It happened 1967, in a small eastern Indian town called Durgapur. I was 12 and so was she. I am 64 now, but listen, you’ll never ever forget your first smoocherooney, trust me.
It was like yesterday, I remember that day so vividly. The rest of the school was out at the stadium race-track for the annual parade dress rehearsal. The morning had gone by playing the fool, leaving corny notes on each other’s desks, hiding our compass boxes from each other and generally poking good natured fun at one another.
This thing between Rashmi and me had been going on for a while and we were beginning to feel like it was all sort of building up to something but we didn’t know what that was. Just last week my lips had brushed against her ear while we were on a arts and crafts project together and I had managed to say, “Surprise attack!” and grinned. She had expressed mock shock and given me a playful slap and run off to the other girls.
That day, the bell rang for the parade rehearsal and everyone began trooping down to the stadium – except Rashmi, who had been loitering behind. Instead of following the crowd, she gave me a quick glance to ensure she had my attention and slipped away and disappeared inside the chemistry lab.
I followed her in. The Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, would have been proud of me.
I found her at the far corner, behind a cupboard filled with the burettes and pipettes. She just stood there facing the doorway, her arms outstretched, gripping the shelves, her sparking eyes filled with delicious foreboding. The moment I swung into her field of vision, her hands flew to her face and covered her eyes, her middle and forefingers parting a crack to see if I was making any progress toward her.
In a few strides I was on her and as I held her tight, she kept trying to wriggle free, though not with any genuine conviction. Rashmi somehow knew she was desirable and therefore her brain was configured to be coquettish and frisky. I guess its one of those things that no one teaches pretty girls, they are just born knowing it.
Instead of breaking out of my grasp, she kept real quiet and that should have told me something but it didn’t. In fact I kinda lost my balance holding her and she thought I was stepping back. Her hands snaked up my back and yanked me back to her tight.
Now that should definitely have told me something, no? This time it did. It emboldened me. I stared at her beautiful lips and said,“ What would you do if I kissed you right now?” Her beautiful face took on a devilish twist. She seemed like she wanted nothing else.
“I would kiss you right back,” she whispered and before her palms could fly right back up to her face, I had them in mine.
Rashmi was a head shorter and had her face buried in my chest so I wouldn’t be able to reach her lips with mine. Still, I tried. I crouched low, not letting go of my grip on her shoulders for even a moment, as I tried to reach down with my lips, but they could barely make it down to her pretty nose.
About to give up, I sighed and gently gave the tip of her nose a peck and started to move away, when she stopped struggling and went slack in my arms. She brought her face up to mine, her bright beautiful eyes an inch away from mine, so close that I had only her eyes in my vision. Suddenly their texture changed, the pupils widened and the corners crinkled. Though I couldn’t see her full face from up that close, I knew she was grinning.
Taking this as a cue, I plunged my lips down but instead, I felt her knee come up and connect with my adolescent testicles with a crunch and I let go with a yelp. She sprang free and ran, but then she came to a stop a few yards away.
Then she did a funny thing. She stopped turned. Woooooo!! It wasn’t over yet, I rejoiced silently. Pretending to be really seriously hurt, I fell to the lab floor and gasped, my face screwed up in mock agony. Taking hesitant steps, she inched back toward me, the devilishly naughty look now replaced by one that was puckered in genuine concern.
Curling up in a ball, gasping for breath, I bided my time letting her come within reach until she was stooping over me to take a closer look, strands of her hair falling all over my eyes and my chin. Suddenly my whole being was being assaulted with the scent of Brahmi Amla Kesh Coconut Oil. It took all my adolescent self-restraint to keep my eyes open just a slit, like as if I was in agony.
I don’t know when exactly she caught on I was pretending but it was too late by then. As she knelt over me, I uncoiled in a speedy blurr, reached out and grabbed her. She responded by letting out a high-pitched squeal, more in excitement mixed with delight, than fright. Sometimes all you need ta win a girl is a little subterfuge.
As we lay entwined, the chill of the chem lab floor made Rashmi shiver and she whispered, “They’ll look for us!” said she and shivered,” Hurry!”
Now take it easy. Between the 1967 ‘hurry’, and the 2019 ‘hurry’, there have been genuine advances. Bras and panties became passé, folks streaked naked over open ground and the word ‘f–k’ stormed the lexicons of the world. The 1967 ‘hurry’ meant just a kiss. And not even a French kiss.
It was bliss as we lay there, Rashmi on top of me with her head on my chest, her curls tickling my nose, one leg draped over me with her black uniform shoes touching the floor on my other side. The though of progressing toward something more just didn’t cross our minds. This, what we had achieved so far, in itself was manna – like summitting Everest. Around us, two silent shelves filled with syringes, glass bowls and distilling columns were still, staring down with disapproval, like Lhotse and Cho Oyu.
After a long while we stood, retreating to a corner. I took her soft hands in mine and my lips skimmed over her forehead, her eyes, her ears and her nose just grazing against each while her breath clouded my specs. I could write a saga on just that breath – it had a scent of Amul butter, milk and bread crumbs on it.
I was inhaling greedily when finally I found her lips and tarried there a while. It was the first time my lips had been on a girl’s and I explored the tiny ridges that run vertically along lips that are maiden – they form when the weather is cold and dry. I didn’t know it was cold out there, jeeze, I was sweating like crazy.
For a moment the Amerigo Vespucci in me took over once again and I couldn’t resist feeling those ridges with my tongue but she recoiled in horror, so I hurriedly put my tongue back in. That didn’t deter the oral explorer in me, though. Since that day, my safaris have ventured into more than twennie pu…baby cats in my adulthood. Honestly, if Capt. James Cook was hiring scouts for his Australia expedition, he would have offered me a handsome signing bonus.
Getting back to Rashmi, we remained that way, giving each other tiny pecks and kisses, for what seemed like an eternity. Nothing was said, the words pouring out through our lips, google-translated into kisses. The Almighty created lips for communication but I am sure even He didn’t figure how well kisses can articulate.
In the middle of our kiss, her lips stretched, her teeth made contact with mine and her eyes crinkled and once again that Amul baby breath lingered out and engaged my nostrils and I knew she was smiling again. Right then, if she had demanded that I walk off a cliff onto jagged thorns and hyenas below, I woulda.
The shouts and yelps alerted us to the fact that the parade dress rehearsal was over and the kids were coming back in. She pushed me back against the burette/pipette shelf, making it jangle and almost tipping over some of the pipettes that were near the edge.
And then she ran away, blowing a kiss at me as she turned the corner and disappeared.
After that first time, the back of the chemistry lab served us well in our canoodling, being empty most of the time. Our chemistry teacher sucked and hey, doesn’t chemistry suck on the whole? Anyways, there we would crouch – not speaking, just kissing interminably long kisses. I think 1967 kisses were definitely longer than 2018 kisses, simply because they didn’t come with any feeling up or squeezing you-know-whats.
About a year later, Rashmi moved away with her family, to Asansol, another nondescript small town like Durgapur where nothing really happened. Rashmi had lovely feet and wore nupurs (ankle bracelets) that jingled just a wee bit and drove me nuts. The day before she left we had one last marathon canoodle behind a rack of bunsen burners. She cried a little and knowing how much her nupurs turned me on, she left me a pair of faux silver ones.
“I’ll tell my mother I lost them,” she tearfully whispered.
Actually I am not sure how much of this anecdote really happened – all those years and all. Throw into that my imagination and y’know how it is, things get a bit hazy. Did I find her behind the cupboard in the chemistry lab or did our trysts happen in the library? Did we have a chemistry lab at all, or was the lab from my memories of my next school, La Martiniere where, a few years later, I ….. oh, forget it, you won’t believe what happened in La Marts anyway.
But, listen, if you haven’t yet kissed anyone and want ta, prepare yourself for a very surreal roller-coaster ride. As your lips meet, every nerve ending shall twang, every hair stand on it’s end. Your eyes shall swim, finding it nigh impossible ta focus. It isn’t a sexual thing. Guys, you won’t even get a hard-on even if you are old enough to have one, but the excitement will be so intense as to make you feel faint. At that moment you’ll be ready ta do anything for the girl. If her lips are slightly parted and she uses a breath freshener, the sensation of slipping your lower lip in will simply blow your mind. Take this from a man who has kissed maybe a thousand women.
Those days, Indian girls were very passive and demure. They made no moves by themselves. They just sat back and loved being kissed all over. I would say Rashmi was a bit more precocious than most other girls of that era. Rashmi’s face would take on a flushed glow when we kissed, I swear to ya.
And me – I was flushed too but suffice it to say that those days the parts of me that were usually soft during the normal course of the day, remained that way even when I was flushed with excitement. I believed then that a stiff dick was just another term for an obstinate 12th century English King with a backache and a lion heart.
I will never be able to go back and stand there in that school in that tiny town in India, without feeling the taste of Amul butter on my lips.