The year, 1991. The place: Bhaidas Hall grounds, Mithibai College Annual function. The boy being awarded Student of the Year, future husband. It would take us six years to get there. I didnt know it then. Tall, handsome and the cynosure of all female eyes. But strangely nervous. I say strangely, because he had nothing to be nervous about. At almost six feet, he stood out in a crowd, and his swimming enhanced physique was to die for. He didnt know how handsome he was. He took my breath away. All decked up in blazer and tie, and, gasp, new shoes. Shoes he picked up all the way from the ground right upto my eyelevel to show off to me. “See, I bought new shoes today,” he told me. I see glimpses of the same dandy in his son today. I was shy, nervous and insecure. Girls who were perceived hotties in the college were handing him roses. One held onto his arm and refused to let go. He cut through the crowd around him, and stuck with me through the evening. It wasn’t a date. It sort of became one. He was called onstage to receive his award. From the stage his eyes searched mine. Dont go anywhere, he whispered before he ran onstage, I’ll be right back. Wild elephants couldnt have moved me from the spot.
I had just met him a couple of days ago. I barely knew him. I was yet to learn that the Richard Gere lookalike and projected confidence hid a nervous and uncertain boy. I would later learn he had saved up his scholarship prize to buy a new pair of shoes to impress the new girl in his life. Moi. I didnt know yet that I was the new girl in his life. You see, his father also expired when he was young. And his mother supported them with her pension. He looked good on export surplus. He dropped me home that night. And strangely, I trusted him enough to let him do that. And the only physical contact that happened was him gently pushing a flick of windblown hair away from my eyes.
He has enough shoes to fill a cupboard today. But he has never looked handsomer to me than he did that night, wearing those shoes.