“Keep this with you” Sahana said taking her phone out of the pocket and shoving in my hands and walked to the ground for basketball practice. She is exceptionally good in that game. I opened the book and sat on the stone bench in the college garden. I was involved in the book at my hands until I heard his name being called by someone. The junior girls from other branch were gossiping something that involved Advaith.
“They both are cute together. It’s sad the most handsome boy is taken away” one of the girls said.
“Both are rich. But he is much better than her, I mean more humble” the other one told her view. My ears became hyper active. I could have even heard an infra or ultrasonic sound waves at that moment.
“They are engaged, but never saw them together before.”
“I heard it was their family’s decision”
Some people have nothing other than creating gossips. Advaith is showing little interest in me now and these kids here are already creating his engagement stories. I knew this hostel life. Speaking about others –is one of the best entertainment here.
Sahana came to the room after her basketball practice and fell on her bed.
“Hi” I greeted without looking up from the book.
“Where were you, why did you come early?” she asked after a minute.
“Mmm…” I didn’t want to tell her how upset I was over a false gossip.
“I heard Advaith got engaged to our junior. I heard it from his good friend. It’s true. Seems like every one knows.”
now i understood the gossip was not a false one after all.I wasn’t able to believe what everyone believed. Still my face fell. Sad and hurt. This happened before in my childhood. I would be so hurt that I do not realize what emotion to show.
I started to think it kind of little awful. Who gets officially engaged in their very early twenties? That too in this century where people fell in love through texts and e-mails. Then, who knows, it might even be a matter of pride for their families.
“Ok” I said folding the sun dried dresses I had washed. I should not have romantic feelings about someone who is committed with another, even if they claim it’s a family decision. He is just a hopeless crush that stay a little while. I can get over it. Anyways there wasn’t anything between us in the first place.
She shrugged at that. “Ok”. She left to clean up.
I lay on the bed turning in all possible directions yet there was no hint of sleep. I was tired. Tired of working in concrete lab, lifting and mixing the aggregate and cement manually for the tests to be conducted. Tired of the thoughts of him. Tired from the memories of my mother.
If only I had my mother alive now, I could confide in her. She was friendly and I suppose she would be, even now if was in this world. I remember her clearly. My mother was beautiful. She had a round eyes, long black hair, she was taller, athletic. My father and mother used to play badminton in the courtyard. She drove me school every morning.
I miss you maa. You live in my memories. if you are listening to me from up there, please know, you are daughter is strong, strong like you, strong enough to accept the reality and live on…
tears gave away silently wetting the pillows, drawing me to the darkness of dreamless sleep.
I hoped not to care of what I heard the day before. It should not matter anymore. I am no more liking him. I cautioned myself. All the brief moments with him that were seemingly lovely to me laughed at me. ‘This was not a fantasy romantic novel. What seems lovely and romantic to you may be just normal to others, especially to a guy like him. He just found you abnormal and tried to flirt, though I don’t know if that qualify as flirting. I warned you, not to let your guards off.’ My brain was complaining.
‘My mistake, I took things wrongly. He just was friendly’ my heart answered in a low voice within.
‘Don’t defend him now.it is ok, there was nothing special between two of you to be upset, cheer up’
The brain was right. May be logic is cold hearted and cruel in its way of throwing truths on your face.
“Yes, right” I thought. Little too loud may be.
“You keep amusing me, whom did you just speak to?”
I turned sideways. But there was no need. I know who it is.
“No one in particular, does it matter to you?” I said calmly yet visibly coldly. I did not sound harsh but he sensed the difference. He was silent for a few second before replying though I did not expect an answer.
“Yes it does matter to me” he looked honest. But looks can deceive.
I wanted to ask how it mattered but thought better off it. I was so stupid I could not even tell if he was simply flirting.
Actually I have no clear idea of flirting. In hostel, the girls keep on saying about flirting incidents such as “he asked me to pass eraser, I think he was trying to flirt” though I don’t understand how asking an eraser meant someone tried flirting with you. There are some other examples that get itself attached to a boy flirting were- “he gave me his calculator”, “that hot senior boy smiled at me”, “Arun taught me the procedure of CBR test”, “he wished me good luck for exams” and so on.
“Don’t you ask me why it matters?” he asked his eyes, clearly searching mine, as if the answer hidden there.
“Because Advaith, you are my teammate in this mini project” I finished it for him. Enough of this college drama, I thought. I read and felt the pain of characters in the books, one sided love seemed pointless. Many a times it just ended being deliberately getting hurt. I don’t want to be that.
The face of Severus Snape from Harry Potter flashed in mind. He had loved Lily potter all his life and was never able to tell her. And even after her death he continued to live with his single sided love. I had cried while reading the last part of Harry Potter series. Love was horrible sometimes.
“One of the reasons” he said agreeing.
We reached class and I made my move towards my place without giving him a smiley bye which I usually did. Being in a team with him looked worse now. How had I thanked my fate the other day for having him as a team partner and how I am cursing fate for the same reason now
“About synopsis…” he said little look of confusion on his face as I turned back to face him, “we have only two more days for submission” I waited him to continue. “ will start today afternoon”.
I nodded, “after lunch in library?” I asked surprised at how my voice was firm unlike it would with him. After all he was just a crush, an infatuation I can easily forget, I thought. Is he? A voice in me wondered.
“As you like” he strode away.
“I think 5 literature surveys are enough” he decided.
“Sufficient” I agreed. “I will surf it from online journals.”
We were sitting in library, facing each other, on plastic chairs and a wooden table between us with a pile of books in the center of it. I just wanted to rush out of his sight soon.
Advaith looked calm and pleasant like he always is. I wondered if he knew about everyone discovering his engagement with a girl of the same college, that if anyone had approached him to say “congrats man, well done.”
I had this sudden break down of my oath of not falling for him again (as if I have even got up from it already!) and ask him if what others say about his engagement was true at all. That if I could still give myself a chance. Just a glance at him took my heart beats.
“I will see how well I can put up the methods we are going to follow” he said trying to grab the reference book in between the table. And his hands slightly brushed mine sending shivers through the spine. I reflexively backed my hand leaving him in wide eyes –as if to ask “what happened?”
It may be nothing to him but it was fire on my skin. I seriously need to change this yearning. I shook my head and he smiled. He had noticed, may be thinks I am really stupid to react to such small things.
“You know what, I find you…” I cut him before he finished the sentence.
“Funny?” I suggested, I was being ridiculous, I know, but at the least I was being me without pretending.
“No! Cute. I find you cute”
Did I hear that right? Or an illusion again? Or is this simply a line said normally to someone who is just a friend or a project team mate?
“And I find you…” I thought, there was no need for me to make any statement on someone who is already committed to someone else.
“Beautiful, mysterious yet someone I know, I wish to know more about” I could not help saying it.
His mouth fell open. In little shock may be. I know I completely proved myself to be a half crack, mentally ill and nerdy insane person. I was half glad that I told the truth. But I didn’t know if he deserved my honest words.
“Beautiful?” He cleared his throat, pushed a smile on his face, not deliberately, and considered to say something. “You find me not handsome or attractive, rather beautiful?” his eyebrows arched pressing on the question mark.
“I did not say you are not handsome or attractive, I said how I see you”
“You are really grown well with books” he smiled more to himself. A happy smile. Kind of shy smile. The one made him literally blush & smiling together. Perhaps am I the first one he is receiving a compliment from?
“shuuushh”, hissed the librarian passing by and we stared at the works in front us.
As soon as we left the library and planned to have a cup of tea in the café, his fiancée appeared. A sting of disappointment passing her face. She was beautiful, more like a model with artificial make overs. She walked like a model too. I had wrongly assumed Advaith liked the cute and honest types minutes before in the library but he, when it comes to having one, seemed to prefer hot and chick types.
“Add” she called walking towards us, “where were you? I want you to come with us now to an outing, friends are waiting” she told giving a brief stare at me. I smiled not knowing how to respond to that, for which I did not get one back.
I don’t know how long they have been engaged but this was first time I saw them together and the way she easily spoke to him seemed they knew each other pretty well. I know that girl was not certainly jealous of seeing her fiancee with someone like me, – simple, ordinary, no makeup, feeling free in a red and black checks shirt which is one size bigger than mine and in a black jeans. But she did not either seem pleased to see me.
There are groups in college, I am sure in all the colleges-Based on your mind sets, on your status, dressing senses, tastes and preferences. The club of talented and studious students that were once in the lime light of school life vanishes and are given a new name as ‘nerds’, ‘book worms’, ‘freaks’, ‘geeks’.
I cannot blame her if my being as me showed me to be one of them. She took his arms in hers before he said anything and put her hand on his chest, my eyes bulged ready to pop out of their socket seeing her open affection, especially in front me.
“I have got something to work on” he said slowly weighing his tone not to sound rude.
“I really want you to come” she said.
“I wish to , but really I have some assignment to submit”, he said moving his hands on her hair.
“Ok, Sunday you are coming, you cannot escape” she kissed his cheeks before turning back and walked, her short skirt with frills swinging more than needed.
They are a couple. It’s common. And it should not matter to me. No Megha, you are not going to think a single word about it. I reminded myself.
“Tea?” he asked turning to me.
I don’t want, I want to go to hostel I wanted to say but couldn’t. How can I deny the offer of being with him even if it’s a matter of five minutes? I don’t know how I loved him. I can’t even turn down a small thing like having tea (which I dont drink at all) if it meant spending a little more time with him.
After a 7 minutes of pretending to be all okay , that I dint see my lover hugging another girl, that my stomach did not burn at all, I headed towards my hostel. Just this one mini project I told myself. I do not have to spend time with him again after this one. I can keep distance and forget it.