I can’t summon an analogy that describes teenage. Even the thought of drawing one feels like holding sand in my hands. The more I cling to it tempted to believe I am closer home to finding one, the more it slips away from the grip of my palms. Teenage is a prolonged season when many of us manoeuvre into experimenting in the wild. A profusion of technicolour hubbub emerges out of nowhere, and one feels like sailing through it at a super-human pace. Whether to grab an opportunity or snatch a chance, we indulge in delirious energies as we explore another side of the world that seems to have much to offer. Beset by the fear of missing out we do not want to let slip anything, especially when we are passing them.
Amidst other desires, I had erotic urges when puberty dawned. But I swept away a fat slice of it under the carpet because I was ridiculously shy, unforthcoming and awkward. For the sake of argument, I couldn’t look a boy in the eye while talking. At school, I was unsure if anyone else in my class experienced a similar adrenalin rush, causing certain parts in their bodies to stir the way they did in mine sometimes. As bashful as I was, the mere thought of approaching anyone about it terrified me.
The adolescent revelations I came across not only soaked me in their glory but also made my knees go wobbly. I knew a few of my classmates to indulge in fickle fables. While in class, much between them transpired into sugar-coated hushes and saucy chits. However, a lot ensued behind closed doors after school hours. Although I revelled in many of such disclosures, my blood pumped in anxiety. My heart would beat wildly, the regularity of its thumps best suited to Eminem’s tempo. I would repeatedly rub my clammy hands on my skirt. Organic nervousness was the non-negotiable kin I had earned in the process. All for auditory telltales.
Or tall tales.
When I was in grade nine, I remember doodling a double-bordered ‘V’ on the wooden desk of my bench with a pencil. It was a spontaneous scribble during recess, driven by the lack of having anything better to do. After all, my doodling skills do not qualify to save even my life. Anyhow, I coloured the insides of the alphabet with the pencil, the shading and the borders on the wood desk shining through. A classmate passing by asked me to erase it, for it bore the possibility of being perceived in the wrong sense. I wondered what could be inappropriate with an alphabet that flanked virile wings on its sides. As the bell rung signalling the end of our lunch hour and my friend returned from the next classroom and sat beside me, I asked her what was faulty about my ‘doodle’. She told me that it could be mistaken for a penis. What?
Another time, a classmate had brought audio CDs for a friend. It was an act the teacher caught, as a result of which she demanded him to hand over the CDs to her. When he denied being in possession of any, she directed to check his bag, a feat to which he obliged. She failed to find any CDs on rummaging through the bag’s contents. I was told eventually that he had hidden them in his underwear. Wait, what?
I used to find myself nodding silently when friends spoke at length of the workshops we had on sex education. (Un)fortunately, none of them dealt with the definition of sex. Topics hovered around the subject to explain the biological process, the precautionary measures and even AIDS. But, just what happens when someone spells S.E.X. was an area yet left to be covered.
I was spellbound by this other side of the world, except that I felt artlessly silly in it.
You believe it’s a world of roses until a thorn from its spine pricks you. You believe in realising your dreams until someone shatters a mirror in front of you. It’s perhaps a reason why children are uninhibited. Because sexual maturity begins to mess things up. It is no wonder why we see tiny tots as one of the best sources of idea generators and our go-to people during time-offs. Their temporal concerns brim with all things creative and carefree at that, much so that we begin to ponder the point when we started to lose it.
When I was in grade twelve, I considered love a filmy affair. The way Bollywood did it. My first love confession to the 180-centimetre cat-eyed boy from my extra class was on a State Corporation bus ticket. It was my favourite, hey. A six-rupee chit printed in a green and pink combination. Whimsically influenced by Marvel’s Mystique, I wrote on the ticket a set of numerals the boy had to ‘decode’ to infer my message.
The numerals indicated the alphabet they represented as per their chronological order. His friend had told me off for presuming that the boy was a genius to figure this by himself. So, when he didn’t come back for two days, like a babe in the woods, I shared with him the secret to decrypt my note. Only to find out that the next day, he had asked my friend out on a piece of paper that read –
That sense of wobbliness in my knees was back. Sexual maturity had begun to mess my world up.