It was a morning in school. We were as usual attending the morning assembly standing in rows as per our classes in the quart-angle area of the school. The ones in front had to pretend like they were listening as they were right in the eye of the teachers and principal. Whereas us at the back would tend to get a bit fidgety. The 15 minutes in Delhi winter cold as early as 7.30 was hard! So there I was in one of the rows at the back, class 5 or 11 years old. I had something on my mind. Something bad. Something that made me very guilty. As I was looking around I spot my good friend in the next row also looking around. Felt as though she too had something to share but wasn’t sure if she should. We had a couple of glances and soon the assembly was over. As the rows started moving one by one to their respective classrooms, we got a shot at talking to each other. And that was it. We both blurted it out, “Did you see splash last night?”
Splash the Hollywood movie about a mermaid with Tom Hanks in it was coming on DD Metro the previous night, the only channel with something international those days. It was actually really late at night and I sneaked up to watch it telling my parents I was doing homework. First it was just to watch the movie itself but the fact that it had a whole lot of passionate kisses and scenes where the mermaid comes on land in her birthday suit made me sure of the fact that I was not supposed to watch it alone. But I did. And next day I was dying to talk to someone about it. But who? And how can I just tell someone I watched this movie? What would they think of me? Luckily for me I wasn’t alone. There she was, my good friend who now had more in common with me than before. She watched it too! I had no idea what a journey was about to begin. And I have a feeling neither did she.
The same day at lunch break time we couldn’t stop giggling. We both knew it but neither spoke. I don’t know who finally started the conversation but soon we did. We confessed we watched the movie and how weird it was to wonder if anyone else in the history of the planet had done this kind of thing! We felt like we were way ahead. But yet there was a lot more to find out.
What does the 3 letter word starting with ‘S’ mean? What could it possibly mean? We didn’t waste time wondering and opened the dictionary. In vain. It gave us a definition that left us with two more words we knew how to spell but not what they meant. It was clear that one belonged to man and another to woman. But what could it possibly mean?
After trying all possible dictionaries in the library I decided I had to sneak the 3 kg weighing picture dictionary from my uncle’s place. I convinced my parents that it was for something extremely important at school and borrowed it for the day. My friend and I couldn’t sit still in all the classes before the lunch break that day. Finally it happened. The bell rang. We ran to get a place where we weren’t going to be surrounded by too many curious classmates, after all it was some adult word we going to find out about. So we started looking. Having absolutely no clue what to expect we turned the page. Finally we reached the word but turned out that was one of the few words without any picture! “WHYYY??? We were so close! Why is this mystery just going on and on???” We were very disappointed but not disheartened. This only made us more adamant on finding out the darn meaning.
Then onwards we started tearing any kinds of ads, write ups or anything that would qualify for cues in this big search of ours. With the research matter we would sit in the lunch break and decipher the same. Not sure it really helped us. Was it that we weren’t smart enough? But if we weren’t why would be even curious? We would just be like the rest of the classmates just sharing lunch and talking about classes and teachers at lunch time. But we weren’t doing that. We were smart. Doubts were answered. We moved forward.
Sometimes we would call each other when we saw any movie where couples were together alone and fully Hindi filmy style the flowers would meet, birds will fly etc. Just not helping.
Finally we came to a conclusion. It was after watching the condom ads those days and tonnes of hindi movies where the woman would get pregnant if she hugged a man tight topless. We kind of imagined that would be it. So what about the two words we didn’t understand? The male and female part? Well must be the chest of both. That was the end of our long and tough research. We felt relieved.
What next? Side effects. We hated men who walked around bare-chested or wearing just vests exposing a major part of their chests openly. I mean it was gross. And scary. Why would men be so pathetic? Just plain disgusting, we thought!
The year was over, soon we learnt all the efforts we put in were really not all that necessary. Next year’s Moral science book had a chapter on some growing up stuff including some doubts that my friend and I were already familiar with. Well not sure they taught us everything that early but surely enough for us not to despise the poor guys wearing vests in the torrid heat of Delhi summer.
My friend and I went on becoming even better friends after this whole episode as we discovered many more truths of life. Still crazy, still curious and still laughing about the things that we got right and didn’t. After all it’s not the ending that’s as much the story as the characters.