Yesterday, chatting with a friend brought to mind the weird behaviour of one of our classmates. To protect identities, I will call her The Nonpareil.I remember meeting her for the first time on campus.
After depositing my stuff in the room assigned to me at the hostel, I headed for the dining hall to have tea. Enroute, I bumped into this girl. She was in the room next door. Tall, slim and decent looking, she was also from my home town. I was happy to have found some common ground.
As we sat down with our cups of chai, we began exchanging information about ourselves, our families etc when suddenly, out of the blue, she shared some private information.
"You know, I've just broken up with my boyfriend."
"Oh?," thought I "do I really need to know this?" I made sympathetic noises and tried to change the topic. But, there was more.
"He is half English you know. We were high school sweethearts. But he had to relocate to London. So there was really no future for us."
As the semester advanced, Nonpareil's behaviour made me more and more convinced that she was an oddball. She had long hair which she would insist on leaving loose, earning her the sobriquet 'Jhadoo' (broomstick) in the men's hostel. She ALWAYS wore make up. Even at six in the morning, if we went out for a morning walk, she would be all dressed up with eyes lined, lipstick on and contacts in place. When asked why, she would say 'you never know when you could meet Mr. Right'. At times if you walked into her room, she would be sitting, listening to some soppy Alisha Chinai number, with tears streaming down her face, presumably mourning the loss of her relationship with Mr. Half English.
Come Valentine's day, those of us not in relationships trooped off for an evening of fun in town. As we returned to hostel tired and happy, we came upon Nonpareil walking up the hostel path with a giant bouquet of red roses clasped to her person. She was blushing and looking very coy.
Being the noisy and nosy kind, we demanded to know the secret of the red roses. To which she replied shyly that Mr. Half English was back in her life. He had come to town to make arrangements for his sister's wedding and had asked her out for coffee. The long and short of it was that they were back together.
Thank God! Now perhaps we could get back to a life without all the drama.
My friend, however, was not convinced.
"Its all very convenient"
"Oh you're just a doubting so-and-so. What does it matter? Life without all the 'rona-dhona'is great!"
And so it was. Although the re-entry of Mr. Half English did not induce her to tie her hair, the days of crying to Indipop music seemed to be over. Nonpareil walked around with a generally happy demeanour and reduced the theatrics.
During semester break, I called her - since she lived in the same town as me. Not because I was eager to spend time with her but because I was eager to know how the Nonpareil - Mr. Half English saga had progressed. Before leaving for home she had told us that she would be breaking the news to her parents (as would he) and they would probably set a date for engagement / marriage etc.
After the usual 'Hi, how's life' was over, I asked her about it and was astounded by her reply.
"Oh. Something terrible has happened Deepa" she said. "Mr. Half English died."
"Yes. He was in a road accident in London." she said calmly.
Really? How convenient. I did not believe a word of it. For a girl who wept buckets at sentimental songs and walked around like a waif for a guy who was apparently her soulmate, to be this calm and yes...disinterested...made me smell a rat.
I immediately called up another friend and relayed the news to her.
"I told you!" she crowed. "It was all a story she was feeding us. I knew Mr. Half English never existed. Or if he did it was in her head. Now perhaps he's become redundant and so she's bumped him off".
"How can you be so sure?" I asked.
"Arrey she used to fake phone calls. Do you remember once in the dining hall she got a phone call which she said was from Mr. Half English? Well I was the one that received the call first and it was from her parents."
"Why would somone go to such lengths to prove that they had a boyfriend?" I wondered.
There was only one answer. She was a total whacko! Or perhaps a seriously troubled girl who needed help.
Years have passed since then. Nonpareil I heard had got married, divorced and remarried. This time to Mr. Full English - or rather Mr. Full White Male and lives overseas. Maybe she got her fairy tale with Mr. Right after all!!