When I was in the eleventh grade, I read my first Sidney Sheldon. The name of the book was If Tomorrow Comes. It belonged to a classmate, who had lent it to me. He had said, ‘People usually start with this one when they start reading Sidney Sheldon.’ I read it and decided that it made complete sense. The book was a superb read. And I was in love with the primary protagonist – Tracy Whitney.
I read this only once, and that was twelve years ago, so I don’t remember a whole lot of detail. What I remember is how I felt. Tracy Whitney – the name itself was a work of incredible creative cunning. You know how they can make names so that they sound like a certain sort of character (if you don’t, consult Jake Peralta)? I began to appreciate Sidney Sheldon’s artistry as I saw how he not only kept the reader glued to the story, but also made them fall in love with his characters.
It was enormously satisfying to see that Tracy had found the right partner by the end of the book. I do not want to go into details and descriptions since people reading this blog might not have read the book yet. But it is a safe bet to say that if you read it, you will love Tracy Whitney. I found later that another author has written two sequels to If Tomorrow Comes, both of them featuring Tracy as the hero, but I haven’t tried to read them. I don’t trust any other author with her. I’d rather have her as Sidney made her, just that and nothing more.
It was the summer of 2008, and the Olympics were at hand. That year, it was Beijing hosting the great games. The monotonous dailies were suddenly festive with spectacular borders and shining headlines, special sports correspondents were writing heady accounts of everything going down at the events day in and day out. Every day, beaming photos of victorious athletes were splashed across the top pages of every newspaper. For once, cricket took a backseat, lost somewhere in the sports pages at the back.
And it was around this time that I grew a sure-headed, full-blooded crush on Yelena Isinbayeva, the living legend of Russian pole vault. Actually, I’ll correct myself. Adding ‘Russian’ to that epithet is entirely unnecessary. Isinbayeva, as even casual sports fans will remember, was then the undisputed queen of pole vault all over the world. In the sports columns, she won reverent accolades every day. She was compared to Sergey Bubka, the King of Pole Vault, and hailed as his equal – possibly greater, according to some. She had been dominating championships since 1998, and after ten years of reign, showed no signs of slowing down.
Isinbayeva is the first Russian name I took pains to meticulously remember. Why? Because I wanted to Google her up later when I had access to the internet. Hers was a kind of beauty we had never really encountered before. Yes, admittedly, many among us had had huge crushes on Maria Sharapova back in the day (which, incidentally, was only about three years before Isinbayeva came to Beijing), and also on Sania Mirza when she was making it big around 2006. I never had a thing for them, though. But Isinbayeva was different.
When I talk about having a crush, I mean more than being sexually attracted to someone. Physical attraction is a big part, yeah, but until that is tempered by a metaphysical admiration, it does not qualify as something emotional. With Isinbayeva, I had this admiration. I myself didn’t know that I did, to be honest. I used to think it was only her physique and appearance that makes me like her. Then one day, I saw a video on YouTube.
It was made by one of her fans. It was a montage, of Yelena… and a running African cheetah. The fan had tried to explore a parallel through his tribute, bringing out the power and grace in the two forms of natural splendour. Watching that video, I finally realized what my feeling towards Isinbayeva was. It wasn’t just physical. There was more than that to it.
I don’t remember having a major crush on anyone else for a long time after this. In fact, it wouldn’t be until after I got into college that I would finally get to read The Lord of the Rings, and discover the timeless magic that is Tolkien, and in doing so, come across the characters of Goldberry and Galadriel. I have talked about Galadriel before while mentioning Kate Winslet. But Galadriel wasn’t whom I had loved when I read The Lord of the Rings. I am not one of tall towers and palaces, even if they are those of the golden woods of Lórien. My love had been for Goldberry.
I do not have a lot to say about her. Perhaps because it was not really a crush, perhaps because what it was, it still is. Perhaps I have not left it so far behind that I cannot imagine coming across it again someday, ahead along the road on my little journey.
I’d rather talk about the next actress I crushed on in a major way, while watching the newly released Thor.
Now, I know who most humans had a crush on while watching Thor. Entire generations, I suppose, have been enraptured by the Asgardian physique (and voice) of Chris Hemsworth, falling in and out of love with him, spoilt for choice between all the Chrises that the superhero movies were throwing at us. I had a Thor-crush too, but my crush was on his hammer. Mjolnir, I say, is bae. – However, this series is not called “To All the Hammers We’ve Loved Before.”
Natalie Portman was lovely, intelligent, extremely cute, and a brilliant actress. There was no logical reason why I wouldn’t have a crush on her. But what cinched the matter was my watching the movie V for Vendetta. In it, Natalie played Evey, the girl V befriends, loves, and raises to Promethean fire. V for Vendetta became a central building block in my personal edifice, while Natalie became someone more than a mere actress. I saw her again in Heat, and yet again in Leon the Professional. My respect for her was steadily building. I could not really blame Anakin Skywalker when I finally got around to watching the prequel trilogy.