He sat at the back of the tiny dingy room, lanky long legs carelessly braced against another chair, smoke curling lazily up into the dim ceiling, thin dark intense face, one hand softly strumming a guitar. Two three others sat around the table, but my eyes barely paused on them. I had just run behind the school buildings to a gap in the fence, jumped through it, scurried bent over to a wooden plank bridging a sluggish ditch, crossed over and walked through some residential flats to come to this chai dhaaba place with my new best friend. Fresh out of the clutches of strict Irish catholic nuns running an all girls school where deportment and manners were the first subject in the curriculum, I had been at the new school long enough to discard my hair ribbon bows, shorten my skirts and put on a pretty bra under the fine cotton of my white shirt. So when my friend asked me if I wanted to bunk fourth period (English) and go somewhere to meet someone, I agreed. I had been doing Shakespeare last year, and CBSE was apparently stuck at second grade readers. I could afford to miss an English class.
My childhood memories are fractured flashes of moments. I remember trying to control my breath, looking around at the dilapidated dhaaba, looking at the beautiful boy, who looked back at us with one eyebrow raised, a tiny smile on well molded lips, his long thin fingers picking out notes on the guitar, the cigarette resting on the cutting chai cup. It was a long way from the convent confessional.