Chapter 1: The ball is in my court
‘May I come in?’ I asked before entering the room.
‘Yes, and please take your seat’, came the reply.
‘Let me walk you through the interview process we follow here. It’s going to last not more than 10 minutes. We are going to be the ones who will do the talking for the first 2 minutes. The next 8 minutes are all yours. Did I make myself understood?’ asked one of the interviewers while the other was silently observing me.
‘Yes, Sir’, I said even as I was analyzing what I had just heard.
‘You have decent academics and impressive live projects, so we won’t waste any of our precious time testing your technical competency', he started.
‘You have mentioned creativity as one of your strengths and storytelling as one your hobbies.
He is going to ask me questions on storytelling! This is my area. I cannot screw this up. The ball is in my court. Bring it on.
‘But for the candidate we are looking for, being creative is not enough. He needs to be spontaneous as well’, he started’, he continued.
'Where are they going with this?' I narrowed my eyes.
‘Have you ever been in love?’ the other interviewer finally gave words to his thoughts.
I was taken aback by his question.
‘No’, I said sounding fable. ‘No, Sir’, I reiterated, clearing my throat.
Now, that sounded more confident.
‘Great. So tell me the story of your first love in the most interesting possible way. You have 8 minutes to impress us’; he said looking at his watch.
‘Sir, I said I do not have a love story’, I clarified.
‘And that’s exactly why I am asking you this question. This paper in my hand says you are creative. I need you to prove it’
‘You can start in 10 seconds’, he concluded.
I closed my eyes in introspection; 10 seconds later I started my narration.
Chapter 2: The story of my first love
Date: December 7th, 2007;
Location: St. Paul’s High School.
I was waiting outside our Headmaster’s room, and it was not a pleasant place to be in, especially for a student. But I was not alone.
‘So why are you here?’ I asked the girl who was seated beside me.
Her teary eyes met mine.
‘I was caught copying in the Math test’, she confessed.
Two minutes of awkward silence later she decided to talk.
‘And you?’ she returned my question, her eyes still wet with tears.
‘Pretty much the same. I was allegedly copying in the Math test’, I winked.
‘Then what! Only a fool would confess it. No offense meant huh!’ I said.
For no particular reason she did take offense and started crying even louder.
‘Ms. Krithika, why are you crying?’ Headmaster had asked.
‘It was a mistake; I will never do it again. Please forgive me’, she said.
Headmaster had made many futile attempts to put an end to her crying.
‘Okay, I am deducting 10 marks from your final paper as a punishment. You can leave now. Do not repeat this mistake’, he said.
No sooner had Krithika left the room, than the Headmaster turned his focus to me.
‘You Mister, I am deducting 10 marks from your paper as well’, he waited for my reaction.
Haha! Didn’t know I’d get out of this mess so easily! 10 marks is all it costs!
‘And 1 week of apprenticeship under the school Librarian. He is planning to dispose the old books and order some new books during this vacation. He could definitely use your helping hand. You need to report to him daily at 0900 hours for one week during the Christmas vacation’
‘What! But she didn’t get any apprenticeship!’ I blurted out, conveniently ignoring my manners.
‘Now, that’s the reaction I was expecting from you! Krithika had confessed her mistake and promised not to repeat it. You did neither’, he said.
So, I am not getting any brownie points for the display of confidence?
‘But sir..’, I started.
‘You can leave’, he conveniently concluded the discussion.
‘Never knew our school had such a big library’, I announced.
‘It is a state of the art library. We have academic reference books, encyclopedias, novels, comics, and magazines. You name a book and you’ll find it here’, the librarian informed. As he was describing the library I noticed that it was deserted.
‘This is going to be my worst Christmas vacation ever: alone, in a library’, I thought, not knowing that my life was about to change that very same day.
After working for a couple of hours I wondered if this was the most boring work on earth.
When I was half done with my work, I realized that the library was not completely deserted after all. There was a girl sitting in the corner of the room, surrounded by stacks of books.
Who in their right mind visits a library during vacation!
Suddenly, I realized that she could actually help me kill my boredom. It was then that I decided to venture into something I had never done before.
Anything to keep me away from boredom! Desperate times!
I walked up to her, and when I was close enough I noticed the girl’s ID card lay on an old book.
I could make out the words “Karenina” written on it.
Random Note: “If you've taken the trouble of watching Bollywood movies you will realize that every love story essentially has five stages. They are as follows:
iv. Intimacy and
‘Excuse me!’ I said; thus initiating my first love story.
Chapter 3: Different stages of love
She was covered in an old dress. It seemed as if she didn’t care how she looked. Had it been any other day, at any other place; I wouldn't even have noticed her. But today was different.
A few sentences into the conversation I was fortunate enough to get an opportunity to touch her. It was true love’s first touch.
Never judge a book by its cover!
The initial stages of the conversation were dull. I had to put in efforts to keep it alive. But once we broke the ice, the conversation became more engrossing and gripping. So much so that I even forgot to have my lunch that day. This stage is what I call: attraction. In this stage you enjoy each other’s company so much that everything else in the world seems boring.
The next day when I reached the library, I saw her waiting for me. I finished my work in 3 hours and then spent the rest of my time with her. This routine continued for the next couple of days.
On the third day when I had arrived in the library, she was not there. I waited for her for a couple of hours. I asked the librarian about her whereabouts.
‘She is out. She will be back in a couple of days’, he said.
My anxiousness got the better of me. Every minute that I spent without her seemed like a punishment.
Slowly but surely my anxiousness evolved into something more malicious: jealousy.
What if someone else started talking to her? What if someone else started liking her? He must be touching her right now! I can’t let that happen. She is mine.
Eventually my jealousy turned into possessiveness! Her absence was turning me crazy.
This is the stage where you actually realize that you are in love. This stage is called separation.
She was back after 2 days, as promised. She looked untouched; as pure as she was when I last saw her.
Fortunately my anxiousness was in vain. She was mine and only mine.
After the separation the vigor of our intimacy had increased exponentially. In this stage, which I call as Intimacy, we got closer than I could imagine. Things became really interesting. This is the most beautiful stage of any relationship.
But all good things come to an end. So did this beautiful relationship of ours. Once I was done with her, we decided to move on.
This is the most difficult stage of a relationship: termination. Once it’s all over you are all broke and you are left with no clue about what to do with your life anymore.
‘It must be really sad!’ the interviewer said assuming that my story had ended.
‘For some time, yes. Though I had countless number of love stories after that, the first love is always special’, I started.
‘This first love of mine enabled me to evolve as a person. It imbibed in me, a sense of gratitude; I started thanking people more often than before. I never copied in any exam after that. It imbibed some values in my life. And most importantly it inspired me to never stop looking for my next love’
‘The limbo of sadness ends once you find someone else: your next love. And once you find her, the cycle repeats. Anna Karenina, written by Leo Tolstoy: my first love’, I said.
‘Written by Leo Tolstoy?’ exclaimed both the interviewers.
‘Yes! Anna Karenina is a book written by Leo Tolstoy. She is not a girl’
‘So when you said ‘Do not judge a book by its cover’, you were actually talking about a book!’
I nodded in agreement.
‘Karenina was not the name of the girl on the ID card!!’ they exclaimed.
‘I didn't notice the name of the girl on her ID card. The book on which it was placed had all my attention that time. I took the girl’s permission and borrowed the book from her table. I never saw that girl again’, I said.
‘At the end of my apprenticeship I had suggested the librarian not to discard the old books. And also thanked him for giving me this opportunity to help him. I later learned that the librarian actually took my advice and retained all the old books in the library’.
‘Anna Karenina was placed in the Classics section of our library. She was standing on the shelf waiting to impress her next reader. Only someone wise enough to look beyond her old damaged cover was worthy of her love’.
‘That Sir, is the story of my first love’, I concluded.
‘You took 9 minutes to narrate your story’, the interviewer remarked looking at his watch.
‘But it was totally worth it’, he smiled.
‘Thank you, it was a pleasure talking to you’, they said.
‘Just because I don’t have a love story doesn’t mean I can’t tell one’, I smiled.
an art, by