The odd semester was in its regular phase. The rainy afternoon had made most of my classmate lazy. None were seriously carrying out the experiment in the laboratory.
“What value you got?” Advaith asked Manisha who was standing next to me.
Of course I feel jealous, but is not it illogical to feel so? What is there in speaking with your classmate casually? I don’t know, my stomach simply burned with jealous.
“I got near 26, the solutions are different. You may get a different value.” She said unnecessarily trying to be cute flashing her smile.
He nodded. His lab seat was in the first desk according to alphabetical order. People whose name started with ‘M’ were in the last row of the laboratory. Why does he have to come all the way to ask something so small? It’s not as if Manisha is the class topper or something.
“How much value did you get?” I jumped in between them. Manisha gave a stare and moved aside. I guess it was not such a noticeable move (rather should I say jump? Because I literally jumped in between them like a kangaroo).
“17.6” he said.
“If you have got the solution ‘C’, then that is the right answer”. I said beamingly about how being a nerd can sometimes be useful.
“Did you prepare the solutions?” there came an instant question from Kiran – the boy who find joy in irritating others.
“Apparently no, but the normality of the solution is written on the beaker. For that normality 17.5 plus or minus 0.3 is the right value to get” I snapped in confidence.
“Work individually, no group discussions” lab in charge announced from his desk. We walked to our places but Advaith came to my place before walking to his work place.
“That was impressive” he whispered.
No compliments I ever received can be compared to that. My heart gave away for his smile but did not realise my brain too gave away at that moment until my hand hit the shelf of solutions and the bottle of concentrated acid fell from the top. It saw it directly coming on my face and closed my eyes. Even at that death point I wished I confess to him.
The bottle made a breaking sound on the floor and I thought my face is already burning under the acid.
“Who is that?” I heard the lab assistant running towards us. I opened my eyes to the darkness. I did not realise how I went blind but then I came to know Advaith has hugged me and my face was buried on his chest.
He slowly loosened his grip on me and I moved away still in daze looking up at his face. How lucky I was to get hugged by my love who does not even know I have fallen in love with him.
“You okay?” he asked. Before I could give any visible reply, the lab assistant shouted
“Who broke it?”
“I did” Advaith said.
It has worked many times before. College staffs or lecturer do not usually wish to go against the son of a board member of college management.
“You should have been more careful” lab assistant’s voice trailed off.
“I am sorry sir, I should have been.” The prince said politely.
Though the other students went back to their work, I knew the gossip had started in the air.
“Where is your mind?” he asked me angrily.
What should I reply? ‘My heart and mind are both in you’ I wanted to say.
“You are a girl, don’t get distracted that easily” he said before walking away.
I stood looking at the broken glass bottle. The spilled acid on the tiles was slowly distorting it.
“How could you shake the heavy shelf to make the bottle fall? I think it was on the edge.” Sahana asked after i told her everything that happened in lab.
“May be, my bad luck.”
“How much more you want to keep thinking about it?” sahana was impatient to go to the mess.
“I think….” She cut me in,
“Don’t tell me you aren’t hungry”
“Yeah, right, I am not hungry”
“Stop worrying about that small incident na Megha, come will go for dinner”
“It is not just that saha, he did not even look at the bottle and pulled me so swiftly. How did he react so quickly?”
She looked thoughtful at that. “Now have you started thinking you are Bella Swan and there is a vampire to save you all the time?”
“I am not joking Sahana, and it’s not always about books I read.”
“It looks like that. Just pulling you from your place is a second’s work, he would have done it to anyone.”
I fell silent. She is right. I am over thinking about it. I had loved the part how Edward had saved Bella from the car accident. My mind may be trying to recreate the scene in reality now. Advaith would have pulled anyone at such times. Its madness if I start assuming he is a supernatural creature. Why am I thinking immaturely? I shook my head to dismiss the flow of thoughts.
“I understand you see him in a special way, but why are you making it complex, you will know the truth if you are meant to know, now come with me, it’s late”
I pulled up my sweater and headed to the mess, confused about what Sahana meant.
“You are a girl, don’t get distracted that easily…” his voice echoed in my mind. I was in the exam hall.
What he meant saying it? Did he mean I should be careful around dangerous things? Or I should not be too high on compliments or the worst one –that I should not be distracted by boys.
I felt sad how cheap I must have looked to him. What he might think about me? That I am an attention seeker? Or a silly, stupid, crazy nerd? I should at the least try to behave. Even if he never love me back, at the minimum I should try to create a good impression or be like how every normal girl is.
But it has become impossible to be normal around him. I looked at other girls of my age, how they innocently flirt with boys, how well they pretend, how nicely they dress up and make up. I on the other hand never tried applying even an eyeliner. Combing my hair and putting a red sticker in between my thick brows is all I do.
I wanted to stop thinking. I wish I had a remote control to my thoughts. Sometimes I want to shut down every one of them. I knew I need to get out from the exam hall and engage in something to stop thinking about him. I gave the blue book and came out of the building.
“How was the internals?” my friend from other branch asked. I spoke to her a little and walked slowly towards the canteen. ‘It been 4 days since you saw him the other day in lab,’ – my heart said.
‘Stop it’ my frustrated brain said.
‘Sorry, I am trying’ heart said softly.
I continued walking, my body totally ignoring the inner battle.
I took a long route to enjoy the weather, passed through the basketball court which is least used in rainy season, the wet path from the rain seemed slippery, I walked not caring and alas I slipped, it was half expected. I was going to hit my head on the ground but something held me firmly.
It was a pair of hands holding my waist. My face was just a few inches above the ground.
I sighed, it could have been very painful had I fallen on my face. Then I understood whoever was holding me caught me in mid of falling and I was hanging around my waist with both my legs and face in the air.
“You don’t seem like thinking what needs to be thought” the voice said. Even If I was deaf I would recognise that voice.
He made me straight up on the ground and picked up my bag from the ground.
Advaith… I feel I have a shameless heart. It just don’t stop dancing at his sight and go crazy.
“Thanks” I said my tone hardly even.
He smiled. That -one way smiling. That is how I describe him smile. His left corner of the lips slightly go upwards than the right one. How can I pretend to be normal when even a small smile of his, can make me mad?
If this was any other time I would have stood on my toes to continue the conversation, but not today, not after becoming cheap in his eyes. I turned and continued walking.
But it seems like my fate wants me to look more shameless than I am already is in front of him. I slipped again. This time he held my bag I wore on my back and I stopped, inclined in air.
Thanks to all those fortunes in my names to have me humiliated twice within a minute in front of my love.
I heard him chuckle behind. It’s one of the beautiful sounds I heard. If I get to listen to his laughs I can fall as many times. I felt stupid thinking of falling again and again.
He let my bag off his grip slowly and took a step forward.
“Why did you come this way?”
“Canteen” is all I could say.my cheeks turning hot. Next time I should check the temperature of my cheeks, I am confident it shows more than 40 degree Celsius.
“This way is long and…” he pointed at the ground “looks dangerous for you” he suppressed a good smile. I smiled back.
“I don’t want you to fall again” he said taking my left hand in his.
‘I have fallen already, fallen for you” my heart said wishing he could hear them.
The walk with him in the midst of fog covered weather, the small yellow flowers on both sides of the path welcoming us, the sound of peacocks from a distance added to the secrete romance. I was controlling the urge to do anything more stupid. I wished the path never ended.
Why is he taking care of me? Why is he always be there when something bad is going to happen? Is it just coincidences or can there be something more? When I decided to take a long route to canteen there was none nearby. From where did he come? I feel protected in his presence. Does he likes me? Or is it again a false hope?
If I let my mind roam it never stops. I had works to do. I had to clean my room and wash clothes. The three day internals gave a gap to the otherwise hostel routine.
Where is Sahana? Dint she come back yet from basket ball practice? I took my phone to call her. Before I could dial her number, I got a message from an unknown number. “Can you come out of the hostel? I am just outside that”
Who can it be? I had volunteered to teach the back logged subjects of previous year. I thought it could be someone from remedial class to get the study materials. I peeped out of the window to see Advaith directly looking at me. How does he know my room? There are nearly 200 rooms in girl’s hostel and he is staring exactly at my window.
I ran not wanting to make him wait. As I climbed down the steps of 2nd floor, I realised my hair was a mess but I could not just climb back two more floors to comb my hair. And the lift was out of service.
“Hi, do you want to sit?” he asked pointing at the sofa in the visitors lobby.
“That’s fine, tell me what it is?” I tried not to sound rude but I dint even want to sound desperate.
What on earth made the prince charming come all the way to college hostel on a Sunday afternoon? I wondered what the reason is. We were just friends. May be even less than that. He is friendly with everyone who speaks to him but I see he likes to be alone most of the times. That’s one of the reasons that got my attention. He is not a member of any particular group of friends. He just be on his own in class and speaks if only needed, not that he is anti –social, but a person with less words.
“There was no need for you to come running all the way down. I heard the hostel lift is broken. I could have waited.”
Damn….. I am stupidly trying to avoid more embarrassment and he already knows that I just cannot.
“It was not for you, I had some other work”
“We can sit, right?” he took my hands and pulled me to the sofa.
Was that casual? Does he do that to everyone? Or does it feels special because no boy ever did try to touch me before?
Two girls waiting for the warden at the entrance were literally throwing their “what is he doing with that nerd” look at me. It’s true I am no match to him in anything. He is so charming and popular. Many of the romantic stories and dramas starts with such plot. The guy is super cool and falls in love with a silent girl who is not so popular. Was my life heading towards such a line? It’s so nice to imagine our story…
“Is there anything on my face?” Advaith asked.
“No, nothing” I said wondering why.
“Then why do you keep looking at my face?”
He must already know the answer. Why a girl do keeps admiring you? Is he a dumb to not to know? Why does he have to make me more ashamed? Why am I dying in shame… god save me…
“I don’t know” was it supposed to be told? I don’t know. I said it anyways “What made you come?”
“I know, when I first saw you, I had that feeling -I had seen you before.” he looked into my eyes and moved the strand of hair off my face and tugged it behind my ears. “I came to tell you about the mini project. I think you saw the message on class group. Class advisor has made the groups and we two are a team”
Thank you, thank you so much fate…. I really want to know what he thinks of me. Doing a mini project together means I can get to know him better.
“You came to tell me that?” I would anyhow see the messages put in class group. Why does he have to come and say that personally?
“I was in campus today. I thought we could discuss the project topic today itself”
Strange… who wants to discuss a project topic on a late Sunday afternoon? We will get a whole week to decide the topic.
“What topic you want to work on?” I asked.
“Ladies first, which subject you wish to do?” is he always a gentleman?
“I want to study the quality of water around the town” I had read about the recent diseases arising around the modest town of ours. A news report said it might be due to the water source. I thought the topic could serve the purpose of academics and my interest.
“Well, I am okay with it” he agreed readily.
“Then the topic is decided, who is doing the synopsis?” I asked too professionally. I don’t want to look easy.
“We can do it together.” he said.
“Done, see you then” I quickly got up to leave. One more second with him, I forget my oath of acting cool and normal.
“Is it about the lab, the other day?” he asked surprising me.
“What is?” i turned back.
“I did not mean to insult you or hurt you, I was worried you get into troubles because of me”
What….what did he just say? What should it supposed to mean? How can he ever be my trouble? He is my secrete love. Or is it not secret anymore?
“No… It was….”
“You seem to run into troubles many a times” his eyes sharp on mine. It said he knew something I thought he would not.
“See you in class, go back to your room” he said suddenly changing his expression back to being cool.