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"What ever happened to Boris?"

( This is a trinket from my Keepsake Box. )

"‘Have you heard from Boris?" I asked my big bro, trying to sound casual, knowing full well what the answer was going to be.
"Nope. Somewhere in the South America, last time anyone heard from him, which was four years ago".
My brother didn't seem too disturbed about it.
" I asked his brother once, but he doesn’t seem to know".
Now I was visibly agitated. "How can his brother not know where he is?" For me, who was virtually my big brother's shadow, and a constant companion, such a lack of family feeling was beyond comprehension.
"Oh, they are not very close, Boris and his brothers. And now they are scattered all over the globe. So meeting once every five years for a family Christmas is quite normal." Said Bro.
I stopped probing. Didn't want Big Brother to be suspicious, or worse still, amused.

I met Boris when I was fourteen. Big Bro was in IIT and would bring home friends every vacation. I was the envy of all the girls in the neighborhood. It was considered cool to have a big bro, and to have a big bro who would bring home his friends was supposed to be answer to every girl's prayers. Except mine.
To me, these young studs were nothing more than a nuisance.
They meant, noise, countless cups of coffee, and curbs on my freedom as mom needed help looking after these 'growing boys' who seem to be forever hungry. They hogged the bathroom, my mom's dressing table, the whole house and when not hogging any of these things, they just hogged. And it was I who had to make coffee, tea, sandwiches, and iron clothes, run their errands, post their letters, and be the general dog’s body around the house for one month of vacation.
I didn’t think it was cool at all. I wished these guys wouldn't descend on us like a swarm of locust. I saw no charms in their awkward leggy pimply persona. But other girls still envied me.

And one day I met Boris.
I was home alone. Bro had to go out, he left strict instructions about some one coming over. I was supposed to be nice and make tea, and ask him to wait till bro returned.
The door bell rang. I donned my habitual scowl, reserved especially for bro's friends, and opened the door. He stood out side. I scowled a bit more and said more fiercely than necessary-' He is not at home, any message? ".
He smiled. Shook his head. And said-"Just tell him, Boris had called."
At the sight of his cheerful face, my scowl deepened.
He suddenly lifted my hand with great flourish and kissed it. I stood there, stupefied and stared at him. I was sure my mouth had fallen open. He smiled and winked and was off. I called after him-" you can wait if you like...." But Boris had left.

I couldn’t wait for my bro to come home that day . I jumped on him with the big news. ‘Boris had called'.
He didn't seem much impressed or interested. "hmmmm...did anyone call?'
" Boris had come over. Was he the one you were waiting for? The one you asked me to make tea for? “In my anxiety to know more I was babbling. Bro didn’t seem to notice.

That whole summer was spent waiting for Boris. I joined the chatter of guy talk in hopes of finding out more. And I did. Boris was a friend of Bro. Twenty one, and IIT student. He had dropped out to join merchant navy. Now he was roaming the world. That day he had come to take his leave.

Every word I heard added to the Legend of Boris. His aura became brighter day by day. For me who had grown under pressure to excel academically, quitting IIT and joining navy seemed like the ultimate rebellion. Boris and his cheeky charm became the stuff fairy tales were made of. All heroes looked like Boris after that day, medium height, crew cut hair, blunt nose, eyes that crinkled and devil's own grin. I couldn't decide whether he had dimples or not. Some said that he had settled in Italy, some said he was in Spain. But always in some exotic country.
I was surrounded by guys, summer after summer and it took one Boris to transform from me a gauche teenager into a woman. I even took my first manicure. A girl should have pretty hands. One never knows.

Boris didn't appear that summer nor any other summer after that. That was the first and last time I saw him.
Even then, when ever bro and I get together and the queries begin about where about of our friends,
I involuntarily ask- "What ever happened to Boris?"


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