I was filled with complete enthusiasm throughout the day. People say that when you fall in love, you can sense the other person everywhere. It was the same with me. I could sense her everywhere. It went onto an extent in which even Prabu’s verbose conversation seemed ‘sweeter’, it appeared as if she was speaking. When somebody laughed nearby, it seemed as if she had laughed. We had a reading session on Physics. I had no idea of what was being discussed. Though I continued doing whatever was said by the teacher, my mind was doing its own somersaults. For the first time, the special session looked fun. Since, her smile in the class had dispelled the notion that she bore any animosity towards me, I was looking forward to see her the next day. We had a triangle bed meeting in my room (Gopal, Prabu and my bed arranged in a triangular design, similar to a round table conference). Gopal was certain, I was ready to upgrade to the next level and that I must propose to her. Prabu was skeptical and was of the view that I must understand her better, before taking the next step. He said ‘I read somewhere that as far as women are concerned, the unexpected always happen’. Even the wise poet Kabir Das had written that one can measure the depth of a sea, one can measure the altitude of the skies, but one can’t measure a women thoughts’. He seemed to have a good point, So the meeting was adjourned, with the upgrade plan put on hold until any further developments.
The next day, I went to the class early on and occupied Gopal’s position. Usually he sits on one end of the bench and Keerthana’s friend Geeta would sit in the bench beside it. When Geeta came in, she saw me sitting on Gopal’s place and understood what I wanted and sat at Keerthana’s place. Keerthana came in after sometime and sat at the end of the bench besides me. During the class, my pen ink dried up. I was wondering what to do and asked Gopal for a replacement. Gopal was still furious at me for taking his place, and didn’t bother to answer me. I was wondering if I should ask someone in the back or front bench when a pen appeared before my eyes. I looked sideways and saw that Keerthana was holding a pen in her hand. ‘You can use this, if you want’ she said. My heart took a plunge yet my hands thankfully did its normal function of taking the pen from her. I smiled back and said thanks. Accepting her pen seemed to be a wrong choice. I spent the remaining time of the period, in admiring the design of the pen and its beauty. Gopal looked sideways to see what I was looking at and saw me transfixed looking at the pen. ‘Vikram, isn’t that the pen which I gave you last month, and which you had misplaced’, he asked. Coming out of my imagery,I snapped at him ‘ don’t disturb me now’. Iam busy.’ Once the class got over, I gave her the pen back, she said ‘It’s fine. You can use it for the day and return tomorrow’. I was happy to oblige. I guarded the pen like a treasure. I kept the pen in the centre of the table and all the 3 of us were looking, I was looking at the pen and the other two were looking at me.
Few weeks went by. We used to talk a little bit during the lunch time or during the breaks. I found it hard to interact with her normally, as when I was with her, my pulses would race up. I couldn’t act as if I was her friend, while I had different feelings for her in my heart. Back in the room, the triangular meeting was called for in lieu of the new development. Gopal, once again as impulsive as ever, suggested the proposal mode. ‘See, she even gave you the pen on her own. How long would you keep your emotions bottled up. Go ahead and tell her what you feel about her’. I just nodded my head and mumbled ‘Yes, I think she likes me too’.
‘I still feel you should wait to get to know her better before you propose her’ Prabu said.
‘Should I wait to know her better till our school ends ??’. What will happen if she changes her mind by then’, Gopal asked. So it was decided that I would go ahead with the plan. The three of us got down into the strategic planning mode. Prabu suggested the best time to approach her would be after the Hindi special class.
‘Yes, yes. that’s a nice idea’, said Gopal.
‘Yes, Just in case things didn’t turn out as hoped for, and if she reacts violently and slaps you, it’s better to face it alone when no one’s there.’, said Prabu.
‘Thanks Chanakya, for your insightful advice. We will follow as you say sa’, I said. Now for a strategic support, Gopal was instructed to brief Geeta about her assistance to make Keerthana stay in the class after it gets over, so that I and she can remain in the class and at that appropriate moment, I will approach her.
The next day, i was eagerly waiting for the hindi classes. I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t even notice her coming to the class and maybe for the first time, didn’t even give her much glance throughout the day. During the break, we updated Geeta about the plan. She seemed understandable and agreed to help. Later once the Hindi class got over, Geeta acted as if she had some doubts in the subject, and stayed back. Once everyone in the class had left, i slowly packed up my things. Geeta went outside first, leaving Keerthana and me in the class. She gave me a smile and took her bag and was about to leave the class.
‘Keerthana, I want to talk with you regarding something.’ I said
‘Yes. What is it, Vikram’, she replied.
‘I don’t know how to say it. I don’t know to speak in riddles. The first time, I saw you, I fell in love with you’. Probably I don’t know you well enough, but I know that as long as you are with me, I can think of nothing else but only you.’
As Prabu had said, ‘as far as women are concerned, the unexpected always happen’. Whatever the reaction I had expected, her reaction was unexpected. She didn’t give any reaction at all. She just walked away silently. No dialogues which the heroine utters in the movies. I just stood there puzzled, unable to understand what it meant. We didn’t speak for the next three days. Even while passing each other, she would look somewhere else or pretend that iam not there. What else I could do when she pretends that I don’t exist itself. We just went on with the daily schedule.
On the 5th day, after the class while I was about to get down the staircase, I heard a voice behind ‘ Vikram’. I looked back and saw Keerthana standing there along with Geetha. She said ‘Vikram, I do like you, but as my friend and nothing more. You don’t even know me completely. Hence, please don’t waste your time coming after me’. I was completely speechless. I didn’t expect her to come up with such a reply. Anyhow, her proposal would enable me to be with her and keep my chances open’.
I said: ‘Well, since you have accepted that you do like me, it wont be long before you realize my true love for you’. And yea, it’s just a matter of time, before that happens.’. She just looked at me and went away. That night the triangle bed conference was again called for. Prabu was at the center standing in a pose of a military brigadier; about to give marching orders to his troops. Gopal was lost in a deep contemplation. ‘Girls like guys who make them feel special’. So you have to find a way to make her feel special.
‘I already feel she is special. How do I make her feel it.’
‘I don’t know. Ask the experienced guy for an idea’, remarked Prabu. We both looked at Gopal. He had a smirk on his face. Of all things, in such a serious discussion, this expression didn’t help out much.
‘What is there to smirk about’, I asked.
No reply. We realized that he had dozed off while in deep contemplation. Prabu hit him with a pillow. ‘Yes, yes. that’s a nice idea’, Gopal babbled. He claims that he has the ability to hear even while sleeping. We understood how clearly he had heard our conversation.
‘Why were you smirking’, I asked.
“I had a dream in which I was wishing Geetha on her birthday and both of us went out on a date’.
People say that sometimes a bolt of lightning hits you from nowhere. I got a new idea now. I recalled Geetha saying that Keerthana’s birthday was during the half yearly holidays and she would be going home. ‘Thanks Gopal, for a wonderful idea’, I said.
‘What was the idea’, he asked.
Well, i have decided that I will give Keerthana a surprise visit during the holidays and personally wish her on her birthday. That’s sure to make her understand how much I love her. Lets see how she reacts when I reach at her place directly and wish her. The idea of visiting her in person was strengthened by few movies in which the actor visits the girl at her place, and sweeps her off her feet by his proposal.
‘What if she has body guards around her and they break your legs’, asked Gopal.
‘That was very helpful, Gopal. Well, that remains to be seen who would be swept off, and if I will have my legs to atleast run away.”
I was hopeful that her parents wouldn’t have taken the pains to have bodyguards around her. After calculating the cost of hiring body guards, I decided that they wouldn’t go to that extent and hence decided to take the risk. After all, what is life without experimentation.
‘That seems to be a good idea’. But do you know where she lives’, asked Prabu.
‘We have to get it from the registration records’, I said
‘Are you crazy. There is no way you can get your hands on it. The records are kept locked in a room nearby the chemistry lab’, Gopal said.
‘Well, we will find a way to infiltrate it. Guys, think how exciting will it be to do something like this. We should have something to make our exams time more exciting.’
Prabu was skeptical but agreed to help out. Gopal said there is no way we can do this. ‘What if we got caught. Already iam getting battered in exams, I don’t want an extra reason now.”
‘Come on Gopal. Don’t worry about that. You needn’t come in. You can just act as a watch guard. If you help me out, I will sponsor samosa in our canteen for a week’
‘Ok, then. I will just be a watch guard. So when are we going to the canteen’, he said. It’s remarkable how samosa can help convince people.
Then all the three of us sat and planned the Mission ‘Dhoom’. Gopal was of the view that having a movie name in which the actor infiltrates the place and completes his mission successfully would be a good sign for us. The registration records are kept in a room nearby the chemistry lab. Being a class monitor, the hindi teacher had taken me once to keep few records. Our plan was that once the half yearly exams starts, the people movement would lessen. We will make Gopal stand outside the chemistry lab as a watch guard. There is a small broken window to the back of that room. One can enter it through a lavatory, which is at the end of the corridor. From there, one can get over to a parapet, and then enter the room through the broken window. I and Prabu would enter the room and get the record. We had 3 days holiday before our first exam. We decided that Saturday would be the right time to infiltrate it. The next few days went by, with the three of us figuring out all the probable dangers/obstacles which we might face and how we could avoid/overcome it. A long inventory list was prepared for the items to taken for the break in.
On Saturday, after having lunch, the three of us took our exam books and arrived at the place. We told Gopal to be ready and in case of any person entering the room, to warn us off so that we can escape through the window. I and Prabu went over to the parapet to enter the room. The room was quite dark. We couldn’t put on the room lights as people might find out our presence. We put on our search lights and started our search. I took up one end of the room, and Prabu the other end. The records were stacked high in a corner and it took us 30 mins just to figure out the location of our batch records. We found out our class records and started looking for keerthana’s record. Suddenly we heard sound of footsteps outside. We listened with bated breath. Then we heard Gopal’s voice ‘ Good afternoon Sir’. ‘Good afternoon, Gopal’ What are you doing here.’. It was our Chemistry Sir. ‘Sir, Iam studying for Chemistry exam, seeing the chemicals in the lab will help me correlate the formula’s better’, remarked Gopal. That indeed was a stroke of genius. Even Einstein, Newton wouldn’t have thought of studying like that.
‘Don’t waste time moving around the campus. Go and study in your room. You can score good marks by studying in your room too.’ The prof said in an irritated manner, opened the lab, went in and got something he wanted and went back. Gopal couldn’t understand why the prof got irritated. After coming back to the room, we found out the reason. Gopal in his hurry had taken the physics book in his hand. And physics exam was our last exam. The prof realized that arguing with Gopal would only waste his time, so he just went on with his work. Thankfully, this act made him leave the location quickly. Meanwhile, we found her record, and hurriedly noted down her address. We kept the records back in place, so to avoid any signs of intrusion, and returned the same way. Back in the room, we celebrated the success of Mission ‘Dhoom’ by ordering soft drinks from the canteen, while Gopal devoured his samosa’s.
The exams started and all of us got busy in the daily routine of waking up, writing exams, revising for the next exam. I didn’t get to see her much during that time except in the exam hall but we didn’t talk much. On the last day, after the exam got over, I came outside and waited for her. She was with Geetha and few more girls and they just walked by. I had asked Geetha to bring Keerthana to the water cooler. I went down and Geetha was standing there with keerthana.
‘How were the exams’, I asked her
‘They were fine. How was yours’, she asked me.
‘Finally over. That’s a relief, I replied. ‘So when are you going home’, I asked.
‘How do you know, iam going home’, she asked
‘it’s common sense, I wanted to say. Where else would people go during holidays, and especially girls who given a two days time would go back to their home, but thought the better of it and said ‘I heard it from my friends’.
‘Oh fine. Tonight, she said. I gotta go now’
‘See ya soon’, I said.
Well, there was the surprise element. I went back to my room. Her birthday was after 2 days, so i would be leaving tomorrow night and reach her city the next day morning. The plan seemed fine, and after packing up things for the travel, I slept off.
Gopal and Prabu had left for their home by the time I woke up the next day. I left the hostel and caught a bus to the main bus stand. From there, took another bus which would take me to her place. The bus reached the destination by 5am and I directly went to a temple which was near her home. Geetha had said that she visits a temple in the morning which is near her home. It was outside this temple where I was waiting. I hadn’t told Prabu or Gopal about waiting in the temple. They were thinking that I was going to her home and wish her. Confronting her parents at her home, would mean a huge risk, even if the body guards weren’t taken into count. Gopal,Prabu wouldn’t have approved me of waiting in the temple with no certainty of meeting her. yet, I had decided not to tell them and take my chances.
On the way, I had bought a kitten candle, because she liked cats, and a small rose flower. I had been waiting for almost 3 hours. It was 9am now. I almost lost hope of seeing her, and decided to return when I saw her entering the temple. Since it was close to her home, she had come alone. She was stunningly beautiful in a orange and a black chudidar with her hair let loose. I was wondering how would I look in comparison as I was in a completely distorted state. Yet I waited for her to come out. As long as she recognizes me and doesn’t end up shouting, thinking that iam a road side pokiri. After half an hour, she came outside and walked towards the side I was standing. There was a small lane to the left, I went inside it. When she was about to cross it, I called out ‘Keerthana’. She looked around and saw me. She was surprised. Well, surprised wouldn’t be good enough to express her expression. I walked to where she was standing. She said ‘You, Vikram’. ‘Here’
She was speechless. That was an expected reaction. Then she took my hand and took me to back to the lane. It was deserted there. She started ‘you are behaving childishly, why did you come here. Etc etc. All this was expected too. Prabu had told the probable reactions which a girl might express at such a time. Out of the 5 things he mentioned, 2 had already happened. The other 3 that remained on my list was ‘Shouting for help and calling people’, ‘Giving a slap’ or ‘Giving a kiss’. With 2 reactions over, I was wondering which order would her expression take. I was doubtful if she would kiss me after slapping me. Anyway, her rhetoric went on. I just stood there completely lost and was admiring her beauty. She finally ended by saying,
‘You are crazy enough. Why did you come here’.
I offered her the kitten candle and said ‘Happy birthday’, I said. And in a romantic fashion, I bent down at my knees and gave the rose flower to her and said ‘You might think that iam just infactuated by you, but to show how truly I love you, i have come to express my feelings. The first moment,I saw you, I fell in love with you and I have always wanted to be with you. No matter, what you think, I will always love you. Keerthana, I love you.” Her next expression was unexpected. She took out a flower from her puja basket which she had in her hand, and kissed it and gave it to me. That was supposed to be a kiss transfer through a flower. She said: ‘We will be friends and see how this turns out. Iam glad that you came here to wish me. I have to go now. See you soon. Bye’. I stood like a dumb there. I didn’t know how to react. It did seem that she had accepted my proposal, Well, Prabu was right. ‘As far as women are concerned, the unexpected always happens’…
To be contd...