She had made fun of me the first time we met.
The acerbic words, the colourful and often (more like always) hurtful diatribes I am now known for were missing in my repertoire back then. It was a time, when once I had found out that the female of the species Canis Familiaris is called a ‘bitch’, had found it exceedingly funny and decided to christen everything I met on my way back from school by the same name, my mom had put a little red chilly powder on my tongue and warned me that if I ever called a woman that she’d disown me.
She had made fun of me and I had remained silent.
I was four years old and she was about three years older and four fingers taller than me. She could have easily taken me.
She had made fun of me and I would have done the same if I were in her position.
You see, I still hadn’t mastered the subtle art of tying my shoelaces. I never really understood the whole ‘one little bunny goes over the bridge, hides below the hedge and is then pulled out by the evil witch’ bit. What the hell was a bunny doing on my shoes anyway?
She had made fun of me and then gone ahead and tied my shoelaces.
We had become friends instantly. And we were inseparable. We were together when I lost my first tooth, when she and I learnt to ride a bicycle, when her parents split, when she had her first period (the oddest day of my life so far), when Jurassic Park came to the theatres, when she was asked out on her first date …
And then my parents decided to move to a different city.
We were sitting on top of the water tank on my terrace (our favourite place). We had not spoken for over an hour. We just sat there looking at the houses around us, the play ground where we had learnt to climb trees together and our old school in the distance. We didn’t look at each other. We didn’t want to cry.
My mom called out from the driveway. They were ready to leave. I said I’ll be down in a few minutes.
I looked at her. And did something I had never expected to do. I kissed her, kissed her for the longest possible time. But something was amiss. She wasn’t responding. Her lips weren’t moving. I kissed her harder, pulled her closer to me. Nothing. I only withdrew when I felt her tears on my cheek. Her face was expressionless. She didn’t say anything.
My mom called again. I stood up in a daze. Said goodbye. She still didn’t say anything. I stood there for a moment and then climbed down the stairs.
On the way to the railway station I did not speak to anyone. All I could think about was her. Had I done something wrong? Had I destroyed the only friendship which meant anything to me? Had I …
I was fourteen years old. And that was my first kiss?