You can't hold it back. You spew them out, rancid ropes and slobbery strings of words. You vomit up your bolus of angst. Its soggy and shit-coloured, just like the hostel walls in any of the prestigious government institutes your parents hope you'll go to next year.

I hate you.

I hate you.

I HATE you.

Can't you see I fucking hate you?

You've left scars on a page of pristine equations and a twisted pen-nib. But it is only hate, only rage. You know from experience how quickly scars that sear your skin, scars that can be seen heal. There are worse things.

The light is mellow, six o'clock light as rosy as a bride's odhna. It would make anyone look beautiful. The curve of your cheek shows in the mirror - pimpled and pockmarked. You wriggle to get a better look at your face - the thick unibrow that makes you look like an Angry Bird, the fuzz underlining your nose, the lumps of fat that have begun to sit awkwardly on your cheeks which have progressed from cute to chubbily cute to just chubby in a few months. Just another thing to be taken care after you stop putting your life on hold.

Just nine months more, sonamoni. After that you can have all the fun you want. Enough fun for the rest of your life, just sacrifice these nine months.

"Eat, eat, it will help you study better." Your mother bounces into the room, bearing chai and chicken pakoras.

She perches on a chair, ready with the latest edition of Sananda, hyped up for an evening of her favourite sport - monitoring children.

You know the routine - occassionally she'll burst out with a, "Have you revised Electricity? What was that law I saw in your book - something Biot-Savart?" She takes pride in memorizing the IITJEE syllabus and popping aloud chapter names at random. This makes her a very concerned and caring parent. Or, "Give me the book. I will dictate the questions and check if your answers are matching with the book. That way you will know how much you have progressed."

Before you have had two sips of your tea, she starts with, "I was thinking you should start revising Rotational Mechanics today. Very hard chapter, your Baba says and exams are only nine months away, god knows what will happen..."

And as easy as that you crack. "I hate you," you scream, "Leave me alone, just leave me alone. I hate you." You slam the cup down into the table. Chunks of bone china coat your knees and tea trickles in searing rivulets down your ankles. Its such a relief to feel tangible pain at last.

You don't know how exactly you make it out but somehow you're outside. Your battered house-chappals slap against the tarmac. Out on the road, you're vaguely conscious of second glances at your Wall-E t-shirt and lipstick-patterned shorts. It feels liberating to be this angry, angry enough that you don't give a shit.

You don't know how long you've been walking - probably only five minutes since you prefer being a stranger to physical activity - when a familiar someone says, "Hey."

To your left is a very earnest-looking little cyclist, all tousled hair and puppy eyes. Being the diligent stalker you are, you know that he's listed cycling as a hobby. But suddenly you're too exhausted to make small talk, even with a crush. You just nod.

"I want that t-shirt," he says seriously. "It would cheer me up."

"You can't. I'm depressed," you tell him.

His head bobs up and down like Noddy's. "Me too! That's why I went out cycling. It helps a lot to just get out and..."

"Endorphins," you say and don't admit that you get over your lows with chocolate instead of cycling. You like to pretend you're comfortable in your own skin but that's before all the aunties start poking holes.

It doesn't matter, your mother likes to tell you. Someday you will get into IIT. It is better to be intelligent than beautiful.

"What do you have to be depressed aloud?" you wonder aloud. You didn't mean to blurt it out like that but suddenly the words tumble out. Longing. Perhaps that's how all crushes start out - the longing to love and be loved by something you hold above yourself. "You're so smart. You seem so happy all the time, always smiley-smiley." Sugary Sunshine Princess with his love of triple smileys in chats.

The tips of his ears turn red. "Oh come on, I'm not that smart. You know when I was at the Maths camp I saw all these guys who were-"

But you don't care about them. You know he's the most intelligent person you've ever known, that your mother has always dreamt of a child like him, that you'd give anything to be him. Its enough.

"And its up to you really," he says, "whether you choose to be happy or not."

You make a face. "Deep," you say sarcastically. "You make it sound so easy." And maybe it is easy for him, you think, falling into the trap of seeing only what you're shown. You of all people. He's at the top of the foodchain.

"What's your favourite colour?" he asks you suddenly.



You giggle. "I know, it sounds super girly but I can't help it. I tried to get over Barbie and pink and for a while I actually adopted purple as my favourite colour but I couldn't keep the charade up. So pink it is."

He screws his face up into a grimace. "Pink it is then," he says resignedly and points to the Kwality Walls cafe across the road. "Come on."


In the end you're forced into having strawberry ice-cream - too sugary sweet for you, anyone with any sense of dignity prefers chocolate, but what can you say? Pink is your favourite colour. He starts singing Lucy in the Sky too, swapping all references to colours with synonyms for pink. Tangerine and marmalade become magenta and salmon, yellow becomes fuchsia and when he's stumped for a word for green you rake your head for words till you come across carmine and cerise.

The moon is an orange sliver in the sky when he drops you back home. You haven't even told him the way back.

"How'd you know how to get back?" you ask him curiously.

He smiles. "Secret," he says and before you can ask again, he's whipped past, pedalling as though for dear life.

You go back home humming Lucy in the Sky, brazen enough to face even your parents. But they let you go this time, without a word. And that night you can actually focus on your studies for once.