'Love at first sight'? That's so passé.
‘Hate at first sight’ is more of a reality.
We sometimes meet people whom we dislike at once, for no obvious reason. The intolerable presence of the person kills us till we are compelled to be in his/her vicinity.
As our annoyance soars, we may begin to fabricate plans to bully, abstain or even kill him/her for no apparent reason.
However, studies indicate that hatred arises with a definite reason, in the subconscious mind. It is said that when we hate someone, we think more and consequently, our analysis turns out with better clarity.
Short Story - The Hatred.
He wore a red shirt. Not the kind of red that gives out a pleasant sense of positive energy or power. It was the kind of red that jars the senses and hurts the eyes.
I wanted to look away, but couldn’t. He must have seen me watching him. Or maybe I noticed him ogling at me, with neither a sense of hesitation nor shame, for such a long time. His shirt had pale white buttons on it. Strange though as it may seem, I have no recollection of anything else about his attire. Was he wearing blue jeans or black, or even yellow? I didn’t notice.
All I remember is the extreme reaction I had when I set my eyes on his thin face. I wrinkled my nose in distaste and almost looked away. Almost. Because as I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t look away.
His light brown eyes, bored into mine with no sense of inhibition, whatsoever. A smile played across his slightly parted, thin lips. The expression on his face seemed to beckon to me and say, ‘Hey, let’s talk.’
I couldn’t fathom what it was about him that made me want to…slap him. Yes, all I wanted to do was slap that smirk right off his face.
He wasn’t good-looking, oh no! Well, he wasn’t ugly either. Perhaps some girls would find that French beard (or whatever that tuft of hair on the chin is referred to) attractive. It just made me want to wring his neck.
‘Joel! Oye Joel!’
Someone called out to him from a few feet behind me. He waved at that someone, shifting his eyes for just a second to acknowledge whoever it was, and got back ogling at me. He ran his left hand across his hair, in a manner that suggested that he clearly thought of it as a cool gesture. But all it did was, bring my attention to his ugly hair. That mop of curls on his egg-shaped oily head was downright disgusting.
Don’t get me wrong! I have nothing against curly hair. On the contrary, I think curly haired guys are rather cute. Well, some guys, at least. Not this one, though.
I finally tore my eyes away from his lanky frame and picked up my backpack from the floor where I’d placed it earlier. I returned to the classroom with a frown that earned several surprised stares from my new classmates.
Who was that asshole? Joel. Alright, who was that asshole called Joel? I settled down, as usual, in the last bench, to enjoy my favourite English class. The first month of college had seemed pleasant and enjoyable, until then. Not anymore, though. The ‘red-shirt fellow’ had ruined the day for me.
Three days later, I was rushing to the Zoology lab for the practical session. I pondered why the zoo prats were strategically scheduled right after the lunch hour, on Thursday afternoons. I wondered what poor animal was due to get mutilated that day under our inexperienced instruments. I shuddered when I thought of the gory black leeches we’d had to deal with two weeks ago. One of the guys with a weak stomach had thrown up his Biryani-lunch all over his specimen, when the blood had begun to ooze out of the chosen predatory worm of the wild. That was one ‘Yikes’ moment all of us would remember for a lifetime.
I chuckled when I recalled the incident with Kamal that had left us in splits the previous week, when we had dissected wild frogs. Kamal was the undisputed hunk of our class, with the six-pack abs and musculature that had half of the girls in our section swooning in adoration. The adoration had received a severe beating, however, when he had shot out of his seat with a terrified yelp, when the gigantic black pond amphibian, sedated with chloroform, was placed in the steel tray in front of him. He turned out to be the only student that day, who’d been unable to even touch the unconscious specimen, let alone gorge out the huge yellow eyes off the creature, to locate the optic nerve.
I was still trying to bite back my smile, when I stopped short at the landing of the stairs that led to the third floor. My friends, Varsha and Rashmi were talking to him. Him, that disgusting red-shirt fellow! Well, he was wearing an ugly green shirt today. I love green, mind you, but then it was a disgrace to the beautiful colour, when it was worn by someone like him.
‘Yuk!’ I thought. ‘What’s gotten into these females today? Why on earth would they even look at, let alone talk to a guy like that!’
I fumed inwardly when I saw Varsha laugh at something he said. She saw me then, and waved to me.
Oh no! I panicked. I had to get away before he spotted me. But, it was too late. He’d seen me too. He smirked then, in obvious enjoyment of his display of winning humor that seemed to charm my friends. I had a vivid vision of digging my dissection knife onto his face, plucking his eyes away from the sockets with my forceps and finally gorging them out savagely with my scalpel, like I had done to that poor dumb frog, last week.
And before I could turn away and make my escape, he waved to me and called out ‘Hiiiii Roma!’
I could have killed Varsha then! How could she have told this horrid fellow my name? How dare he use it so flippantly, calling out to me as if we were…friends?! My name, my beautiful name, coming from him sounded absolutely degrading!
I seethed in disgust and turned on my heel, the zoo prats forgotten. I heard Varsha’s high pitched voice and Rashmi’s low pitched one, crying out to me frantically. I ignored the receding sound of my name being called and hurried down two flights of stairs, blindly heading for the library, my only place of solace in the whole building.
‘But, he is a nice guy! What the hell is wrong with you? How can you hate someone you don’t even know? You haven’t even met him properly, nor have you even spoken to him…and he likes you so much!’ Varsha’s face held a mixture of utter confusion and controlled anger.
Varsha and Rashmi had searched far and wide, all over the college and finally found me seated in the far corner of the canteen, sipping cold coffee.
‘Don’t you dare talk about him to me!’ I yelled. ‘I hate that asshole and I’ll kill you if you ever tell him anything about me again!’
I saw her recoil in shock and regretted my outburst. Why was I overreacting so much? After all, she was my friend and meant no harm. I tried to hold back sudden tears that threatened to escape my lids and attempted a flimsy apology with a ‘Sorry…it’s not your fault…’
Varsha, the sweetheart that she was, tried to console me at once.
‘What’s wrong with what I did, yaar? I didn’t tell him anything personal about you, ok? Relax…’ she tried to soothe me. ‘Tell me, why do you hate him so much? There is no reason for you to overreact like this…’
I didn’t reply. I silently wiped away the tears that had begun to flow down my cheeks with the back of my hand.
‘I’ve known Joel from the past four years, yaar. He was my senior in National Public School...’ Rashmi chimed in, as if to corroborate Varsha’s statement about the extremity of my behavior.
‘I don’t know! I just hate such guys!’ I finally erupted, my anger resurfacing at the disdainful expression on Rashmi’s face.
‘Such guys, matlab? He is a decent guy from a good family!’
‘Decent, my foot! Decent guys don’t behave this way!’
‘What way? You are so irrational, Roma!’ Rashmi gave me a look of disbelieving disgust.
‘Oh, go to hell!’ I stormed out of the canteen, without a backward glance.
Late that night, I lay awake tossing in bed, as the events of the day played over and over in my mind like a rewinding videotape. I knew I had to apologize to both my friends. But then, I’d have to tell them the reason for my anger in the first place, the reason behind my ‘irrational’ hatred of a complete stranger.
So, why did I hate him?
I finally allowed my mind to dwell on what I’d been avoiding to analyze until then. What was it about him that made my blood boil when I looked at him?
His eyes, I realized. His eyes had the expression that made me cringe with revulsion. It was the kind of expression that made girls want to adjust their veils over their breasts, to shield them from gawking eyeballs. It was the kind of expression that made women feel insecure in a crowd. It was the kind of expression that made women feel exposed, even when covered from head to toe.
I knew the exact reason for the intense hatred, that Joel evoked from every cell of my being, which made me want to murder him the minute I sighted him.
I might’ve been able to ignore the loud, gross clothes he fancied wearing. I’d be able to overlook all that oil in his hair that gave him the personality of a slimy creep. I’d even be able to forgive the cocky impudence in his demeanor, at his assumption that a convent-educated girl like me would actually give two hoots about a scoundrel like him.
But, few girls would forget or forgive an unfamiliar, unknown person, who had neither a sense of self-control nor the decency, to keep the blatant lust from showing in his eyes. Yes, it was the unconcealed lust in Joel’s eyes that made me flinch away from him in abhorrence. Joel, the boy, had the eyes of a predator.
I felt no guilt or coyness whatsoever, when I decided to tell my friends why I hate Joel. I knew then, that I would hate him for the rest of my life.
I turned off the bed lamp on the table next to my cot and turned over to retire for the night, my heart lighter from a burden removed, and my mind in relative tranquility.
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