Today is the perfect day to write about Premkumar because it’s his fifteenth birthday and, of course, Valentine’s Day. More than likely, Valentine’s Day is his favorite day of the year anyway, and the fact that he was born on the 14th of February is very fitting.
I knew in advance that Prem was something of a showboat as well as an excellent dancer, but the former truly exceeded my expectations, especially when he demonstrated his, um, remarkable modeling prowess. The gesture on the left greeted me virtually every time I entered a hundred-foot radius of Prem, and usually multiple times before I left. Within a day or two it was accompanied by air kisses and constant winks.
One afternoon during Pongal, we were sitting outdoors and I noticed a square shape in his pocket. I asked him what it was and he reached into the other pocket. After some insistence, Prem (squealing like a girl) produced a notebook featuring a bare-shouldered Tamil actress (positively scandalous by Indian standards).
“Prem, who is this?” I asked, feigning shock. He giggled unintelligibly. “Who is it?”
Later, he confessed to someone that he “liked this girl” and, with a pitifully melodramatic expression, claimed to suffer extreme heart pain thereat. Evidently, the heart pain wasn’t all that bad and he made his first move the following evening when he pulled me out of the chapel to “tell me something,” which actually turned out to be a kiss on the cheek. The next night, he and Pavi asked if I had a boyfriend in America, at which time I apparently became Prem’s girlfriend. I wasn’t taken for long, however, until sweet and truth-telling Pavithran outed Prem — who, it turns out, was taken — and after an animated exchange in Tamil, conveniently ensured that our relationship status was lost in translation.
Happy Birthday (Piranda Naal Vaazhthukkal!) to my favorite showboat and short-lived “boyfriend,” who is nonetheless an irresistible sweetheart.