“Pavana, on Friday we are leaving by 4 o’clock in the morning”. Mamma said sitting on my bed. I didn’t ask her why. Our appointment with doctor uncle was usually too early in the morning. 4 o clock was better. The first time we went to him it was 3 AM.
Mamma gently pressed my forehead. “You know paavana… you were never afraid when you were a child. You always did what you loved. I hope it’s still the same”
“Ha mamma, everything is still same. You know me I do what I actually should do” I told thinking about Vishu.
Mamma smiled. “Yes child I know. Don’t you think there is a lot of gap between “what we should do and what we love to do?” if both of them are same and right then what’s the harm in doing it?”
“I dint understand” I said making a face to light up the mood just in case this conversation is taking a different direction.
“I thought my child is big enough to understand.” Even Mamma laughed. “What I said is enjoy your life Paavana. Do what you should and love to do. They both are the same.” My mother is someone with less words and more hidden meanings. She looks calm and strong in front me but I know what it means to a mother to know her child’s life may over any time.
“I will mamma, how was your classes today? Any new developments in that site excavation? Tell me what and all you found?” I changed the topic without wanting to get us upset with any further talk about me.
My mother works as a professor of archaeology. I love to hear the stories behind each of the ancient objects found beneath the earth. Even a small hair pin can tell a long story about the types and habitats of the people living there once upon a time. It’s not that I always get to chat with her. Most of the time she is busy reading or teaching at university or at sites.
My papa mamma are childhood friends, neighbours, and classmates till degree and eventually they got married. Theirs was such a wonderful understanding. Both of them are totally different in their ideas, opinions and likes & dislikes yet so similar as one. It’s a wonder how and why always opposites get attracted. When I and my brother were young, mamma was pursuing her PhD and we were taken care most of the times by papa. It is always lively and outgoing with papa as he has to go to abroad for his business proposes and my brother and I got to fly to many places and explore the knowledge of world.
“That’s enough for today. You have a program tomorrow I don’t want you to get dark circles. sleep well child.” my mother said. Oh! I missed her exploring theories. I was busy thinking about mamma papa’s love story!
“Call our team now, immediately! Where is Sarita? Ask her to come here soon” PET sir yelled at me, without taking his eyes off the events table that were about to start. I left the event sheet assigned to me on the table and got down the stairs in search of Saritha.
The most awaited day had come. I was wearing a green saree and looked pretty in the fit. But I always had that difficulty with sarees. I could have just wore a suit like Vishnu.
I was one of the two masters of ceremony of the event. I was more than happy because every year only a plus 2 student was selected to such an honour. Yeah! It was an honour because many other prestigious school also participated in the celebration and I was lucky as well as I deserved to be the one to lead the program as a host in front of more than 2000 students from and across the city.
Once all students were aligned in a line on the big playground, I was ready with my words on mic announcing the commencement of the march-past. The rhythmic drum beats gave a sense of patriotism. The entire noisy stadium became silent. And my announcement for each school began.
St Teresa girl’s high school is led by the school representative Ms Grace Andrade…..
Global wisdom International school is led by the school captain Mr Ajinkya Bhat….. Followed by Vidyaniketan Kendra… in the lead of minister of students union …Mr Vishnu Bhakta…
I announced as the marching group passed by the guest of honour of the program.
The leaders of the respected groups commanded their groups to salute to the guest on the stage. And to my surprise I saw Vishnu directly staring at me as he saluted. The expression on his face was unreadable and I found myself drawn to him. For a fraction of second I was out of my mind. I wished that moment lasted longer….
The cultural programs for the evening were yet to Start. The presidential speech was still going on. The back stage was busy with people waiting for their entry on stage for the next performances. I was standing in one of the corners, speaking with one of my friends. I could not see Neetu anywhere. God knows where she was with Abhi. We heard the presidential speech come to an end and then power went off. The back-up powers were arranged but the lights didn’t come. Suddenly I was pulled by a strong hand to the back of the auditorium. As I was being pulled, I felt the pulling hand was not just strong but soft too…a combination of strong and soft! Who else it could be? It was pitch dark and I could not see who it was and that didn’t matter. Because firstly I know karate and am a black belt in it. And secondly I knew who it was.
“What?” I ask trying to show some real anger.
“I am serious Paavana. You knew it was me. Didn’t you?
“How would I know? By the way, who are you? I don’t have x ray eyes to scan you through the darkness”
“You look beautiful” he said cutting me in. “wearing my favorite color, perfectly suits you… you always had a thing with sarees since childhood.” He winked at me or that’s what I saw. I could see his beautiful smile as he admired me. I am still not sure if I imagined it or really saw it in the dim moon light. I don’t know for how many seconds I stood there admiring him back.
He was still holding my wrist. Softly like a mother holds her baby…. “Stop Paavana… you are not doing it right.” Said a voice within me. With a force I pulled back my hand only to hit my face with my own hand. He had held me lightly and I realised I shouldn’t have put that much force to take my hands. With a sudden reflex his hands came near to my face to console me and I moved back disappointing him.
“School leader, Mr Vishnu Bhakta is required to be on the stage” someone announced in mic. I had forgotten to notice that power had come. He looked into my eyes, with a sting of sadness, walked inside the auditorium and I followed him.
“Bharatanatyam- is an attempt to reach the divine beauty, charms, rhythms and symbols that exist only in heaven. It is a spiritual elevation to both the dancer and the audience.” I said and was continued by Vishnu.
“Let us welcome sristi and team to grace us with the beautiful spiritual experience through their performance” he concluded.
“You look gorgeous when you do that” he said once we were back stage.
“Do what?” I couldn’t help but ask. Then I thought against it and said- “forget it. Thank you.” without actually caring to mean so. I just wanted to avoid speaking to this guy. I started walking to find any of my friends and automatically stood when I heard a fake voice saying “you look sexy vishu….” My senior, i.e. Vishnu’s classmate Alisha stood across him blowing a kiss in air. He looked at me and smiled as if it was a compliment from my side and said “thanks Alisha”. For some reason my stomach burned. I dint want it to. But it did.
I really didn’t know why he was behind me. I could clearly see that, so many girls in the school were standing on their toes to get his attention. Many of them are charmingly attractive and have got good future in life. Whereas I was uncertain of my coming days.
The girl Alisha, was known to be the most beautiful girls of the school and here he is avoiding her just with a meaningless “thanks”. He sat on the table kept nearby.
“So tell me, why you don’t like me?” he asked, with no expressions, may be trying to be hard just like me.
The back stage was literally filled up with students. It was noisy and I could hear the song playing from the stage. A guy, one of the union heads of the school, passing by winked at Vishnu, trying to convey something for which Vishnu blushed. His white cheeks became pink, covered with small black dots of his shaven beard. It was like I could see him in zoom. I felt the blood rushing into his cheeks and colouring it pink.
“You are staring” he called me. I realised that the feel of blood rushing to cheeks was my own and felt shy”
“You are blushing!” he called out loud. The primary children playing near us gave us a strange look. I looked away to avoid his eyes searching for mine. He caught me red handed. I felt his hands on mine. His touch was so true… it was all real. A reality of present that would be a dream tomorrow. Truth hit me. I couldn’t let myself free like this for it was not just my happiness that I kill but also his.
Tears blurred my vision. I wanted to escape from this. For the first time in these years I finally showed him I was weak. His bright smile vanished when he saw my tears. I hated myself for snatching his happiness and moments of his life. “Please…” I asked through tears looking at his hands around mine. He left it. I don’t know why but I felt miserable. He sat there puzzled with pain seeing me walking past him…
to be continued…