I have always been addicted… To adrenaline.
It was right in the middle of my summer holidays. The sun rippled through the fronds of the coconut tree. Placing my hands on the low wall, which separated my apartment block from the one next door, I heaved one leg onto the top; the other still dangling down. Balancing my full weight onto my arms, my skinny biceps vibrating with the tension of having to hold up my entire body I pulled up my other leg; scraping it against the rough edges of the wall in the process. Heedless of the thin stream of blood, which trickled down my left knee, I surveyed the scene from my now-superior height of four feet nine inches, plus another five feet added by the wall. I looked down at the scattered boys and one girl assembled below.
“Dare you,” pouted Sid.
“Ha!” I sniggered back. I was taller than him, for now and was going to prove just how much braver I was. I stuck out my tongue; and was instantly rewarded by him rolling both eyes towards his nose and sticking his tongue right back at me. Yah! Whatever. I’ll show you now! As light as a ballerina on a tight rope, I walked across the narrow surface of the wall towards the adjoining coconut palm. One of its long, fan like leaves hung suspended. I tugged on it, satisfied that it was still firmly attached to the tree trunk. The leaf was just a little bit older than its mates, which still stood upright, their heads raised in worship to the sun. Then holding onto my hands I raised myself to the tips of my feet.
Raising my head towards the sky, I let the sun-rays warm my face and neck, enjoying the little rise in my pulse beat, skipping its way up towards my chest. Then, as my heartbeat sped up to tango with the blood now pumping through my veins I jumped. “Kreegah Tarzan Bundolo,” I screamed at the top of my voice, sailing through the air, over the heads of my friends.
I looked down at Sid as I cut through the air near his nose. He raised his hand pointing towards something behind me. Yah! Right, no way I was falling for that trick now.
The ground rushed up to meet me: I headed straight for the pebbled mud just past where the group was standing, and hit the ground with such force that my nose slammed into the dirt. Something hit me on the back of my head. Sid! How dare he? I shimmied up to my feet, my hands still grasping the palm frond; to find them laughing at me. One of them was laughing so hard, he was literally rolling on the ground holding his side. The large leaf had come loose in my hand; it now dragged behind me as if a large cape.
“Ha! If you are so strong, why don’t you wear your underwear over your pants like Superman?” One of the boys burst out between his guffaws.
“But you are a girl. So, how can you be Tarzan? You should be Jane,” burst out the only other girl in the group. I walked up to her, more distraught than I cared to admit. I don’t know why, but it seemed terribly important to clarify this: “I am Tarzan.”
“No, you are not!” The girl pushed her face right back at me, so we were nose to nose. Losing patience I lifted my hand and slapped her. Thwack!
To see her features crumple, you would have thought I had socked her hard. For all that, it was just a measly little slap. She burst into tears. Can you believe that?
Sid—who I thought was my friend, came up to put an around her. “You really shouldn’t have Ruby.” He looked at me sadly. As they walked away, Sid still holding her—as if she was going to die any moment—the girl looked back at me and stuck out her tongue. Then turning around, she placed her head on Sid’s shoulder and continued her incessant crying; holding her hand to her cheek for good measure.
So much for female solidarity; guess I learnt that lesson quite early in life.
Ruby Iyer, the novel is out November. Meanwhile, stay tuned for an occasional, sneak peak into Ruby’s innermost thoughts, as we raid her diary to take you inside the mind of this brash, bold, new heroine from Bombay. Sign up here to find out about the book release. Follow @RubyIyer on twitter.