~ Originally posted on Oct 18, 2011.
It took a few hours for my friends to stop enquiring me about my unusual behavior. Though I didn’t give them any clue about Neha or my meeting with her at the library that day, they guessed it was the effect of a girl, only they didn’t guess who she was. That night I had a deep, peaceful sleep in months (dreaming of her – her with me, working on some CAT problems – and nothing more).
The next day was different. I took off for the library earlier from the office without even thinking of the timings of the library. My manager looked at me with surprise when I told him that I would be leaving in another 30 minutes. Maybe, the surprise was for two reasons. One, I never – right from my day one – left my office that early. Two, I wasn’t asking for permission. Yes, that was information, not permission. Still, given my past and my reputation in the project, he just nodded. Before approaching him, I had prepared myself to lie to him with a false excuse, but luckily, he didn’t ask me for the reason. He might have if I had asked him for permission, I thought.
I reached the library faster than I ever would have on any other day. It was closed. How could it be opened at 3:30 P.M.? Only then my sense rose to be active and realized that the library timing is 4:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. Shit! Not only my sense, but also the-complete-me was dead all through the day thinking of her and of meeting her at the library. The funny fact was that I wasn’t even sure that she would show up at the library, and even if she did, I wasn’t prepared for what I should or would do.
I went to the nearby tea shop and ordered a tea. For a moment I thought I wanted to smoke; if only I had that habit. I have heard from my smoke-loving friends and colleagues that nothing soothes a soul better than the smoke at those kinds of situation. I just imagined me standing there with a tea in one hand and a cigarette in the other until I was disturbed by the shopkeeper to get my tea.
‘Thanks,’ I said with a smile, just to save me from the embarrassment of daydreaming.
He responded with a wry grin. I understood the reason. I no longer wanted to be there. I gulped the hot tea as fast as I could, by hurting my taste buds. I paid him the change. He even did that wry grin again while receiving the change. I made a face. He then controlled himself or probably seemed to be. I ignored him and rushed back to the library.
It was closed still. I checked the time in my mobile forgetting the fact that I wore my wrist watch. Anyway, of recent, that had become a routine habit of me to use my mobile to check the time, whether or not I wore my wrist watch. I relied more on my mobile. That’s the case with many, I guess. My mobile showed the time as 3:43 P.M.
I felt it was too early to stand at the library gate. Moreover, what would I say when the librarian meets me at the gate, at that unusual hour of the day. I needed to come up with a lie, which I didn’t prefer. So I decided to get to somewhere to spend another fifteen minutes. Initially, getting to my home was my intention, but I chose to do different. Thanks to my brain, I got an awesome idea (that would later become lame). I started my bike and traveled in the direction in which Neha went the day before, after leaving the library.
My idea was to choose and travel in some random streets with a glimmer of hope that I would meet Neha on her way to the library. Thereby, I would get a chance to give her a lift to the library. (Later, thinking of this act of mine, I laughed uncontrollably and at the same time, felt awkward many a time. To lead to my embarrassment, I once talked about it to Neha. It was a terrible mistake that I later realized. We can get more on it later.) When I had a zero probability of meeting her, I thought about riding with her. How lame was I? But back then – when I started my bike – the thought, it was awesome.
I didn’t realize where and how long I travelled until I checked the time in my watch (I don’t take my mobile to check the time when I travel in my bike, you see). It was 4:30 P.M. The dream of meeting her and riding with her made my mind sterile. The street I was in was strange, the few people around seemed hostile. The area didn’t seem to show any traces of Neha. It was time to get back to reality. It took a few hard minutes for me to figure out the path and reach the library.
By the time I reached the library, the librarian was at her desk. I gestured a ‘hi’ to her as she caught me staring at her from the front door. I went straight to her, only after peeking into the study area to check for the presence of Neha. She wasn’t there; so was my spirit.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” the librarian questioned me looking at the wall clock, as it was very rare to see me at the library at that time on weekdays.
I saw the clock; it showed 5:02 P.M. I said winking at her, “Less work at office.”
“Less or no,” she smiled.
“Less,” I stressed, smirking.
I remembered saying her once that I would come to the library on a weekday if and only if I had no work at the office. Damn, she was good in her remembrance and, needless to say, at her wit too. Wit, it never hides away from ladies when they get a chance to play with it.
To escape from her witty questions further, I rushed to search for some unknown book in the racks next room. After few minutes, I came out with the book, ‘The murder at the vicarage’ by Agatha Christie. I didn’t know what that book was about and who the author was. Just because that book was in the first rack where I slipped in my hand, I took it. I went to the study room to have a glance over the book, but I ended up reading the newspapers.
It was almost time to close the library. I went in and placed the book at the exact place where I took it from without even reading a word from it. I went back home with a frown face, just opposite to the way I went a day before. I wondered how things could change within a short span of time, with the source being the same – Neha in my case.
… to be continued (part 4)