Castles in the air

Castles in the air

My mind was hyper active as it embarked on a whirlwind journey.

Down memory lane, and looking back over my teenage years, some incidents stand out like a beacon, some humorous, some poignant and emotional, but all of them nostalgic.

The notice outside the common room of my college in New Delhi read “Students desirous of representing Miranda House at the Inter-College Dance Competition to be held at the Annual Youth Festival should assemble tomorrow in the common room during lunch break for preliminary trials”.

My desire to be selected for such a glamorous and prestigious event burned in me with an intensity that only I could fathom. Sleep eluded me that night as I lay in bed in my hostel room. My mind was hyper active as it embarked on a whirlwind and enchanting journey of what destiny could offer me. My imagination ran wild picturising myself dressed in a gorgeous, colourful outfit, looking radiant and ravishing - the cynosure of all male attention. My selection would open the floodgates of the celebrity world for me. The limelight and fame would make me the envy of one and all.

At sixteen, priorities are lopsided. College life was more fun outside than listening to boring economic theories, propounded by Malthus and Keynes, inside the four walls of a dreary classroom. Poring over thick volumes of complicated macro economics was not my cup of tea, and went over my head anyway. Although my dancing skills left much to be desired, I still fancied my chances.

I was not one to give up so easily! My deficiency would be camouflaged by looking like a fashion model. Planning my next day’s hectic schedule meticulously, I decided to bunk the fourth period just before the lunch break, and utilise the time to beautify myself for the selection. Miss Sastry’s lecture on her favorite subject of International Trade could easily be skipped. After all, it would be a small price to pay for better things in store!

Bunking a class, and that too, of only thirty students, was indeed a daredevil act in those days. Immediately after roll call of the fourth period, I quietly slipped outside the classroom through the backdoor, careful to escape the watchful gaze of the Economics lecturer, Miss Sastry. In my hostel room, I quickly spruced myself up, complete with eye shadow, rouge and lipstick. Attired in a scintillating dress, I entered the common room confidently. The envious glances of my fellow contestants said it all. Nothing could now stop my selection!

We waited anxiously for the professor who would conduct the trials. At long last, she entered. To my horror, she was none other than Miss Sastry. The moment I set my eyes on her, all my dreams came crashing down like a pack of cards. The cookie had crumbled.

Her eyes traveled all over the room, finally resting on me. Fuming angrily, her eyes glazing like angry balls of fire, she pointed a finger accusingly at me and questioned disapprovingly “Hey you! Yes, you skinny, glamour doll, I am talking to you. It seems that song and dance is more important to you than my lecture!” If looks could kill, I would have been the first one to drop dead, and even the earth would have refused to swallow me. No wonder then that I was the first one to be eliminated!

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