I met her for the first time fifteen years ago. Both of us had travelled from our respective suburbs to the huge city of Calcutta to appear for admission tests and interviews after our secondary board exams. We faced each other for the first time during one of such admission tests. Our parents were waiting outside as we were writing our tests in a classroom. I still remember the room, though later we couldn’t locate it anymore. We didn’t pay attention to each other, neither to the other girls. Yes, it was a girls’ school. Some of them knew each other and chatted gleefully. I knew none, and was silent as a wall, the way I was back then. The first time I actually noticed her was on the day of the interview. A tiny, thin girl with curly cropped hair like a halo around her head. Her parents were probably a little tensed about the interview, and kept talking to my parents but she was cool and chirping her way with all her certificates, academic and extra-curricular – drama, elocution. I was quite nervous, with exclusively academic credentials and being already rejected from another school for not being a Calcatian, or Calcuttan, whatever they meant. My parents were trying to boost my confidence and she was calming down her parents with confidence. I guess neither of us paid attention to each other, we were busy with our own chores and let the parents chat their way.
The third time I saw her was our first day in the new school. Both of us had been admitted there and were about to enter the school gate at the same time. My father came with me as I knew nothing of that part of the city. He was immensely relieved to see the ‘acquainted’ girl and felt that I would be comfortable with her. I was apprehensive though, not very much encouraging the idea since I had been a loner and never really tried to befriend somebody on my own. Our fathers introduced us to each other and went back. We were introduced formally and walked through the entrance of the school towards the classroom.