‘Be my date to Homecoming?’

Exploring the effects Homecoming has on two MVHS students.


Trisha Sannappanavar

Nirbhay Saluja and Palak Bassan talk to each other during Homecoming.

Trisha Sannappanavar and Lily Jiang

As soft whispers and chair squeaks filled the French classroom, sophomore Palak Bassan fidgeted with her pencil as she watched sophomore Nirbhay Saluja converse with his classmates. Without taking her eyes off of him, she contemplated the right time to ask him out to Homecoming. With her heart pounding in her ears, and her thoughts consumed by a wave of uneasiness, Bassan made her way up to Saluja. The second Bassan was alone in front of Saluja, the words rolled right off her tongue as she said, “be my date to Homecoming?” Her smile grew wider as she was met with a very enthusiastic ‘yes!’ 

“It was a fun time — I felt slightly flustered and excited,” Saluja said. “I think she deserved a better response than a simple yes, so I decided to go back to her so I could tell her ‘I would love to go to Homecoming with you’.”

Although they can’t recall the specifics of their first interaction, Bassan and Saluja first met in seventh grade, which was also when the two participated in a secret Santa gift exchange together with the rest of their friends. Bassan distinctly remembers the exchange because she was the recipient of his gift: a shiny, gold copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.’ The gift was both fitting and memorable because Saluja and his “too-big-for-his-face” glasses reminded her of Harry Potter. Although Bassan says they’re very different, she finds the dynamic appealing, to which Saluja agrees, saying, “opposites attract.”

Aarushi Jain, a sophomore at Cupertino High School, and a good friend of Bassan’s, knew Saluja and Bassan from their shared time at Lawson Middle School. Although Jain was friends with Bassan in middle school, she didn’t know much about Saluja. However, when Bassan told Jain about her interest in Saluja, she was incredibly supportive, helping Bassan push past her fear of asking Saluja out. Jain says Bassan was excited and nervous about asking Saluja out. She believes Saluja and Bassan are a strong match since they are both equally “awkward,” and she believes Saluja has the potential to make Bassan happy.

Bassan finds Saluja funny and nice, once the thought of asking Saluja to Homecoming was in her head, she couldn’t talk herself out of it. Since then, she’s been excited to get to know him better.

“He always carried himself very confidently, and that’s something I admire,” Bassan said. “He [also] seemed very approachable. I could tell he was very kind just by the way he interacted with others. He [is] extroverted [and] I’m not, so I liked that [about him].”

Saluja wasn’t initially planning on going to Homecoming, but since Bassan asked him, he decided to go. Saluja thinks she’s pretty and nice and looks forward to what will happen next between them.

Nirbhay Saluja and Palak Bassan stand together at the Homecoming dance. Photo by Trisha Sannappanavar

Unfortunately, after asking Saluja out to Homecoming, Bassan got COVID-19, making it harder for them to communicate with each other. They drifted apart during this time but took Homecoming as an opportunity to close that gap and bring them closer.

During Homecoming, the two spent the night dancing and trying to find moments when they could talk to each other alone.

“I enjoyed his company,” Bassan said. “There was a point where we went outside and talked about Star Wars, which was fun.” 

For Bassan, it wasn’t the perfect date: the music was so loud that the two of them had to scream at each other at times to communicate. Additionally, there were a few awkward moments that she distinctly remembers. 

“We fell when we were in the dance circle,” Bassan said. “I think I fell on him — that was probably painful, and we struggled to get up for a solid minute.”

Nirbhay Saluja and Palak Bassan dance during Homecoming. Photo by Trisha Sannappanavar

However, Bassan loved how Homecoming created the perfect environment for her and Saluja’s personalities to blossom uniquely and see each other in a different light. Bassan enjoyed the company she had, not only with Saluja but also with her friends, and appreciates how supportive they were of her and Saluja, with Jain saying “don’t [mess] this up [Nirbhay], Palak is the best you’re going to get.” 

Bassan found it hilarious every time they heckled Saluja because she knew that it came from a place of love. They constantly checked up on her and Saluja, making things less awkward as it gave her more of an opportunity to be herself.

“My opinion on Homecoming has definitely changed,” Bassan said. “I now believe it is an event worth at least giving a try and going to once because you never know what new bonds you’re going to form or experiences you’re going to make. [Homecoming has] allowed me to try out new experiences and pushed me to get out of my comfort zone, which is something that can be really beneficial for a lot of students. The possibilities that Homecoming creates for students are endless.”