My first kiss was with a girl named Rashmi Bhagwat.
It was 1967 and it happened in a small town in Indian province of West Bengal, named Durgapur. I was 12 then and I am 61 now, but I still remember that day vividly. The rest of the school was out at the stadium race-track for the annual parade march-past 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 making good-natured fun of one another. This thing between Rashmi and me had been going on for a while and felt like it was all sort of building up to something but we didn’t realize it.
In fact my lips had brushed against her ear on an occasion that week 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 lingering behind. Instead, she gave me a glance to ensure she had my attention and she slipped away and disappeared inside the chemistry lab.
I followed her in. 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 wasn’t doing any chemistry experiments or anything – just standing there. 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. She kept real quiet though 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.
I had been emboldened. 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 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 barely came till 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 and the corners crinkled and though I couldn’t see, I knew she was smiling.
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, coming to a stop a few yards away. She turned.
It wasn’t over yet, I rejoiced silently. I pretended to be really seriously hurt, falling to the floor and gasping, my face screwed up in mock agony. Taking hesitant steps, she inched back toward me, the devilishly naughty look replaced by one of genuine concern, the look that had bowled me over in the first place.
I lay curled up in a ball, gasping for breath and I let her come within reach until she stooped to take a closer look. That is when she noticed the look in my eyes but it was too late by then. I uncoiled in a speedy blurr, reached out and grabbed her as she let out a high-pitched squeal, more in excitement mixed with delight, than fright.
“They’ll look for us!” said Rashmi and shivered,” Hurry!”
Now, dear readers, please – relax. Between the 1967 ‘hurry’, and the 2016 ‘hurry’, there have been genuine advances. Bras and panties became passé, folks have streaked naked over open ground and the word ‘f–k’ entered the lexicons of the world. The 1967 ‘hurry’ meant just a kiss, not even a French kiss.
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. Finally I found her lips and remained 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 and happen when the weather is dry. I didn’t know it was dry out there, Jeeze, I was sweating like crazy. For a brief instant, I felt those ridges with my tongue but she recoiled in horror, so I hurriedly put my tongue back in. I have always been quite an explorer. If Capt. James Cook was hiring, he would have offered me a signing bonus.
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 communikashun 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 a sweet baby breath with an Amul butter tinge in it, lingered out and engaged my nostrils and I knew she was smiling again. If she had demanded that I walk off a cliff then, I woulda.
That’s when we heard the kids coming back in. She pushed me back against the burette/pipette shelf, making it jangle and almost tipping over some 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 on our canoodling, being empty most of the time. Our chemistry teacher sucked and no one liked chemistry. There we would crouch – not speaking, just kissing interminably long kisses. 1967 kisses were just kisses and 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 small town like Durgapur where nothing really went on. Rashmi had lovely feet and wore nupurs 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.
Actually I am not sure how much of this anecdote really happened – all those years and all, y’know – things get a bit hazy. Did I find her behind the cupboard in the chemistry lab or was it 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 shall be so intense as to make you feel faint. At that moment you’ll be ready ta do anything for this 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.
Those days, Indian girls were very passive and demure. They made no moves, but 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 I was innocent. I believed that a stiff dick was just another term for an obstinate 12th century English King with a backache and a lion heart and baobabs were really African fruits that just enjoyed existing in pairs.
I know I shall 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 in my lips.