It was the first day of medical college, and the students had all gathered outside the Dissection hall in small clusters, waiting for their Professor.
The knot of four young men leaning against one wall was having a discussion about issues that had nothing to do with medicine or Anatomy. All four had been in the same Science college and had decided to meet up outside the Dissection Hall on day one.
“I watched a movie everyday of the holidays,” declared Norman, the tallest of the group. “Yesterday I watched Warcraft. Lousy story, but awesome CGI!”
“I can imagine the type of movie it is.” put in roly-poly Yohan, making a face. “All mindless violence and no plot. Give me a movie with a heart any day.”
“You mean, like a romance flick?” asked Santosh, frowning at Yohan.
“Movie with a heart. An emotional theme. I’m waiting for that new one: Me Before You…”
“Doesn’t ring any bells….” murmured Phillip, who looked like he hadn’t shaved for a whole week. “But then romance isn’t my thing-”
Yohan threw out his hands in exasperation. “I just said it isn’t a damn romance!”
“Well, that’s good.” Norman slipped an arm round Yohan’s shoulders. “After all, now that we’re in medical school, there won’t be time for such trivial pursuits like romance.” He shook his head firmly. “No, sir! We’re all going to be spending the next four and a half years getting our brains fried and after that’s over, then-” He turned to see if the other two were listening and then his world turned green.
“Geeta, look out!” said a voice sharply. The voice sounded very close.
Norman heard a sharp intake of breath, and the one thing that struck him was that it was a clearly feminine one.
The next thing he knew, the dupatta which had blown across his features was whisked away, and he found himself staring at the person who had committed the terrible deed.
Actually, there were two young ladies standing in front of their group but the one whose green cloth had whisked across his face was the one who was staring at him, and there was apology written all over her features, from the light-coloured eyes to the slight twist of her lips, painted a lovely shade of red. And her name, if he had heard correctly, was Geeta.
“I’m very sorry,” she murmured and her voice came out low and melodious and it sent shivers of delight running up and down his spine. “I was in a hurry… I should have been more careful.”
Norman shook his head instantly. “Oh, please don’t apologize! No harm was done. My face is fine; I mean, everything’s the same way it was before the little mishap so there’s really nothing to worry about.” He shrugged lightly.”After all, who can control a dupatta, right…”
Yohan muttered under his breath. “I think she got the message, Norman….”
The doors of the hall opened and students all around surged to the entrance to find their places and tables.
They met at the next class and Norman got down to business instantly. “Who was that babe?”
Santosh stared at him. “Babe?”
“Did you see her? And did you see the way she was looking at me?”
“I don’t think she had a choice, Norman.” said Yohan pointedly.
“Such graceful features,” purred Norman. “such divine curves. And her name’s Geeta, and it looks like she’s in our class!”
Philip shrugged. “So what? No time for romance for the next four point five years, remember?”
Norman looked at him crossly then looked away. “Well, that was before I knew she existed…”
“What was on that dupatta?” asked Yohan, in wonder. “She’s cast a spell on him!”
Norman looked at his friends. “I’m going to need your help to get her attention.”
Santosh blinked. “What kind of help?”
“It will be like an operation, a plan to make me look attractive to Geeta.”
“Well, you’re in the right place for that,” said Phillip with a grin. “I think the plastic surgery department is in that wing of the campus!”
Norman gave him a cool stare. “Are you guys going to help me or not?” Getting their attention, he nodded. “Now the only way she will notice me is if she sees what a nice, charming, wonderful person I am.”
Philip scratched at his beard for some time. “Nice, charming and wonderful?” He looked at Norman gravely. “I think you better give up, my friend.”
Norman gave him a hard punch. “You guys are the cream of the student community. The highest IQs in this city! Now let’s start using those damn brains for some good…” He had a crafty look on his face. “The first thing I’m going to need is a change of name…”
Their plan went into action the following day. Well, it was mostly Norman’s plan. The others were just participants in a drama that was unfolding before their eyes.
The setting was the canteen and Norman lay in wait until he saw Geeta enter. Wasting no time, he followed and stood at the doorway until she had taken a place with her friends. It was not far from where his own group was seated, certainly within earshot. He strode into the hall and stopped in the middle, looking around as if searching for someone.
Right on cue, Santosh raised his arm and called out: “Hey, Romeo – we’re over here!”
Norman turned and raised an arm gracefully in acknowledgement. Sporting a smile, he coolly sauntered over to their table. His eye passed over Geeta’s form, checking to see if she had noticed their greeting. To his delight, he saw her head turn to catch a glimpse of him approaching. He quickly changed the direction of his gaze.
His friends called out to him in tandem, their lines already rehearsed that morning.
“Hey, look at the cool dude!”
“Wow, it’s Mr. Bad-Ass himself!”
“Check out the hero! New shoes, eh?”
That last bit made Norman frown but he took his seat like a returning champion. “OK, boys – let’s not get too excited…” He said out loud. “So what’s been happening these holidays?”
“Without you, Romeo, the city has been a dead place.” declared Yohan, reading from a paper he was holding.
“Yeah, where were you anyway?”
“Well, you know I had to go to France for the championships-”
“She’s looking this way…” reported Santosh, who was facing Norman.
Norman was thrilled. “No way!” He licked his lips and restrained himself from turning to see for himself. He took a deep breath. His plan was working better than he had hoped! He tried to remember who was supposed to speak next but couldn’t in the excitement he was feeling. He raised an eyebrow at Santosh. “What’s she doing now? Is she still looking?”
Santosh’s mouth fell open and he sat up a bit straighter. “She’s getting up…”
Norman almost choked. Getting up? Good Lord – was she going to come over to their table? He realised his mouth was dry and quickly tried to think of something witty to say when she turned up at his shoulder. But then he saw Santosh’s shoulders slump. “What? What is it, Santosh?”
“She’s leaving the canteen.” He looked at Norman with a shrug. “False alarm…”
They decided to put the next part of their plan into action before the Physiology lecture the next day. Again, Norman waited until he saw Geeta had entered the lecture hall. He swung into action and entered and quickly took a place on the bench exactly behind the one where she was seated with two of her friends.
It was the signal for his friends to begin their act. Philip came into the hall and seeing Norman, came to sit next to him. “Hey, Nor- uh, I mean Romeo.” He coughed and banged himself on the back. “Damn mints… uh, what I was saying was….” His face clouded over. “Uh-”
“Was it about the party?” Norman asked, glaring at him.
“Right, right! The party! That’s what I wanted to tell you about…. My birthday is this Sunday and you’ve always been our guest of honour all these years, so I’m hoping you’ll be able to grace the occasion this time as well.”
Norman gave a theatrical sigh. “Oh, Philip! This weekend is no good! I’m going to be spending the weekend with the Governor. As you know, he’s my Godfather and he wants to show us his new place.”
“But we can’t have a party without you, Romeo! You’re the life of the whole thing! Without you, the party will be like an orchard without trees, like a Grand Prix without racing cars-” His eyes squinted in thought. “-like a chocolate cake without chocolate, like-” He winced as Norman kicked him under the table. “Uh, ok… Well, what about next Saturday?”
“I’ll need to check with my PA.” stated Norman.
“Well, could you check and let me know. If you’re free, then I’ll postpone my birthday party to that weekend.”
“For me?” Norman put a world of shock into his voice. “But that’s ridiculous!”
“It’s no problem, Nor- uh, Romeo. If you’re there, it will be worth it!” He quickly glanced at Geeta and made a puking gesture with his finger. Norman aimed another kick at him but missed.
Santosh entered the lecture hall, dangling some keys in his hand. “Hey, Romeo, my man! Thanks a lot for letting me borrow your Mercedes. It’s a real beauty!” He slipped behind the desk and leaned forward conspiratorially. “Any luck?”
At that moment, the Professor entered the lecture hall.
That evening, after classes for the day were over, Norman watched from a distance as Geeta walked toward the parking lot. Yohan was with him, and they stood under a tree and looked in her direction. She was standing near one of the shops. It was clear she was waiting for someone.
“I thought she went by bus yesterday.” said Norman, with a frown.
Yohan shrugged. “That was yesterday. Today is Saturday. Maybe she has plans for the weekend.” He coughed. “She could be waiting for a boyfriend, you know. Maybe that’s why she hasn’t actually responded to your moves.”
Norman’s face darkened at the thought. Then he nodded. “If she is still there in the next five minutes, I’ll go and offer her a lift on my scooter.”
Just then they saw her raise her arm and a grey car that had entered the parking lot came to a halt beside her.
An elderly man got out from the driver’s seat and after exchanging a few words with Geeta, he hurried off to the other side of the road, to one of the fruit stalls.
The two medical students watched as Geeta opened the back door and put her bag inside. They were surprised to see a boy of about ten years jump out from the front seat. He said something to Geeta and pointed at the nearby stall. Geeta spoke a few words to him and then rubbed his head fondly and then nodded as if agreeing with something he had said. While he got back into the car, she went to the stall and took out her purse to buy some packets of crisps.
They saw the boy open the door again and step out. “Mummy!”
Geeta turned back to look at the boy. “What is it, Danny? I’m buying the crisps.”
“Mummy?” said Yohan, aghast.
“Mummy?” gasped Norman, going pale.
“Better hurry – grandpa is coming back!” said the boy, gesturing.
Yohan looked at his friend nervously. “Norman-”
Norman grabbed his friend by the shoulder and they both quickly disappeared.
Geeta had gotten to the car and held out a hand to take the bag of apples from her father.
But the elderly man was staring curiously at her. “Everything okay, Geeta?”
She nodded. “Great, Dad! Why, what makes you ask?”
“Well, I’m just thinking there must be a really good explanation for the fact that my son just called me Grandpa…”