“Wait, do you know how to embed videos into this powerpoint?”, he asked, looking at the entire room. After a brief moment of silence from the rest of my teammates, I replied, “ Oh yeah there’s an option to embed a URL, so you can just add it on the youtube link.” “ Cause if there’s one thing that this presentation needs, it’s this penguin video”, he said, eyes still on the screen, barely acknowledging my response and probably doing exactly what I had just said. I watched him intently, hoping for some sort of a response, but no, dude was too busy adding the video of a penguin screaming “ Egg! Egg!” into our presentation. Sure, we were trying to make it as goofy as possible so our TA’s could get a good laugh out of it, but hey the video wasn’t that funny. Nobody else in the group seemed to notice this, which led me to believe that maybe it’s just in my head. Maybe it’s just the way he is. But that afternoon that the six of us spent finishing the egg project for extra credit, Caleb Faulkner did not acknowledge my presence once.
Coming to America for grad school seemed like a dream as well as a nightmare. I was getting to study aerospace engineering, something that I wanted to do since I was a kid. I could focus on learning how to design and do research and build things that go to space which was the ultimate dream! But it also meant leaving everything that had essentially been my life for the past 22 years and moving across the world. In a country whose culture I thought I knew given the amount of Hollywood movies I watched during my formative years. Turns out not everything you see on TV is true kids. I wasn’t ready for the cultural shocks that ensued. “Why do you call it football dude, you’re holding the ball in your hands?” “People here consume a concerning amount of soda on a daily basis”
I had always been a romance lover at heart. Be it books or classy romcoms, I loved them cheesy and spicy. I was exactly like every other girl, and I was proud.
I don’t know if this was some in-grained racism in my brain but brown people always consider white people to be the pinnacle of the human race. It must be all the years that the British spent ruling us. But the mentality was set in my brain that white people were out of my league. Whenever I saw a brown and white couple walking together, the first thought in my mind was damn, that guy is so cool, or damn I can’t believe that girl pulled a white guy. All of Mindy Kaling’s TV work didn’t help either because it gave me this false hope that although I am a disgusting Indian loser with facial hair and glasses, some guy who competes with me will ultimately end up falling for my wit.
So my knowledge of romance novel convinced me of one of the two possibilities :
He likes me and does not have a healthy way of expressing those feelings (because enemies to lovers is the greatest romantic trope to ever exist, I don’t care if you think it’s toxic)
He is just plain rude or racist or both
Ok (b) is a stretch. Maybe he just doesn’t care. I mean I can think of a bunch of my classmates that I might accidentally ignore or not acknowledge. It doesn’t mean anything. And the funny part is that this was the only incident where we were in a situation where we had to sit close to each other or talk. We were never in any other project together. We did not have common friends and we never really approached each other to initiate a conversation. I don’t know why he didn’t but I didn’t cause well I had a big fat crush on him.
It was purely physical attraction. He was a tall, athletic, good looking guy. He played soccer like a pro and also won our cohort’s annual sprint race. But, he was also a huge nerd. He listened intently in class, made pretty notes and one time coded up an entire assignment the day that it was assigned, without bothering any of his fellow team members (what a show off, I know) and I was a sucker for these kinds of things. But I don’t have the courage to pursue any type of romantic endeavor and he just never thought of me twice. And just like that grad school went on. He left with his master’s degree and got a high paying offer at a defense company, while I stayed at university for my PhD. A crush eventually fades away with time and all those hours spent thinking about him, about his arms, the feeling of his embrace, the fantasy of going out to dinner with him, were all spent in vain.
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