The Plot (LVIII)


Reviewed by Padu & Ridhi.

I recognized him in the first sight, though he looked a little different from his picture on Orkut. Elvia and Gokul were walking side by side into our college. I was set on fire. Right from the hair on my scalp till my toes, I felt everything burning. He held her hand; I turned away at the right moment.

I couldn’t even tolerate someone holding her hands. I wondered, how I thought that I would stay with her forever as a good friend, just as a friend. Lost in agony, I walked back to our hostel.

The same person who told Manikandan about me, the same person who told me about Gokul’s proposal, called me, “Hi Preethi.”

“Hi Shantanu, how are you?”

“I am fine, how do ya do?”

“I am fine too. I called to tell you something important.” I knew she was about to, and I did know she was about to tell me about Gokul and Elvia. I waited to hear it from her.

“Today Elvia and Gokul went to a shopping mall, and he bought her some expensive gift.”

“Oh I see, ok I will ask her about it”

“Heard you are not in speaking terms with her.”

“No, nothing like that. We are just fine.”

I called Manikandan to ask him about it. His phone kept ringing, but he didn’t pick up. I knew he must have got so engrossed in his work. I checked whether he was online.

When others spent much time either programming their asses off or watching movies, I spent more time on the internet. I made a lot of friends on the internet than in the physical world around me.

That’s how I had got Manikandan’s acquaintance. As soon as I knew Elvia got her internship in that company, I searched for the company’s employees. With the subtle information and the 1 or 2 names she uttered to me on phone, I zeroed in on her team.

Step by step in a matter of a month I got to know Manikandan, Elvia’s team leader. Initially I didn’t tell him, that I knew Elvia. Later I told him like it was a coincidence, that my classmate was in his team.

But he was no dumb ass to believe my story. Right that moment he asked me, “Are you spying on her?”

I was taken aback, but before I could reply him anything, he just ignored the subject. Later on we got closer, that, he even discussed about Gokul to me, as I had said that I was just a friend.

Disturbing these thoughts my moto rang again. “Hey Mani” I would have loved Elvia to hear this.

“Hi man, wassup”

“Looks like Gokul came down to Chennai to meet Elvia. You never told me this”

“Well I didn’t know that”

“You didn’t?”

“Ya man, believe me. Anyway I am in office now so...”

“Ok fine will talk to you later.”

The cheerful hostel, which remained so even when we had a nightmarish semester exam in hours turned dark. Everything around me lost color. I felt an unknown anger surge in me. I didn’t know on whom I felt that angry or why. All I knew was I was so very angry.

The last look of Elvia flashed before me. It kept reappearing before me. I just lay down on my cot and closed my eyes, the blue eyes turned red again and again. My moto rang; I slowly opened my eyes and fumbled for my mobile phone on the table.

“Hi Anu”

“Hi na, how are you?”

“Fine dear. I am really, really sorry that...”

“That’s all fine na. I do understand the situation. I perfectly do”

“Hmm... thanks dear. At least you did.”

“Very soon Elvia will also understand.”

I knew she was about to tell me something, but she didn’t. That didn’t matter. I couldn’t stay calm anymore, after all he had done to my loving sister. ‘Avenge for Anu’ my soul kept nudging me, for my every breath.

I waited for an opportunity to make him feel the same pain as Anu. I knew physical hurting was no match to what he had done to Anu. He deserved something more. There was to be no more waiting. Opportunities are something that we create. I had made a decision.

First years had just then entered our college. My school junior Harini was one of them. She was a kind of girl, who never feared anything. She was a brilliant girl, well known for her courage at school.

I called her at once and explained everything about Anu and Kiran. She first hesitated a little, and then she acquiesced to the plan. I mailed her the picture of Kiran from our NSS albums.

I arranged for other people required for the plan. The 3rd day we were all set for the plan.

The Real Me (LVII)


Reviewed by Ridhi.

I write things that Elvia couldn’t cover namely boys’ hostel and viewing classes in the perspective of a 7 pointer. Hostel was heaven that’s what most of us will tell you at least after 2 years of staying there.

The frightful mess food, old paint withering walls, disturbances from 5.1s and other sound systems, buggers like Prabhu of our class, yet hostel life was so enjoyable. You could see all varieties of people at hostel, right from the drunkards, the chain smokers, the other sort of chain smokers who smoked out books, psychos, introverts, blabber maniacs, rumor rangers a lot of them.

And of course people who rarely fell into any category like me, or that’s what Elvia used to say I was and call me Mr.Unique. Only after she pointed out, I realized that, people who detest vodka, who feel it hard to breathe, when there is a smell of nicotine, being so deep into elections are a rare phenomenon. Not just that, the other thing was I was not from an influential family or the friend of the son of a big shot, yet I am a key person in college elections.

I hung out with a lot of people, but most relations were perfectly professional acquaintances. It would be either people who were involved in college elections or those who were part of college symposium or NSS peers or juniors. It might be because, I don’t trust people so deeply nor I rarely get emotionally attached with anyone, or because I am a control freak.

Half the college considered me and Elvia as an ideal pair, though we are black and white. We are just opposites in almost everything, right from me being a guy and she being a girl. Ya, that’s a joke, though it is an undisputed truth.

For this reason Elvia, though being a girl of the kind who would get at least a proposal a week, rarely got one. Everyone considered we were in love with each other. Mind you if I say, none would try and mess up with my girl. It became a de facto standard, that, the top guys in college elections are tuff guys.

I first saw her in our counseling. She was sitting a few rows ahead of me, when waiting for our admission letters. I wondered whether she would be in my department or if she chose ECE.

For the next ten days after counseling most of us would have dreamed of college. Even I did, but with Elvia in it. I wondered what her name might be, what department she belonged to, would I ever get a chance to speak to her.

Hence forth my college started with dreams about this girl. I knew it was stupid, love at first sight is perfectly insensible, yet I was obsessed, all my brain stopped working. I went crazy.

When I discovered that she belonged to CSE department, I don’t think I can ever explain how it felt like. You would have read that, I quit from NCC, as I wanted to spend time with Elvia by joining her NSS unit.

Many a once I saw Krishna and other smart or studious guys speak with Elvia for an entire break session, for almost 20minutes. Till date I wonder how they managed to speak so long. May be they spoke about C programming and how advanced java was when compared to C. Unfortunately I was not geeky enough in all that to strike a conversation with Elvia confidently.

I have heard friends say ‘why the hell lovely girls are often studious’, how unfortunate! Elvia turned out to be one such girl. I tried to be a 9 pointer but I never was able to be even an 8 pointer. I never love doing something I am not interested in.

At school my teachers had created an illusion that, college will be a dream world, like Utopia. They said that, I would have a nice time at college, more than all that I believed things would be more practical than theoretical. All in vain, none of them were true. I felt like doing a +2 every 5months.

I somehow managed +2 after a year of hard core schooling with, spending time at special classes and tuitions, and reaching home after 9PM. I couldn’t do that anymore. I wished, I do things that I felt were useful and the ones that made sense to me. I was bored of running behind marks or grades.

I got in touch with Elvia, thanks to NSS. Soon I learned that Elvia had more than just lovely looks. She was not just an angel by looks, but by heart and her very soul was divine. She was always honest, and she was straight forward, above all that, she did what she felt was right without pretending to be someone for the sake of others.

Days went by. I grew madder about her. I wanted to prove her, that, though I was not worthy enough to be a 9pointer I do have other skills. I got in all sort of extra-curricular or organizational activities in college and certainly I did well in all that, but I was not sure whether they impressed a good opinion in Elvia.

I wanted to open my heart and show her that she is embedded in every drop of my blood and every cell of my muscles, but I never was able to. She considered me a very good friend. In fact the best of friends, equal to Anu and Divya. I never could afford to mess it up.

I wanted to stay with her as long as I could. I didn’t want to distance her by opening up my love to her. Further, I feared, she would never love a 7 pointer and a political person. I tried my best to hide and suppress the overflowing emotions by letting her know how I felt about her.

At times it felt like I would live forever with this untold love staying by her side as a good friend. In fact that definitely was a better option, than she hating me forever for mistaking her friendship as love.

When it came to Anu, I stood by her word ‘brother’. I cared for her like I do for my own sister. On that day, I wanted to break Kiran into pieces, but how would people ever call me a good leader, if I let my personal emotions blast off all the hard earned results they had achieved.

Elections were not just my cause. It was not just my victory, but it was our victory. People had worked hard for months considering the difference between election triumph and defeat as the different between life and death. The victory was as much theirs as much it was mine.

Elvia didn’t understand all that, anger blinded her. I could see she was so very annoyed and angry at my passivity from her big blue eyes, which always had a loving look then stared at me with fury. The last look she gave me after that incident almost killed me, but I was standing there helpless. My boiling blood drained out completely at her misunderstanding. I was looking for an opportunity to prove she was wrong, most importantly to avenge for my beloved sister Anu.

My Part


I am Shantanu Reddy



Thanks to Elvia and all those who voted in favor of me writing here. I m borrowing Elvia's keyboard for 3 chapters, after which she will have her keyboard all for herself. Please bear with me.

P.S. U can comment in this post regarding your approval or disapproval of me writing 3 chapters. Despite the poll results, if we find the reasons sensible, we will undo my writing.


THANK U

The Real Him (LVI)


Reviewed by Ridhi.

I overheard, what Ramesh was replying, keeping my ears close to Anu’s. It’s a fact that even Devil can’t say ‘no’ to a girl’s tears especially when that devil is male. Certainly Ramesh couldn’t say ‘no’. He agreed just for the heck of it, but he clearly sounded skeptical.

I called Shantanu and told him about this. He was standing right before the entrance of the ballot room where the representatives of various classes were to vote for the president. He overheard some conversation and told me that, Ramesh just lied to us.

I had no intention of making Anu cry anymore, and it served no purpose. Anyways the truth can’t be hid forever. The results will be out in half an hour. At least let her be happy till then.

Not just Anu, I myself felt so very broken. Something made me feel very bad about getting into elections. Though not for Shantanu, at least for Anu’s sake I had to be.
Lost in this thought mesh I just leaned over the wall with Anu lying with her head on my scalp.

Time passed by. Every second moved like a year. Minutes turned to be centuries and I spent a dozen of lifetimes in those few minutes. Good or bad, I wanted the results to be out soon. There was no hope. It was almost sure that they will win, but somewhere in a corner, my killer instinct kept saying that there was a chance.

After some half an hour, I got a call, I guessed it must be Shantanu, but it was a junior. I had no mood to advise any junior on Algorithms or Data Structures. I ignored the call. The phone rang again. I got irritated, yet I picked up.

“Hello….”

“Akka we won, we won” Anu’s mobile, Diviya’s mobile almost every mobile in my audibility range rang. Another friend came dashing through our doors shouting, “we won”

I could hear the loud cheer from the direction of the main building. The cheer spread to all parts of the college. I wondered whether Anu’s tears worked, or did some supposedly sold off junior changed his mind at the last moment. I wanted to know whether we just won by 1 vote.

I called Shantanu, “:Hey..”

I could only hear loud noises and cheer. Full of distinctive voices, he hung up.

I called again, no response. After some ten minutes he called me back, there was still the background noise. “Elvi Elvi we won! we won!”

“I know that, by how many votes”

“By 3 votes that’s the best part. Hey I..”, his voice broke.

”Hey one sec, one sec don’t hung up.”

“aaa, ya ya tell me soon”

“Can we come down now. “

“Sure, sure come on here. I will bust their asses if someone bug you. Come onnn…” he hung up. Anu was on cloud 9. She thanked all the numerous Gods she had been praying all this time. We couldn’t wait anymore, we ran down to join the cheering.

Every road every place, everywhere we could see there was cheering and teasing the losers. I personally don’t approve of winners teasing the losers. But for all Kiran had done, I wished at least Anu made a ‘thumbs down’ gesture at him.

We rushed to join Shantanu, who was in cloud 9Ks. Most of our juniors were there. People rushed from all sides to congratulate us as if we won the presidency. The pleasant quiet breeze of our campus was now filled with bliss in every bit.

We finally reached Shantanu. He almost hugged me, even I wanted to, but the cultural constraints of India stopped us. Still he hugged me and Anu catching our shoulders. We hugged other girls there. The air was filled with the smell of triumph.

After almost an hour of cheering and hugging and everything, we walked our way back to our hostels. Shantanu, Anu and I walked on the road to our hostel. At a distance I saw Kiran walking towards us. I prodded Anu to tease him. She remained silent.

‘Why on earth some girls are so weak?’ I cursed her, and continued to walk ignoring him. Kiran came near us and before anyone of us could say something, if at all we wanted to, he, “Hey bitch, you won with your street girl charms…”

He abused Anu and me with such terms and called Shantanu a pimp. I could feel my blood boil with all his abuses, and I wanted to give him a strong kick, but I had to catch Anu who almost collapsed.

Shantanu coolly asked me to stay calm, as any violence or anything of that sort that day will affect the election's credibility. He was so concerned about his post and his position in the college committee. He remained was cold, numb and never showed any signs of annoyance.

We walked away from him. More than Anu’s sobs, I felt very bad, about falling in love with such self centered, power greedy monster.

Anu’s cloud 9 dissolved in her tear rain. As dad’s advice I satisfied myself with optimistic thoughts, that things would have been worser if Kiran won. I started hating Shantanu, more than I hated Kiran.

I believed, I had learned the real Shantanu, but I was soon proven wrong.

Power of a Girl’s Tears (LV)


Reviewed by Ridhi.

I was lying on the bed, when Anu called Shantanu, “Hi na, what’s the status?”

Anu addressed Shantanu as Elder brother. She always wanted someone to love her and care for her. She, who lived with minimal relations, would have definitely fell for Shantanu’s charms, and I bet she would have had even given half her father’s savings as his share as a hire.

I came back to the outside world, “So the fate lies in the hands of 4th year mech.”

I didn’t hear the other side of the conversation. I eagerly waited for her to hang up.

“Hey..”

“They are leading by one vote. 4th yr mech classes have decided, that, they will go for voting for the same side. So only if both of them vote in favor of us, we would win”

“Initially one of them was on our side, right?”

“Ya, looks like they don’t want their department’s integrity to be disturbed by elections. So they have decided to stay together.”

“But how will they decide on which side both of them will vote?”

“He said something which I couldn’t make out. The elections in their classes must be going on now”

“Guess their classes must be in their department itself”

“Ya, but the elections are going on in the humanities block as it is closer, when compared mech dept.”

Speaking this, we got ready to get down. ‘Even if there is an earth quake, girls will never come out of the building without a few layers over their fa├žade.’ Recalling one of our seniors, Mohan’s words, I came out of our room smiling.

Anu and I leaped for every step, but didn’t run, though we badly wanted to. Shantanu and Co were standing there before the building waiting for the results. Similarly the other side guys and girls were also there. Almost half the college waited there.

The road separating the CSE department from the Humanities block was completely blocked for traffic. We fought our way to Shantanu, but couldn’t get there. So we asked a nearby 4th year of our side, “What’s happening?”

“Mech dept elections”

“Oh we know that.”

“Then why did you ask?”

“I mean, have they decided on what side they are voting for.”

“Looks like they will count the total number of votes in both the classes, and if the net count of votes in a side is well ahead of the other, what then that side wins this election”

“Oh my God”, Shivering I punched a few alphabets in my mobile. “Divi divi where are you?”

“I..”

”Forget it. Now listen, in mech dept they have decided.” Gasping for breath, “that they will vote, based on the total number of…”

“Hey hold it, hold it, I am standing before the block under the Neem tree near physics dept. I have heard of all that.”

”Oh well fine. Now listen, your school mate, who is he? Praa..”

“Prabhakaran”

“Ya him. You said that he is voting for the opposition only because his class will win on the opposition whether or not he voted for them. So..”

“Ya got it. Now if he votes for us that will count”

“Ya, now you…”, she hung up. She must have cut my call to call him.

I saw her speaking over phone near the Physics department. I walked past the crowd pulling Anu. A guy was praying, looking straight into the sky; another was biting his finger nails. We came off the road near the physics department. I engulfed the pleasant breeze of the fauna of our campus.

Running to her, “hey what did he say?”

“Hmmm.. he is just prattling over some non-sense. I am not sure of him”

We waited and suddenly the murmurs rose too loud. Sensing the meaning of it, we ran towards the entrance of the block. It was jam packed. People were speaking a lot of things. I was unable to make out anything.

But one thing was sure, the battle was not over. If either of us had won, there would have been heavy cheering and teasing the others. I called Shantanu, the line was busy, after some few minutes he picked up. “Hey what’s happening?”

”I am kinda busy talk to you later. Where are you?”

“Near the block”, I could hear background shouting and arguments.

“What the hell! Get out now. Go back to your hostel. Things will get dirty here. Get out now”

“But..” he was no more on the line. Before I could say anything, Divya, “hey guess we gotta get out of here”

Back in our hostel, a 4th year girl told us that the vote difference was so close. “Our side was just 4 more votes than theirs. Our side guys are arguing that they stand by their words. The others are fighting that the difference is so small and so they will have one vote for them and the other for us.”

Finally, the case came to a conclusion, that, one of the classes will vote for us, and the other will abstain from elections. This left the result hanging, and if they managed to convince Ramesh, the Printing dept representative, they will win.

“They have almost done with Ramesh”, someone said.

Hearing this, Anu almost fainted. I called Aiswarya the senior whom I knew in that dept. I tried to convince her, but in vain, she said she is helpless.

Finally, I zeroed in on the final desperate attempt, which had some probability of victory. I said, “Kiran would be cheering by now. For another year we are going to live with this.”

Anu broke out. I immediately called Aiswarya and put the phone near Anu. I knew that was dirty, and may be even cruel. I cursed myself to have got influenced by Shantanu’s political sickness. But in the long term, if it worked, Anu will definitely be very happy. Consoling myself with that thought. I waited for Anu to hang up.

She cried for some time. Aiswarya, a soft natured girl, got her heart dissolved in Anu’s grief.

Finally, “I will try my best dear. I will speak to him right now.”

We hugged Anu and consoled her wondering, whether Aiswarya will mange to influence her boy friend.

By 3.20PM we got a call from Aiswarya, “Hi ka” I stopped from going further. I didn’t want to sound desperate. The polling will start by 3.30PM

“Hi dear, is Anu still crying?”

“Yes ka, she is lying on her bed. We tried to console her, but in vain”

“Hmmm.. I tried but Ramesh was not convinced.” I could hear all my insides crash.

She continued, “But if Anu speaks to him, may be he will acquiesce. I know him. He is kind hearted. If Anu speaks to him, there is a good chance. Meanwhile I will speak with other girls in my class and try to thrust him in voting for you.”

Almost all hope is lost. “Thanks ka”, I meekly replied, and hung up.

Just for the heck of it, I dialed for Ramesh, and gave the mobile to Anu. She started to speak with tears in her eyes. Sobbing she fumbled for words.

I sat near her, wondering whether these tears had the power to change the future.

The E Day (LIV)


Reviewed by Nathan, Ridhi, Ironmonkey and Padu.

“What’s the 1st hour?”

“Never mind, I am not attending”

I called Shantanu, “Hey, when will we have the results?”

“Hope you know the election procedures”

“Hmmm.. first the representatives for all the classes have to be elected. Then, the class reps will vote for the president.”

“Yup, so first of all the class reps have to be elected for all the classes of all departments of 2nd, 3rd and 4th years. This will be completed at the earliest by 5th hour i.e. around two. So the earliest time we would have the final result is by 2.30”

“How are the hopes?”

“4th years we have 5 sure for us, 6 for them and 1 in dilemma. Our years, it’s 7-7, neck on neck. 2nd years, we don’t have an exact estimate, possibly our department and IT, with you in our side we have them with us so 4, Divya influenced 2 classes in ECE, similarly in mech we have 2, but the other departments we have no clue.”

“So if only we have second years we will win.”

“Absolutely. Our seniors are working on the 4th year printing department. People say they are abstaining from the elections. Looks like we are almost neck on neck in 2nd years, if we lose to them in 4th years, we are gone.”

“Printing? I know Aiswarya akka, she might help us influence them”

“I personally do know the ‘would be’ class rep. Even then we are still unable to convince them. Lets see, if you want to give a try, very well, go ahead.”

“Update me on anything you get to know”

“Sure, keep track of the second year girls. You even know a few ECE and CSE guys, just keep in touch with them. Though they count as sure, we gotta be careful.”

“Get the car. Keep him safe”

“What?”

“Ha it’s here. Hey I am getting a bit busy. Will update you. Remember what I said. Bye”

Now, I had no intention of attending the classes. I walked with Anu to junior’s block. Our juniors seemed excited. We had a warm welcome, with them firing their election queries at us.

We influenced a few girls to influence their friends in other departments. I made an analysis on second year possibilities. In 3 departments the class rep election was neck to neck. In just 2 or 3 votes the fate of those classes may vary.

I sketched a plan, we decided on using girls’ power and guys’ weaknesses. I focused on those 2-3 dilemma votes in those departments. We looked for girls, who were friends with those people.

The girls brought them to meet me personally, and what else, I used all my charms to canvas their brains. Most of them did nod their heads well, but I didn’t think they were really convinced. We saw to that, we get some people, who supported us from that class, to encircle these dilemma guys so that, they were not approached by the other side.

Time was then 10.15AM. Anu, Divya and I were in our morning break rounds to our juniors. We tried, if we could pull in one or two of the opposite side’s 8 in our years, but as Shantanu said, they proved as sure as the 8 on our side. So, we decided, that, we would better work on 2nd years.

We walked in the corridors, crossing age old pillars and classrooms. We reached the main door of a 2nd year CSE class room. I climbed up the dais with a serious expression, with Anu and Divya waiting near the dais with similar expression.

“Friends, who are we voting for?”

“You”

“Well, well, we are voting for the good people. Fine…”

The would be class rep interrupted, “Akka, we are sure ka, there is nothing to worry about. You better concentrate on other departments.”

“I know that dear, I know that for sure. But now I have come only in regards with the other departments. Our victory lies in the verdict of the second years now”

Anu joined me, “2nd yr votes are going to be the deciding factor. Not just this year elections, even for the forthcoming years, if we have to win we have to make sure we have the other 2nd years also with us.”

I, “So, we want you to talk to your friends in other departments. We have to work fast, and work now. I am not asking you to cut classes. Classes are important, but something can change our future…”

“Akka, if you can tell us the departments to work on we will work more focused.”

“Most of the departments are in dilemma. Every single person you pull, in we would be at a vantage point.”

“But hasn’t Divya akka made sure of ECE?”

“Ya she has, but one class is still dangling. So friends we need to go now. Our hopes, now lie in your hands. All the best.”, I stepped down from the dais, and we repeated this for all the other ‘sure on our side’ 2nd year classrooms.

It was 11.00AM then, elections had got over in most of the 2nd and 3rd year classes and the results were very much as predicted. The dilemma printing rep had been elected, but he hadn’t voted till then. Out of the 6 classes, that had elected their reps in the 2nd years, 3 were ours and 3 theirs, and 1 unsure.

By lunch break, the overall result was, 13 for us and 14 for them.

I called Shantanu, “Hey”

“ya tell me”

“How is it going?”

“Nightmare. They are buying out the reps, who were supposed to vote for us.”

“What?”

“I gotta go”

I prayed like I had never done before. We had done everything in our power. There was nothing more we could do. We sat in our room in silence. I just rested on my bed, thinking of the elections. More than elections, I was deeply concerned about Anu and Kiran.

Final Phase Campaigning (LIII)


Reviewed by Ridhi and Padu.

Campaigning inside the hostel continued throughout the weekend. I was so sucked into the elections, that, I even forgot the 2 weeks of my absence from the classes. Anu spoke with our representatives in various departments, and arranged for mini meets, micro meets and the likes within our hostel blocks.

Time just then passed 9.30PM. We ensured that the Resident Councilor finished her round of night attendance and then we moved in. After some 15minutes Anu, Divya and a couple other girls from other departments collected 23, 2nd year girls, and assembled them in one of my junior’s room.

I sat near the window, which was just opposite to the door. On the cot right to me 6 girls sat, and on the cot to my right 7girls crushed themselves. A few others sat on another cot near the door. Anu and Divya sat on the chairs near the door. The rest were standing. I started my usual, yes it had become my usual political talk.

The talk continued for more than 10 minutes, followed by a Q&A session. I gave out promises about things, that, I never knew existed in our college. I talked about their profanation towards college, which again I never knew they did. All I wanted was their votes.

At the end most of them were convinced, which again was, as usual. Not just my department girls, but even other department people had some respect for me. Thanks to the computer basics classes, which I took last year for the first semester students.

I had become a social figure, a charming leader and one of the top class female politicians in college. It did make me feel good. I tried to control myself from being a victim for power temptations. Nevertheless I wished, I had a post. Shantanu promised me something powerful next year.

Monday morning, after munching in some mess food, we ran to our classes. I sat in my usual place in the second bench next to Anu. The first hour was the class of Dr.Sushma our Distributed Systems faculty. She entered the class with her ever lasting cute smile.

She had this habit of questioning the absentees of the previous class about what had happened in the last class. “If you missed a class, well it’s alright. It’s not possible to attend all classes. But you should ensure, that, you have learned, what you missed, if at all you want to attend my next class.”

She started calling out names, “Abitha Vijaykumar, Anusuya, Arvind…”. “Elvia, absent for all the previous classes”.

“Mam I had been to internships at Bangalore. I came back last Friday night”

“Well, so, have you learned, what has been taught in the last six classes?”

I shuddered, “Mam I started learning, mam, but haven’t completed everything”, I lied.

“In two days, can’t you learn what happened in six hours?” I cursed myself for saying Friday night.

“Mam there are other subjects too. I gave my time equally to all subjects.” I managed.

“Hmm.. anyway this is your first class in Distributed Systems. So this class you are excused. When is your next class?”

“Tomorrow 4th hour mam”, other people replied.

“Hmm.. by then I want you to cover all that has been taught”

I obediently nodded. The class went on. She drew boulder like circles in different fashions, and called them nodes. Drew lines between them, and called them connections. “As we have already seen a single way connection is prone to break up, and leave the entire system idle. So what do we do?”

“Back up connections”, Shantanu and a couple others answered. It’s not the very first time Shantanu answered, yet I was a little petrified.

“So what shall we do?”

“We make it…”, Shantanu again. I was thoroughly annoyed. ‘How the hell?’ Looking at my puzzled expression, Anu, “Hey he has been doing well at DS classes. In fact he is kinda fave to mam”

“But besides the elections, how does he do all that?”

“I have no idea.” The lecture continued for another half an hour, and he had answered at least half a dozen times. In spite of my absence, I understood a few concepts, and I even answered a question near the end of the class. Mam gave a smile, which comforted me.

The next class was math, ‘Wow Padma mam’ my insides cheered. She never failed to identify me, “Hey Elvi you are in this class”

“Yes mam, I had been to internships..”

“Ha, I remember reading your name in the attendance. So how was the internship?”

“It was good mam. I learned a great deal”

Smiling, she completed the attendance and started teaching. Discrete mathematics I heard was interesting. But I had no clue on what she was teaching. After sometime, reading my petrified expressions, “Dear, you missed some classes. Don’t worry, you will make it up. Meet me this evening after classes”

Anu reminded, what was running in my mind too, “We gotta do a lot more campaigning this evening”.

The other classes moved similarly. In the evening forgetting Padma mam, we continued campaigning.

Tuesday morning first hour, Dr. Arundati Palaniswamy, the most popular AP ma’am had some important work, possibly related to the fair play of elections, and she abstained from classes. We used every gap every opportunity for election campaigning.

Wednesday morning, I got up. Dresses to be washed were in the dirty dress basket, hand key of a junior who was an active person in elections, was lying on the floor. She must have missed it last night.

Rubbing my eyes, I walked to the bathroom, thinking about the fate of the elections.

On my return, Anu, who had just then woke up, “If we lose, I would rather die, than facing that bastard.” This set my heart on fire. I grew more anxious about elections.

Back Home (LII)


Reviewed by Padu.

The aircraft touched down the Chennai runway. Blood warmed up at the feeling of getting back home. With too many ‘What to dos?’ in my mind, I walked out after checking out my baggage.

Losing faith on my eyes, I rubbed them twice, but the image was still there. Shantanu was there waving at me. He carried my bag, and with a cheerful smile, “How was the flight?”

Before I could ask him anything with his usual swift paced walk he was already near the car. We got in the back seat.

“Whose car is this?”

“My friend’s, this is Manoj 3rd year Mech”, pointing to the guy at the wheel.

A feeling of fear crawled in with the pleasantness of his receiving me at the airport. ‘So, I have become one of the hot personalities in election for people to send a car for me’.

Then popped up the big question, “Hey, how did you know that I am..”

“Manikandan told me”, he called the name. Though many did, I rarely called our team leader by name.

“Ok how do you know him?”

“Come on, there is too much for me to tell you. Have you started speaking with our juniors?”

“Hello I have just now landed in Chennai”

”You call yourself a computer science student! I asked you to mail them, didn’t I?”

“Oh Ya, I did, the responses are not so good”

“They won’t be. Never mind. Once you speak to them, everything will be fine.”

He added, “See there are some factors that you have to consider before you start speaking to someone. You must have made an analysis on who the listener is, and who you are to the listener”

“Ok, so how do I categorize them?”

“In our context little categorization is needed. You are a nerdy senior ,and for at least half the nerdy juniors, your words are like instructions to an 8085”

“What?”

“ha to a geek I just used some geeky terms. I meant that they won’t be bugging you with questions, they will just obey”

“But what do I tell them. Vote for Shantanu”

“Goof it’s not Shantanu. I am not contesting for the president. By the way never ask for votes in the first place”

“Then?”

“Tell them what we are, and what they are”

“What are we, and what are they”, I asked like a KG kid questioning her father.

“Hmm.. well. You say that they are corrupted. They are bad guys and..”

“And we are good guys”

“Certainly. Use Kiran as bait. Tell everyone about how bad he is, especially girls. We have covered most of the boys. In fact you may never have to speak to guys, but the ladies hostel is entirely yours to handle”

“What the hell? There are only 4 more days for the election, and you are entrusting such a big thing on me”

“Chill it. I just exaggerated. There are already key people like Anu. They have covered girls well. All you have to do is give the final booster shot, and pull in the dilemma ones towards us”, ‘key people’, ‘Anu’ Whoaaa!!!

He continued, “and Anu, man she is.. I bet if someone could win by sympathy wave she would be the best amongst them”

“What are you saying?”

“She has literally cried in more than three meetings.”

“You are sick. How could you be so heartless?”

“Hey, hey, hold it. I understand how bad the pain is. That’s why I gave her the frontier in this battle. I didn’t ask her to do anything like that. It was she who chose to do all that. She finds bliss in every vote that we pull away from them”

“Things are really getting dirty.”

“Play dirty, while you play with dirty people.”

“Oh what did they do?”

He showed me a band aid on Manoj’s head. “Look”

“I am going to speak to the VC right away. I am going to stop it all at once”

“Hello, cool it. These things are common, and they are going to pay for the same.”

“You are going to beat them back”

“Certainly”

“Oh my God. When? Whom?”

“Everyone of those deranged dogs.”

I whispered, “So what about the ninja attach on Kiran?” He just smiled.

We reached college. It was 6.00PM. I settled down in my room. Juniors swarmed around me.

“How was the company?”, “Will you get placed in the company?”, “What exactly is an internship?” dozens of such questions were fired on me from all sides.

All I said was, “We are before something very important. Our future is at stake. I will tell you in detail about the intern after the elections”

“What’s so important about elections?”

“How irresponsible! All of us will be affected by the results of the election. The reputation of the college will suffer if the power falls into the hands of sick people.”

“So whom do you support? Ruling or the opposition?”

“Hey, akka is Shantanu anna’s friend. So she will be supporting the opposition”

Though I got stunned for a second I collected myself, “I support the good people”

“Good people”

“Yes”

“Who are the good people?”

“Last year those bastards spoiled our college’s image. They are the embodiment of venality, corruption and all sorts of power abuse.”

“Oh we never knew all this”

“Yes you don’t. You were in your first years. Make a good decision, and make it now. We are responsible for saving our interests.”

“So you say we have to vote for the opposition”

“Certainly yes. Last year they did everything within themselves. They never gave a chance for us, for fear of we finding out the truths about them”

“So this year we will be doing all college events”

“Of course we will be”

“So sure ka, we will vote for the good people”

I just smiled. After everyone left Anu, “Man you rock. You are the ideal pair for Shantanu”. I wondered, whether he gave any thought at all about this.

Good-Bye Bangalore (LI)


Reviewed by Padu and Ridhi.

The week went on as usual. As the team leader had promised, people rarely spoke about Gokul’s love for me. In fact they showered more love on me, may be out of the guilty feeling. It was more like feeling at home, but with too many brothers and sisters in the absence of mom and dad.

I didn’t act any different towards Gokul. I got along with him normally. The environment was cheerful. There was not much work, I was there just for the sake of completing the sixth week.

Mostly, I sat with any of the senior employees there like our team leader and kept bugging them with too many questions. Certainly, some did mind it, but I never did. I continued to bother them. The worst victim of my botherations, our team leader, never seemed to mind. This made him the worst affected victim of my queries.

It was my last day at the interns. Friday morning, I was loitering in our office, humming a Hindi song. Even the few who used to mind, didn’t bug me that day as they would get rid of me from the next day. I bid adieu to every soul, every terminal, almost every object in the company. It was a feeling of a very strong emotional attachment.

I had to be there in the company till 6PM or at least five. So I planned to take the train by 9.30PM as promised to Shantanu. ‘I don’t give a damn about him’, my mind said, yet I did’t want to let him down. At least for Anu, for Kiran’s treachery, I wanted to be there.

By 12.30PM, my team leader, “Hey you still are loitering here”

“Oh I thought you didn’t mind. I am sorry”

“What nonsense! I am asking about your train”

“Train?”

“Ya guess the next train to Chennai is at 2.00PM”

“But I have to be here till five na”

“Silly that’s not a problem. Anyway if you are leaving by tomorrow then fine”

“No I am leaving tonight. Have some work at college”

“At night?”

“Hello the train will reach Chennai only by tomorrow morning”

“Ok so, I don’t think you have college on Saturdays”

“No, but elections are less than a week”

“Wow! I never expected a geek to be part of college elections”

“Geek!!! Stop kidding”

“Well so leave now”

“Even if I leave now, it will be late, and I have to report to the manager”

“Screw him. I will take care of all that. I will drop you at the station”

“But baggage?”

“Come on then run lets go to your apartment”

We ran down to the basement parking. He swiftly drove his ‘Maruti Suzuki Swift’. I was waiting outside the parking. The red beast stopped in front of me. I got in the front seat.

“Put on the seat belt”

Am I going to be in a flight or what? Anyway I just obeyed. Soon I realized that he was right. If not for the seat belt, I would have been badly hurt. We reached my apartment by 1.03PM I remember every minute for I was looking at my watch for every 2 seconds.

“Hello, even if you continue this mad driving we won’t be there on time”

“Shut up and pack up now”

With a heavy sigh, I walked to the elevator and reached my floor. I casually started packing up knowing that, reaching the railway station that’s kilometers away in the Bangalore city is practically impossible.

After some 15mins I came down. “Hey quick get in”

Throwing my suit bag, and my laptop case in the back of the car, we started the mad drive again. It was 1.30PM. “Are we going to catch the train in the next station?”

He remained silent. ‘What on earth is he up to?’ I mumbled and I just continued to enjoy the ride. It was more like the swift ad. Just the camera was missing.

Take off sound of an aircraft engine sounded very close. ‘Am I going to the railway station?’ Soon my dubiety was answered. The Swift entered the airport parking. I could see the domestic airlines entry before me.

“But..”

“Quick the flight is at 2.00PM run”

He carried my bag and I took my laptop case. We literally ran into the airport.

“It will take time to buy the tickets. I don’t have the money either.”

Gokul was standing there with a slip of paper, and yes it was the air ticket. He gave it to me. I hesitated. “A small gift from me, as a loving brother.”, our team leader.

I couldn’t say ‘no’ anymore. “Elvi before you go..”

“I will always be waiting for you. However long it takes. I will be waiting. When you decide on something do tell me”

I just nodded my head in silence and ran to boarding. With a feeling of gratefulness to God for giving me such an internship, I put on the seat belt. The thought of the Swift ride gave me a smile.

Thinking about how I was to go about the elections and make up for the past couple of weeks of classes, I leaned on the business class seat.

Making of the Proposal Plan (L)


Reviewed by Padmaja. Thank u dear.

I got up the next morning. The opening thoughts of the day were the same as the closing thoughts of yesterday. I dismissed those thoughts, and tried to concentrate on the day to day activities.

Time was 5.55AM, and the other girls were still in bed. I got up as I had gone to bed early last night. I got up, and sat on the bed staring at the mirror.

First thing was my distorted appearance, with last evening’s make up all together botched up. The next thing was Shantanu from my dreams looking straight into my eyes ‘I Love you’ followed by the reality of Gokul’s image.

Annoyed I got up from bed and walked to the washroom. Just to avoid my inner thoughts, I concentrated on everything around Oral-B tooth brush, Himalya tooth paste, the oval shaped mirror, the stylish tap at the wash basin, and every other thing.

I was brushing looking at myself at the mirror. For some reason I hated myself and turned away. Mouth wash tasted bitter. I went for a shower, soaking myself for half an hour in the bath tub. Washed off all the thoughts and walked out.

I sat before my dressing table mirror, and I started making up. Dad’s voice echoed inside, ‘Your inside is reflected in your appearance and vice versa’. I worked on the vice versa. I should look cheerful, if I really want to be.

I hit myself, ‘Why on earth should I be sad?’ ‘That idiot is damn unlucky to miss me.’ With this thought, sat near my study table, and opened my laptop. The usual mail from a computer engineer’s group with a few break through developments in the field, and the usual semantic puzzle for a problem to be solved with computers.

I started working on the problem. Initially it was nerving, I concentrated more, and in a few minutes I cracked it down. I tapped my shoulders, ‘Elvia is great’ laughing to myself I shut it down.

Without minding the other girls I just walked down to leave for the company. Itwas just 8.00AM then, and half the city was still asleep. The road was free, and I searched for an autorickshaw. I Got in.

The half a dozen autodrivers there knew, where people from that apartment will be going in the morning. But at eight in the morning, he was a bit confused, as I didn’t say anything he drove me to our company.

The security gave me a little creepy look, though I wass just 30minutes early. Of course that did make sense, though the shift starts by 9.00 people don’t get there on time. Our team area was deserted. Our pop workaholic team leader alone was there, smiling cheerfully at me.

“Oh Elvi guess this is the time you get up from bed”

“Well ya, I am straight from my bed to see our beloved team leader working when the owls go to bed”, I didn’t make any sense, but I blabbered something just for the sake of a reply.

He laughing, “You don’t look like you have come directly from bed”

Neither I cared to reply nor was he looking for one. I sat before my terminal, pressed the power button with HP embossed on it. I comfortably leaned on the cozy chair waiting for Windows to load.

Windows 2000 in the blue background flashed bright. I tried to recall the reasons cited for sticking to 2000, rather than going for XP. It was boring to start then. So I thought I would go have a conversation with the boss.

I knocked his cabin door which was open as usual. “You can always walk into this cabin sweetheart” The 30 year old, married thoughtful team leader said, still looking at his terminal’s screen.

“Do you detest your wife”

“hell no”

“Then why don’t you spend some time with her”

“I do, but she is not at home now”

“Oh so she has not been at home for the past month”

“Ya she is in her Mom’s place. We are gonna have a baby”

“Wow that’s great news you never told me”

”You never asked.”

“Hello how do you expect me to ask every married man here whether his wife is pregnant”

“Ok Chill. I was just kidding. Well so what brings you here so early?”

“Don’t change the topic. First tell me, where is the treat?”

“Nandhini Palace”, with a chauvinist smile.

“You know that, don’t you?” the mysterious smile.

“You know what happened yesterday”

“I knew what was going to happen day before yesterday. In fact I chose the place. Hope you liked it, and your favorite Kanimozhi is the one who prepared the dialogue”

“What? But I never expected this from you”

“Hey why are you getting so pissed off?”

“No I am not but…”

“Hey hold it. How do you feel about me?”

“What kind of a question is that?”

“Just tell me. How bossy or friendly I am”

“Hmm.. you are a perfect mix thought I didn’t know much about you”

“Well everyone in this team are good friends, and I ain’t no exception”

“So you advised Gokul on how to propose to me”

“Not exactly, not just me”

“Then?”

“Half the team here did”

“What the hell”

“Of course dear. You have become our princess here in these few days. No wonder someone fell in love with you, and Gokul is not a bad match either”

“But..”

“Ya we know. It’s too early for you to marry someone, but nothing wrong in him opening his love to you. May be he will never get a chance again”

“Hmmm.. but still I am not convinced”

“Hey Gokul is kinda shy. May be he sounds nerdy, but he is fun to be with when you get along”

“Hello I am not speaking about him, but you”

“Me???”

“No, everyone of you”

“Oh dear, we are sorry if that was something that annoyed you. Look”, turning to face me for the first time.

“Opening up someone’s heart to someone he is in love with is natural, and is in no way wrong as long as he is honest. It’s now up to you to make a choice, and we are not going to interfere in your decision. None of us will ever speak about this anymore I promise”

“Hmmm.. I am sorry if I sounded rude”

“Oh dear. You are always our cute little princess. Never mind” Of course I was the youngest in the team, younger than Bagya and Padma, but that was bit too much exaggeration.

I remained silent. A few of our team members were already there. I didn’t know whether I should stay or leave. Confused I just remained seated next to him.

I started thinking. If all these people recommend Gokul, he can’t be a bad choice and I needed something to get rid of Shantanu madness. I was getting near a decision.

Divya's Advice (XLIX)


He gave the pack to me beaming. I couldn’t control my temptation to tear it open, with palms catching each other to control their shivering.

“Shall I open it now?”

“Sure”, I expected him to keep the suspense till I go home, as he might fear to open it up looking into my eyes. Should I feel happy or..? Whatever, let me open it.

Trying to hide my anxiety I slowly pealed off the gift wrapper. “I made good profits after you had asked me to stop speculation. I liquidated some cash. This is from those profits”, cheerfully.

It was a 2GB HP pendrive. WTF. My computer brain worked. May be the love letter is in the pendrive, softcopy. Just then I noticed that the pack is completely sealed.

Dullness clouded my face uncontrollably. Almost all hope is lost. He finished the burger. I couldn’t face him. I wanted to run away. I gulped the coke float, felt a little better.

“Ok yaar, it’s time for me to leave. I must be there by tonight. Waiting to see you in college”

“Hmm.. ok lets move”

We walked down stairs. He should have noticed my disappointment, but he didn’t react. On reaching the foot path, “How will you go back?”

“Auto”

“Hmmm.. fine. Take care.”

I walked to the nearest autorickshaw. I looked back with a final piece of hope, he still was looking at me. I continued walking, I got in the auto, and turned back again, he is gone.

My head ached heavily. Too much anxiety and expectation, all for a silly pendrive. Everything darkened around me. It’s not just because it’s time for sunset, but all my light is gone.

The pleasant evening, the greenish surroundings, I was in no mood for them. I saw a girl clutching to a guy tightly on a pulsar. I didn’t felt the warmth of it, rather I got irritated.

On reaching our place I absent mindedly walked away. “Madam, paisa?”

‘Shit’ I hit my head and gave him a 500 rupee note and walked away again. “Madam Change”

I was too annoyed to hit myself again; I walked to him, and grabbed the change, and started walking without any thought of counting it.

I fell on my bed. I was not sleeping, nor was I crying. Lost in thought, Gokul, Shantanu and many other things raced in my mind. I didn’t know for how long, Bhagya and the other girl came in some time before. They didn’t bother me.

The time now is 9.00PM. Fumbling for my mobile, I sat up. Wanting to break the solitude I dialed mom’s number, something came up, I cut the call. Then I called Anu.

“Hey, did you meet him”

“Ya I did”

“You sound dull, what happened?”

“Nothing”

“Then why do you sound dull?”

“That’s why?”

“What?”

“Because nothing happened”

“hmmm… I get you. Cool yaar, there is still time”

“No yaar. I am not gonna wait for him anymore”

“Hmmm… it’s up to you”

“I had no time to tell you, what happened in Nandhini Palace”

“Oh even I forgot to ask you. Tell me. What did that.. what’s his name?”

“Gokul. He proposed me”

“What?”

“Ya he said ‘I love you’”

“Hey idiot, I know what’s proposing”

“Then?”

“So, not waiting for Shantanu means…”

“I haven’t made any decision yet”

“Hey Divya is here”

“Hi Divi”

“Hi da, How are you?”

“Fine, How do you do?”

“well”

“Hey my team member proposed me today”

“Hmm.. I was listening to the conversation”

“Hmm.. I am in a dilemma”

“I have nothing to say other than that you give time for the decision”

“hmmm”

“If he really loves you, he will wait”

“ok”

“So give it sometime. Say that you need time to arrive at a decision.”

“Hmmm”

“Anu said that you are feeling for Shantanu”

“I was”

“Oh ok fine. Anyway so hope you never had any feelings for this guy before”

“Hmmm.. no. I never had any feelings for him.”

“Well. So anyway it will take sometime for the change. Don’t hurry up”

“Ok” , That’s Divya. She started with ‘nothing’ and has said everything. She continued to advise me.

With Divya’s words in mind and the images of Gokul and Shantanu flashing before me, I fell asleep.

'Never Mind Love' (XLVIII)


I caught the same autorickshaw by coincidence and said, “Brigade Road, McDonalds”. He did give me a weird look. I cursed myself for choosing the same auto.

The climate was better in the evening. I satisfied myself that I will not be sweating as heavily in McDonalds as in Nandhini Palace, even if Shantanu proposed me, in spite of both being air conditioned restaurants. I laughed to myself with that thought.

Nevertheless with growing seconds, I did sweat. It never mattered whether or not Gokul, the senior engineer loved me, but it did matter, when it came to Shantanu. I have heard, that girls look for status, power, money etc; I even read a survey by an American university confirming this.

I never saw anything of monetary importance, nor did I feel any kind of power driven attraction towards Shantanu. It’s certain, that Shantanu will have a financially sound future, and will be in a good social stature, but I never knew all this when I first started feeling for him.

A sudden brake of the auto made me look outside into the real world. The auto just missed a foolish brat, who ran to cross the road. The lush green environment of Bangalore, the green city was pleasing. The hot and dusty atmosphere of Chennai stood differentiating in my visual perception for a moment.

He stopped at the end of the road, “Ma’am it’s too crowded, and there is a one way and, I have to go around a long distance..”

“How much?” I cut him short. Practically I wanted to run getting down from the auto, that crawls in Bangalore's evening traffic, with red signals for every few meters.

The street was filled with young people dressed colorfully. Two wheeler and four feeler parking cramped the road, and have made the two lane road a footpath. A biker blocked my way, as he was struggling to park his bike. I grew impatient, and I crushed myself in a gap.

I walked past girls, who alleviated the obviousness of my over done make up. There were guys to stare at these girls. More like being in Spencers or Citi Centre of Chennai, where there is a lot of scope for window shopping and ogling.

Crowd was leaving from the theater in that road, after the matinee. The movie's still with Ais and Hrithick of Jodha Akbar, made my heart more vulnerable. I stared at Hrithick for a second, and Shantanu’s face flashed before me. He is not that handsome either, 'then why am I getting mad?'

With all these thoughts, the few foot walk, for less than 5 minutes, appeared like a decade long journey to the end of the world. I was standing before Mcdonalds by 4.55PM. No trace of Shantanu at the ground floor. The dinning hall is in the first floor.

I grew sentimental. Gokul proposed me in the first floor, an optimistic feeling grew in me. It’s stupid and silly, never mind, it made me feel better. With a desperate anxious search, I climbed the stairs to the dinning hall of McDonalds in the first floor.

Eyes searched in every direction; there was no Shantanu anywhere. Mind made an image processing of any possible matching feature of him in everyone, whose face is not directly visible. No trace yet.

Shantanu entered the hall, his glance on his watch, following the glance on mine, with a sarcastic triumphant smile. I hit myself, 'oh his usual business punctuality'. Make the desperate prey wait for sometime, and then make an appearance at the right time. Wondered where was his lurking place, where he had been hiding all this time, waiting for his prey to hit the trap.

With a smile he showed me to a table. Not reserved as in Nandhini Palace, and definitely not a bouquet of roses, brought by a server, as in Nandhini Palace. The place is not classic, but casual. There is something very important. I didn’t mind class or casual, nor did I wish for Romantic, charming or anything at all. All I wished for was, he should say it soon, someway, some means.

“You look different”

“Different”

“Ya but it’s kinda”, the last word, is that Quaint? Or Cute? Never mind.

I waited impatiently. “How is the interns?”

‘Fuck the interns' I told myself. “ya it’s fine”

“Looks like Bangalore has brought in a lot of changes in you”

“Oh well, there are some dressing regulations here in the company”

“Oh so the blame is on the company”

“Why? you don’t approve of these changes?”

“Not at all, you look great now”, I have heard of masculine lies when in love. Is this one of them? Again never mind.

The usual crimson in my cheeks. “So shall we have something”

“ya ya sure”, I am definitely not in the mood of eating, nor my stomach had any vacancy.

“Burger, you?”

“Just a coke float”, that’s how cola frost was called there.


We settled down on the metal chairs placing the items on the black stoned mosaic table. There was no table cloth. The stone was cold, or I felt so, very numb and cold.

I tried something, "So, what brings you to Bangalore?"

"Ha, I was about to tell you. Today there was a seminar on short term investing"

"Oh wow, so you do have time for all this in spite of elections"

"Hey elections are for life, and life is not for elections"

"Nice line, wish your followers hear it"

"Certainly they have. I often do tell them this. To keep their life's priorities above elections"

"Good. So you are not like these cinema politicians"

"Oh stop it. I am getting bored of your politics skepticism"

'OOps I annoyed him. How stupid to bring in elections in such a mood'

I managed,"So was the seminar informative"
"ya it was. Pretty good. Worth the 200 bucks, and one day of my time", smiling.

"Especially the lecture about SIP was damn good", SIP? Never mind.

Not only my intestines blocked anything from my food pipe, but my very throat terminated to pass anything through.

I searched for any cue, anything at all. Something that would show any positive sign of a proposals. I compared the scenario with all possible proposal scenes in movies. I couldn't find any match. His facial expressions were so normal and cool. 'Is that a scam?'

I wanted to ask him. But I couldn’t. He had his bag with him. Just when I wondered, 'What might be there in it?' 'Anything for me?' he opened his bag.

A parcel covered with red gift paper. "A gift to you from my first earnings."

Proposal(s)? (XLVII)


One month of stay at Bangalore, and the more cordial corporate culture, that almost broke the sanctified boy-girl thing. I stopped seeing masculine approaches as romantic. These days I looked everyone as just peers, and not as a guy or a gal.

With this mentality, and with ‘Shantanu is a friend' in mind, I didn’t care for surprises or a proposal from him. So I causally agreed to meet him at McDonalds.

Before I completed my first glance, around the first floor dinning hall of Nandhini Palace, the young smart senior software engineer from my team came to me. “Hi”

“Hi, sorry for keeping you wait”

“Not a problem at all, I love waiting for you”, what kind of a reply is that? I wondered.

“Hope you like this place”

“Of course it’s romantic”, I don’t know why I chose the word. The word brought an eerie smile on him.

He is 24 and one of the key persons in our team. He sounded geeky, yet he was not that boring either. He is young and talented. He was courteous and polite.

The place was really romantic with its mild lit ambiance. The artistic wood furniture, and the wood ornamented walls added to the sumptuous look. Our table is one in a corner with sufficient privacy. I hate it when people stare at me, when I have food so, this place is the best choice for me in that hall. I wanted to appreciate him for that choice.

The table covered with sandal colored table cloth with tissue papers, fork, spoons etc. I made myself comfortable in my seat. The silence and the ambiance was a little disturbed by the loud laughing cheers of a gang of college chaps a few tables away from us.

“Well, here is the menu”

“Oh, Hmm.. I am not so good with restaurants, why not suggest me some good dishes”

He pointed out a few exotic items in the list, and I choose those that are at least vaguely familiar, not willing to risk on choosing something that I would detest.

We spoke on various topics, right from my college to his college, and also he politely answered all my curious questions about his experiences in the company. It was rather a feast. I enjoyed my lunch at the same time tried to avoid looking like a foodie.

It was life’s longest lunch with a single person, and it lasted for more than an hour. Time is now 3.30, and the last course, ice creams. Man I go crazy with ice creams, and had a tuff time to keep me look like a professional but, all in vein, “It’s cute when you have it like a kid”

I heard myself say, “Shit”. He noticing the annoyed expression in my face, “Hey no offense, I really meant it”

I blushed, wondering whether I should say ‘thank you’.

At last the lunch came to an end. I was overfed. Clearly I can’t walk for at least 15mins. All my blood was directed to my intestines making me feel drowsy; practically I feared I would faint.

Finally he signaled the maitre’d, and he in turn said something to a server. I wondered, why we were still sitting. I dared not ask as I was not in a position to get up. We continued chatting.

The server with whom the maitre’d was speaking brought a closed bowl to our table. Scared I was, for there was no more space for a drop of water in my intestines.

He placed the bowl on our table, and gently opened the lid. There were a bunch of red roses, neatly tied into a bouquet. The scene was more frightening, than the thought, that it is some other dish.

He gently carried the roses, and the server carried away the bowl. Looking straight into my horrified eyes, he coolly said, “I love you”. The whole world came crashing down around me. There is nothing to feel scared, my rational mind knew, but for no reason I was frightened.

The perspiration grew, a sweat bead at he edge of my eyebrows. He continued talking something, I could see him say things, but I heard nothing. It was like watching a TV program on a monologue, with the volume in mute.

He gave a break, guess it's for me to digest his words, which I couldn’t do, for two reasons, there was already too much for digesting in my intestines, and I never heard anything after the 3 magical words, so there is nothing for me to digest.

I collected myself in this gap, he finished, “Take your time, you don’t have to give me a reply immediately. I will be the happiest person on earth, if you are with me..”

Caught in a spell, I didn’t utter a word. He came till the auto, and realizing I have temporarily become dumb, he gave the guest house area to the auto driver himself.

Those 3 words kept ringing around. I heard no sound of the traffic or the horns. Just then I looked at my mobile, Shantanu’s reminder message, “Will be waiting for you, be there by 5”

The auto reached our area, and the driver, “Where to go ma’am”

“4th cross”

“Stop here”

I paid him and left, perfectly perplexed. I wouldn’t have assumed the following meet with Shantanu as anything near a date or a proposal. Provided the circumstances no wonder, I doubted a proposal from Shantanu.

With all these thoughts in mind, I refreshed myself for the second rendezvous that day.

Out for Lunch (XLVI)


I decorated myself with the sparkling dress I have bought in Bangalore last weekend. More than enough make up is the first thing obvious in the dressing table mirror. I wiped off too much lipstick using tissue paper.

This company wants its employees to look like a fashion model or something, strict dressing especially make up regulations. I had to carry a mini make up kit in my hand bag and have to look fresh always.

I wondered what on earth all this is for. Anyway I learned a lot of make up tricks and methods here in this internship along with computers.

I rearranged the entire set of make up articles into the drawers of the dressing table. Packed my hand bag with touch up mirror, wet tissue and half a dozen other make up stuff, checked and rechecked myself in the mirror.

The romantic rhythm of the song ‘Tu hi mera pyaar Mahiya’ is till playing in my laptop. Muttering its lines I Turned off my laptop, walked to the door, no big confusion, I had only 3 pairs of sandals here in Bangalore, and obviously the pink one suits this dress and I wore it.

As in the movie ‘Just my Luck’ as soon as I stepped onto the footpath, 3 autorickshaws lined before me. I smiled to myself and stepped into the first one, “Indira Nagar”

Ruminating the phone conversation, ‘..lunch, will you?’ , ‘No compulsion, if only you wish’ I watched the Sunday traffic.

In a signal a hot couple was making the summer heat hotter with their romantic charms. As soon as the signal cleared that guy flew like air in his Hero Honda Unicorn with his girl friend clutching on to him scared or of love, bringing an enigmatic smile on me.

Very well I could have had such a ride now if only I said yes for him to pick me up in his bike, but he is neither my boy friend nor I dared a bike ride with a guy. Mobile rang disturbing these thoughts, “Hey, where are you?”

“On the way, in auto. You already there!”

“Ya I am waiting here”

“Oh sorry”

“No probs, just that I wanted to confirm whether you are coming, you sounded reluctant”

“I told you, I will come”

“Not like that, ya but anyway k fine come soon”

“As fast as this auto could go and its driver could drive it”

“ok ok fine, hope you remember the place”

“Ya I do cya in Nandhini Palace”

I hung up and wondered what it might be. Why does he sound anxious? I heard from lady seniors whom I made friends in the past month about what exactly is a lunch with a guy.

‘It’s nothing like romantic or love or stuff like that. It’s just kinda friendly meet where you get to know each other personally well’

I wondered why someone would need to have lunch together to know each other personally. What more one will learn in an hour or two that he hasn’t learned in all these days?

Conversation with Anu ruminated in me, “hey Shantanu is in Bangalore”

“What why?”

“I am not sure, but one thing is sure he is in Bangalore”

“How do you know?”

“We had the last phase election campaign meet today. He was missing and I asked 4th years about it and they said that he is off to Bangalore on something important”

“What! you are in elections?”

“Ya where else I could get to do at least some damage to Kiran”

“That rogue pulled you too into elections with the same strategy”

“Whom do you mean?”

“Who else the great Shantanu”

“Hey he didn’t pull me in I myself wantonly got in, I knew Kiran is in the opposite side”

“Oh how do you know about it, Shantanu would have told you, didn’t he?”

“Why are you so skeptical about Shantanu, none has to tell me it’s obvious that Kiran is the 2nd most important person in the opposite side”

“Well anyway just be a bit careful I never do encourage these elections”

“Ok I will be fine, by the way Shantanu called me a couple of days back”

“About?”

“He used to call me often on account of elections, but then he asked me about you”

“About me!”

“Ya he enquired whether you will be free this weekend. I said you don’t have office on Sundays”

“Oh well fine, I just now spoke to him, but he never told me that he is here”

“May be he plans for a surprise; anyway wait for his next call”

“Ok I will, take care of yourself”

“Take care, bye”

The Auto driver interrupting ruminations, “Ma’am Nandhini Palace” I walked into the restaurant. I don’t know where to look for him in the hotel, never been alone to such a place.

I took out my mobile phone from my hand bag and when I was about to press the call button, mobile flashed ‘Shantanu’

“temme”

“I am in Bangalore.

"I know, Anu told me"

"Oh fine, hmmm.. Can you come to McDonalds this evening?”

Shantanu's Call (XLV)


This post is dedicated to ma followers Iron Monkey, Pulsars,Ravi Rahul and Rajitha.

I told myself, ‘Shantanu is just a friend’. May be, he is not just a friend, might be one of the best ones, like Anu or Divya. Lost in such thoughts, I was sitting in my room in the company’s guest house staring through the window. Mobile rang on the table, which I noticed only after a few seconds.

‘Shantanu’ the name flashed. The ring tone ‘heart will go on’ pleasantly echoed. I was looking at the mobile, like in a spell. I didn’t attend the call nor did I ignore it. With hesitation I slowly reached for the mobile.

The pleasant melancholic tone of Celine Dion’s voice ceased, and the room back to its usual grave silence. The two other girls are out to enjoy the scenic beauty of Bangalore.

My heart beats faster now. I am practically shivering with my mobile in hand. I repeated to myself, I am losing a good friend to my stupid hormonal attractions. I don’t want to lose him. Thoughts raced in my mind. My thumb in an impulse pressed the green button.

For every ring my lungs widened to intake more air to give more oxygen to my fainting body. Breathing hard I burst out, “hello Shantanu, sorry I were busy with something else, couldn’t attend your call”

“Hey cool, you sound disturbed, will talk later if you are busy”

“No no I am fine.. free, tell me”

“Just like that, we are missing you here, when are you coming back to college”

‘Missing’, ‘we’ who are those comprised in that ‘we’ or is it just a safer side of ‘I’.

“Heard that you are not allowed into office on Sundays so guessed you must be free”, his voice disturbed the racing thoughts. It’s time for me to speak a word. He is clearly cautious about the way I avoided him.

“Ya ya I am free now. Miss office on Sundays” I smiled.

“Computer wizard! Getting too workaholic huh?”

“If you call me a wizard what will you call these people”

“ok ok enough of your modesty. Hope you know we have our college elections in a week”

“Oh that’s why you called me, fine don’t worry anyway I will not be voting for your side” I chuckled.

“Then you are going to vote for Kiran’s best friend, he is one of the key campaigners in the opposite side”

“I will be there by this Friday at the earliest”

“Well the elections are due only next Wednesday, and I didn’t call you on account of elections, it’s just..”

“hey hey sorry I was just kidding, anyway I will try my best for your cause. See what you have for me”

“For you, I will be the cultural secretary this year, if we win, but for that I have killed myself in elections for more than a year”

“You! I didn’t ask you for any ‘post’. See what I can do for elections. What part I shall play in campaigning. I am not power thirsty and will never run behind posts”

“Sorry sorry, damn my language, anyway you have a good, big friend’s circle and you have earned a good reputation amongst juniors, you must make a difference even in the last minute, just send a mail to your juniors and friends who are close to you asking them on their stand”

“But as you said they have some honor for me, but if I get into elections won’t they feel bad about me?”

“What use is their honor if they couldn’t do something for you?”

“You have learned to speak well like a politician. You remind me of the heroes in the Jeffrey Archer’s novels”

“Hmm… fine then, Shantanu will be the Prime Minister of India someday”

“Ok k fine, so how is college?”

“ya it’s still standing”

“That’s a lame joke”

“Oh sorry I am not as witty as Elvi to crack cool jokes”

“Heard the elections are getting a little violent, keep your ass safe”

“Don’t worry about my ‘ass’ it’s perfectly guarded”

“Oh black cats, huh?”

“Kinda.. ya. I am not moving alone anywhere. People don’t let me alone”

“Oh the reputed key leader, well, very well, waiting to see you walk with a dozen guys walking behind you”, chuckles

“If only you are here, you will also be in a similar security circle”

“Ha I am no where near your election stuff, and I will never be wishing for such a following”

“Fine fine, you will be as far away from elections as possible, but only extending your support for us”

“Ok Mr. Prime Minister, Elvia is at your service”

“It’s the Cultural Secretary now”

“Whatever, See you in college, so when do you want me there?”

“ASAP, you said Friday”

“Friday!!! Well, I ll try”

“So sweet, waiting for you”

“Ok bubye”

An unknown illumination surrounded my environment, a feeling of freshness. I got rid of this love madness. I am very clear now. I am back to normal and Shantanu is my good friend. With these cheerful thoughts I called Anu. “hello”

“Hey Shantanu is in Bangalore…”

The Pet Intern (XLIV)


Just after he completed the list I ran to him, “Hey it’s you right, Elvia. You have it in you, keep it up.”

“Thank you Sir, but seems like you have missed a name. Anusuya Srivatsava”

“hmmm… no dear, no such name”

“Sir but she would have performed well, please”

“Hey, your friend huh? See we have expert methods to select candidates with the right stuff. Anyway better luck next time for her”

I wanted to shout, ‘If you are not going to take her, I am leaving this interns’, but he is no more there to hear me.

Anu wished me luck and called her dad asking him to book her tickets for the return journey. I called mom with a dull tone, “Hello mom”

“You sound somber, what’s wrong, leave it you will have better options”

“Mom, hold it, I got selected”

“Then why are you dull? Are you ill? What about Anu?”

“I am fine, Anu didn’t make it”

“Oh that’s bad, So, where will you stay? Can Anu stay with you there?”

“The company has made arrangements for us to stay in their guest house and the duration of interns is 40 days. We will be paid a minimum of Rs.10,000 and it will increase based on our performance”

“Money is not an issue, you take care of yourself. By the way you have only 3 more weeks of holidays!”

“That’s not an issue. We can use this certificate to supplement our attendance”

“Ok then tell dad he will be happy”

I called dad and repeated all this, he is glad. I wanted Anu to stay. Dad did allow me to take care of her expenses and stay here.

As soon as I cut the call I burst out, “Anu, stay with me, I will take care of the expenses”

“Hey stop it, I am leaving. You will be fine here”

“Please Anu don’t go, stay here, may be we can find some interns for you in some other company”

“I am not interested. I came here only on your compulsion. Anyway even if I stay here I can’t ask for attendance without attending any interns here”

I couldn’t persuade her anymore. She left Bangalore that evening. I am all alone in the guest house. Bhagya, me and another girl have to share the place. Bhagya is my classmate yet, she is not such an intimate friend.

I tried to concentrate on the task ahead. I worked hard. I am constantly been appreciated by our team lead. For some reason I have become a pet to everyone. I stayed in the office as long as possible. I felt cheerful and intriguing being in the office.

At nights, I practically stayed in hell. I couldn’t sleep peacefully. I got beleaguered by my ambivalences.

I tried to avoid Shantanu in the excuse that my mobile is in roaming and I am busy in the office to use the internet. The more I moved away from him, the more hurting I felt.

I made a good number of friends at office. In college we used to call even our immediate seniors as ‘akka’ and ‘anna’, here we called even a decade elder people by their names. They treated me back as equals.

Shantanu called me a couple of times. I spoke in a disinterested manner. He got cues. Shantanu being so understanding didn’t bug me again, but I don’t know why he didn’t understand what I felt about him. May be that’s why he used the term ‘sister’.

This civil war inside me grew severe and severe every night. I concluded that I should start being a good friend and stop avoiding him. But I couldn’t make it practical.

College started. Anu called me, “Hey sweetheart how are you? College started for us?”

“… Hey you know something Shantanu enquired about you”

“Oh well”

“He is taking a lot of care about you”

“Stop it, it’s all just a sham. After all this, ya he is my bestowed brother”

“You still are mad. Whatever, hope you are not messing up things there”

“Hey I am doing great here. My team lead says that I may get more than Rs.20,000 for the interns, means that I am more than twice as better than the minimum expectation”

“Wow that’s great news. Anyway I told you, you will be fine without me”

“If only you are here, I would have done better”

“Hey enough, waiting to see you, it’s just another week”

“Ya, I am missing you”

“Precisely Shantanu”, chuckling.

“Non sense, I am hanging up bye”

43. Interns Info


The next day we were taken back to college after the camp. The same loud menacing student’s travel cheer lasted throughout the journey back to college. Sir himself looked like he grew younger. But I am sitting near the window silent with melancholy.

Shantanu still limping of sprain due to last night’s duel didn’t miss all that fun. He even danced a little with that sprain. “Hey Elvi what’s wrong? Why are you so dull?”

“Nothing, just that I am going to miss all you people” I tried to smile. He for some reason didn’t bug me more. Only 2 souls in the bus know why, me and Anu.

As usual Mom and Dad have come to the hostel to pick me up. It went without saying that, Dad just looked and Anu is already there with her baggage.

Just another call, “Hello Sir, This is Elvia’s Mom”

“Oh ma’am I thought of calling you, why not this time Elvia come here for a change, I would feel happy”

“Oh fine, but now we are moving to our place. If you don’t mind I will send the girls in a couple of weeks”

“Hmm.. fine then, so you have already started with Anu”

“Sorry about that, we just thought..”, I saw mom blushing in the phone.

“No problem, fine then I will be in the lookout for them”

“Sure, thanks”

We are now moving to our place. Mom and dad sat in the front seats. I am sitting with the same somber expression, staring out through the window. I don’t know why I took so seriously, especially why as a failure of love.

Anu tried to cheer me up and failed to make conversation. Mom did notice, I managed with lame reasons.

I tried to cheer myself. I don’t want to be like this anymore. I gave out fake smiles, and yes that did work. I got over this madness in a while. Nevertheless his messages and many things around still kept reminding me of him.

After some 20 days Anu’s dad reminded Mom’s promise. Mom, “What Elvi are you going with Anu?”

I really don’t want to be alone. I want someone who knew the crack in my love pot to be around. Anu is such a nice friend to be with. So, I just agreed, “Ya I want to”

“Hope you remember there is no servant like me, to bring you water when you just shout and more than that you may have to help Anu’s dad in the kitchen”

“Mom, I am a grown up, and I will take care of myself”

Dad, “This will be a learning experience let her go”, his usual dialogue.

The next morning we boarded the train to take us to Anu’s place. Mom packed my luggage with a lot of ready made snacks and other stuff that would help me away from getting under nourished.

Right the first day I understood mom is right, very right. I have not grown up, I am not even a kid but an infant, compared to what a grown up has to know and do. I messed up a dish for dinner. Don’t assume I cooked, but I just botched up the dish already prepared.

Anu, “you were dreaming of Shantanu”

”Tramp, don’t make fun of me”

“Ok ok relax. I just said, sorry”

“hmmm.. me too”

“What?”

“Sorry”, she smiled and walked to the dinning table with another dish.

Mom’s backup items are really useful. It was not as bad as the hostel but we always have the canteen to supplement our needs. Somehow between all these things I almost forgot Shantanu.

More than a month of hols have past. Bhagya called me one day, “Hey how are you?”

“Fine da, how do ya do? Call, all of a sudden?”

“Not without a reason. I have something important”

“Will you please tell me that?”

“Ya ya cool, I heard about an internship in a Bangalore based MNC, a real good opportunity, if you are looking for something to add to your Microsoft dreams”

I had almost forgotten Microsoft for a couple of months now. Thank God that others haven’t. “Oh good, but what’s the selection criteria? How many weeks? “

“Hey hey hold on. I will mail you the specs, get back to me ASAP”

I had to be there in Bangalore by that weekend, but not without Anu. I feared Anu may not get selected. I killed myself training her. Not just because I want my friend to get this opportunity but loneliness will built a mastabh around me. I badly wanted Anu.

Monday morning, we are now waiting for the interview results.

"I am not staying here without you"

"Hey don't talk like a kid. This is one big thing that will take you to your dream"

The HR person announced the names. “Ramakrishnan, Vignesh, … Elvia… Bagya Lakshmi..”

42. Like a Sister


We enthusiastically gave out ideas and opinions on various activities to be conducted during the camp. Shantanu was sitting very silent and I understood he felt uncomfortable, but he is a first timer.

Finally Lakshman, “Friends, we are all enthusiastic about the camp but the fund allocated is not sufficient for all our expenses. So I propose that we collect a sum of hundred rupees from everyone, what’s your stand”

Sir, “I personally am against this idea. We are not supposed to collect any money. We are here to serve with our hearts, and not with money. What do you people feel?”

There were hushed responses. I personally can very well afford more than that sum but it’s not a matter of affording, Sir seemed to have a point.

A clear voice emerged from the flusters, “Excuse me, I wish that we discuss the camp budget and see whether we can cut costs”

If not for our Sir, Shantanu would have definitely got a mocking response. Then Lakshman started describing the budget. “We are allocated a sum of Rs.12,500 for camp and we have saved Rs. 6700 from our regular funds”

“We have already spent Rs. 850 on transport from college to camp site, and Rs. 3000 on groceries.”

He continued to tell us about the expenses on our tree sapling plantation plans, other survival expenses and expenses on tools etc. Most of us felt a little bored of this.

After the budget and expense descriptions Shantanu, “Most of our expenses are on food for the 60 people in our unit, we are now buying groceries from retail stores. We should go for buying them in wholesale”

“But we are not buying huge amounts to go for wholesale”, Narayanan another 3rd year with disgust.

“Ya, I understand, this Thursday is an auspicious day, I saw 3 Marriage halls on the way to this village. They are less than a couple miles away. We can partner with them, and hence can save on both commodities cost and transport cost.”

Most of us are now in awe, we didn’t know how pragmatic he speaks, but how could he think of all this. “But is that possible”

“Why what’s so far fetched about this”

Lakshman, “Ok I see there is a possibility, you are not assigned any responsibility right, fine then you are the treasurer, and have to take care of the expenses of the camp”

Sir, “Good idea, go speak with the authorities tomorrow, and see how possible things are, and if we fail we may then go for this money collecting idea”

Shantanu now enthusiastically, “Sir, not just that, for the plant saplings one of our junior’s uncle owns a nursery, and if it is for some social cause he may give the required saplings for free”

Narayan, “Whatever, you just take care of these things and report to us”

I spoke to Shantanu over dinner, “Man tell me seriously, from where do you get all those weird ideas”

“Weird!!! I just had nothing else to think other than money, unlike you, who kill yourself with algorithms”

Why should he have to bring in algo for everything, anyway I felt happy about he being good enough for such an important responsibility. He looked cheerful. After dinner we walked back to the school where we stayed.

We had a lot of time together, and I had my laptop and in the evenings Shantanu used my laptop for accounts. I wrote a simple Visual Basic code to help him with his accounts. He laughed at the program, stating that MS Excel would be more helpful. Later I found out he has been using the software without telling me.

Me being in the teaching team and he accounts, we didn’t have too much of work. During days he stayed with us in the teaching room helping us, and bossing around our team juniors. In the evenings we had that classroom all for us, we had a lot of peaceful pleasant time together. I felt an invisible bond develop between us, which is much stronger than the attraction before.

That night I confessed. I couldn’t keep it to myself anymore. I really wanted to shout it aloud, “I am in love” but I felt shy to do anything like that, so I just told Anu, “I think I have fallen in love with Shantanu”, she simply smiled back.

Anu proposed a computer awareness camp for a day in a nearby village’s school. Shantanu and Anu visited the school, and arranged for that one day camp. Initially the school authorities were a bit reluctant, later their hesitations disappeared before Shantanu’s business charms.

They are now perfectly convinced that this is a blessing for their students to be taught computers by computer engineering students from such a reputed institute, and thanked them profoundly for the idea.

Initially it was decided that Anu and Shantanu will go for the camp, with me taking care of regular teaching team responsibilities. Anu being an understanding friend, she let me go instead of her, but it’s her idea and I didn’t want to take it from her.

At last we left the local teaching responsibilities to our juniors, and all three of us left to the school with 4 other juniors with us. Students and the authorities gave us a cheerful warm welcome.

We used 3 laptops to teach them basics on using a computer. I had the laptop on the table and explained the curious brats who felt so exotic about a laptop. It was a cool uncomfortable feeling to be looked at as someone dropped down from the sky.

It was a tuff day, yet we felt as energetic as we started till the last of those brats. Filled with complacence and their thankfulness we blissfully walked back to our camp site.

On the way we left Anu and the juniors a few paces before us and we got lost in our own world of small talks. Three guys standing on the road side started following us.

Their susurrations grew louder. They started talking obscene terms pointed on me, a typical eve teasing. I avoided them not willing to spoil the romantic environment of walking after dusk on a lonely road. Shantanu looked very disturbed.

At a point he lost patience and turned back at them, “Bastards get lost from here or you will hate the consequences”

“Hey hero what will you do to us, hit us? Come on come on man go ahead”

He gave a sharp punch to one of them, they hit him back and that’s a street fight, within seconds the 3 overpowered him. I joined the duel and gave a knee kick to one and tried to pull Shantanu out, he is well hurt now.

With my entry Shantanu recollected himself and the duo of us with one a novice Kung fu and me a Karate Dan 2 defeated the three, leaving them moaning on the ground.

Shantanu was bleeding with a hit from someone wearing a ring. He limped till our campsite and I helped him with first aid kit.

“Hey idiot they are some goofs, who are utterly jobless. Why do you go in duel with them?”

“I love you..” for a moment all my blood cells turned dead cells, sweat beads turned frosts. The world around me disappeared and I misty blissful cloud surrounded me.

“I love you like my sister, I value you and I can’t tolerate all that nonsense”
I didn’t hear anything after that word, the terrifying word which is often something terrorizing for guys ‘sister’ but it almost killed me now. I felt numb and dead.
Avoiding his eyes, I hurriedly dressed his blood wound and left the place to avoid he reading the frustration on my face.

41. Camp as Seniors


In the middle of the semesters we were pulled in for our elections. We wouldn’t be having much time after the exams are over, as people will leave hostels and meeting and canvassing them will be difficult. Once the college starts there will be very little time before the election.

Last year when we were in our first years, we were not influenced by the elections due to strict ragging restrictions that avoid senior junior interaction. But this year we are in 2nd years and 3rd year girls got busy canvassing us and in boys hostel things are worse, seniors fought in the middle of the night to talk to 2nd years.

I didn’t involve myself deep into all this stuff and advised Shantanu to stay away at least till the end of sem exams. Shantanu didn’t speak much about my academics, since the time I cried in the middle of the class about results. But he didn’t fail to say his tag line, “Do what you like and Do it with passion”.

I didn’t work hard, but I prepared with passion. Exams went well. Tomorrow we have TOC, the terrorizing paper handled by psyche Dr.Pal. Girls started shivering a couple days back. Many feared that their life’s first arrear would be on this paper. This fear epidemic did affect me.

Shantanu called me in the morning, asking whether I could help him with the paper. I did agree eventually. But many girls felt bad about it, as they wanted me to help them. So, we decided on something. We eight assembled in a classroom after breakfast.

I climbed up the dais, with the mannerism like a professor. Shantanu and six other girls are sitting in the first two benches but are active unlike regular classes. I imitated the mannerism of my favorite algo ma’am. I took a chalk piece and started picturing a problem on the green board.

I was teaching for a couple of hours, and I did cover problems that are expected and can account for around 35 marks in tomorrow’s exam. With great complacence, I stepped down the dais. I still explained a few more doubts on paper. After this crispy lecture session, the girls left, and I spent a few mins with him.

“Thanks a lot Elvi, I would have really been in a very bad position in tomorrow’s exam without you”

“Well, that’s alright, but what I taught you is less than what you need to pass, even if you manage to do this with pinpoint accuracy”

“Ya I get it, I have already prepared something, and will revise things, I will be fine”

“Let’s hope so, then how is your election stuff going”, I asked just for the sake of conversation. We are now walking down from the 1st floor to get down on the other side of the building opposite to our hostel for our usual walk.

He with a shudder started, “Hmm.. you are good at algos and data structures..”

“I feel interested about them that’s it, anyway so..”

“So… our department juniors value you…” he elongated the statement blushing.

“Hey cut it, no way, I am not in, and I rather do tell you to keep your ass out of that shit”

“Hey hey cool it, you don’t like it fine, well I just tried, but don’t tell me what to do”

“Hello I am your friend and ain’t I supposed to tell you what’s right and wrong”

“I know what it is, and I do know what I will get out of it”

“ok then go to hell” and I walked away.

This is one notable bitter incident that happened between us. I really cared about his academics, and I didn’t want him to waste his time in something so useless or even dangerous, but he affronted me. I tried to forget him and concentrate on tomorrow’s TOC.

Our bitterness continued for a week, and it started alleviating. This year we are going to NSS camp but as seniors. There are still 3rd years, still we are seniors. This is a new cool feeling to boss around.

The added rejoicing thing about this year’s camp is Shantanu will be coming with us. Bliss bubbles are boiling out of me. My best friends Anu and Sangi along with my would be lover are all now traveling to our camp site.

The bus journey as students is one of the top ten great times of student life. More than half of us are standing, whether or not we have sears. The noise we make made horn useless. The big ‘O’s to everyone and everything around is simply deafening.

Our bus just overtook another, all our hands are out through the windows showing thumbs down with a huge cry. For every vehicle we passed by there would be surge in our pitch. I felt momentarily deaf on a holler, when another vehicle overtook us.

After receiving enough curses from the travelers, and making enough damage to the reputation of our college along the way, we reached the camp site by dusk. Me and Anu are team leaders of teaching team. Thankfully Kiran missed the camp due to election work.

Shantanu being a first timer in the camp, he was not assigned any responsibility and he can’t be treated as a first year either, so he just hung around the site. The next day evening we had a general camp meet with our Sir and other seniors over the camp schedule and plans.

Rajkumar Sir, “We should have had this meet well before we have come here, but as you people were busy with your exams I didn’t want to disturb you guys, anyway myself and your general secretary Lakshman met and have some plans, we want you to give your opinions and suggestions”

Our unit’s Programming officer i.e. the faculty incharge Mr.Rajkumar is a very amiable person. We all like him for his humbleness, and he treated us like equals and asked for our opinions on everything. We really felt responsible and passionate to make this camp very fruitful.
 
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