In the dull sea of braided and blunt-cut hair, in single filed lines, girls would be all tidied up in their school uniforms; clad in white and navy blue, all prepared for assembly. There amongst the monotonous shades popped out a garnet red puffed ponytail, and just like that, the indistinct infatuation began to grow.

The initial days went by with chits that graduated to lengthy letters. They discussed it all from the movement of the earth in such a way that that day had to be the day that surprise tests were taken; to why Serbia was used in a Backstreet Boys song. They transitioned from talking about the demise of their pet dogs to actually living with a croft of the same. The innocent exchange followed its course where the acceptance of one’s weirdness and the unconditional love for the other was all that was missing from their lives. Eve-ah and Wall-E took flight, leaving behind the shells of their teenage phases. Life took a turn towards dreams that flew without parachutes and landed softly in a reality which was remarkably kind to them. But like every other high school romance, this too seemed to be short lived.

Every photograph, penned confession and petite tokens were returned, carefully bubble wrapped and tied together with a pretty garnet red ribbon along with the words, “I don’t think I can be yours.”

With that, the monotony of the World returned, black and white were the ideal love interests. Conventionally, garnet reds and blues were too farfetched of an idea.

Here’s to every new love that served its course and bowed out keeping in mind the happiness of your significant other, because unconditional love is what remained constant between the two, and the other’s promises seemed to just fade away, along with the garnet red shade that was equally temporary.

Behind Costumes

The sky was calm but everything around me was chaotic; something major was about to happen. There was just one bird floating around in the vastness of the sky. Hospitals always reminded me of Comic-Con; just a sea of characters in costumes. Doctors in white, nurses in green or pink, and patients with their casts, eye-patches, bandages, some pale, others flushed. Parents or guardians dressed in worry, concern, concealed fear and the like.

Then there was me. This was my fifth time at this show. After walking through a buffet of CT scans, MRIs, ECGs, when nothing could be determined, I returned to my bed and stared out the window again. In addition to the already existing fever which never came down from its resolute standing at 104 degrees, last night the breathing difficulty started. My father who was by my side for the past five days had begun to show signs of weakness. It was not easy for anyone to see twenty-two blood samples being extracted from an arm which had more needle pricks than freckles. But the occasional jokes on me being a lab rat lightened the mood.

Initially they concluded that something was wrong with my brain. Yes, there was more than one conclusion and each time the new one was more confident than the last. Of course they were all wrong, but the determination with which they showcased their knowledge about all the diseases that could happen was both commendable and ridiculous. No, I did not have viral meningitis, or a tumour hiding somewhere. I did not need a biopsy for the strange swelling that had appeared at the back of my throat which had swelled up and blocked my windpipe almost completely.

All I needed was one actual Superhero amongst the fans strutting in copied costumes. One genuine face behind the mask, who could actually save me. Luckily for me, she had returned after her week’s leave and after an endoscopy, a lollipop and 250mg of steroids, the growth subsided and in twenty-four hours, vanished without a trace. Mononucleosis was the antagonist.

Hospitals will always remind me of Comic-Con- the crowd, the costumes and the chaos.