I noticed Indulekha on the first day of our class. Guess, everybody did … and who wudnt? … she was a class apart. Long beautiful eyes, where you can get lost, Wild, curly, hair upto her shoulders, long flawless pair of legs, which she likes to show off, by wearing skirts, and an impeccable figure any girl would die for. What was she doing there in an Engineering class??? Nobody knew … She shud’ve been in Mahabharatha … as the cause of the epic war, in Ramayana as Ravana’s object of desire or in Illiad as Paris’s love. I remembered the Malayalam verse I heard : "നാരികള് നാരികള് നാശത്തിന് നാരായ വേരുകള്!" Which loosely translates to "Women Women, the root cause of all destruction!"
Since, all the freshers were disallowed by seniors, even to grow a moustache, going and talking to a girl was out of question. Seniors use to visit our class every now and then. Most of them targeting Indulekha … asking her all the irrelevant questions like "What’s ur name?", "Where are u from?" and "How much marks did u get for 10th?" It was rumored that some of the guys even asked her to come to the class early or to the canteen for an elongated ragging session, but did not proceed anywhere beyond paying for her lunch. Only use of all these incessant ‘ragging’ sessions were that, all of us knew her biodata byheart.
It took abt half of the first year for the guys in our class, including me, to build up the courage to go and talk to her. And … by the time anybody cud really claim paying for her coffee, juice, ice creams or any other possible eatables … she was spotted in the lover’s valley with Jayakrishnan. Not once, twice but frequently .. chatting for hours!!! Who the hell is Jayakrishnan??? Not the tallest, darkest, handsomest or charmingest guy in our class who was tipped to have won the race. But, probably the quietest, front bencher, who answers every question of ours with a smile … was till then spotted mainly in two places, the computer lab and the library. He was very nice to everybody and greeted all with an innocent smile. But, the only reason why somebody wud talk to him, till now, was for the assignment sheets, once his is finished people will borrow them and use it to fill up their own. Is she using him for the same purpose? Everybody panicked, the seniors who had ignored him till then, ended up stopping him at all odd places and odd hours and questioning him for long times. All the questioning ended up in his innocent smile and nobody cud really conclude what these meetings were all abt!
Meanwhile, some of the people took up different strategies, like our Manoj Kumar, spending hours with the dictionary to compile a love letter which ended up in a direct reply from her "Sorry Manoj, I am not ready for anything like this now." Next day he was spotted in the arrack shop having tapioca and fish curry! Another example was Mathew Kuriakose, trying to send her a bouquet on Valentine’s day, only to find that she had gone home for a few days! In any case, she was unanimously elected the rose queen of the year, with a total of 514 roses sent to her on Valentine’s day. When somebody asked Jayakrishnan abt this, the response was the usual smile along with the fact that 514 is the smallest non-trivial number which cud be expressed in the form N3 + N1/3 (the exact interpretation of his statement and the proof is left to the reader). Gosh … I had to believe this coz the person who started of the story, cudn’t have thought of this himself!
Well … with that, people mostly gave up on Indulekha … She was either already committed to Jayakrishnan or she is not planning to get committed to anyone. There were surely a lot of people looking at her with admiration from a distance, but never worked up the courage to go beyond that. In the coming year, a new rose queen arrived and Jayakrishnan deduced that the number of roses she got was "1000 in septimal number system and hence a special number." When a naive 'what that means?' followed by the interviewer, the answer was his usual smile and a straightforward "I always liked the number 7, I kind of identify myself with #7, and if we had used septimal system, a Kilo wud've been 343!" Ofcourse, the interviewer wud've been more interested in Jayakrishnan's reaction abt more mundane things like y Indulekha isn’t the rose queen this year? Or, will anybody ever break her record of 514 roses? Ofcourse, the couple were continued to be seen in lover’s valley as well as in more obvious places like library and computer lab.
I was also looked at with a li'l jealousy by many when the lab groups were re-arranged based on alphabetic order, with myself and Indulekha ending up as lab mates. After the initial ice-breaking she came across as a warm and friendly person, with high intellect levels. No wonder she fell for Jayakrishnan and his theories on septimal number system.
Little did I realize then, that my life was abt to change. A woman as special as Indulekha was difficult to fall for. Once, the initial awe was gone, I was soon at ease with her. She also seemed to like me and looked comfortable with me around. As days passed my longing for her started growing and became also un-controllable. I took the first step, by calling her out for coffee after a lab session, which soon became a regular affair. Once she gave me a "മയില്പീലി" (mayilpeeli, peacock's feather in malayalam, Can anybody translate this to English?), saying that it was from a set presented by her dad when she was a kid. She had 12 of them and she had been giving it only to very special people in her life. After giving one each to Jayakrishnan and myself she still had 4 of them left. It was not bad being the 8th important person in her life. The "മയില്പീലി" was as beautiful and colorful as her. It symbolized that our friendship is reaching new levels and I did keep it a treasure. Well … I may once talk abt how our relationship grew, but my story is now abt Jayakrishnan and Indulekha. Lets not digress now.
During all these days, Indulekha opened up a lot, including her relationship with Jayakrishnan. She had a lot of admiration for Jayakrishnan, had been sharing most of her time with him and taking his opinion on a lot of things, but their relationship till date had never been romantic. It happened so that Indulekha had to face lesser love letters and proposals and even red roses, once she was linked with him and both of them conveniently encouraged the rumours and never denied them. Needless to say, that I saw my chances growing exponentially once all these were revealed. I was the only person who knew abt this and decided to keep quiet abt this.
Finally, on that fateful day, when I proposed to Indulekha and she agreed to consider it after we both get a job, provided there are no stories in the college till then, I visited Jayakrishnan in his room. The door was half closed and Jayakrishnan was lying with his head on a copy of the book, 'What is Mathematics?' I tapped on his shoulder and he woke up. His eyes were red and he looked as if he wasn't well. On my enquiry he told its just a 'headache' and the state of excitement that I was in I didn’t pursue further. I had to tell him abt my proposal and her acceptance, to which he responded with "Indu already called me", but I continued to tell him all abt our meeting, my decision to not tell this to anyone else and the plans to announce it only next year! He listened to all my plans and congratulated me. But, during all this time, not even once … did I realize the reasons for Jayakrishnan identifying himself with #7, Not even once … did I notice the "മയില്പീലി" popping out of 'What is mathematics?' Not even once … I doubted, why Jayakrishnan was looking pale and didn’t have that innocent, disarming smile on his face now!!!
[This story was first written in Malayalam during my 5th semester BTech, under the title, "ജയകൃഷ്ണന്റെ ചിരി" (Jayakrishnante Chiri, meaning Jayakrishnan's smile) and rewritten when I was taking a break from reading 'What is Mathematics?' Hope that explains a lot of things :-) Ofcourse ... any similarities with anyone dead or alive is purely .. coincidental ;-)]