39. The Touted Top Girl

Life is back to normal after such a stormy weekend. I have done really well in the 1st two assessment tests. Though it’s the best two out of three, I am in no mood or idea of compromising on the 3rd. I can’t afford to let down loved ones again.

For 4 papers our 3rd asses is replaced by mini-projects. Not all projects are interesting. We had to do them in teams if teams are of 3 obviously it would be myself, Anu and Sangi. But in 2’s though it’s a controversial option I still preferred it.

In internet programming myself and Shantanu are a team and we can now legally or logically can spend more time with the project as an excuse. His negligence on the fight plan caused bitterness in me but that can’t be a reason for me to hate him completely.

Whenever I asked him about the vengeance he either asked for more time or tried to keep me cool or used to change the context. I am not so convinced. Whenever this issue pops up I fume with bitterness and he is not dumb to be ignorant of that. Yet he still ignored it.

Shantanu was not as bad in programming. In fact he is better than me in application oriented programming. When I spend time in learning the theory behind the algorithms and implement them he casually coded applets and swings and made a lucrative work.

Our projects kept us busy throughout the last month of the 4th sem. Anu’s breakup is obvious and most of us know of that now though the solution she chose for it is known only to the 2 of us. Many pitied Anu, and Kiran’s image grew as a villain.

Meanwhile college election matters are also been part of Shantanu’s concern. He is into almost everything else in college except studies, me being the exact opposite.

One fine day we after a few mins of project discussion are walking around the campus as usual. He said, “I am feeling so embarrassed”

“oh why?”

“Yesterday I saw Ranjana akka on the way to her hostel, she was carrying her baggage and literally struggling to carry them.”

“Hmmm so..”

“I should have helped her but I was rather excited on seeing her and was speaking about the college symposium this year and my plans for the next year’s one..”

“And you forgot to help her out”

“Yes, what an idiot I am, I noticed it only when we almost reached your hostel and only then I offered help lamely”

“Ok man relax there is nothing worth worrying about it”

By this time we almost reached our hostel and I don’t want to fall in sight of our warden ma’am, as she doesn’t think it’s a good idea for a girl to hang around with a guy. He gave me my laptop which he was carrying for me all this time. His chivalry is one thing that I felt very sweet about him.

He still enthusiastically continued, “Hey you should have known her, she is such a personality, man she is one of the important reasons, one of the very few key people who keep all these stuff running, or the college will only get rotten in all those crappy books”

“Oh great, salute her service and keep looking whether she needs any help, bye” and I walked away. I am not very sure whether his unacceptable opinion on books or his zeal to woo another girl annoyed me, but I am clearly annoyed.

When I entered the hostel he was standing still in the place I left him. I am not out of that bad mood yet. I didn’t care and I walked into my room throwing my laptop on the bed.

Over lunch the next day I heard some girl in a nearby table talk about this girl Ranjana with the same enthusiasm like Shantanu. I got a bit curious and asked Sindhu, “hey who is this Ranjana”

Keeping the rice in her hand mid way in air, “hey she is a senior the top girl in the college’s symposium committee, considered one of the key persons in any such activity inside college. Ask Divya, Ranjana is her dept senior and she must know more about her”

“Ha enough, enough, I had more than enough info about her, fine so everyone is trying to woo her so that they could get a prestigious place in the committee next year”

“Oh why are you so skeptical about her, she must have been a nice person, I have talked to her once she is sweet, not everyone would want to be in the committee and why would they speak good about her in her absence to woo her”, man she is also doped by her.

This ruminated in me throughout the afternoon classes. I walked to Shantanu after the classes as usual. He definitely is angry he loves me and values me but never compromises on something he feels right and unworthy of compromise.

He avoided my eyes. I said, “Hey I am sorry”, he didn’t look convinced.

I added, “it’s the way you addressed books was what annoyed me”, I tried to make up an excuse to that unruly behavior, “anyway…hmmm k man cool, enough I said sorry”

He nodded silently yet the usual smile is missing, “Ok, see you by 5 in this room, hope we will finish the project in a couple of days, cya”, and he walked away.

Things must be ok, my mind told me, yet his inimical face kept coming back for every wink. I took a short nap and started getting ready by 4.30 to meet him by 5.

38. The Far Fetched Fight Plan

This post is dedicated to my followers Vidya,Vicky,Aravind and Lakshminarasimhan

Brain started working faster than a Quantum Processor. I tried all possible combinations, but I rejected every possibility feeling it as far fetched.

Now, it’s more than a second after the question. It’s high time that I reply something to avoid making her more dubious. I just terminated the thought process at a random choice.

The choice was, “Ma’am that’s kinda funny, I bet Anu that I will be able to go the mess and back to room within 5minutes”

“What?!? You girls are really getting bored at hostel without exams rite… Hmmm.. ok what where you clutching in your hands”

‘Shit!!! She noticed that too’, I could here myself say, ‘Say something Elvi say something’ and I came up, “It’s just a proof that I really reached mess, so I had to bring some salt”

“You better stop making this hostel a lunatic asylum”

“Sorry ma’am”, I blushed. She smiled back and left. I am not sure whether she believed the story yet, I am filled with a great feeling of relief.

All this time I had no time to think about that bastard. The suicide attempt and the subsequent cover up kept me busy for a while. Now, he flashed before me, the first sight of him drooling at me.

I wanted to kill him myself. I felt so powerless. For a second it even felt like can Gramp do it for me? ‘Shit! What happened to me?’, ‘I should balance myself and start thinking rationally’.

I couldn’t come up with anything good to avenge him. So I decided to tell this to someone and ask for help. I told this to Shantanu carefully avoiding the suicide incident.

“Hmm.. so you want your pound of flesh”

“Not just flesh I want his life”

“ok ok cool, stop talking like Poolan Devi”

“I am serious and you are making fun of me”, I feared whether I would tell him about the suicide attempt out of temper.

“Hey ok relax but I expected you are a pragmatic person, but now you are not making any sense”

“What do you mean? So you say that we have to just walk away after all he had done to her”

“Ok I will think of something and tell you”

“I at least want to hit him hard as hard as I could, only then I will feel at least a little comfortable”

“ok then lets do it”

“What do you mean?”

“Exactly what I said, hope you know I am learning Kung fu”

“Ya I do so? You are gonna beat him”

“Hmm.. not exactly but we, I have started learning only recently, but you are a Dan 2 in Karate”

“Are you kidding you mean we are going to whomp Kiran, but how?”

“Listen, Sifu was speaking of Ninja fight recently in one of our classes”

I am now listening like a kid listening to a fairy tale from her granny, he continued “So we plan a neat sketch to get him cornered alone. We make a guerilla attack in the dark”

“All this sounds good, pretty fine and exciting but, won’t he suspect us”

“Never mind he is into college politics and elections. Hence he has made himself a pretty good a target for such an attack.”

“Wow so I am gonna break at least a bone”

“You scare me with your rage”

”Don’t worry I will not hurt you as long as you don’t do that to me”, this line later rang in me, I had myself assumed him to be my boy friend without any solid reason.

He flirted back for the first time, “I would rather die in your hands”

I blushed forgetting that we are in an assaulting mood, he added, “By scared I meant that if you make any serious injury to him we will be in big trouble they may even start a police investigation”

“You don’t worry I have connections”

Laughing aloud, “You are too proud, then it’s upto you”

“Ok hey I believe all this assault plan is no joke, don’t expect me to calm down easily, I am vengeful than a snake, I will definitely have my revenge”

“Sure sure, I will meet you with a solid plan next time”

37. 'I don't want to live anymore'

I dedicate this post to my 2nd and 3rd followers Pearl Frnd and Sadana.

Anu is fine now. She is a bit tired of vomiting yet she looked fine otherwise.

My toe is bleeding. I don’ remember where I got hurt. Only after the red color I felt the pain. The room is in grave silence. Anu sat like a dead doll leaning on the wall near the cot. Anger is fuming from every inch of my skin along with the sweat.

I am raging and turning red. After a momentary trough now my pulse rate rouse to a new crest out of anger. I got up and gave her a sharp slap. She collapsed on her bed sobbing.

Her tears suddenly melted my heart. For a second the garboil she put all the insides of me made me mad and forgot the pain she must have undergone. I sat near her.

I put my hands on her scalp and said, "I am sorry". She cuddled with her cheek on my lap. She silently continued sobbing. I continued to gently move my palms on her scalp comforting her.

I gave gentle taps on her back reassuringly. I didn’t ask her anything and she really was not in a position to tell me. Her sobs grew to a louder cry. I felt more uncomfortable I don’t want someone passing by our room to peep in or feel dubious after that suspicious sprint I took to save her all myself.

I tried to tell her to be silent but I couldn’t. I hugged her and tried to tell her to control herself. She tried to speak back but her weep overtook her words. She couldn’t speak.

The dull, dim atmosphere in the room is now disturbed by her cry. Her barf still lay at the centre of the room undisturbed. I tried in vain to comfort her. She finally collected herself a little and words came out as a broken stream.

“I loved… I.. why it all., happens to me..I don’t want to live.”

I silently tried to comfort her. Let her speak I listened, still holding her in my arms. She continued, “I lost my mom and then granny, I never felt being loved, I.. trusted him, I knew you don’t like him, but I was mad, I am fool” with this she cried more. This is more stressing, me helplessly failing to soothe her.

She repeated “I knew you don’t like him” she took a breath, “but you never told me to stop” this hurt me like being stabbed with a dagger right into my cardiac muscles.

After more than an hour of all this, she dried up of any more humidity in her eyes. She felt too weak with all the vomiting and weeping more than that the internal turmoil.

I finally ventured to ask her, “What happened? What did Kiran say?”

If only she had a bit more moisture in her tear glands she would have wept more, she replied gasping for breath and sucking the humidity in the air into her dried up throat, “We were sitting for lunch, Kiran left the table to enquire something to the receptionist. I just was playing with his mobile. He got a message ‘honey wru?’”

I tried to say something, but she continued, “I was a little annoyed that someone else called him like that, I ignored the message at first then I peeked into his ‘sent messages’ and he had sent a lot of messages to her, and the last one was, ‘hey I am going on a date with that chump don’t message me till afternoon’ was there I froze for a second.”

“I looked again into his inbox there was message from her ‘oh you still are fooling around with that poor girl?’ Kiran came from there looking at his mobile in my hands he hurriedly came near and grabbed the mobile from me.”

“I asked him who the girl is? He causally replied ‘Which girl?’, 'the girl who has messaged you', he remained silent. I lost my patience and yelled at him what’s going on he coolly said, 'she is just another friend to me like you’”

“'friend', 'like me' those words rang around me, after all that happened that bastard called me just a friend, and he said that he had another girl like me, I cried out, ‘Am I just a friend?’, ‘hey idiot stop yelling, ya friend ok, girl friend, what’s your problem?’ ‘You promised to marry me?’”

“he cursed me with obscene words, he insulted me in the middle of the restaurant and he said he had been paying me for all this time and said that’s why I had been hanging around with him, he had been treating me like a cheap prostitute for all this time, I really don’t want to live after all this…nobody wants me, nobody..”

“Hey idiot you should kill him for this rather than killing yourself, what did you think I would feel after losing you, have you ever thought of me a second”

“I am sorry Elvia, I know you are more than a mother for me, I know but I am fool, I am scum and I better don’t bother anyone anymore, that’s why I thought of killing myself”

I would have given her another slap but I understood, who knows her better than me, poor Anu lost her mother on her birth, her granny cursed her for killing her mother, her other grandma who is the only one who really loved her, passed away a few years back.

She always felt unwanted and unloved for all these years. The fateful life drove her into academics to keep her away from all the dreadful things around her. Only after kiran came in she felt happy. His episode was the only happy period in her life.

This time the loss of someone whom she felt would put an end to all her miseries and ignorance, almost killed her. She had been dreaming of a beautiful life with him. But now.

I always felt happy and satisfied at Anu being cheerful. That’s the reason why I never forbid her from meeting Kiran. At a point in time I started believing Kiran myself against my instincts about him. If only I had anticipated all this. This kiss of death would have never happened.

Thoughts reeled back to the tablets. After more than an hour she is perfectly well. I am convinced that there is nothing much to worry about those tablets anymore.

Now my mind started rummaging for answers to a set of killing questions, ‘whether anyone saw me running mad?’, ‘If so will they ask me why I did so?’, ‘What will I answer them?’, With all these thoughts I cleaned up the mess of the vomiting. Anu tried to help me I signed her to take rest.

That night as usual girls came to my room for the Saturday night show. None questioned anything about the sprint. I felt relieved. I never left Anu alone and tried to keep her cheerful. I didn’t want anyone to suspect anything.

Till next day night none asked anything about it. We almost forgot that incident. Just then our warden mam asked me during dinner, “Why were you running like being chased by a ghost?” My heart turned ice..

36. Felo-de-se

It was a Saturday afternoon. After the 2nd assessment exams half the hostel is empty with girls off to their folks or their kins in the city. I preferred the hostel.

Sangi is also out to her uncle’s place. Anu is out on a date with Kiran. I am all alone in my room. As decided I had cleaned my room since morning and I am too tired now and I feel like fainting after lunch.

This morning the room looked like a shaken up box with clothes and books helter skelter and stationeries scattered on the table. I felt the room as even stingy. My bed was covered with clothes and I was sleeping among those dirty clothes for the past week

We have come to the 4th sem so we referred books and we didn’t have room for all those books in our room. Books are here and there most of them are under the cot on the floor. Grand ma would say books are Lord Saraswati and now I am subject to heavy blasphemy.

Somehow I managed to bring back the botched up room to sanity. I just now had lunch so waited for a few mins before I fall on my bed. Just then Anu entered the room.

Without looking up at her, I started, “So how was the day? Hope kiran gave you a strong kiss” and smiled to myself, there was no response. I continued, “Look how is the room now” with a prideful smile still looking at my laptop and again no response.

I looked up. She was silent. Her face bore an expression that I have never seen before. She was looking angry more than that melancholy was too obvious. My rational mind said that she must have as usual got into some silly duel with Kiran, but instinct interjected that something is wrong, that too very wrong.

I listened to my rational mind and I lied on my bed. With all those weariness I would have very well fell asleep in less than seconds, but Anu’s face kept flashing again and again. I lay still trying hard to ignore it and sleep but it kept bothering me.

After sometime I felt mild disturbances in the room, I still lay facing the wall. Anu is now awake. I wondered what she must be doing? But I hesitated to turn back felt so lazy. After a few seconds I slowly turned back and I saw her…

I saw her swallowing something heavily. I didn’t realize it a second. I swiftly got up and saw a pile of tablets before her. She was attempting to swallow a handful must be for the 2nd or 3rd time. I pulled her off and the water bottle fell with a thud. I gave her a sharp slap, she fell on her bed.

“hey idiot what have you done? Why?”, she fell on the bed with tears overflowing from her eyes. I am in the worst stress in my life. I don’t know what to do? or Whom to call?

‘Mom’ never, she would panic more than me and more than that she will never allow me to be with Anu again. ‘Dad’ dismissed for the same reason.

‘Shantanu’ or ‘Divya’ I don’t want anyone in college to know however trustworthy they might be.

Finally I zeroed on to Gramps. I fumbled my mobile for his number and I called him. With words flowing out of order, I abruptly started, “Grandpa my friend, tablets, she, took, tablets, I… I don’t know what to do?”

“What’s wrong dear calm down and tell me” with his ever lasting cool.

I collected myself and replied, “My friend took tablets many tablets she attempted suicide”

“Don’t panic I will ask my men there to attend to you immediately, stay calm”, again without loosing his cool.

Grandma picked up, “What’s wrong honey you have called us, won’t dad feel bad?”, smiling.

I repeated the tale to grandma. Thankfully she shared my tautness. She after a moment of silence, “Hey do you have salt?”

“No, Why would I?” with a second of thought, “may be I can get it from the mess kitchen”

“Ok then get it soon, make a salt solution and make her drink, it will make her vomit the tablets..” before she could finish I put the phone down, ya literally down on the floor and made a sprint to the mess.

My foot hurt, I forgot my sandals. I ran like crazy. I had no time to wonder what will people think about me. Thankfully it was a dull afternoon and there are not too many people around. In seconds my windpipe was set in fire.

I reached the mess and I ran to the kitchen and abruptly asked for salt, “My friend… I need salt, salt please soon”, gasping for breath words struggled to come out.

The mess worker replied, “What do you want ma’am?”

My stress broke out, “Didn’t you here me? I need salt”

She stood clueless and confused, I shouted, “Salt” again with my voice echoing across the dining room and the stainless steel utensils in the kitchen.

She silently showed me salt, I grasping salt in both my hands ran back wondering whether she took some more tablets, ‘Shit I forgot to dispose them’. This thought made me speed up. I am running hard with salt clutched in both my hands.

I dashed through my room doors. Heavens she is still on the bed and the tablets on the table left untouched. I had no time for hygiene. I put the salt in the bathroom mug I use for bathing.

Poured water into it and with bare hands started mixing them. My eyes are completely wet now out of stress. The second time I am weeping badly. My hands are shivering, entire body felt so numb and cold. I don’t want to let her down. Anu is more than a sister to me.

After enough mixing I jumped on her and tried to make her drink the solution. She protested. I whomped her badly and she now became motionless. I caught her nostrils hard and poured the solution directly into the foodpipe. She drank half the mug, spilling a little.

The next minute she vomited at the centre of the room. My phone was ringing till the time I entered the room. Only now I was able to hear it. I picked it up and yelled, “She vomited, where are the men?”

Grandma, “Hey Elvia it’s me, now listen has she vomited well? Make her drink more salt solution or at least plain water”

“Ok when will the men come?”

“Hey listen Grandpa has already called for them and they must be there any moment, now calm down and listen” I signed Anu to drink more water. She obeyed me like a child beaten up well by her mom. Grandma continued, “If this leaks out she is as good as dead, grandpa’s men are trustworthy yet.. she will be fine now.”

But Anu's life is more important than anything else, Grandma's words started ruminating in me. I..

35. Meaningful Gita

I couldn’t believe my ears. I felt my throat dry up. I ran into the department to check my results myself. I fought my way into the rush. I checked and rechecked nothing changed.

I could feel all the moisture in my pharynx accumulate in my eyes. I couldn’t stand there anymore. I ran back to my room. Nothing crossed my thoughts other than the sight of the results sheet and Shantanu’s expression.

I skipped lunch. I am lying on my bed but I am not sleeping. I was a 9 pointer in both the first and the 2nd sems. But that doesn’t matter. As a matter of fact that never mattered. I never cared about my marks at any point in time.

All I did was just join the book pouring crowd around me during exams and nothing else. But this time it was not the same. I really wanted to be a 9 pointer.

I felt very guilty for letting him down. Divya’s words flashed again and again. I don’t know how I am going to face her. What I am going to tell her? What if she brings Shantanu’s name?

I am in the midst of a worst distress ever. After classes Anu and Sangi came back. They looked contented but I avoided looking at them.

“Hey you, why did you skip the afternoon classes?”

I remained silent out of lose of words. I never admitted failure, practically I never failed.

“Hey are you really serious about your results? Come on Elvia, the coolest who never cared about all that, is that you?”, Sangi made fun of me. Another tear dropped by.

Now they realized I am serious. They tried to soothe me but in vain. I couldn’t hear anyone. I never got up from my bed. They felt they would better leave me alone.

An unknown surge of anger. I don’t know on whom? or Why? May be, on me.

I didn’t go for dinner girls brought me some bread from mess and forced me into eating a couple of slices over which I felt barricaded at my vocal chords.

I could see Divya’s blinding silhouette in light from the tube light. My eyes are weak for a clear vision yet I know it’s her. I felt my blood freeze. She came near me.

“Heard you got an ‘S’ in algorithms. Great! Seniors told me that’s something superb”

My lips fumbled for words but couldn’t find any. Divya continued, “What’s wrong with you? Why are you looking like hell?”

“I.. I am sorry..” was all I could utter.

“Hey chill man, I know you did hell lot of preparations during the exams. I saw you bug yourself a lot. Must be bad luck. Chill it”

I now felt relieved of one thing, Divya but Shantanu? Divya was in my hostel during exams to see me study really hard but, how would Shantanu ever understand?

The next day after classes Shantanu came to me. I felt like making a flight and break loose from his sight. But I felt like completely broken at his sight. I couldn’t even make a step.

“Hi, anything wrong why didn’t you pick up my calls” sounding casual.

I felt more and more broke. Shantanu, “I am really sorry.. I let you down” the only thing I honestly felt from deep my heart at that moment.

“What non-sense, you are one of the 2 Ss in algorithms in the whole class, we have to celebrate it”

“But I am no more a 9 pointer”

“Damn the points you are always good infact great, marks can never evaluate someone”

I would have been vary happy and felt more comfortable if he had whomped me for my results but he did otherwise. This stressed me more like being crushed under metamorphic rocks.

I burst out. I couldn’t take it anymore. For the first time in my life I wept. I don’t remember weeping at any other point in my life. I till date feel so embarrassed of that incident.

I am crying in the middle of my classroom. Thankfully everyone else left the class. Shantanu standing before me lost for words. He felt more embarrassed than me. He even now used to make fun of me whenever we see someone cry in the movies.

I don’t remember for how long, somehow I collected myself and Shantanu felt so bad.

I finally said, "I really worked hard, I wanted to be a 9 pointer and make you proud.." dampening sob continued.

"That's the problem, you didn't enjoy it rather you did felt it hard"

I couldn't make out the meaning, he continued, "Do your duty don't expect the results is what Lord Krishna has said in Gita in fact most religions accept this philosophy. For all this time you loved what you did and you seldom cared the results"

I really felt the meaning in it. I understood the problem. I felt much better.

From then he never ever opened a word about my academics. Though I often used to update him on my marks. The astonishing thing is he always knew my marks, at times even before me.

Life went well. Even Chandra Pal's TOC paper these days didn’t scare me much. It’s an analytical paper and I never had problems with such stuff. I topped the class in the subject and things are now pretty well than ever.

But not now, I am running at heart bursting speed clutching salt in my hands.

34. SSs AAs and The 'B's

The 3rd sem exams are over now. After the last day of the exam, I spent the entire evening with Shantanu. I will miss him for a couple of weeks now. We spoke more about what to do in the sem hols.

Shantanu had plans to experiment his new speculative strategies staring the whole day at his laptop watching the market dance. He is of course a bit too greedy. He himself would agree that he would have made hell lot of profit in short term investments than losing gold in the speculative wave. But he never gave up.

I have asked mom and dad to come the next day of the last exam. Anu had plans for the last day evening with Kiran. I don’t know where? What? I didn’t bother anyway.

She came running into the hostel when the gates are just about to close. Sangi asked her about the date. She just gave a blushing weak smile. I felt it useless to bug her to get only a lie.

I asked Anu to come home with me like the last sem hols. But she refused stating that she would be fine at her home. I couldn’t make the meaning of this but I still didn’t persuade her anymore.

Mom and dad on the sight of us talked to Anu even ignoring me. Mom, “Anu dear where are your baggages”

“Aunty I am not going now?”

“Are you not coming with us?”

“No aunty I am going home, thanks”

“Why dear you don’t like being with us?”

“Oh aunty not like that, hmm.. but I, I don’t want to burden you, I will be fine, so kind of you. I don’t want to be more indebt of you”

Dad now, “Silly we feel pleased to take you home. You are more than a sister to Elvia. Come on now, get your things we will wait”

As usual there is no more arguments when Dad orders. Not just for me for anyone. We left to our home after my mom calling Anu’s dad. He did agree being an understanding father.

We spent time as usual but no hill stations or vodka this time. Cuddling ourselves in the bed enjoying the winter, we spent the days completely at home with visiting nearby places every now and then.

Thanks to the electronic revolution. I could stay in touch with Shantanu. He would chat a lot with me except when the market is open. I am contented that he did care about his career and I don’t have to blame myself.

As days went on I started longing for college. Not just Shantanu but all the hostel fun. The smuggling of vodka, movies, gossips, teases and a lot more of them.

At last back in college. The lush academic smell of college was refreshing. We settled in our room the day before reopening.

Girls, “What about vodka today to celebrate a new sem”

“You are becoming a dipsomaniac”

“Cool, I would like that, but no one would call someone who drinks vodka once in a month a dipsomaniac”

“Hmm… anyway it’s already late there will be many people in the shop we would get it by this weekend I am not in the mood today”, Sindhu

“Hmmm fine then”

“Hey does Shantanu know of all this?”, Anu

“Hell no, no way he would kill me”

“Why would he kill you it’s your life and “ with a sarcastic smile, “your vodka”

The 4th sem, first day. As usual we have collected the database of possible professors and other faculty who may handle us this time.

As feared one of the most deranged psychos of our department Asst Prof. Chandra Pal handled the paper Theory of Computing fancily called TOC, for us. In seniors batch he had failed nearly half the class. Sangi almost started to shiver.

Though failing is not a thing for me to be concerned of I still feared that if he awards poor grades that will bring me down. There were not many strategies to handle him either. The very sight of him was scary though he did looked like a saint.

“Do you know the results are coming out tomo”

“Ya I do, looking forward to see your Ss”

S is the highest grade one can get in a subject. I don’t know whether it’s an acronym for ‘super’ or something.

“What about you, what do you expect”

“All I would pray is to pass all the subjects nothing more” and we laughed at the statement.

The next day till morning break the results are not out. Most of us started cursing everyone from the office assistants till the VC for delaying the results. Many started to turn pale and cold. I could feel the same in myself.

Mind never stayed in the class. It kept reeling back to the results. How much would I get? How will he feel at my results? What will he say about it? Will Divya be satisfied? Such ramming thoughts ached my head.

After the class I literally ran to the department to check the results. Shantanu was already there. He greeted me with a weak smile. In that split second I made a million guesses from his expression.

Before I could finalize on a particular guess he, “You have got an S in algorithms and 'A's in 2 subjects and the labs. 'B's in the rest.”

33. May be...

This post is dedicated to my first follower Twisted Elegance

That week Friday as usual, yes now it has become usual, we were in the Ganesh temple. After a moment of silence Shantanu opened, “I always loved you being a topper”

He continued, “I am proud to have such a friend”.

I couldn’t make out the meaning of the statements. Is he also urging me like Divya?

Something made me feel guilty. Everyone around me wants me to be good at academics except myself. It’s not that I am willingly out of studies it’s just that I had more blissful things.

I didn’t reply for those lines. He too didn’t add anything on that subject again. His words kept ringing around my head.

A moment it felt like he is also one such typical student of this institute who run behind marks or those who are good at getting them. He is not a topper rather he rarely cared about studies then why would he say that?

I couldn’t take it anymore that night I messaged him, “Why did you talk about academics at the temple?”

“Just like that”

“Hey, pls temme what did u mean by that”

“hmm.. nothing I just wanted you to be a topper always”

“y? u rarely cared about all that”

“Of course I never did, ‘coz I never felt it my cup of tea, but u r diff”

“Hmm.. so what do u expect from me?”

“Nothing more than ur frndship but I just wish u r good at what u really r and nothing will change whatever u r at studies”

“So u would like me get those big numbers in my answer sheets”

“yup and I also wish that I am not subject to acquisitions by ur frnds”

“How do u know? did Divya tel u something?”

“nope none told me anything, it’s obvious no one has to temme, anyway don’t get me wrong, I just said, do what u like, I ll always be ur good frnd by ur side”

This conversation gave me a powerful urge than the Microsoft dream. I started to bug myself more with my books and Anu’s notes.

Not just that I want him to feel proud but also I don’t want him to feel guilty for being my friend and pulling my marks down. This boosted the push.

Semester exams have started. We had one or two day gaps between exams. We still met on the evening of every exam day. He rarely spoke about marks or anything like that. May be, fearing that I wouldn’t like that.

Yes he truly cared about what I would like and what I don’t. He valued me a lot. May be, because he doesn’t have many such friends or may be…

Whatever, I liked being so cared, loved and more than that being treasured. Once Shantanu’s thought deviated me from studying but now they reinforced my concentration.

First time in life I did something to please someone else but may be it’s not just a someone.

32. You being a topper..

Days passed by. Those were the happiest days of my life. We still met only inside the campus. We sat at various places for talks that are now not as stupid or dull ones as before.

We used to walk together around the campus. I used to wonder, at home, “Maaaaooomm...waaateer” I used to shout for water instead of taking those few steps.

But now, I have walked for 100s of steps but I still didn’t want to stop. Felt like I will walk for eternity if he walks by my side. We started getting each other well.

First date outside, I don’t remember who called whom. But we are now at the Ganesh temple which I used to go with my friends on Fridays. Last year this time I was wondering whether at any point in time I ll be in this temple with a guy, now it is a reality. I couldn’t avoid first years staring at us as we did last year.

Shantanu was more spiritual than myself. He feared God and literally used to talk to the almighty as if he is a good friend. He was well versed in all rituals and even for small things he pointed out the procedures, “You have to use your ring finger and don’t let any other finger touch..” lots of such things intriguing the theories behind all this.

I now stared losing interest in Algos and Datas nor structures whatever. Even Shantanu seemed to set aside trading. We never cared nor we did notice these changes.

Divya rightly warned me, “Hey how is everything?”

“Fine”, with a bright smile.

“You are having a good time with Shantanu”

“Yes, he is fine, we are good”

“Hmmm… take care of your academics”

“Don’t worry yaar I am fine, I am doing fine”

“I just wanted to warn you”

“Kind of you but I don’t need any warning”, I never in my life listened to advice nor I wanted to. I did what I felt is good. Till then I was never badly affected by this.

The 3rd assessment marks started coming out. I of course passed but not with the usual colors. Even Algorithms paper was not convincing.

That evening Divya came to our room, “Hi”


“Looks like your 3rd asses papers have come”

“ya they have”

“How are your marks”

”They are fine mama..”

”Don’t be humorous, heard you didn’t do them so well”

“Don’t you worry about that, it’s just best 2 out of 3 so I wantonly didn’t care much”, with a casual expression.

“All I could say is you really have to take care of your academics”

I just smiled back this statement didn’t ring a bell at least not as heavy as the following one, “ I really loved you being one of the toppers”

31. Just a Crush

An unknown surge in my heartbeat, my foot frequency, my very soul. I was feeling adrenaline, or may be it’s some variation of adrenaline.

He was already there, beaming at the sight of me. We walked in the canteen helped ourselves with some snacks. Most of the time we had been silent with mmmms and aaaas. Each one trying to talk something but deciding otherwise immediatelty.

He now stopped talking market in the fear of driving me away out of boredom. I could see he was as bad as myself in such talks. Krishna and his mashes flashed me for a second.

“Are you from a boys school?”

“No, only till primary school, later I shifted to a co-ed why?”

“Just like that, had you any girl friends at school”

“Hell no..”

“Not that I mean, did you have friends who are girls?”

“No I seldom spoke with girls”

“Oh why?”

“No specific reason, I don’t really like it”

‘it’ what does that ‘it’ refer to. I couldn’t figure out, for some reason I dismissed the idea of asking him. I wanted to ask him, ‘so you like talking to me’ again my internal censor board cut it out.

Almost an hour passed. We have spoke very less, less than 1/100th of what Shantanu would have spoke in the same time about American economy or I would have about data structures or algorithms in which I am now perceived ‘nerdy’ in our hostel.

I walked back with a feeling of melancholy missing him, it’s a strange feel something like missing mom and home to hostel but this is different. He is less than a mile away yet it felt like opposite poles, meeting him again is just less than a day away yet.

I entered hostel appeased. As soon as I entered my room Anu, Sangi and Divya jumped, “Hey what happened?”

“Why did he call you?”

“what were you doing all this time?”

“Did he propose you?”

“Did he say you look gorgeous?”

Lots more..

“Girls give me a break..”, my voice rang around for a while, followed by seconds of silence.

“I walked into the canteen he was already there..”, I narrated the full story.

Divya, “So you have feelings for him?”

“Hell no, he is just a friend”, I tried to look honest.

“Oh so you decorate yourself heavily to meet a friend!”, Sangi.

“Hey that’s usual make up”, I tried to manage.

“Ok yaar if you don’t wanna tell us fine, we will wait until you want to..”, Anu in a deploring tone.

“Hey it’s not that, but, may be he is just a crush, I mean there is nothing serious”

“So you have feelings for him”

“I said it’s just a crush”

“Crush certainly is a feeling, isn’t it?”

“Whatever, If something worth telling you happens I will for sure tell you, now lets go for dinner”

30. Is this what they call...

Our conversations grew longer than just a 4 line talk. The frequency of our talks also surged. Sorry couldn’t help it when a stocks wizard is around, to avoid using stock market language.

Shantanu mostly spoke of business, stocks economy or too trivial things like ‘what’s your fav color?’, ‘Have you watched Terminator?’ He is not just a economics freak but also crazy about movies. I presumed that’s his only entertainment.

Thankfully he didn’t bother to bring in our regular subject matters. It’s not that I am completely uninterested but definitely not for small talk.

It has now become a regular practice that we meet after the last class. Talk for a while before we go back to our hostels.

He is such a skipper. So I can’t always expect him to be there esp. when there is 1 or 2 classes in the afternoon. I feeling shy to look around the boys to search for him, used confirm his presence in the class by listening to his ‘yes’ during attendance.

On a day we had only one class in the afternoon. I listened to the attendance and there was a ‘yes’ for his name. So I assumed he is in the class.

After the class I waited for people to disperse out and was scanning for him. But he was nowhere to be found. I was perplexed. How could I miss him in a class of 75? Or How would he dare to ignore me?

With such myriad of thoughts I walked back to my hostel. I had a nap for a couple of hours a habit that I developed after joining this college.

When I woke up there was a dozen messages and half a dozen missed calls. Of course from him. I called back, “hello Shantanu”

“Hey hey sorry I am really sorry, I thought of telling you but I forgot, had a head ache so I stayed back in my room. I am really sorry…”

“hey relax cool, why are apologizing?”

“My friend told me that you were looking for me.. but I didn’t inform you before. That’s why..”

Embarrassing it was, I never thought that I were being so explicitly staying back in the class checking every face passing by the door, I wanted to say, ‘I was not looking for you’ but something stopped me, may be I didn’t want to hurt him or because it is a far fetched lie.

All I could come up was, “Ok no problem, hey but then I heard an ‘yes’ for your name”

With a prideful laugh, “Don’t you know ‘proxy’”

Just then I realized that such a concept is not restricted only to movies. “Oh This is what they call proxy huh!, interesting, hmmm.. I was sleeping so couldn’t respond to you,”

“That’s fine.. mmm..aaa..”

A momentary silence I assumed he is lost of topics to speak, but I was soon proved wrong it was not due to loss of words but hesitation.

“Can we.. I mean, can you..”


“Will you go to canteen in the evening?”

I was thinking when I just have to give a boolean answer, but at times they are the ones that are too difficult. I decided to be grey, “At times”

“Oh, will you come today”

“Today, well.. when shall I come”, immediately I realized that’s too outright a reply for a girl to give, at least in India.

“Now, or you take your time, tell me when you are ready, I will be there in the next 10 mins”

“Fine then I will be there in the canteen by 5”

“Ok then see you there”

We have spoken with each other a dozen times outside class or NSS, mostly on the way back. It was mostly like some kind of a time filler or an elevator talk but this time it’s going to be different.

For the first time in my life a guy has asked me out. Though canteen which is less than a 100 meters away, the range of a toy walky-talky can’t be considered out, yet this still is at least literally out. Out of my home, out of my hostel.

First time in my life I gave more than enough importance to my looks staring at the mirror for minutes trying to ignore the teases of Anu and Sang, I walked out.

29. Mesmerizing Microsoft

The other most important subject in our entire B.E. course is algorithms. If data structures is LKG then Algo is UKG without which no further growth as a core software engineer is possible.

I loved it. For the past 14 yrs of schooling and 1 yr of college I rarely had a chance to realize or appreciate the practicality and the purpose behind the myriad of theories but now I can key in all those brilliant algorithms and see for myself.

In mess while speaking with seniors, Anu, “Harini akka, Elvia is becoming a programming wizard, she has coded all the algorithms that were thought till day”

“Oh Elvia aiming for Microsoft, huh?”

“Akka she is exaggerating I am just programming things that I feel interesting”

“Hmm.. so you are a natural”

Another senior Sukanya joined, “Ya, not everyone enjoy programming, it’s good that you do, keep it up”

“Thanks ka..”, I don’t know whether I was blushing.

This conversation sowed a non-existent dream and aim in me. Getting into Microsoft is of course lucrative but I never gave a thought about it before. Now I feel an unknown push an urge that I never felt before.

Every now and then I had short encounters with Shantanu. Either one of us used to start the conversation but we stop after a couple of exchanges.

One such short small talk during our NSS meet, “Hi, Why did you choose CSE?” an assorted yet a desperate attempt.

“I just thought I would enjoy college life” I honestly confessed failing to come up with a better reply.


I countered, “What about you?”

“I wanted to be a Robotician, I missed ECE, I were the district topper in Engg cut-off yet being an OC I missed ECE in a leaf”, with a melancholic expression.

He was too proud, I don’t know whether that’s bad. The conversation is over now as both of us couldn’t come up with anything for now.

He being a new comer in our unit we asked him to give an extempore on any interesting topic of his choice. He gave an exemplary talk on Dollar Credit Crunch that even Y.V.Reddy, the then Reserve Bank chief himself would have been impressed.

But people didn’t feel the same way as they are not in anyway related to Reddy or Reserve bank. So we urged him to speak on something interesting. He stood clueless.

“Talk about your girl friends, or at least about your crushes”, he was literally ragged.

He fumbled and tumbled for a couple of mins and walked down. Pitying him we didn’t bother him more.

On the way back I, “Why are you always serious”

“No actually I am… I really don’t want to be so serious but I am not good at humor”

28. End of the Trip

We were lost for breath on mom’s words. Before anyone of us could answer mom continued, “Don’t stay awake late into night and spoil your health, go to bed on time”

With a sigh of relief we nodded.

In a couple of days we finished our trip and came back home. Sharing all the pics in Orkut and telling the tale to all my chat friends kept me occupied for the week.

Anu cried on the last day over breakfast. Mom and I asking were her what’s wrong, “I ‘re never been so happy in my life, thanks a lot for all this”, still crying.

Dad, “Why do you cry for that, relax, you are always welcomed here”

Mom, “Yes darl next time when Elvia comes here, you come with her. Infact we felt more than pleased to have you here”

“Thanks aunty, thanks uncle..”, unable to control the overflowing ire and tears.

I, “Mom she is just getting emotional she will be fine”

Mom, “Why not stay here for the next week?”

Anu, “I will love to aunty but I have to spend at least this one week with papa and I have to get my things”

All of us reached the railway station to bid adieu anyway we met her again on the 1st day of our 3rd sem.

The results have come and the worst part is I am one of the so called 9 pointers and hence I have to go through all the same, “If only you had put in some more efforts..” right from Divya to Mom. Thanks to seniors and their superb strategies.

Life went on normally, now we are seniors at the NSS though we had 3rd yrs still above us. But still it felt great to boss around the juniors. Answering their numerous questions like we pestered our seniors last yr.

Using this curiosity to the best various clubs and associations in the college conducted a lot of fresher related programs like, “Path Finder”, “Where you will be after 4th yr?”, “Pharos” etc etc.

We had a new guy from NCC and my classmate, joining NSS in the 2nd yr, Shantanu Redddy. He was too silent he spoke rarely except to his friend a guy who was already there in our unit.

One day I ventured, “Hi Shantanu..”

“hi Elvia”

“Why did you quit NCC to NSS”

“Hmm.. training myself to be tuff and disciplined is good but I wish I am more social and had chance to mix with people”

“But you rarely speak”

“here I am speaking” with a smile. I smiled back and returned.

Even in class he rarely spoke to someone other than his own little circle of friends but I didn’t bother much about him.

All of us had to give a seminar or a talk on any environmental subject in teams of 4. People who were greedily garrulous stumbled and fumbled. Anu the shy doll even after hours of practice in our room skipped more than half her speech.

Then came Shantanu’s team, he initiated the seminar with a brief intro and gave way for the others though he did it well my preoccupation about him as a male Anu I thought he skipped most of his talk. I was soon proved wrong.

He concluded the seminar with numerous facts and data for more than allotted time without any break in his flow and most astonishingly he never referred at his notes even once. He is not the only one to give such a performance but I guess most of us never expected that from him and we gave a lengthy applause.

I was speaking in length about Shantanu back in room that Anu and Sangeetha, my new roomie started teasing me.

Kiran’s flirting with Anu continued and Anu felt more happy about Kiran. This stopped me from stopping Anu.

27. Nascent Drunkards

The night went on with various naïve ideas of how to get a bottle of vodka. Finally we decided on a particular plan.

We left Anu at home and asked mom to stay back with her as she is not so well. This is part of the plan. We asked the driver to drive to the Munnar town.

We asked him to stay at a place and were hanging around the entire place looking for the right person.

Just then an autorickshaw stopped by us, “Where to go ma’am”

Sangeetha, “No thanks..” we stopped her.

Looking at our tensed up faces he offered, “I know all the places around give me a cue..”

“No sir it’s not that..hmmm”

“Can you do us a favor?”, Swarna.

“Ya sure.. anything I could do..”

“hmmm…” , “Hmm..” blushing at each other nervously.

“Can you buy us a bottle of vodka, we will pay you for buying”, I opened up.

He gave a differed smile, “ Ok, what brand and quantity”

We looked at Swarna as she is our senior, “hmmm… any good brand and 2 bottles, How much would that cost?”

“Hmm… 2 bottles, 600 for a good brand and I need 200 rupees as my commission”

“But that’s too much….”, Sangeetha.

We cut her short and offered him a 1000 rupee note. “Hey wait take us with you, stop the auto at a distance and get it”

We hid the bottles in a travel bag. Sangeetha reminded us of the side dish and based on our only tutorial, south Indian movies, we bought Lays and pickles.

We entered the cottage trying our best to control blushing. Mom got a little suspicious but didn’t enquire. We impatiently waited for mom to sleep. Sindhu still protested.

At 11.00PM we are sure mom and others are in deep sleep. After a good struggle we opened a bottle and just then Anu reminded, “Hey aren’t we supposed to dilute it with soda or something”

We in chorus, “Oh shit!!”

Sindhu, “I guess we have soft drinks in the fridge”

Swarna kissed her and ran to get Coke and 7up. We could feel our hands shiver. We mixed 1:2 vodka and 7up in 4 glasses except for Sindhu.

I stuffed my mouth with lays and “1,2,3 up” all of us had almost the entire glass into our mouths.

Anu, “hey I feel like fainting, I am drunk, I am drunk” in a drowsy voice.

“Stop it idiot it’s not even a second since you finished the glass”.

“After 2 glasses all of us were really feeling a little dizzy. Sindhu failing to temptation, helped herself a glass. The first bottle is not empty yet but all of us are now in a very bad condition.

Sangeetha groped to the bathroom and vomited on the way. I was also feeling nausea. We shaking each other hid the bottle under the bed in a corner. Washed the glasses, sprayed the room thoroughly with perfumes and helped ourselves with gums.

The next morning, we woke up at 11.00 and fumbled our way to the dinning table. Mom reading newspapers, “what were you girls doing last night?”

26. Simply Beautiful

Anu obviously was petrified. She didn’t speak a word till we reached home. We went back to our room.

After immense difficulty Anu, “Who are they?”

“They are my grandpa’s people”

“Don’t ask much about all that will tell you later”

For the next week we seldom left home except for my Karate classes. Anu reluctantly tried to be part of the class, my old karate suit perfectly fitted Anu.

Kiran never stopped messaging, ‘how are you honey’, ‘miss u darl’, ‘dying 2 c u’ loads of such irritating stuff.

I hesitantly created my profile in orkut as advised by one of my friends stating that it would be a very good time killer. I spent most of the time in the internet mostly stupid stuff like social networking, chatting with long lost relatives and cousins at far of places, getting to know new friends through small talk.

Anu kept watching TV and dreaming and mashing with that creep. Anyways we had my laptop and PC so that both of us can do pointless internet stuff without disturbing others.

Pitying us dad proposed a picnic to the hill stations. But myself, Anu and mom alone, it doesn’t seem good fun. So I tried again called every friend in college. Finally the final list Sindhu, Sangeetha and Swarna agreed to accompany us.

We borrowed dad’s friend’s Endeavor. Mom, myself and Anu started with plans to visit every one’s place and pick them up. To collect these 3 girls it took more than a day with breakfast, lunch and dinner at each one’s place.

The trip was thoroughly exciting. The best part is getting out of the car without bothering the sun. Ride through the dense forests at the western ghats, stopping at every site of a new species be it plant or animal, admiring the majestic forest elephants.

Anu, “I miss Kiran, if only he is here..hmmm”

Should you ask, Anu broke down as we four jumped on her. The best part of the journey, the stay in the estate bungalow at the Wahuwara estate a few kms away from Munnar. The cottage is so private. You could see only the lush green tea leaves on all sides, a few paces up the hill through the estate, a cute little water fall, which is a common phenomenon in that place.

Not just Anu now everyone of us couldn’t resist how romantic the place is. Swarna started planning her honeymoon in a similar cottage.

We choose a single big bedroom and decided that all five of us will stay there. At night in our bedroom, “ How nice it would be if we had some vodka and a porn movie now..”, Swarna.

“Oh heavens, had you vodka before?”


“Don’t bluff queen of fiction”

“Hey guys believe me, I did”

“oh k then when did you have it?”, “How did you get it”

“Once I were to my aunt’s place in Bangalore and I found this bottle in my cousin’s bedroom when I just was exploring his room when he went to college, I just tasted it a few mls and the feel was great”, with a pride like she has just revealed her Olympic achievement.

I, “Hey then lets try it out”

“Are you crazy?”

“How dare you even think of that?”

“Stop kidding”

After a momentary silence, “Hey are you serious”, I nodded.

“Ok then How will you get it?”

“So you girls are with me?”

“No way”, Anu.

“Hey please not when I am with you”, Sindhu.

25. Action at the theater Doors

The next day we were to a shopping mall and were roaming around doing window shopping. My cousin had a very big movie collection and we went to his place to collect them in my activa which dad bought me on the excuse of missing +2 tuitions. Riding around the city in a 2 wheeler was great fun.

We missed the cinema theaters, dad will not approve but yet we really are getting too bored after a week of only roaming around our area and watching movies at PC. So we told mom that we are going out to shop for Anu and we left for the matinee show. Right from the beginning of the movie a group of guys were pestering us, we didn’t mind it much.

After the movie one of them hit Anu’s back with his palm and pushed my pony tail. I shouted back , “Hey How dare you do that?”

“Why do you also want to be hit at your back? Ask your friend how was it?”

Anu started crying, I, “See what will happen of you guys”

“Oh please please don’t do anything to us, we are sorry..” comically mimicking like they are scared and laughed for themselves. I felt like blasting them off myself but didn’t think that’s a good idea.

“You guys will pay for this..” and we started moving out.

“Oh you are going to the police huh? Uncle uncle police uncle that guy has hit my back..” laughing aloud, louder this time. A feeling of red hot iron running through my veins. I gave a thought about police but I ruled it out for two reasons, one I don’t want to get caught by dad and other these bastards deserve something more.

Right outside the parking I called, “I am teased at Kirshna theater, my friend is crying they hit her back and pulled my hair, I feel very embarrassed” in a sob and put the phone near Anu for the other party to hear her weep.

We waited there for some 5minutes. Anu kept me pushing to move away but I am determined to see what happens to these son of b***hs. They came out of the parking place and they did notice us and started circling us and teasing us with obscene terms, Anu now crying more scared than agony. I am losing my temper.

The sight of the shiny black scorpio caught my eyes and my red hot face gave an elated smile. I could see their bewilderment and that didn’t last for more than seconds.

If not for their skins they all would have been broken down to pieces. But I wanted more, understanding that I am not contented they stripped those creeps of their clothes and I felt contented seeing them limp away with their half torn clothes.

“Why would you want to call us you would have just told them who you are”

“I wanted more than their apology such people need to be taught a lesson”

“Anyway you would have at least told us what exactly the problem is we wouldn’t have bought ten people for those kids.”

“I told him that we are being teased by a small mob”

“May be he is too caring of you, anyway you girls take care of yourselves we would better come with you till home”

“No we would be fine and I don’t want dad to know”

“Oh that’s why you called us, hmm.. ya and I hope they won’t even dream of disturbing you anymore, pity them, poor kids”

“Don’t call them kids and they don’t deserve your pity. Ok see you later bye”

“Ok relax, Hey by the way heard you are in college how is everything and if any problem don’t hesitate we have help even in your city”

“Oh good I know that thanks for the suggestion Dad already have people there”

“ Of course dad even has people here but why did you call us, so just in case give a ring”

“Hmmm.. sure” blushing wide.

24. Back Home

Mom and dad came directly to the camp site on the last day. My friends wished that I travel with them to college. Even I didn’t want to miss the bus journey with all the extra loud cheering. Mom and dad followed our bus to college.

Initially, I felt diffident. I was unable to verbalize my inner excitement. Later it became sub conscious. I initiated the loud cheer whenever our bus overtook another vehicle. We waved to every passer by. Boys cheered whenever they came across a cute girl in the road, and you know what we did.

All good things have to end. Finally we reached college. I bid adieu to everyone after, numerous group photos at various spots; getting phone numbers and mail IDs. I left our college with a heavy heart. I wished, the camp continued for a few more days, but the sun and Kiran suppressed that thought.

We had to vacate the hostel, I already had my things at my uncle’s. I had plans to collect them back when I come back to college after holidays.

Mom and dad never stopped making fun of ‘computer akka’ throughout our journey home. I was bored of hitting them back. Certainly they didn’t fail to notice me being thinner and duller. Dad as usual started, “What are you going to do in these holidays?”

I didn’t know the answer yet. Dad proposed a computer class, and to continue my classical dance class, which I didn’t love much.

Mom thoughtfully suggested to invite my friends to our place. That really was an awesome idea, but I wondered, whether my friends would turn up. I called them instantly.

Anu had no choice. She badly wanted to be with me, than feeling lonely with her dad and grand ma. So she said she will come in a couple of days. Maria was not sure and Divya couldn’t come. She had a lot of plans for holidays. She had a lot of cousins and she would be having a nice time with them.

Anu reached that Friday morning. I was waiting for her for more than an hour. Southern railway as usual was late that time. Our annoyed driver felt relieved and enthusiastically carried her baggage to the car. We right then started planning for the days, after the usual big hug.

Mom beamed at the sight of Anu. "Welcome home Anu darling." For some reason Anu so emotional hugged my mom, and I saw a tear at the end of her eye. She was trying to make up. I pulled her out to not let her feel embarrassed. Mom had breakfast ready.

"Anu dear you must be tired of the journey. Refresh yourself with a shower, and we ll have breakfast."

Anu was about to say, 'It's alright..' She cut it out, partly on herself and also because of me stamping on her leg. "Ouch..."

"What happened!"

"Nothing mom..", I pulled Anu to my room.

"Sorry yaar, I.."

"Oh it's alright. Now, get yourself a shower. It's a strict No No to have breakfast without bathing." I winced.

"Ya ok.. nice habit. Well, hmmm, it's just that we sort of used to the hostel..", Anu winked, and left to the bathroom.

After breakfast we locked ourselves in my room. We were lost in talks and the music in my 7.1 surround speakers which were bought after a half a day fasting and huge struggle with dad. Mom banged at our doors for lunch.

We spent the rest of the day in my room watching movies; playing something silly and talking to mom. Over dinner, dad said, "Do you people have any fruitful plans for these holidays?". Our blushing explained it all. He didn’t continue the topic knowing it's pointless.

23. Very Verge of Tolerance

After breakfast we were split into teams to be sent to various places to clean up the mess in those public spots of the village. Working in the hot sun like daily laborers, I got even my outer garments wet. I felt like I was just out of the shower completely dressed, except that I was as tired as I had an acid shower.

Guys were staring at me. I was not sure whether they felt pity or physical attraction, but their looks made it worse for me. It was fun in a way, working with guys and gals, with the village people looking at us like ETs, guys’ chivalry and showing offs were all enjoyable except for the cremating sun.

After lunch we had a 3 hr break, I was dozing off seated in a chair, that was the only other time other than my college classrooms I was dozing off being seated. The food was horrible but not too bad than the hostel food.

Anu came to me, “Hey you look like hell.”

“Hmm.. too hard a service, you look too cool!”

“Yup, I am in the teaching team, Kiran put me there”, with a sense of pride.

‘Fuck him’ I heard myself say.

“Shall I ask him to see whether you can also be shifted to our team.”

I wanted to say ‘No thanks’ but something stopped me, must be the dampness at my back that created sticky sense with the chair. I didn’t think I could do that anymore. I gave up, “Yes please..”

In the evening another couple of hours field work but it was much better than the morning work. Then we got ready for the night culturals. At dinner Kiran and Anu were seated together, and I sat next to Anu, they continued mashing in a whisper, I regretted for sitting next to her.

After dinner kiran told me that I can be in the teaching team, and me having my laptop with me was an advantage that they are planning for a computer awareness part in the teaching program. I really was not interested in using my laptop for such purposes, in fact I hate others touching my laptop, but then I was left with no options.

Sensing my waver, Anu assured me that my laptop will be safe, and I will always be with my laptop. I asked Kiran whether they could get me an external keyboard the next time they go for grocery shopping to the town.

“That’s not a problem”, with his usual boasting smile.

I offered a 500rupee note he refused, and said that he will get it through the NSS fund.

The next day, I was in the classroom with the rest of the teaching team in a corner. Initially, I felt irritated about the idea and the village students pestering me. Later, I felt pity for them, I don't remember when was the first time I used a PC, but these students there had rarely heard of it. I tried my best to be as patient as possible, and thought them the basics.

Kiran hung over the place and was bossing around, showing off to Anu and at times even to me, every sight of him irritated me. I tried myself to control my temper, but he flirting with Anu right before my eyes, I started feeling helpless.

When I first heard that Anu was coming with us to camp, I felt very happy about it. Kiran used his clout, spoke to his friends in Anu’s unit and changed her to our unit. But then, I started regretting it. More than that, I regretted much for being in the teaching team, I thought I would have rather preferred to be in the hot sun.

But then, things were out of my hands. I didn’t want to let down those enthusiastic brats hanging around me all the time, calling me ‘computer akka’ (Computer sister). I didn’t want to leave my laptop in someone else’s responsibility, so I tolerated everything and tried my best to avoid them both.

On the last day of the camp we were chatting enthusiastically about the camp in our hall with other girls. I tried my best to avoid Anu. Every sight of her set me on fire. In course of the talks, Anu wanting to talk to me, tried to tease me, it was not so mocking but my accumulated annoyance burst out, “I am better off than flirting around with such a cheap guy”.

Right the moment I finished the line I regretted it, Anu silently sobbed and left the discussion. I was now on fire out of embarrassment. Anu was very sensitive, and I believe, I know more about her than any other soul on earth but then, I felt like killing myself.

The next morning on the way back to college I apologized to Anu. Anu, “If you don’t like Kiran I will stop speaking to him, you are more important to me than him”

“No, no problem, I am sorry I was just out of my mind last night.”

“So shall I speak to Kiran”

“Yes” I said with a smile, but I didn't know then, how big a mistake it was.

22. NSS SuMMer Camp

We neared our dreaded end sem exams of our 2nd sem. SivaSubramanium the coding wizard proved himself in the PDS lab. The faculty incharge for the lab Dr.Sekar was a stubborn psycho. He never hesitated to award a ‘0’ if you didn’t get the output irrespective of the number of lines you had typed in and how good they were.

A dozen people in my class had their internals as complete 0s. Others had single digits. Lucky for me, I successfully finished the lab end sem with a good amount of efforts. But this Subramanium guy finished the exam well before time and got full marks and kicked everyone in shock. Even the Terror Sekar himself was petrified.

Finally, the exams came to an end. Good or bad I was in no mood to think about them. We had to go for our NSS camp the day after our last exam. After the camp we will have a good; more than a month; of holidays to train ourselves on how to kill time.

Our NSS unit’s Gen-Sec has arranged our college bus to take us to the village where we had to or at least supposed to, do some social service for the next 10days. I hate summers and my dad even tried in vain to bring an air conditioner to my hostel room. Come on now, my dad loves me a lot, and so he sincerely tried.

But then in the camp, I had to stay in an elementary village school with asbestos sheet roof, which doesn’t even have an electric fan. The very thought was terrifying. This was not all, there was more. The public bathroom and toilet, sleeping on the floor, with no liquidators, but coils that add to the temperature with their smoke and failing miserably to keep the mosquito battalion in check.

I got my eyes wet. I wanted to call and speak to mom, but that was of no help, and that will make mom miserable. I repeated dad’s words, “We have to train ourselves to encounter disasters".

I don’t remember, how long it took for me to fall asleep, precisely faint. I was being shaken by a senior akka (Elder sister). I got up with a heavy head ache, fumbled for my mobile and checked the time, 4.30AM. I never in my life remember seeing such a thing in any clock, I never woke up before 6AM. I woozily walked with my clothes and soap to the bathroom. Our seniors were standing sentry around the place to ensure our privacy.

I was then well wake after such horrible bath in a pathetic bathroom, but was too tired. I sat there at the school steps waiting to go for the yoga class conducted by one of our seniors. Mobile rang, “Sweetie, How are you? How is the place? Did you have a nice sleep?” in a cool tone.

I was more irritated than tired, and more angry than being doleful, “Mom, don’t you try and irritate me, I am dying here.”

“Oh dear, I didn’t mean to, why what’s wrong?”

“Everything is wrong here, I will tell you later”

“Ok fine, you said it’s a public bathroom finish bathing soon, it’s already dawn”

“I finished bathing half an hour ago”

“What? But it’s only six now”

“Yes, I woke up by 4.30”

“Wow! How nice, grandma would be very happy.”

“Damn grandma, put the phone down”.

Mobile rang again, after a few seconds I hesitantly picked up, “Honey, dad here.”

“yes dad", in a dull tone, trying my best to show that I was hiding my annoyance.

“Don’t communicate your annoyance to mom, nor anyone else, she is upset.”

“Sorry dad, but she is teasing me, I am already in a massive miff, and she making fun of me is..”

“Hmm.. I understand but you waking up before dawn is something incredible…” sounding sarcastic.

“You too dad, hate you.”

“Cool it dear, take care, this will be a good learning experience, life has got a lot more horrific things.”

“Dad please I am in no mood for philosophies, take care of mom, I will be fine, bye.”

“Ok it’s just another week, see you.”

I rather felt it was ages long before I could get back to civilization.

21. Why couldn’t I?

I was not a good actor. Matter of factly, I was not really willing to hide how dull I felt. I guess Krishna got the point. I saw him mash with another girl, perceived as the beauty queen of our class, at times even the entire year. But I rather felt Sundari as nothing more than a well fed duckling decorated with tonnes of costume.

Sundari a malayali, was fair and had a glowing complexion and gave too much thought about make up. She was enthusiastically mashing, my apologies, speaking with Krishna.

The next day I saw Krishna and Iswarya in an enthusiastic 'mash', oops, sorry again, 'discussion', leaning over the lawn fence. I have seen a lot of such people sitting or leaning over it and talk for hours together. I wondered whether the fence was built for small talk.

I always wondered, 'what do they speak for so long?'. Even if it were about the nuclear deal it wouldn’t take this long and certainly the G8 summit is no fun. Then what else is it.

When I came back to hostel I couldn’t resist bursting out, “What on earth these people speak for ages?”

“You should ask them and not us”, Maria.

“Ask Anu, she must have had enough experience to answer you” Divya, with a smirk.

Anu controlled blushing and acted innocent, “Hey we don’t speak that long.”

“Ok anyway you people speak, what do you speak?”

“Honey what did you have for lunch?” Maria imitating Kiran.

“Only a handful of sambar rice darling.” Divya as Anu.

“Oh dear, you got to take care of yourselves, eat well, you don’t have to be a kid always, do you?”, I as Kiran.

“Ok sweet heart, I know you want me to grow…” Maria as Anu.

Anu blasted, “Stop it gals this is not funny.”

Me, “Then tell us what you people speak”

Anu turned back acting like she was busy with something else, and as if she got deafened for the past minute.

I checked my mobile which was still in silent mode, since the time I silenced it for classes. It showed 2 missed calls, as usual from mom.

I called her back, “Hello mom”

“hello honey how are you, are you alright?”

“Nothing went wrong in the past 10hrs after your previous call”

“Don’t tease me. I was worried you didn’t attend the call’

“Mom please, don’t over react, I forgot to unsilence my mobile, so didn’t hear your call.”

“I am not over reacting, you sound annoyed, what’s wrong?”

“Oh mom please, I am perfectly alright.”

“No aunty, she is lying, she want to mash with Krishna..”, Anu shouted.

“Whose voice is that? Is that Anu give the phone to her”, mom.

“No mom she is just pulling my legs, I ll talk to you later, bye” I disconnected the call and jumped over Anu, and she was laughing being hit by me.

20. This is Mashing

We cleaned up the mess. Anu felt tired after vomiting. We washed the place ourselves. Our first experience of porn was botched up. That night, I felt very uneasy. The onset of summer or the end of autumn made it more uncomfortable for me.

Life went on as usual. The 2nd asses results were coming out. We had started identifying class focus points. Raguvarman, the most geeky looking guy, we used to call him ‘Ambi’ derived from the movie ‘Anniyan’. That character in the movie depicted Ragu well. He was arduous, ethical and tooo sincere.

Ragu not only used all the text books, but also the references. He used a minimum of 4 books for every single paper, when a few never even cared about even a single book for the entire semester. He spoke lot about the books, he had more knowledge about their availability in libraries and book stores than the knowledge about the subject itself.

The other nerdy geek, Krishna, he was an active guy in the class, a 9 pointer in the 1st sem. You let him talk on any topic, and he will continue to talk till your tensile strength breaks of his assertiveness. I do agree he was nerdy, but why every word of him should boast on that fact.

One day during a morning break Krishna came to me and tried to make a conversation, “Hi”.


“hmmm..Have you finished the lab observation for PDS lab.”

“Ya, but I am not sure, how good it is.”

“Huh who cares, it is too much for that idiot that you have completed it.” With a sarcastic smile. “Hey don’t worry I am not going to ask yours for copying” continuing the smile.

I returned a dull smile.

Krishna continued, “Anyways my program works pretty well, by the way are you in NSS?”

“Yes, I am in unit II”, to avoid looking indifferent I added, “Are you also in NSS”

“Na, I joined NCC Navy, you know there are a lot of pretty girls in there..” with the same laugh.

I didn’t know whether I should snub him or feel great about his honesty, he continued, “Heard you have a sister, what’s she?”

“Nope I don’t have a sister, some people mistake my cousin for my sister”

“Oh so you and your cousin are so close. Cool, what’s she?”

“Ya we are, she is working as a SAP consultant in Hyderabad.”

“Oh where did she do her B.E.”

“B.tech from MIT in E&I”

“So she learned SAP privately”

“No she got trained in it from the company”

“These days IT companies recruit a lot of non-IT graduates and employ them with us, this is mocking, not to mention of these computer institutes, they…..”

The extempore continued for another 5 mins and thankfully the next hour Chemistry ma’am entered the class.

“Ok take care, talk to you later”

“Ok bye..” wondering how much more he has to speak on this topic.
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