He turned to face me, and politely said, “I do feel like resting my arms on the arm rest. Can you just shift to the next seat, so that both of us can sit comfortably” and he turned back to stare at the screen, and continued to enjoy the movie.
I got all crimsoned, not because I was abashed, but I was burning red hot. I didn’t know, whether he noticed my nettled face in the theatre’s twilight. I wanted to get up, and punch him right on his nose, and even if I did the red drops wouldn’t have drained my face of the blood red color.
I got up, and walked out to the restroom. I washed my face at the sink, and stared at myself in the mirror. My image in the mirror sniggered at me, which bore an impish simper that sardonically said ‘what a good boy-friend he is!’ I wanted to hit my own image. First time in all my life, I felt bad for being a girl.
I mused, whether he really was that numb, or was he trying to be a ‘good boy’, or was he just pretending to be one of the two. After a good time in the rest room trying to wane out my fury, I walked back into the theatre, and sat at the seat next to the seat I was previously seated.
We came back to college in utter silence. While in bus, I sat in a seat next to an old lady, ignoring him. I didn’t talk to him for the rest of the day. He didn’t dare ask me about it.
Next day he casually came to me smiling, “Hi sweetheart.”
Though the fuming fame was not completely put out, I had no other option I said, “Hi” gloomily.
Later I convinced myself it’s all for the good. The semester exams went on as usual. I for the first time in my life took the exams, as a ‘real’ engineering student. I rarely learned those subjects in course of the semester. I was mostly day-dreaming during the classes.
I opened the book only on the day before the exam. Mostly I was asking Anu to give me hints on the subject, with which I can use my writing skills to develop stories. During the first exam, I felt a bit weird, to write answers for questions that I was not so sure of, but during the last exam, I wrote 5 pages of answer for a question, about which I never even had any inkling.
Shantanu on the other hand was booming after every exam. He except for his usual good night with ‘Love you’ rarely talked to me in course of the exam. I badly wanted the exams to end, and by theory the exams somehow came to an end after a couple of weeks.
On the evening of the last exam we met as usual. I was still a bit upset with him. He sensing my apprehension, “I am sorry.”
“For making you upset.”
I remained silent. ‘All of a sudden he apologizes to me!’ I was questioning myself, ‘when did he discomfit me?’ or more precisely, ‘Which one of those incidents was he talking about?’
He continued, “I know you were upset. That day in the theatre…”
“So you knew, and even so you still continued being a block of wood.”
He attempted to interrupt my irruption, but to no avail. “Ah I know it’s all about being good, and upholding the tradition and the rich culture of the country. Ya, I do understand.”
“Hmpf… Can I talk a few words, now?”
“What the-” Thought I have blurted out everything I was feeling apprehensive, so I safely added, “Can’t I even hold your hands? Even for that should I be your wife? Haven’t you shaken hands with Anu or Divya and other girls?”
“Is that all? Or you are going to barf more?” He took a breath before continuing. I was panting and I had put off my ceaseless rants.
“First of all shaking hands with someone is entirely different from holding your palms in mine. I am no piece of wood or a little kid nor am I suffering from any hormonal deficiency disorders. I do feel love, lust; anger and everything like anyone else.”
He took another deep breath. “Hmm… you know I am upto my next belt in Kung-fu. Sifu had subjected me to a self-will test. Even a loving touch is always accompanied by a bit of lust. And I was afraid of myself. Who else know more about my flare for the art than you?”
I felt a bit abashed. I rallied myself, and ventured in a minced tone, “So how long do you have to undergo this test?”
He simpering, replied me, “It’s over today. That’s why I have told you about it now.”
I was both delirious and felt queasy. Reading the question in my mind, “If you stay back here tomorrow, let us go to the beach, and find ourselves a secluded spot. We can walk hand in hand.” Giving an impish pause for the blush in my ruddy face to get wide, “or may be even more.”