“What? Are you sure honey?” asked Lucy with humour in her eyes.
“Yes I am sure mom. I am in love” chirped Kevin, looking up at his mother with concern in his eyes.
Kevin looked at his mother. He could tell from her expression that she was silently laughing at him. He was too young to be in love, everyone said. Kevin frowned and went back to his room. He had been staying shut in his room a lot for the past few weeks. That’s what they did in the movies. The boy, madly in love with the girl who was more famous than he was, writhed in the agony of the whole situation and stayed shut in his room for weeks, with messy hair and an unshaven face. It would take years for Kevin to grow a beard, but the rest of it, he was sure he could do. He climbed on top of his bed, flipped the corner of his mattress and took out an old book and from inside it, a page torn out of a notebook and stared at her name. Sylvia. He loved her name. His eyes ran over the curvy, bold letters that made up her name. The letters were his favourite pattern. He had memorised the way they looked on paper. It was this picture that always formed in his mind whenever he saw her face. He put the sheet back inside the book and placed it under the mattress. He turned to look at the moon. It wasn’t there, although only seconds before he thought he had caught it shining through the window. He stared at the dark sky. He had sneaked a look at the search engine on the computer that always had all the answers and had found out that Sylvia was a Greek name, meaning “a dark, wooded forest”. Before this brilliant idea of checking out what her name meant, had knocked his brain, he had assumed it meant ‘silver’. He had always thought it meant silver and had been secretly glad because that meant he could compare her to the moon, which was perfect because he had heard Sylvia say that poets, compared their lovers to the moon. They were known as ‘beloved’. Sylvia was a beloved. His beloved.
Next day, he sat right in front on the third row, so that he could see her. He wore a dark green tee shirt that day and hoped no one would guess its significance and snigger at his stupidity. She entered. He gulped. She looked best when she was reading. He loved listening to her. She spoke about a story she had read once. It was about a boy whose parents had died and he was sent off to live with his cruel stepfather and his equally cruel sister. They were like cold, steel boxes and did nothing but bother him. Kevin looked at Sylvia, touched by the way her voice saddened while recounting how he had lived with the cruel stepfather who was always screaming at him, making him nervous and spoil every little thing he was good at. When she mentioned about his triumphs when he grew up and his marriage with the girl he loved, her eyes sparkled and Kevin’s heart lifted. He remembered the day he had realised he was in love with her. She was talking about this story of a poor little boy whose good luck gets him to visit a chocolate factory where there were magic chocolates that tasted like whole meals and trees and woods made up of chocolates. Kevin had stared open-mouthed at her, as she talked animatedly about a river of chocolate and liquorice flowers. It was like magic. He had gone home and read the book in a single night. He was so fascinated that he had borrowed the sequel, from his elder sister Susan the very next day. Sylvia had made him discover how great holidays with cousins could be, solving mysteries on an island. He had finished the entire series in the summer holidays. Sylvia had shown him that magic existed. He had discovered it in the stories she talked about. Her voice made everything possible in the world of stories. All he now did was dream of strange lands where the land was made up of clouds and the sky was made up of sand. He thought of how great it would be if the sun one day decided to turn blue and the moon decided to turn green. He made ships out of bread and set sail to them on a gravy boat. Only last night he had started scribbling something about a little cave where no one went, but which actually was a trapdoor to a world where all things were hidden. He planned to write a story about it. He hoped to write lots of stories when he grew up. He decided to read a lot too when he grew up. He hoped Sylvia would like it. He could hear his mother and father talking in whispers outside his room. He was supposed to be sleeping. He listened intently to what they said.
“Really? His English teacher? No wonder he cannot lay off books nowadays”.
Tithi Mukherjee, 22, is currently pursuing her Masters in English from Jadavpur University. Her fascination for the subject goes back to her junior school days. During leisure hours, she likes scribbling short stories and one day hopes to write a book of her own.