun's habit, thank you. I guess she has never looked prettier in anything else, or rather, anything less. However, I saw her last night and already her memory is fading.
But I doubt if anyone can ever take my Anne Frank away from me.