A Story – Part 10

“You aren’t going to let go of it, are you? I asked.

“Nope, not until I know who she is,” she said instantly and continued. “Unless you don’t want me to. No pressure.”

As much as I wanted to tell her the truth that I used ‘Sneha’ as a cover up, I didn’t want to strain our friendship – that was only in the budding stage yet – by doing so. How awkward would it be to reveal that I meant to say her name, not Sneha? I thought. Among several alternatives that flashed in my mind, I chose what I thought was the best.

“It is not a big deal. She is a fictional character I made up to have an interaction whenever I want to.”

“Sorry, what?”

“Never mind. It’s not something you need to worry about.”

“Do you really have a fictional character? I mean, do you really talk to some invisible, I don’t know, a person?”

I made a mistake. That was not the best; that was a lame excuse I came up with. I ran through my memory disk hard and fast. I wanted to come up with something that wouldn’t project me as a psychopath.

“Nope. I was kidding,” I said and laughed. The follow-up laugh was to make me sound real.

“I don’t know what to say anymore.”

“Listen, I want to be honest with you. There is no Sneha. There is no fictional character either. I meant to say your name when you asked me whom would I dedicate the story to, but in order not to make the situation uncomfortable, I said ‘Sneha’. Neha, Sneha, you see. The rhyming.”

Achcha… I knew it.”

“What do you mean you knew it?”

“I knew you meant to say my name. Do you really think I would have asked you about Sneha persistently otherwise?”

I pictured her stare back in the library when I said ‘Sneha.’ The meaning of the stare was all the more palpable now.

“I’m speechless. Who are you?”

“Haha… Okay, listen, I got to go. My roommates are here. We have planned to go for a movie. I will catch you later tonight.”

“That’s fine. Have fun. Bye.”

“Bye.” She said and disconnected the call.

I turned back. My friend was there, just a few meters away. He came to dry the clothes and stood there to listen to what I was talking. Friends, you see.

“Dude, what are you doing here? I thought you were washing,” I said confused and worried more so, wondering how much of my call would he have heard.

“Who is Neha? And who is Sneha? What are you up to?”

“Don’t read too much into it. It’s just this girl who visited the library today. There was a mix-up with her name. A funny incident. I was talking to the librarian about it.”

“Whatever,” he said with a mocking smile.

I didn’t want to stay there any longer. I rushed downstairs. I thought it was over. I was wrong.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Did you know he met a girl, some Neha or Sneha, today?” My friend started as soon as he came down to the hall after doing his laundry.

“Uh-huh, interesting. Who is she?” My other friend didn’t want to spare even a second.

“Man, you didn’t believe me, did you?” I looked at the other guy.

“What is not to believe? You said you met someone at the library, and that there was a funny incident too, right?” he said and winked at me.

“Yes.”

“What’s the issue then? I merely said what you told me. Don’t he need to know about her?” he said pointing to the other guy.

Of course, he didn’t want to be left-alone. And in fact, that was more than enough to make him curious. He then started nagging me to tell more about the funny incident.

Lying to my friends was not a problem. It never was. It was just that I couldn’t come up with something funny related to Neha-Sneha. They both were totally jobless and tremendously interested to overlook anything that I said. It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, after all. I didn’t want them to dig deep into what I said and continue that conversation any long. As I was on the spot, my mobile flashed.

“Hi,” a text from her.

The message tone was a welcome catalyst to their burning appetite. It only made them extra-hungry to know more about the girl.

“It is from her. Isn’t it?” One of my friends shot at me.

“What is from her? And who is that her?” I wasn’t ready to give up.

“The message. From the library girl.”

Library girl? Sounds cool. I might as well call her that, I thought.

“Nope, it is just a promotional message from the mobile operator,” I said. Since they themselves were the haters of such annoying, unwanted, frequent messages, they didn’t dig further into it. I was glad I came up with something spontaneous, and thanked the operators for the first time.

It took me a few more minutes to make them skip the topic. I managed to do it by stating that the funny incident was just a mix up with the girl’s name and by diverting them to another conversation involving their respective favorite actors. I spent some time with them fueling their argument-fire before stepping into my room. Afternoon nap was the excuse.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Hey, Library girl.” I replied as soon as I got to my room. It was only some 30-odd minutes too late. Addressing her as “Library girl” made me surprisingly so happy.

“Movie time. I will catch you later. Sorry.” She texted back.

“Okay. Enjoy the movie.” I replied and went for a nap.

~~~~~~~~~~

… to be continued (part 11)

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A Story – Part 9

~ Originally posted on Feb 15, 2017.

By the time I got home, I had received quite a few messages and a couple of missed calls from her. It was weird considering that she hadn’t texted me except for once in the morning since we had exchanged our mobile numbers; and that was only to acknowledge that she would be at the library at around 10 A.M. I was anxious.

When I entered the hall, I saw my friend completely engrossed in his thinking. I chose to ignore him and rushed to the terrace. I knocked the trashcan on my way upstairs.

“Hey,” shouted my friend.

“How many times have I told not to place the trashcan on the stairs, you morons?” I shouted back picking the trashcan. He didn’t seem to care.

“What are you thinking so deeply about without even noticing me entering the house? Another love-fact of yours?” I questioned him.

He smiled. I got my answer. As I reached the terrace, I found my other friend washing his clothes.

“Dude, what is with you guys? It’s scorching hot out here. Can’t you wash your clothes in the evening?” I still haven’t gotten over my questioning phase.

“Uh-huh, what are you doing here in the scorching heat, sir?”

“Just came to check on you. You carry on, please,” I replied with an intention of ending the conversation with him. He was so nice that he went back to his work without asking any further questions.

I moved to the other corner of the terrace where there was a big shade. It was much cooler there. Thanks to the large banyan tree that stood at the back of our house.

I opened the Messages folder and read all her messages one by one.

Message 1 @ 11:14 A.M: “Hi… Who is Sneha?”

Message 2 @ 11:15 A.M: “Sorry, I just asked u casually. u can choose not to reply.”

Message 3 @ 11:16 A.M: “Or u can reply!!!! J”

Message 4 @ 11:19 A.M: “Are u ther?”

Message 5 @ 11:24 A.M: “Oye!”

Message 6 @ 11:28 A.M: “I’m sorry. u don’t have to reply who she is, but at least u can text me back.”

Message 7 @ 11:34 A.M: “Oye! This is going to be my last message. I am not going to text you again until u reply. Bye.”

I then checked the call history. The calls were made @ 11:18 A.M and @ 11:33 A.M. respectively.

I reread all the messages thrice picturing the exact happenings based on the timing of the messages and the missed calls. I felt her nervousness.

I typed “Oye!” That’s how I start a conversation with someone I am very close to. Of course, practically, she wasn’t one yet, no matter I had already begun to feel that way. You know, I can’t explain how happy I was when I saw the same word in two of her messages. Same wavelength, we have, I felt.

Before I could send it, my brain acted better. I decided to call her. It took a few rings before she took my call.

“Hey!” I started.

“Hello! So you are alive only. Great to know.”

“Listen, it is not what you think it is.”

“Wait. What do you mean?” She cut me off.

“Come on. You know what I mean.”

“No, I don’t.” She tried to control her laughter. I sensed it.

“Oye! This is too much.” There I was, throwing ‘oye’ at her whenever I pleased.

“What is too much?” She wasn’t ready to give up. I was sure.

“You behaving as if I purposefully didn’t return your texts and calls.”

“Oh, no. No. Not at all. I even forgot that I texted you. And called too.”

“See, you are still doing it. That’s fine. Ring me up when you remember them. Or better still, text me. Bye.”

“Oye! Hold on.”

I remained silent. She too was.

After a few seconds, she started, “Are you there?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Why did you call me?”

“I was just returning your calls. Why did you call me before?”

“Didn’t you read my texts?”

“I did, of course. And I…” I dragged.

“And you?”

“And I also sensed your uneasiness when you didn’t get my reply.” I said and laughed. I didn’t know why I did then.

“What’s so funny about it?” She sounded angry. Or tried to be, I would rather say.

“Nothing. I just couldn’t believe that you thought I was ignoring your texts.”

“You would have thought the same. Wouldn’t you?”

“Probably.”

“What probably? I am sure you would have too.” She was right. In fact, I would have been worse. I would have more likely followed up with a big apology message. I was glad she thought of me better.

“Alright. I agree.” That was the safest I could respond.

“Hmmm…” She seemed relieved.

“I was riding my bike back home from the library. Moreover, my mobile was in silent mode.”

“Silent again? You didn’t stop by any temple on the way, did you?” She asked and laughed uncontrollably. Her words and tone were dressed in sarcasm. Oh, the memory these girls have. I instantly decided not to turn my mobile silent ever again.

I waited until she stopped. I didn’t want her to stop though. She did, finally, after almost a minute. I didn’t know since when, but I kind of liked to hear her laugh. Such a bliss, you know.

Eventually, she caught my silence and said, “I’m sorry. You continue, please.”

“Nothing much. I saw your texts and calls only a few minutes back and wanted to check on you. Seven messages and two missed calls in such a short span. It must be important. Very important, no?” Sarcasm was obvious in my words. It was time to switch positions, after all.

“Hey… Don’t sound too sarcastic. It doesn’t suit your voice. Know what, I don’t bother. I shouldn’t have asked you about Sneha. I felt bad and awkward, to be honest. I didn’t want you to think that I was being, like, intrusive. I wanted to clear things up.”

“It’s okay, really. In fact, I didn’t mind you asking.”

“Alright then. Who is she, I mean, Sneha?” Needless to say, her smartness took the front seat at the right time.

… to be continued (part 10)

A Story – Part 8

~ Originally posted on Nov 23, 2011.

I recalled my friend’s fact#21 in my mind, “You’ll have a very good future together if the last two characters of your name are same as the first two of your partner.”

Do I need to say this to her? I thought. How stupid of me to bring this topic now, I beefed myself. With these thoughts running inside, I started to think of a way to get rid of this ‘facts’ topic even though I knew I can’t kid a girl without any reasons. You know how good they are at these things, at getting an info from the other person, that too when the other person had created a trap voluntarily.

“Hello, there?” she patted me on the shoulder.

“Yep,” I nodded in approval, coming out of my thoughts.

“What are the facts?”

“Just forget it. They’re lame, you see.”

“No matter how lame they are. You brought it, now please tell me those,” she was adamant.

“It’s only one, actually.”

“But you told facts, not a fact,” she said giving an added effect to the word ‘facts’.

“Okay, here I’m, dealing with a grammatical genius, huh?” I tried my best wit.

“Are you going to say or not?” she asked firmly, with her hand sliding towards her bag. Oh my God! Is she about to get that pamphlet out? I thought.

“My friend, he is actually drafting ‘love facts’ for his girlfriend. He just told me one of his facts drafted so far,” I said in a hurry.

“Is it? It sounds interesting. Come on, go ahead,” she was keen.

“You’re lucky if you marry someone whom you happen to first meet at a place, um, meant for studying.”

I don’t know why I didn’t say the actual fact that I was told by my friend. I don’t know why I decided to come up with something different instead. Moreover, I don’t know how I came up with a fact on my own that would eventually strike a chord on her.

“Wait a second, are you serious? I mean… is he serious?” she was eager with her response.

I just shrugged my shoulders.

“I, uh, okay, do you, um…” she tried to say something.

“Look, don’t read too much into this. He is just stupid to draft such things. Well, maybe to impress his girlfriend, who knows?” I tried to bring her back to her comfort zone.

“Place meant for studying? Does he refer the library?” She was still showering on the fact. That was evident.

I’m not sure what my friend would have meant by it, if he had come up with that fact (furthermore, I’m not sure if he had met his girlfriend somewhere in a place meant for studying). What I meant was the library, only the library. But I wasn’t bold enough to accept that, and eventually my mind was left to get hit by the questions – Do I need to play it safe? Or Do I have to go on with it and see where it takes us? Or Should I be smart as a whip to change the topic? I was confused, failing to figure how she might react to whatever I say. If only I was a good mind-reader.

“Yeah, a library,” I was afraid of her response, and continued, “Or a college, or even a school.”

“Hmm, whatever, but why did you call it lame?”

Ah man, what is she expecting from me? That I should say he meant the library, and by quoting that, I was referring us. Should I say that? What if she was really feeble by asking me further details forgetting the fact that we had met at a place meant for studying?

“I called it lame because it was drafted by my friend, after all, and only for the sake of impressing his girlfriend so that he could get a…” I stopped.

“Get a what?” a question again. My bad, I cued.

“Probably a GIFT,” I said, wondering what the relation between a GIFT and a KISS is. Well, a kiss can possibly be a gift, right?

“Whatever. Get me his other facts as well. It’s funny and interesting too.”

I don’t want her to listen to the reply that my friend had given me a day before when I asked for his other facts drafted yet. Hence, I simply nodded.

“So, what have you decided about the course?” she started again.

“Yeah, I’m okay with it,” I said merely not to disappoint her. I wasn’t in a mood to catch her frowning face.

She was more than happy. I was able see that from her face, her body, and her everything. Or I should say I felt it around. Meanwhile, she fumbled into her bag and took few sheets of paper out.

“Do you read stories?” she asked holding the bunch of papers in her hand.

“Yes, I do. Don’t you know I visit the library often?”

“Yes, yes. But do you read short stories penned by someone, like your friend?”

“I don’t have any friends who write short stories, but I do read the ones that circulate through the emails.”

“Okay, fine then. Here is a story dedicated to my friend that was penned by her friend. Read it, if you’re interested.”

“Sure, why not?” I said and plunked the papers from her hand and asked, “Was it her boyfriend who dedicated it to her?”

“Nope, just a friend who is a boy,” she replied quickly.

Why would a guy, literally, dedicate a story to a girl? That guy must be crazy or the girl must be crazy not to understand the hidden reason behind it, I thought. Actually, I was crazy to think like that. Later I found that he dedicated it to her merely as a friend, just because she was nagging him to write one for long.

“Huh-uh” I nodded sarcastically.

“So, if at all you write one, whom would you dedicate it to?”

“Neha.”

“What?”

“I mean, Sneha,” I said and stressed again, “Sneha.”

She stared me through the corner of her eyes.

“Okay, it’s time for me to leave. Have to hang out with my friends. Will call you sometime tomorrow to fix the date and time to go to the center to register us for the course,” she said happily, and left the library in minutes.

I sat there still looking at her walking away.

… to be continued (part 9)

A Story – Part 7

~ Originally posted on Nov 3, 2011.

The rest of the day went by with the thought of me messaging her. Message, not to let her know the time alone, but to have a casual chat with her, like any friends would do. Yeah, given our conversation back in the library that day, I was a friend of her already. Or at least, I thought so.

I was just roaming in and around my home, then was lying on my bed, then was standing at the terrace looking for the moon when it played hide and seek with me, and then was staring at the television with no idea of what was playing. All these activities, I did holding my mobile in my hand with a message composed to her that was left unsent – only the message changed from a mere “Hi” to “What’s up?” to “Are you busy?” to “Had your dinner?” to “I’ll be going to the library at 9”.

Amidst these crap activities of me, there entered my friend, screaming, “Hey man, have you ever tasted a lipstick?”

“What? Did you say ‘A Lipstick’?” I was baffled.

“Yes, a lipstick,” he gestured as he sat next to me patting my shoulder.

“Sorry, dude. I had several eatables all through my life, but a lipstick wasn’t one of them,” I laughed, wondering what had gotten into his otherwise savvy head.

“I think she should change the flavor,” he said with his head traveling east and west.

“Man, what are you talking about?” I was shocked.

“Nothing, just forget it.” He stood to walk to his room.

“Hey, wait,” I said trying to pull him down. But he was too strong to be pulled, and I was left with no other option than to follow him nagging.

~~~~~~~~

“What happened?” I asked him as he was making his bed. I repeated the question ample number of times, in different tones, until he responded.

“Man, why are you nagging me? It’s just that I kissed my girlfriend. Okay?”

I remained silent thinking of me being in his shoes. No, don’t call me names. I thought of me in his and Neha in his girlfriend’s shoes.

“I guess she got a new lipstick, and that tastes horrible, you know,” he said rubbing his lips with his fingers. He might’ve imagined the lipstick stains being stuck in his lips still.

“So… you do it often?” I knew it was lame to ask, but I couldn’t help it.

“Hmm… yes, only if you refer ‘at least once a day’ as ‘often’.” He said winking, “Thanks to my love facts that I’ve been showering on her lately.”

“Love facts?”

“Yeah, it’s just the facts that I draft when I’m into her, I mean, mentally. Like when she is away from me, yet with me in my mind, you see.”

“Is it some kind of a trick? Just to taste her lipstick, uh, I mean, her lips.”

“Do I look like Barney Stinson of ‘How I met your mother’ series? No way. I’m rather serious buddy. Look, do you want to hear today’s fact?” His then-recent addiction of that sitcom was evident in his words.

“Of course, yes,” I was excited.

“Here’s fact number twenty-one…” He started.

“Hold on, did you draft twenty-one facts already?” I cut him off, thinking about him tasting the lipstick twenty-one times (at least) already.

“Come on man, it’s no big deal. Now, listen to the fact for the day, ‘you’ll have a very good future together if the last two characters of your name are same as the first two of your partner’.”

I had already started to run the respective characters of his and his girlfriend’s name in my mind, and said, “But your last two and her first two didn’t match?”

“Are you a male chauvinist or what? Give her the first preference,” he replied in a cool manner.

“Poojitha and Harish. ‘H.A.’, it is,” I shouted.

“Do you think I’d come up with a fact that is not in favor of us? Idiot,” he said. (Yeah, he was right. Idiot, I was, for I’d never come across such things on my own.) I should come up with my own facts, I thought.

“But why only two?”

“My name isn’t Tharish to have three,” he said.

I replaced Poojitha with Neha. His fact drew them to be a good partner as well. Hell, no. I shouldn’t give him any clue about Neha, my inner mind voiced. I then scanned mine with Neha. Crap, his fact was not in favor of me, not in favor of us actually.

“It sounds lame dude,” I said and turned back.

“Uh-huh,” he smiled.

“Okay. Give me your other twenty facts now,” I asked him just to check if any of them works for me. Desperate, I was.

“No way,” he said, “I’d give you only after I reach my target of hundred.”

“Hundred?”

“Yes,” he nodded, proudly.

“You are something man, really,” I said, “And don’t ask her to change the flavor next time, instead ask her not to apply it when you want to, you know…” and left his room.

~~~~~~~~~~

I was only thinking about ‘The Love Facts’ for the next few hours. When he could draft the facts for his love, why can’t I? I thought. The funny fact was I wasn’t even sure of the relation between me and Neha then, and of what was cooking on her mind, but I began to think about ‘the love facts’ already. Maybe, it was because I pictured that she was the one for me, no matter how early it was to decide.

I messaged her to come to the library around 10:00 A.M. the next day. I didn’t get a reply. Ironically, I was happy for that because, back then, I was clueless of what to talk about if her reply builds up into a late night chat. You know what, for that exact reason, I messaged her late night with a hope that she might have slept already and I didn’t have to bother about the chat.

~~~~~~~~~~

“Hi,” I greeted her. She looked ravishing, as usual, in her blue Shalwar. I wondered how many hours had she spent before the mirror preening her ready. Call me whatever, but I wanted to be her mirror.

“Hi,” she waved back. She entered in and took the chair next to me.

“So, what have you decided?” she was concerned only about what she wanted. Or maybe I assumed so.

“You know what, my friend has been drafting some facts lately. I heard his latest one yesterday. It was interesting.”

“Facts, what’re they about?” She might have guessed them to be related to her stupid course. Her curiosity showed that all.

Love facts, I wanted to say, but ended up saying, “Facts, as in, facts. Do you want to hear that?”

She nodded. Just.

… to be continued (part 8)

A Story – Part 6

~ Originally posted on Oct 24, 2011.

Silent, I remained for few seconds. She was looking at me for an answer still, looking for a positive reply. Her eyes said that all.

“What?” the voice that woofer-ed in me echoed out this time.

“I mean, could you join with me to take up the course, please?” she gestured. I haven’t heard anyone saying ‘please’ so pleasingly ever since I had heard the word for the first time.

“Actually, I, uh, am not into these things, you see,” I started reluctantly before she cut me off.

“Come on, please,” she interrupted. When I haven’t even fixed the puncture caused by the first pleasing ‘please’, she shot the second, even stronger.

Given the punctures, I should’ve nodded instantly. Man, who would want to disappoint a girl, let alone the cutest ever, but I wasn’t in the greatest of my senses. Ironically, I wanted to think. To shake off the to-be-shot-pleases, I wanted to distract her. I took my mobile and pretended to be busy. I knew it’d be a wussy excuse, but as I mentioned, I was out my senses. I couldn’t think of anything better.

My mobile, it was dead still. It then occurred to me that I switched it off on my way to the temple, and that made the accident scene to flash in my mind once again. On seeing me turning my mobile on, she asked, “Why did you switch it off?”

Before I could say anything, she continued, “I tried to reach you over the phone in the morning.”

“Is it?”

She nodded, I guess. Yeah, she nodded, but so slowly that I couldn’t be sure of her nod.

“Oh! (Wow, I thought) I went to a temple in the morning, and I had to switch my mobile off. Rules, you see,” I said with my heart swimming in the laugh ocean.

“Temple?!?” she exclaimed in a tone that clearly stated she wasn’t going to buy in my words.

“Yes, but what’s with it to get such an exclamatory tone?”

“No. Don’t get me wrong, but you don’t seem to be a temple-guy,” she said looking straight into my eyes.

What’s with these girls? Only they come up with such terms. A temple-guy, oh wow! How awesome it is? No, no. Not at all.

“A temple-guy?” I asked controlling my temper.

“Yeah, a guy who goes to temple every weekend, like a girl, you know,” she seemed enthusiastic, “Wait, No offense. I mean, kind of sensitive, kind of…”

Enough,’ I wanted to say. “Alright, I got it.” I broke in.

She remained silent, like me. I stared away somewhere, like her. We both were wondering how to change the topic, realizing we both weren’t comfortable at that point of time.

“Hey, so you’re okay with the course, right?” she tried her best. That’s one specialty of the girls, being easy at changing the topics, as and when required.

“I’m not a temple-guy, okay? I just accompanied a friend who, in your terms, maybe a temple-guy,” I said failing to get over the term, ‘a-temple-guy’.

“Okay, okay. That doesn’t matter.” She smiled. Or tried to be, I’d say.

“And with respect to the course,” I stopped to look at her and asked, “could you please give me some time?”

“Sure, but, the course is going to start next weekend.” She pointed to the text in the pamphlet.

“Look, I’m actually not interested in these courses and all,” I hinted my reluctance to her.

“But why?” she shot an easiest-of-all question.

I couldn’t come up with an answer. I never could, not even when my parents shot me with the same ‘but why’ bullet (several times), not even when the librarian shot me with the same (once). Lastly, another gun, a new one – in the form of Neha, was the latest to fire at me.

“No specific reason.”

“There has to be one, else why are you so adamant?”

“I have a good job. Moreover, my life, in the present scenario, is pretty smooth. Why bother about CAT or any other for that matter?” I didn’t mean it. I merely said what struck my mind then. As I mentioned earlier, I really couldn’t come up with an answer for that question.

“Hmmm, ok,” she simply shook her head. It was evident that she was foiled.

That was the last thing I wanted to see that day, her gloomy face. I had to do something, apparently, say something, to make her smile, or at least to wipe that gloom off her face.

“Look, I can’t explain things to you, please understand,” I said.

“Okay. Who am I to compel you? I can only request you to think about it. That’s it,” she replied composing herself to be normal.

“Hmm… sure,” I gesticulated.

“The coaching center is far away from here. I thought I’d go with you, and study with you,” she seemed she wasn’t ready to skip the topic until she got my approval.

“You mean I will have to take you with me in…” I deliberately skipped the last part.

“In your bike, if that’s not a problem for you. Else, we can go by the bus, only we have to walk some distance from the bus stop to the center.” She said while her fingers struggled to align her silky strand of hairs that fell on her forehead. My fingers had this urge to help her in aligning her hairs. Wait for it, I told them.

“Hey, you hardly know me.  How come you are, you know, like, um, you trust me this much to ride with me?” I asked her as I wasn’t comfortable with her words even though I was glad deep within. The main reason was that I thought she would ask anyone the same for a bike ride. Instantly, I hated myself at my imbecility to think that way as I knew she wasn’t that sort of a girl. Just because she was easy with you doesn’t mean she is low, I told myself.

“It’s simple. I would not have asked anyone else, no matter what. And moreover, I know you well,” she was at her casual best.

“I warn you, I’m not that good. I might kidnap you and…” I stopped, realizing I was about be bad, for real.

“And what?”

“And, could do anything, like, kill you,” I tried to sound like a villain.

She laughed. “Really, that’s quite a point. I should think about it then,” she tried to sound like being cautious.

“Yeah, you should.”

“Listen, I’ve heard about you, a lot, from ma’am. You don’t try to be a not-so-you just to escape from this,” she pointed the pamphlet and continued, “Seriously, if you aren’t interested, forget it.”

I opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out. I just turned and looked at the wall behind which the librarian sat. Something had happened in the past two days when Neha met the librarian, I figured.

“Okay, bye.” She stood to leave. My legs too stood reflexively.

“Hey, I’ll think about it. I will seriously give it a thought. By the way, will you come tomorrow?”

“If you want me to,” she killed me again. A killer smile, that was.

“Okay, see you tomorrow then,” I said as we reached the main door.

“Let me see. But you should come with a positive reply, okay?” She said and gave me her mobile number, and asked me to message her the time I’d come to library the next day.

As I was saving her number, “Hey, listen. I like a temple-guy. And I like you, even if you aren’t,” she said and strode away like an express. Yeah, like an express. Fast.

… to be continued (part 7)

A Story – part 5

~ Originally posted on Oct 22, 2011.

All along the way to the temple, I couldn’t resist dreaming about her, about me running into her in the temple, and about us doing the prayers together in the temple. Thanks to my pal for accepting my offer to ride my bike. It’s way better to dream when seated in the pillion than when riding the bike. As I was riding in my dreamland, I failed to notice my friend riding the bike in a route that I wasn’t aware of. It was at a signal, only when I came out of my dreamland, I noticed it.

“Hey, where are you going?” I questioned him, dazed.

“To the temple,” he replied.

“But, it’s on the other route, right? I mean, near the Odyssey.”

“We’re not going to that temple, buddy. We are going to…” he replied something that I failed to heed as my senses were dragged to an accident where a bike collided with a car on the other side of the road.

“Shit,” I exclaimed.

Before I realized what had happened, people who stood nearby rushed to help the guy (who was) in the bike (few seconds back). He seemed to be okay, I thought. Meanwhile, the green signal was on, and my friend continued to ride in the way unknown to me. That accident stapled my mind and my mouth. I remained silent, too silent to care where he went, and too startled to question him further.

I just thought what if I was that guy, what if I was meant not to meet Neha anymore, and so many other negative what-ifs followed. I was sick of those questions running in my mind. I didn’t want those thoughts to march on for long. I took my mobile out from my pocket and checked for any messages or calls. There were two new messages. My heart skipped a beat, and then skipped several beats.

I navigated to the inbox only to get frustrated. The messages – one was from an unknown number to advertise some courses, and the other was from 121 to let me know the unbilled amount of my mobile usage. I got furious and switched my mobile off. Twenty more minutes, we reached the temple. I tried hard to keep my mind away from Neha, and thereby, the curiosity of meeting her at the library few hours later. But I couldn’t until I saw a beautiful girl at the temple standing before us, before me in the queue. We, my friend and I, kept ourselves busy following her all around the temple. We simply strode behind her wherever she went, stood behind her in the queue again to get the prasad, and sat near her when she did. So I would say that I was partially successful in keeping my mind off Neha. Alright, now, don’t get us wrong. We didn’t do anything bad; it’s just that we followed a beautiful girl admiring her beauty, you see.

It was almost 10:30 A.M. when I reached the library after dropping my friend at our home. I tried to be as calm as possible. I went straight to the study room. Neha was not there. I then hooped to the librarian room and met her, I mean the librarian. I curbed myself not to ask her about Neha with a hope that she would herself speak out about her. I exchanged the usual morning pleasantries. I blathered for few minutes expecting her to bring ‘Neha’ in the conversation. It didn’t help. I then took a daily that was lying on her desk and walked to the study room.

After few seconds and few slow steps, I turned and asked, “Well, did you see Neha around?”

“I guess not. She hasn’t shown up yet,” She replied.

‘Never wait for the fruit to fall itself. Ask what you want, and thereby, get what you want.’ That’s the mantra to be followed in life. I learned it that day.

“Oh okay, thanks.” I said and strolled to the study room.

I sat on the chair that faced the entrance of the library. I did that purposely so that I would be the one that Neha sees first as she pulls in. The time entered its 11th hour of the day, but she didn’t enter the library. Though I took the daily for no real reason, I was left to read it through to kill time.

“Hi”

The voice startled me to get out my immersion into the paper. It was Neha. I saw her wearing pink t-shirt and blue jeans, looking completely different from what I had seen earlier. Yet she was the same, she was staggeringly BEAU-TI-FUL and STUN-NING. There are few dresses that would make anyone, who wears it, ravishing. There are few people who appear ravishing irrespective of what they wear. Sometimes people get confused between the two cases. I wasn’t at all. She was one of those few people who fell in the second category; there was no room for a second thought.

“Hi,” I greeted.

“When did you come?” She asked as if she was talking to her closest pal.

”Just a few minutes back.”

“Achcha, did you come by yourself?” she asked, pulling a chair next to me.

“Yeah, in my bike,” I said pointing my not-at-all-visible bike.

“No, I mean, uh, by yourself or after hearing from ma’am,” she said gesturing towards the librarian room.

“Ah,” I smiled, wondering what to say, and continued, “Heard from her.”

“Thanks. And well, sorry to bother you.”

“No… no… not at all. In fact, I would have come here anyway. You know, it’s Saturday. I would be here around this time on all Saturdays.”

“Oh! Is it? That’s great.”

“Not really, but on most Saturdays,” I tried to cover up remembering the librarian’s stare the other night.

She killed me. I mean, she smiled. I lost my life whenever she smiled.

I remained silent as she hunted something over in her bag. A typical girl, I thought. Yeah, that was me on my judging senses. What else could I think when she dug her hand inside her bag for few minutes already? I just got lost in her. After few minutes, she took out a pamphlet that announced some offers for the CAT coaching.

Oh, here it is, she is expecting some suggestions from me, I thought. Seriously, when a guy is with a girl, he simply thinks a lot, more than he ever did in his life yet, like ever.

“I came to know about this through a friend of mine. Heard it’s a good coaching center. Can we both register for the course?” she said riffling her eyelids more than once per second.

“What?” my inner voice woofer-ed in me.

… to be continued (part 6)

A Story – Part 4

~ Originally posted on Oct 19, 2011.

I went to the library the next day around 5:00 P.M. only after sewing in the excuse I had a day before. Since I asked for permission this time rather than passing the information to the Manager, he was firm enough to ask the reason. I was left with no other choice than to use the previous day’s excuse. No use. Neha didn’t turn up that day as well.

Nevertheless, my mind was not ready to give up on her. I badly wanted to see her. A couple of days ago, I badly wanted to talk to her, solve problems with her. But things had changed in me. That day, I just was hoping to see her, to the least. Howsoever the things had changed in me, things didn’t change around me. She didn’t turn up the next day as well. Okay, no use of escaping from the office with lame excuses anymore, I warned myself. I just didn’t want to spoil my hard earned reputation at office for the sake of catching an unavailable *whatever*.

As I was struggling for my sleep that night, I just played the words – “You don’t know anything about her, except her name and her preparation for CAT, not even her place of stay, not even her place of work, nothing at all. Better forget her, forget everything and stop being a fool.” – repeatedly in my mind. The more I reminded myself that I didn’t know her place and work, the more I blamed myself for not looking into those details in the registration form the other day. I knew it wasn’t a big deal for me to get to know those details of her from the register. I just didn’t want to do it that way; instead, I wanted to know everything about her from her. Moreover, a bit of me assured that I would meet her sooner, for sure. Amidst the thoughts, I didn’t know when I dozed off.

For the next two days, I was able to restrict myself from going to the library. But destiny had different thoughts. The second day, around 9:00 P.M. as I was returning home from my office, I happened to meet the librarian at a departmental store in our colony. I have been in the colony for almost a year, but not even once did I run into her at any place in the colony other than the library. Destiny, it was. A big news was waiting for me in her.

“Hi,” I greeted her, hiding my excitement.

“Hey, why didn’t you come to the library for the past two days?” She asked.

“I was busy with my work,” I replied bluntly.

“Actually, I wanted to call you later tonight,” she said.

“Why, is anything important?”

“Not really, I guess. You were wanted to come to the library tomorrow,” she started.

“Wanted?” I interrupted her before she could say more.

“Yeah, you are. It’s this girl, Neha, who actually wants you. I mean, uh, wants you to come.”

“Uh-huh, but why?” I asked hiding the excitement in my tone.

“No idea. She came to the library yesterday and was enquiring about you. I guess, she did wait for you, but you didn’t turn up,” she elaborated, “And she even came today, and was looking for you. When she was about to leave, she asked me whether you will come tomorrow.”

“Oh,” I tried to fuel her to make her words slide freely.

“I told her that since it’s a Saturday, you’d mostly come.”

“But I come on all Saturdays, right?” I said that I shouldn’t have. My words made her to look at me with disapproval. “Okay, not all, but on most Saturdays,” I tried to make up.

“That’s why I used the word ‘mostly’.”

I nodded, sheepishly. Meanwhile she continued, “Whatever, I gave her your mobile number before she left.”

I wanted to hug her for her credible help. But I just said, “Thanks.”

“So, will you show up tomorrow or like, you’re working?” That’s the sarcastic her.

I was too blank to answer her. I just smiled. I bid bye to her, and left without doing what I went to the store for – to purchase stuffs for dinner.

I didn’t sleep that night. I just lay in the bed with my eyes closed. I opened my eyes every half an hour to check my mobile for a call or a message from her, only to get disappointed. I woke up early (I shouldn’t say I woke up as what I did all night can’t be termed as ‘sleep’) and got ready to go the library.

“Where are you going?” my friend asked on seeing me in a rather unusual getup, given the time was 7:30 A.M. on a Saturday morning.

“To the temple,” I lied.

“Oh, fine then. I too wanted to go the temple. It’s something special today it seems. My mom wanted me to go,” he said and went to the bathroom without even waiting for my reply.

Why does every mom be specific about this? If the day is something special, we must pay a visit to a temple. But luckily my mom didn’t ask me to go the temple that day. Neither was I with that idea. It’s just at that instant when my friend questioned me, I had to lie to him. What’s better than a lie with ‘the temple’ in it?

So that was it. I was made to spend my early hours of the big day in the temple with my friend. And unfortunately, there wasn’t a call or a message from her yet. I was disappointed and a tad worried.

… to be continued (part 5)

A Story – Part 3

~ 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)

A Story – Part 2

~ Originally posted on Oct 6, 2011.

She smiled back, but that was all she did before grudging her head into the papers she was working on. For a moment, I wasn’t interested to take such insults anymore. I wanted to vacate the place at that instant. But her presence worked on me otherwise; it simply made me to rub off such acts of her as insults. For a change, I started working on some random problems that seemed to be easy for me at the first glance.

I couldn’t continue working on those anymore. It was not that I couldn’t find any easy problems, but only that I just couldn’t concentrate on those when actually I wanted to concentrate on her. It’s not going to work out, I thought. Moreover, though I was really good at Mathematics right from my lower class, I never was interested in preparing for CAT, not even once, even after my parents’ insistence. So why bother with it just for the sake of some stranger? My mind cued me.

I was about to get up when she looked at me. That was enough to rewind my thoughts. I repositioned my posture from ‘about to get up’ to ‘sit firmly’.

“Are you preparing for CAT?” she questioned.

I wanted to say yes, but my mind wanted me not to lie. “Nope,” I said.

She stared at my hand that held the CAT material. I understood her stare.

“Just a time pass,” I elucidated.

“Oh,” she nodded.

I didn’t want her to cut the conversation and get back to her business; I didn’t have any serious business, after all. So I continued, “Are you?”

“Yeah, of course,” she replied with a smile. I pictured the meaning of her smile as ‘why else am I sitting here with this stuff?’ Yeah, that’s one good point; for she, unlike me, doesn’t seem to be a lunatic to use the CAT material to impress some stranger, my mind voiced in me.

I merely nodded as I wasn’t left with any clue to continue the conversation. Dumbass, I was. I waited for her to ask something. She did.

“Could you help me with this?” she pointed to a problem with her pen.

Uh-huh, here it starts, something unexpected, my inner voice again. I looked at my mobile. I was expecting a call to save me, but my mobile laid still at peace. For the first time I wondered what were the ‘do you want to activate caller tune, sir’ people and ‘do you want any loans, sir’ people doing other than calling me.

Okay, my dignity was at stake. I took the material from her to have a look at the problem. Our hands touched – in the sense I touched her fingers (unintentionally). I looked at her face. She didn’t mind my touching, or seemed so, after all it was unintentional. It took me three or so minutes to solve the problem. I then explained it to her.

“Oh! Yeah, I made a mistake at this step,” she underlined the step before giving herself a light knock at her head. She thanked me. I thanked God for making me solve the problem.

“You are good at this, aren’t you?”

“Hmm, sometimes,” I was humble. I really was.

We continued talking until it was time to close the library. From the conversation, I found she was seriously preparing for CAT, and was determined to score big in it. Through and through, we just talked, talked, solved few problems together, and then talked. By the time the librarian came to remind us about the time, the chair I sat in sometime back was empty, the pen and papers I used were laid helpless at the table; And here I was, sitting next to her with both of us working out the same problem in the same paper (with the same pen – not at the same time though).

We came out and started walking in opposite directions. All along the way, I cursed myself for choosing the opposite direction even though that was my way to get home. I was simply smiling when I reached my home. My friends started bugging me for few minutes on seeing my unusual behavior. I brushed them off.

… to be continued (part 3)

A Story – Part 1

~ Originally posted on Oct 5, 2011.

Love, some say it’s magical, some say it’s divine, and some say it’s eternal. Conversely, some say it’s a mere shit. I won’t say any of those, at least about mine. I would rather say it as a simple feeling that conjured in me only to make my mind complex.

I saw her. It wasn’t a love at first sight. In fact, I hardly saw her face when I saw her for the very first time. She was showing her back to me. It was in the library located in my nearby colony. The library was small and privately managed by a resident (who would later become my good friend) of that colony. The specialty of the library, in my perspective, was that, it was the only library near my locality that had English novels and CAT study materials. Okay, now don’t get into an idea that I was preparing for CAT or something. I hardly touched that rack.

I had been a member of the library for the past 8 months, but I never saw her before. Though I wasn’t a regular visitor of the library, you could have seen me there on most of the weekends reading newspapers, and rarely, on weekdays when I was there to return or issue a new book. She must be new to the library, I thought. From the conversation between her and the librarian, I figured she was there to register her membership of the library.

All my life, I neither was a strict follower of the rules nor an ardent admirer of the rules in the first place, be it in school, or college, or anywhere for that matter. Whenever I saw a stupid rule stated in any of the rule book, I would get furious about it. But ironically on the other day, due to the reasons unknown, I was glad for the rules. The girl was told that in order to become a new member, she should be nominated by an existing member. I then heard her reply that she was new to the colony, and that she didn’t know anyone to nominate her.

Her words struck me hard, didn’t know why. I just wanted to go and help her – It wasn’t a big deal for me as I was a member already. Simple. But I held myself back in the chair pretending to read the newspaper that I was holding in my hand. I don’t even remember what paper I was holding back then. I thought she would come to me and ask for some help. But then, I looked around. There were four more people reading something. For a moment I suspected them to be as pretending to read as me. Maybe not, I thought as they were at least twice my age, meaning they should roughly be of her dad’s age. Still, that wasn’t a favor for me for she might choose someone else over me to help her.

I was wrong. Nope, don’t think she chose me. She didn’t. She didn’t choose anyone at all; rather, she turned to leave the library with disappointment sprayed all over her face (That was just my imagination. I didn’t see her face yet). As she was about to reach the main door, I called her. “Hello,’ I said. She turned to look at me still wondering if it was she who was called. I saw her, I mean, her face.

“Are you here to become a member?” I asked.

She nodded, this time her face showed she was sure of her being called [by me]. She came towards me. I gestured her to follow me to the librarian.

“Ma’am, I nominate her,” I said to the librarian. “She is a friend of mine.”

The librarian stared at me. I turned towards the girl by my side. She too was staring at me.

“Okay, not my friend, but she doesn’t look like the one who will run away with your books,” I continued, “so enroll her with my nomination.”

Ten minutes. She became a member of the library. I thanked the librarian. Neha thanked me. Neha, it was her name. I saw that in the registration form. I walked past her throwing a half-smile and ignoring her thanks. I still wonder why I acted that way. Only God knows. I left the library immediately while she still stood near the librarian. Late in the night, I cursed myself very badly for my act. “Never mind,” I consoled myself saying, “now that she is a member, I could make it up anytime sooner.”

It just took me two more days to run into her. She had already been in the library by the time I entered. She had some CAT study materials with her, and was working out some problems. I walked past her slowly so that she could get a chance to look at me. Man, I couldn’t have walked any slower than I did that day. It was of no use. She didn’t look at me. I was angry, not at her but at me.

I went in and took a CAT study material. I didn’t know what topic was that book about. Moreover, it wasn’t in my mind before I entered the library, or until I saw her. Actually, it wasn’t the purpose I went to the library for. All I wanted was to return the book I took few weeks back and get back home as soon as possible to catch the football match live on T.V.

But there I was deeply pissed off for her not looking at me, and as a result, taking some random CAT study material, and walking towards the study hall to sit opposite to her. On my way, I returned the book to the librarian and borrowed some papers to scribble (I should show her I, too, was working on some problems, right?).

Luckily, the seat opposite to her was still empty. I sat scratching the chair against the floor as hard as I could. The noise that I was sure had enough decibels to disturb even the librarian who sat in the other room. That wasn’t my intention though after all. Mine was just to disturb Neha so that she would care, at least by now, to look at me. It worked. She looked at me and smiled only to get back to her work of scribbling, okay, not scribbling, but solving some crap problems.

Until then I wasn’t aware that I didn’t have a pen. In all that tension, anger, and hurry, I wasn’t sane enough to borrow a pen along with the papers.  It was only when I opened the book and saw a problem, and when I wanted to solve it, I realized I didn’t have one. It’s this human nature that even though you’re sure that you don’t have something with you, you still search for it in your pockets, or bags, or whatever you have with you as if it would be born out of something from nowhere. I was no different. I was human after all. And hence, I did the same. I groped for my pen in my pockets.

That act of mine drew her attention. Any fool would figure out my action for certain. Here, she, who was preparing for CAT, will definitely be better than a fool, right? Yes, she was. She dug into her bag, and offered me a pen. I smiled.

… to be continued (part 2)