Photo by Biswarup Ganguly (Wikimedia Commons CC)

One of Those Days

Kiran Gandhi

Krishnan Kutty lost all faith in the English language when he realised that a cat burglar didn’t steal cats. The laughter in the class room still had not died down when he adjusted his squirmy bottom back on the rickety bench. The teacher reminded the class about the surprise test tomorrow and laid back on her chair — a sign that the class was now officially over. The students remained in their seats like those movie goers who stayed for the end credits. Krishnan Kutty leaned over to the girls’ side and gave her notebook back. It was the oldest trick in the book. If you liked a girl, you borrowed her notebook and slipped a note inside. His father had done it. His grandfather had done it. His great grandfather did not do it only because he didn’t go to school. Krishnan Kutty had a lot of grievances with the world. Life was hard for a Gen Z kid with a name like Krishnan Kutty. The last time people named their kids Krishnan Kutty or any other variation of ‘Kutty’, the ambassador car was still in vogue. It was his grandmother’s dying wish to name him after her husband. She always got her way. What irked Krishnan Kutty the most was that she was still alive while he had to carry her death wish.

He watched her go through the notes. His heartbeat sounded like Sivamani’s percussion. He preferred to get all the disappointments on the same day. That way he could label the day and tuck it away in a remote recess of his memory. He hated those mixed days when something good happened along with the bad. Then he would be forced to make a choice between remembering and forgetting. This day had been an embarrassment so far. The whole class laughed at him for not knowing about cat burglar. Even the ones who didn’t know the word joined in the laugh. The teacher could have told the class that only those who know the word’s meaning shall laugh. But life was seldom fair. Anyway, he was sure she was going to turn him down. That gave him the courage to slip the note which he had written a month back in her book. He already started scribbling ‘disappointing’ under the day’s date in his mental calendar.

At first, he thought about pouring his heart out in the note. The foreword alone took him about two pages. It would have been easy for someone to mistake it for a scathing critique of the middle school system and not the love letter as it was intended. He realised there was a chance of her throwing this tome on to her to-be-read pile. So, he discarded the write-up and instead drew a large heart symbol with small heart shapes and wrote his and her name inside it. A pictorial representation of his love felt apt to him. He experienced a discoverer’s delight while drawing up the miniature hearts. In his mind, he was the first guy to ever think of this.

It was this art she was looking at when the final bell rang.

He saw her hastily scribble something on to that paper. It was not a drawing. There were words. The swift motion of her pen and its abrupt halt meant it was something short. Also, sweet? Maybe, maybe not.

He felt like an accused ready to be given the verdict when she walked towards him. He looked around to see where the other boys were. They were already out of the class and only the front bench tribe remained. They were discussing the possible questions for the next day’s surprise test. He was relieved. The turnout for his sentencing was manageable.

“That was so old school,” the condescension in her voice would have been evident to the neutral ear.

“The school is indeed a bit old,” Krishnan Kutty contributed to the life of the conversation.

A scoff and a smirk followed.

“I meant slipping a note in my book. Anyway.”

He never knew what to do when people ended a sentence with anyway.

She thrust the slip with her addendum on to his sweaty palms and walked away. The slanting rays would have made her look more beautiful to his eyes if she had an agreeable mind. He unfolded the slip to read the verdict after looking around to see if he was the only one in the room. He could hear the sound of doors closing. It was not a metaphor, just the peon doing his job. He picked his bag along with what was left of his resolve and emptied the classroom.    

The walk home was excruciating. He had no hopes for this day and yet somehow, he found himself sad when the day turned out to be disappointing. Like the hope of a die-hard football fan even when their team is trailing by three goals, he had a sliver of optimism that he might salvage something. It would have been a win if she friendzoned him at least. He littered the note on to the side of the road. A stray dog sniffed at it and immediately lost interest.  

Someone kept repeating her words inside his head. It was in her voice too.

Sorry, I am a sapiosexual.

He kept wondering throughout the walk home what on earth was a sapiosexual.


Note: Sivamani is an Indian percussionist.

Kiran Gandhi is a writer from Kerala who is still trying to come to terms with a world where Roger Federer does not play tennis professionally anymore. He likes writing about the quotidian life with a dash of humour. 

X/Twitter: @Kirangandhi