It was a sunny Monday afternoon, and I was visiting a science exhibition presented by the students of some of the premiere colleges in India. I was feeling bored. Though I worked in the IT field, and I was exposed to cutting-edge technology every day, the exhibition, unfortunately, did not have anything to do with my field of interest.
Suddenly, from a remote corner, I heard a bespectacled young man with a flowing beard shout, ‘Hey folks, would you like to grow younger? Are you sixty and tired of life? Are you forty or thirty? Just for 1000 Rs, I will take you back in time so that you can enjoy some of the most pleasant experiences of your life. Do you want to revisit the first time you asked a girl out on a date? Are you feeling nostalgic about watching some of your favourite and beautiful news readers on door darshan? Are you missing your very first girlfriend? Come to me and just for Rs 1000 you can get a taste of your past.’
The fellow had a reasonably large wooden box with a steel door placed next to him. There were a couple of levers sticking out of the box. I went near him and could see that the levers were attached to a circular piece of cardboard marked with years. No one was taking up his offer, as obviously the man was either out of his mind or else, he was a con man.
But something about the man intrigued me. So, I walked up to him and said in a voice loaded with sarcasm, ‘I am sure no one believes you here. What are you up to? You look intelligent and cut the figure of a Physics professor. You aren’t going to get any business here. Even if you want to con anyone you ought to come up with a better line of approach than the one you are using now. If I tell you to take me back fifteen years in my life can you do it?’
The man smiled benevolently at me and said ‘You don’t believe me, eh? Just get into the box and I will show you.’
I hesitated, but by now a crowd had gathered around us and everyone looked at me curiously. Just to humour the chap and not lose face in front of the crowd, I said ‘Okay then.’
The man proceeded to open the door of the wooden box. I got in and he gently closed the door. The enclosure was dimly lit and there was a small chair in front of me. I sat on the chair and waited fearfully not knowing what to expect. I could hear the sound of the man pulling one of the levers and suddenly there were very beautiful colours flashing all around me and I passed out.
I sat in the 12th-grade Chemistry class unable to concentrate on the monologue on organic chemistry the teacher was subjecting us to. In the last class test, conducted a few days back, I could just score a pass mark of 5/10. Ah! How I hated Chemistry! Physics was okay, but I liked Maths best, especially Trigonometry. The next lesson was Maths and Jayapal Chandra Sir would be teaching us integral Calculus. And I simply loved it.
As it is, my thoughts floated over to Pammi. I did not even know her full name. All I knew was everyone called her Pammi and I knew she was probably a Maharashtrian, and her surname was Joshi. She was the prettiest girl in the entire colony in which I lived, and I knew she reciprocated my feelings. She was a year elder than me, but I cared a damn. And I knew she loved me too. But the problem was she was 18 and I was 17 and in those days such an age difference was frowned upon. But neither of us cared. She lived just next door to me and every time we met, we would look deep into each other’s eyes and speak with them.
And my friend Biju who knew all about our eye-to-eye confessions of love told me to lay off as this could spell trouble. I could never gather the guts to tell her. Finally, one day she walked up to me and said, ‘Jayakumar, I am leaving for the US tomorrow with my family. I bought this for you to remember me with.’
She handed over a small and beautiful candle stand to me. It could not have cost much, but it meant the world to me. After a few days, Pammi and her family moved out and I was literally and figuratively left holding the candle. For days I could not forget her. But finally, I realized I had to get serious about my education and began my preparation for the IIT Joint Entrance Examination. I was preparing for that together with two of my closest friends. Both were Math geeks. Compared to them I was nothing, be it in Math, Physics, or Chemistry. Finally, we wrote the exam, and my performance was very poor. Both my friends got through with terrific ranks and chose electronics at IIT Madras.
By that time my father also got a transfer to Chennai, and I began my second year of preparation. This time I worked very hard, and Pammi had become a distant memory by then. I spent at least 5 or 6 hours on my studies every day. This time I was able to perform reasonably well. On the day of the results, I went over to IIT Madras where they were put up. To make a long story short I secured rank no 1783 out of a total of 2000. This was the most joyful moment of my life, and I went back home and announced it to my parents, and they were thrilled. It just occurred to me how wonderful it would be to be able to tell Pammi about this. I suddenly remembered the parting gift she had presented me, and I wanted to find it. I asked my father, ‘Appa do you remember that candle stand our neighbour presented me? Where is it?’
My father looked at me and said ‘I threw it away. It broke.’
‘What? Why did you do that?’ I exclaimed loudly.
Suddenly I sat bolt upright and came to the here and now as lights were again flashing all around me. After some time, the lights stopped, the door of the box opened gently, and the bearded man poked his head inside. He grinned at me and said ‘Enjoyed reliving your memories of 15 years back? Now you believe me?’
I did not know what to make of this man and his machine and I was suddenly scared of him. I got out of the box, stuffed the money into his hand, and made my way back home to my wife.
This post is part of the Blogchatter Blog Hop
4 thoughts on “Reminiscences Of My First Love”
A very creative take on the prompt.
Btw, where’s Pammi now? 😅
Thank you. I have absolutely no idea where she is Tom.
awww..love this write-up, Jai. bittersweet memories. I can vaguely recall a Pammi in Janak Puri:)
Yes! Yes! Even I have forgotten her face by now. She had two younger brothers also. One’s name was Pawan Joshi and the third one was simply called Babu. Yes, bittersweet memories as you say.