Reviewed by Lakshminarashiman.
It must have just dawned, when I felt mild disturbances in the bedroom. Shantanu was dressing up. The kitty doll was glittering in the morning sun as he buttoned over it. I was too drowsy to speak clearly.
“hmmm wahrra uu goin?” I yawned wide.
“To the groceries, to get something for breakfast.”
Just then it dawned on me. Though he said he felt gratified by seeing me have dinner, he really didn’t have anything worth while. I felt so bad about myself. ‘How selfish and senseless of me!!!’
“What are you going to get?”
“Hmmm.. Maggie. I think that’s the best thing to get it cooked fast.” Saying this he left the room.
I was feeling awful. It was good when he cooks and cares for me like my mom. Mom’s words echoed in me. “It’s a pleasure to cook for the ones you love.” ‘Don’t I love him?’ ‘Am I not supposed to be the one who should be cooking when he is really hungry?’
‘Well cooking noodles is no big deal’ I told myself. Anyway I was dubious about whether I could do it properly. I ran to the drawing room and started scourging for my mobile phone. I had thrown it somewhere there last night.
Finally I found it in a shelf near the TV stand. It showed 54 missed calls. I haven’t switched back the mobile to loud mode since the previous day’s interviews. ‘Must be felicitation from friends and relatives.’ ‘No space for new messages’ was flashing.
I was in no mood to care about all that. I then badly wanted to know from an expert cook on, how to cook Maggie noodles. ‘Whom shall I call?’ ‘Mom?’ ‘No’ she will bug me with millions of questions on why I need to know this all of a sudden. ‘Grand ma?’ ‘Mom would have been a better option.
Finally I zeroed in on Anu. “Hey I immediately want to know how to cook Maggie?’
“What?? Where are you people? The entire college is in pursuit of knowing about this.”
“Don’t exaggerate. Anyway I don’t care. First tell me..”
She gave me ‘A complete audio guide on how to cook Maggie noodles’ and also ‘10 things you need to care about when you cook noodles’. The funny thought of making Anu a part time cooking recipe writer did cross my mind.
As soon as he entered, he went straight to the kitchen. I pulled him out and sat him in the dinning table. “I will cook for you.”
The apprehension on his face was more than obvious, but he didn’t protest. He sat with a sigh. I hurried to the kitchen, and fumbled for the vegetable cutter. He had bought carrots and tomatoes, but Anu said nothing about tomatoes.
‘What difference does it gonna make?’ I just started slicing the carrots with my hands shivering. I stopped well before 3/4th of the carrot. He was watching me from the dinning hall. This made me more nervous.
I put the sliced vegetables in the non-stick vessel, and added water and the raw noodles to it. After sometime I noticed that the color was still pale. I wondered what was wrong. Only then I realized that I haven’t added the contents of the flavoring packets.
‘Sh*t’ I hurriedly emptied the contents into the vessel before the water would all evaporate. In my nervousness I dropped the packets into the vessel. In an attempt to take it out immediately, I plunged my fingers into the vessel.
‘Ouch’ that hurt. That really hurt. Shantanu came charging into the kitchen.
“No one in their right senses will plunge their fingers into boiling water.”
He reduced the flame, and used a spoon to carefully take the packet out. I was blowing air from my mouth on the tip of my finger. “You are not supposed to do that.”
He took my hands and showed it in tap water. “How could they take in someone with no common sense into Google?”
‘Common sense’ I have heard dad say this word a million times. I was happy that he was very loving like mom, but why does he also have to be as annoying as dad at times.
We had breakfast with I struggling with my left hand as my right one still hurt. He didn’t seem to be minding this, as he ate like he would starve to death.
After finishing his plate he came to me. I wondered whether he was about to eat from my plate. Just then he took the spoon from me and started feeding me like I was a two yr old. The funny thought of making him a home maker lingered in me for the next couple of days. When I told this to Anu and Divya, they laughed and commented that I can completely relinquish the responsibility of being a mother, to him.
After breakfast we watched TV for a while. “We gotta leave to college.”
I was thoroughly puzzled and annoyed. “Why?? It’s Saturday today, and even if it was Monday when did you start minding about bunking classes?”
“See already people would have speculated about what we were doing. It’s high time we get back to campus.”
“I don’t give a damn about what those morons think. My friends will understand. They were the ones, who stood by me even during hard times.”
“But I do give that damn. Get ready.” It was clearly a command, and I don’t think someone ever tried to argue over the terminating statement of Shantanu.
I reluctantly got ready, and we boarded back to campus. Shantanu was feeling very uneasy walking with me in the campus. I was thoroughly enjoying the sight of him blushing at everyone, who smiled at him. None failed to notice us regardless of whether or not I ever remember seeing them in college before, or may be I was assuming things.
I teased him by holding his hands, whenever he tried to distance himself from me when he saw someone he knew coming from the other direction. When an NCC platoon crossed us during their warm up jogs, I bet they did crane their necks to have a look at us.
The captain or some guy, who headed the cadets, gave a sardonic smile at Shantanu. Shantanu matched the brick red color of our campus’s age old building.
“I would better go to the canteen, you go to the hostel.”
“Why?” I asked him knowing the reason very well.
“I don’t want people to look at us like that.”
I put my hands on my hips. “Like what? Are you going to marry me or not?”
“Why the hell you care about them? Why do you want to hide our love from them?”
He didn’t protest again. We walked together until the safety threshold of our hostel warden. I wondered whether she was ignorant of our affair.
As soon as he left I regretted taking that tone to him. He was naturally a shy type person in this regard. ‘Why should I have to make him feel uneasy unnecessarily?’
I forgot this regret and everything else for that matter, when I entered the hostel. The excitement filled every molecule of air around me. Girls from all years had circled me. Not just about my Google as well as about Shantanu’s success in getting loan for his venture, and our mysterious disappearance last night.
Life had become a fantasy all over again. We have become college celebrities once and for all.