Anyone from a smaller city , who has been to a co-ed school, knows that a big part of girls and boys growing up together in the eighties, was spent wondering and speculating about who liked whom!! Very few had the guts to go up to each other and pour their hearts out. School desks and rounders were the tools of communication in those days ,where eyes failed to cooperate.
courtesy google images
Few girls had their names engraved on the desks or had regular anonymous love letters delivered to them,duly signed as 'guess who??' , 'your only admirer' or 'forever yours'. Boys I guess were more open ,at least with each other.. so they would make pairs according to the latest crush and tease each other while girls had to rely on their instincts or sometimes on how a particular boy gazed dreamily at the girl to make a wild guess. Many love stories took birth and died without actually coming alive.Some did not even see the pages of a personal diary somewhere . You see,we all belonged to 'cultured' families and liking someone was just not allowed. Dooor se aankhe sekte thhe!
The class monitors were the most notorious lot, especially boys.We had these reading sessions in our English class where girls and boys had to read a paragraph ,alternately from the book .These were the revealing sessions where most girls would come to know about the boy they were being 'paired with'. It was quite simple actually,the boy in question would be followed by the girl while reading. The class monitor would call out the names in succession and we would sit with bated breaths as though our mid term results were being announced !Glances were exchanged ,giggles were stifled and the class would be abuzz with varied forms of suppressed emotions and expressions from boys and girls alike.
Sometimes there would be complications like we would pair a friend with who we thought she liked and the boys had another person lined up for that girl. Tease toh karna hi thha par kiske saath?! Major point to ponder in those days apart from studies and extra curricular activities.Very rare,senior couples were treated with awe and respect by juniors.Lunch time discussions revolved around the same topic .Those who got enough attention from the opposite sex, pretended that they did not care and those who were deprived of the attention either faked otherwise or played spoilsport in other students' lives by squealing to the teacher or the concerned student's parents.
Kendriya Vidyalaya or Central school ,where I studied, celebrated most of the festivals .We enjoyed all except Rakshabandhan ! It was disastrous for a boy to have his only crush tie Rakhi to him in front of the whole class.Many would hide inside the restrooms but teachers took special care that none was spared the torture. Imagine carrying a bunch of Rakhis to tie each boy in the class and at times,even outside the class. Imagine the plight of those who did not wish to be tied that thread. This forced ritual was painful, but I admit, quite funny too, at the end of the day.Some girls used this as an opportunity to snub boys who liked them .Poor guys would either try to hide behind each other or grin and bear it.
Courtesy Google images
This is where I learnt about 'maana hua bhai 'or muhbola bhai or 'rakhi brother'.I always wondered ,why should a boy be either a sainyaa or a bhaiyya? Why do we have to label a relationship? Why can't we be comfortable in just being friends? It was much later in degree college,that I made true friends who I never felt the need to label.Neither the ASP ( age,sex,personality ) factor nor the CCR (caste,creed,religion) factor mattered.
Bonds made that young, proved to be stronger ,time tested and they do not even require renewal at timely intervals.They do not have an expiry date.A remembrance,a tiny text, a call , excites the electrons enough to tease them out of their slumber and rekindle the fire.
I do not know about others but when this connect happens, to hell with the dreaded forties ...I always feel that I just came out of college...abhi- abhi buss kuchch saal pehle hi...
Rakhi of course has a new symbolic meaning for me now,it symbolises siblings tying Rakhis to each other and pledging support to each other through thick and thin.A day when sisters get Rakhis too and brothers also receive gifts. A day to just get together and have fun with cousins and extended family,khaana-peena and lots of masti .