"Roll no. 37", shouted Ms. Sharma, louder than thunder, for the third time.
But roll no. 37 ,a proud M.B.B.S (member of back benchers society), had something much more important on mind. Roll no. 37 was thinking that, how did Nupur di manage to look so good? She was so thin ,tall and fair. Everybody in the school vied for her attention.
"Can I borrow your pen?", she had asked me once. And I made sure that I gave her my favorite red pen, which she didn’t return to me. I thought she loved it and proudly told all my friends that Nupur di was using my pen. It was only later, I saw it lying near the classroom door.
She had poker straight hair and it was just the color of ginger. Whereas mine was awfully curly. Her mom let her do her eyebrows , mine were undone. Boys teased me.
She smelled so good always. Mom did not even let me wear a perfume. I would make the wisest possible use of the only deodorant , masi got me from the US. Only, so that, I also smelled good all the time. But by the time the first class got over, I smelled like the fruit jelly or the pickle in my lunch box.
No matter how heavy the school bag, I'd try taking it on one shoulder because that's what Nupur di did. I would pray to God, for it to rain, so that I could also wear my pink sneakers with the uniform, like her. The forced on fringes alongside my tightly oiled plaits made me look funny. But to me, I'd do everything possible to look like my idol.
Time flew past. She passed out and so did I. Nupur di is now confined to my memories of school. The straightening irons, saloons, branded stores, increased pocket money, Gucci, Prada, Armani have changed me from roll no. 37 to Nupur part two. But the question that haunts me often is, am I beautiful now?
……Or was I beautiful then?