The mission was to De-cliché the romantic prompt — “If you’re a bird…I’m a bird.” From The Notebook.
John had always thought her brave. The way she walked with her head held high. Agni. Courageous in the face of fire. Courageous in the face of fat. She walked tall with heavy, sure footsteps. As graceful as a hippopotamus, Sunny always sniggered. Well, he had always thought that hippos were graceful creatures. Her hair always looked unwashed to him. Sunny told him that it’s over-washed but under-conditioned, that’s why the frizz. Sunny was small and scrawny for her age but had two glamourous elder sisters who knew everything there was to know about hair, skin and beauty. “Tanya di always says John has beautiful eyes. You should get contact lenses, she says.” Sunny sat next to him just before school assembly and passed him her breakfast of peanut butter, jam and banana sandwiches. “Aha. Are you sure you don’t want to eat this? Sun?” John asks her. “No way. You can finish it.” Sunny replies, jumping off the parapet they were sitting on and stood in the typical Sunny fashion, which meant that he should hurry up and finish the food.
John was trying to chew and ignore Sunny and stare at Agni walking to their class. This was his morning ritual. His secret morning ritual. He wanted to tell Sunny about his long-standing crush on Agni, but Sunny hated her without knowing or understanding fully why she hated her. At almost 13, Sunny was older than him by a few months but still looked about 10. Agni looked like an adult. She was plump and soft where Sunny was stick thin. Agni was the tallest person in their class, where Sunny was among the shortest. Agni was taller than John by a head, but he knew that soon he would grow tall and big. “Puberty was around the corner for you, John.” Tanya didi had said. Sunny had gotten angry at her sister and had thrown a kiddy fit. Puberty was definitely not around the corner for Sunny. John knew it instinctively that telling her about his crush on Agni would rift them apart in an unnameable way. Sunny would see it as a betrayal. Of John leaving Sunny alone in their shared childhood and venturing out in the adult world on his own.