It was the first day of junior college in 1995. The college was a beautiful one near the Arabian Sea in Mumbai. I was quite anxious as college life was completely a new universe for me. I came from a low-income family from far suburb and the college was filled with children from the elite class; mostly.
Why I chose this college and how did I get admission here is a topic for another blog post. This blog post is about someone special.
As I entered the class, the visuals took my breath away. The class was huge, it was windy, and there were beautiful girls and handsome young boys — minus me. As a habit, I took the second last bench and I was just looking around at the lovely crowd that was one of the important reasons I took admission in this college.
On my front were these beautiful girls who were giggling at me. I was a shabby boy and hence the giggling was quite obvious and a regular thing. One beautiful girl in a brown dress — top and short skirt — and spectacles on the face introduced herself.
Hey, I’m Monaaz. What’s your name?
I was dumbstruck and didn’t respond for a while. I’d never seen such a beautiful girl talking to me and I’d ever expected this to happen on the first day of junior college.
Hey, I’m Monaaz. What’s your name?
Are you talking to me?
Nice. Where do you come from?
Now, this is what happens when you stay far in the suburbs. I was dumbstruck again and my broken heart shattered into a million pieces. I collected those pieces in a bit and explained to her where this place is in the city.
She was born in the south of the city — the cool part of the city. She went to school in that part of the city and stayed all her life in that part of the city.
Not her fault.
But somehow, I managed to speak to her in my half-baked f***ed up English. She also introduced to some other girls.
She was compassionate. Her full name — Monaaz Baria and she’d the most beautiful smile on her face in college.
She’s a pretty Parsi woman, in fact, the first female friend of my life. We became good friends in junior college.
While people around me were talking about the snobbish nature of students in that college who come from certain areas of the city, she displayed compassionate communication. I’ve faced ugly conversations in the college from students because I’d a certain look, had a certain language, had a certain style that might be uncool for others in those days. But, she always treated me with equality.
She’s still extremely modest and that is one of her many virtues. I was fond of her then, I’m fond of her now.
Coming back to college life, I also remember that she was the first female who shared her telephone number with me. In those days, receiving a telephone number of a pretty girl was like receiving a noble award; at least for me.
3**9639 still rings in my head.
Monaaz was extremely beautiful in college and I don’t know a single boy who wasn’t dying to be her friend.
I was the fortunate one.
On the last day of junior college, I wore a white shirt to college. I collected autographs on my shirt and she gave me one near my heart. I’ve lost the shirt but I haven’t lost my memory. After junior college, I don’t know what evil happened and we never spoke to each other; for like a decade.
In 2005, I wrote her a letter. I knew her home address and I communicated her about my life in these years and I requested to call me for her marriage. I also came to know that she was already following her dream to fly around the world. She had joined British Airways.
I don’t remember the year but it was in February, she kept my request and I attended her marriage — my first ever Parsi marriage. I went for a while and enjoyed those moments. After her marriage, I don’t know what happened and we never spoke to each other for like a decade more.
In 2016, I was doing a web-series of daily heroes; people who are ordinary but doing extraordinary work for society. I unknowingly made a friend who stays close to her home and is a common friend. She referred me to this group who are doing amazing service towards animals.
I came to know that Monaaz is also of the volunteer. I went to shoot the video and met her; along with other volunteers.
She was in a red dress and had the same beautiful smile on her face. She hugged me with compassion and told all about the initiatives they’re are doing. I also met her sister Tinaaz and her husband, who is also flying around the world.
All of them are cabin crew and I have deep respect for them. In fact, I have an exclusive blog spot on them.
This was the first time I actually met her after junior college. 1995 to 2016 that is like almost two decades. A lot happened; including my change of name from Mohit to Agastya.
But she was same — kind, compassionate, beautiful and radiant.
I asked for forgiveness for the reasons she might have stopped speaking to me in college and while leaving, I requested to sign in my autograph book. I had lost the white shirt but I didn’t want to lose her imprint; although it’s in my heart since the time we met but just for material records.
Agastya, you’re really a mad fellow.
Yes. I know.
You really want my autograph?
Yes. I’m. Since college days.
Her autograph a special significance for me because she’s my first female friend and I’m always inspired by her. She always fulfills her dream. She’s an inspiration to all of us. She’s taken a special place in my heart like all others who have given me their autograph in my book.
While going back that day, I requested her to keep in touch and not take two decades to meet. I so want to meet her but her job and other commitments really keep her quite busy.
There’s so much to talk about her but the resources are scarce. Her story can’t be told in a blog post, not even in a lifetime.