This time, I've added two more perspectives. I felt it was needed to give the story a fuller view.
I enter the venue looking around at the place. It has come out better than I had expected. My eyes fall on a figure standing in a white shirt with blue jeans. I have to accept it, he is good-looking. The white shirt suits him. I notice him looking at me and when our eyes meet, I see appreciation in his. He takes two tentative steps in my direction before stopping and looking at something over my shoulder. I don't have to turn around as the centre of his attention comes to stand right in front of me the very next moment. 'Hey, you look gorgeous!'
Not very accustomed to being praised like this, I blush at Ayush's compliment, mumbling a thanks. When I shift my focus back to the place Maan was standing at, I notice him turning around and walking away with Anaya - who just came in with Ayush - following right behind him.
Before I can take a step forward, Ayush distracts me by opening his arms a little and asking how he looks. I smile and murmur an appreciative word after briefly looking at his six feet two frame. 'Come. Let's begin the party.'
I notice his hand coming towards my wrist and deftly manoeuvre it, 'Excuse me please. I have a few things to look after. You enjoy yourself.'
That said, I hurriedly move away from him to the far away corner where I see Maan standing alone. I wonder where Anaya went as she had followed him a few minutes earlier.
Maan turns to look at me when I near him. His eyes are indecipherable for a few moments before turning friendly. I wonder if I'm just imagining the rapidly changing emotions his eyes betray. 'The place looks good, doesn't it?'
He looks at the outcome of what the two of us as well as the others have been planning for. 'I was just thinking that.'-------------------------------------Ayush's POV
I look at her as she walks away from me to Maan. She looks pretty. I wonder why I haven't noticed her beauty till now. Probably because I was always after the pomp-and-show girls to actually see her around me. This time, I know that the girl I'll want to be with isn't going to want to be with
me. I sigh thinking that before finding a group of my friends entering the venue and dragging me in with them.-------------------------------------
After Anaya leaves to greet some other friends, out of the corner of my eye, I see her walking towards me but I don't turn to face her. Only when she is close enough do I turn to face her. Her almond-shaped eyes lined with a black liner bring out the honey colour of her eyes. The light brown hair falling down halfway through her back frame her face making the high cheekbones prominent. As she comes closer, I realise that unlike Anaya - who is as tall as me - Geet has a height which suits her physique. A few inches shorter than my five eleven.
She stops in front of me and I snap out of my assessment. Looking at her, I smile before averting my gaze from her to not let my thoughts blurt out and embarrass both of us. I want to tell her she looks beautiful but how? It will make it awkward if I just say it. Let's give it a try
, I think. A moment later, what comes out is the praise for the decorations. Fail!
My mind mocks me. Try again Maan, try again!
A few seconds pass in silence as I race my mind to think of an appropriate way to praise her. "You look pretty." No, it's a little too much. "This colour suits you." Is it even a compliment? "You look nice." Yes, this is good.
I take in a silent deep breath and look at her. 'Your dress is very pretty and it looks... nice... on you.'
My voice almost fades till the end of my words as I wonder where that came from. Did she even hear it? I'm sure I sounded dumb.
I only get to see her smile and mouth a 'thank you'
before the whole gang of my friends come towards where we are standing . Jerk, idiot, stupid!
I curse Ayush in my head when he comes to stand beside Geet and claims her attention.-------------------------------------
Two hours pass by in games and snacking. I lurk around the tables, sometimes drinking juice, sometimes chatting with a classmate here and there, looking over at all the people having fun; playing games and socialising with each other. I've never been the one to party or socialise so I just stay at the edges and observe. The most shocking part comes when I witness some crazy friends actually throwing snacks on each other. It is both amusing and disgusting to watch.
The music at the background is hip and upbeat. The volume turns up the moment a latest song of a famous singer is played and a few students start grooving to its beats in the centre of the place. One by one, almost everybody's pulled in and I'm taken by surprise when Ayush yanks me towards the dancing group, telling me to dance. I see Maan and Anaya already dancing and looking my way as Ayush drags me towards them. Just when Ayush leaves my wrist and starts dancing himself, I excuse myself telling him I don't dance and that they continue with it. I go back to sit at a table and just observe as the three friends enjoy the party.
As I look at them, I marvel at their friendship. Ever since I've joined this college three years back, I've always seen them together and having the time of their lives. Their bonding is something to envy but to me, it feels great to witness such an enviable friendship in front of my eyes. Looking at them, I perceive that Anaya has attractive features while Ayush is a little boyish with a lean body and cute looks. Maan, on the other hand, is the opposite of Ayush in looks. His features are mature and eye-catching, his body a little built as though he exercises regularly. Though shorter than his friend, Maan's form is more predominant than Ayush's.
The dancing group slowly disperses as the party-lovers feel the need to snack and munch. I'm standing by the food stalls when Ayush comes to stand beside me with Maan and Anaya closely behind him. 'It was fun. You should have joined us Geet.'
I smile at Ayush wordlessly, noticing the strange glances Maan throws our way. In a matter of two minutes, the whole of their gang forms a loose circle and everybody starts chatting at once. I only smile and nod at Ayush as he talks to me with Maan and Anaya occasionally joining in. I'm standing beside Ayush with Anaya on his other side and Maan on Anaya's left. Every few seconds, my eyes drift to Maan's figure and I notice his usually jovial self a little subdued. Our eyes meet a number of times and I smile at him if he doesn't look away just as quickly as he looks at me. The smile he returns is not what I've often seen on his face; it doesn't reach his eyes. Anaya excuses herself from the group and Maan follows her when she heads out of the party area after helping herself to a soft drink.-------------------------------------Anaya's POV
Will I ever be able to tell him how I feel about him? He never considers me more than a friend and he's always been that special person for me. He doesn't know it and I don't intend to disclose it to him because I know he has feelings for someone else. How I wish that someone was me. I walk away from the group to get a soft drink needing to be a little away from him at the moment.-------------------------------------
I notice Anaya leaving the party and after another glance at the way Ayush is chatting with Geet, I follow her. I see Anaya sitting on a fence with her eyes closed and a slight smile on her lips. With her hair flying slightly in the cool breeze, she looks pretty. Beautiful even. All these years she's been with me and I haven't noticed this about her. But then, when did I ever look at any girl after that fateful day three years ago when Geet came in front of my eyes?
I move to stand by Anaya, leaning on the same fence she is sitting on. She opens her eyes and looks at me. 'Why did you come out of the party?'
I ask her and her answer comes in a second late. She just wanted to sit at her favourite spot for a while - which is this fence - she replies. I wonder why she looks a little upset but I don't voice out my concern because she jumps down a moment later and is back to her chirpy self, demanding that we head back inside or we'll miss the fun. I shake my head a little, telling her the party is almost over but I follow her nonetheless.
When we reach inside, I notice that everybody's leaving. We stop at the place our group was standing at where only Geet and Ayush are left now. Ayush suggests we all leave too and we head to the gates. Geet is walking a little behind the three of us so I slow down my pace letting Anaya and Ayush lead the way. When our steps match, I ask Geet if I can drop her as it's late. She seems indecisive. Before she can reply, Ayush calls out to Geet. 'I'll drop you Geet.'
Her answer is polite but instant and firm, with no room for arguments. 'No thank you. I'll manage.'
Since we came in separate cars, I tell Anaya and Ayush to head home in his car while I'll leave in my own. Geet turns to go to her hostel and walks a little farther. I wait for Ayush to drive away before turning my car to left and following Geet. She is walking to the bus stand when I reach her and stop my car, rolling the passenger seat window. 'Geet, it's late. I'm not sure if you'll find a bus at this time. Let me drop you.'
I speak in a single breath, leaning towards the open window. She thinks for a moment before sitting in the car.
I start driving towards her hostel and the only random talks we have are about the party. More than half of the drive goes by in silence and when I park my car outside the building, she turns to me and smiles warmly. I smile back wholeheartedly for the first time in the evening. It's the first time this evening that I've got some of her undivided attention without having my dear friend jumping at every chance he gets to talk to Geet. As she puts her hand on the door handle, she says, 'Thanks Maan!' 'You're welcome Geet!'
With one foot out of the car, she turns back to look at me and her next words stun me. 'You're looking good Maan.'
Saying that, she gets out and walks in the building while I sit here and smile foolishly, happy to know she actually noticed how I looked in the party. -------------------------------------
The mock exams are coming up and we have only one month to prepare. With all the party hullabaloo, the students haven't had a lot of time left over to study and that has pushed us a little behind schedule. The routine gets strict and I, or any other student for that matter, is left with very little time to socialise or hang out with friends. Even though the sword of exams looming on our head is enough to drive us to the extent of forgetting to have proper meals, I can't help but remember and miss the week-long almost friendship I was able to form with Geet. I still see her in the class sitting a few seats apart but oblivious to my presence, drowned in the lecture. I still sometimes bump into her while entering or leaving the class and all that is exchanged between the two of us is a smile or a 'Hi'
. I still take my fill of glancing at her when she sits alone in the common room, not having a good excuse to join her while she studies.
There's an increment in my routine now, which materialises every alternate day. After Anaya and Ayush leave for the day, I drive my car just to the corner of the block and park it in front of the cafe in a way that it isn't noticed but I can see the happenings inside the glass-walled building. I often see her standing at the counter, or combing her way through the tables with a tray in her hand, or smilingly greeting the customers. I figure out that her shift is not more than three hours but as the mock exams are nearing, she stays for longer than her shift, sitting at a table in the corner with her books and studying in the peace of the early evening while a stray customer walks in occasionally. I only leave from the place after I see her coming out and turning towards the nearest bus stand, disappearing out of my sight.-------------------------------------
I need to get this chapter done today but these sums are creating so much of a trouble for me. I look around to find the Algebra teacher so he can explain the technique but I'm told that he left early for the day and might not come in for a day or two. I don't know what I'm going to do now. Who else can help me with this?
Certainly not the girl I sit beside as she isn't very good at Math. Racing my mind on who to turn for help, refusing the idea of calling Baba - who is great at Math - because of the time differences, I sit back in the common room. Looking around to come up with a name desperately, I catch the passing silhouette of Maan who is going by his regular route that I've often seen him taking after his classes end. Bingo! That's it! 'Maan,'
I call out to him before he disappears. I hurriedly get up from the seat and with quick steps, reach where he stops. His expression confuses me. Why is he looking so shocked? 'Hi! Are you free?'
His stance doesn't change but the deep eyes respond by questioning. 'Actually, I need a little help with this chapter I'm stuck on in Algebra. The professor's gone for the day and he might not come for a few days, so I was wondering if you could help me with it. If you have time, that is.'
His response is instantaneous and it startles me a bit. The shocked look on his face suddenly shifts to a bright smile with his eyes twinkling like he got some prize. 'Of course, why not! I have time.'
He tones his expression down but his eyes are still shining. I walk back in the room and he comes in this time. I show him the problems and he takes the book from me, concentrating on how to solve them. In the few seconds which he stares at the book, my focus shifts from the book to his face. The frown on his forehead straightens before he looks up at me and I avert my gaze to the book. He has probably caught me in the act but he doesn't say anything. The only indication of it is his hesitant throat clearing, after which he brings my attention to the problems at hand and explains the tricks and techniques.
One thing I come to know about Maan is he is brilliant at Math. He explains everything to me in a way which makes it easier for me to learn how to tackle the different types of problems from this chapter. After about an hour, the chapter is almost done and I thank him profusely for his help. He brushes it off and tells me to come to him if I need help with Math at all. I thank him again before we part to go to our respective ways.-------------------------------------
The next two weeks are busier. Algebra become easier after Maan explains that chapter and I carry on with my exam preparation without breaks. So absorbed I get in my own studies that I don't notice much around me. When I see Maan one day from afar, sitting in the garden with Ayush, books sprawling around them, I'm reminded of all the times I've spent sitting with Maan, either working in silence or laughing over the jokes we once shared. As much as I dislike parties, I have to admit that the time spent in preparing for the party with Maan has been good. Something I'll remember if I ever organise a party.-------------------------------------
A week before our exams commence, I'm sitting in my car outside the cafe with my book open in front of me and glancing at the girl working in there every few seconds. The evening passes as she works and then settles down in her regular place to study. How the evening turns into night, I don't know. Only after my eyes fall on the time which the clock on the dashboard indicates, it occurs to me that it's later than her usual time to be sitting here. Maybe she doesn't notice it's getting dark either. I glance at her again wondering how to make her realise the time when I see her getting up and collecting her bag. Bidding the plump cafe owner a goodbye, she walks out into the silent night.
My eyes trail after her and I notice a group of three boys, more like hoodlums coming from the opposite way. If they don't turn in the alleyway, Geet is going to have to cross them. The idea doesn't seem very appealing and my concern over it confirms when I see them looking at her in an indecent way. Geet keeps up her confident gait but I can't risk letting her get too close to them.
Without thinking a lot about it, I silently get out of my car just as Geet comes within a five feet radius of those guys. I race across the street in time to hear them greet Geet. My sudden appearance behind Geet startles them but Geet is unaware of it. I just walk up to her with fast confident strides and slip my left hand in her right. She jumps a little as she looks at me and then at the hand that I'm holding. She doesn't resist my hold so I tighten my grip turning to look at the boys menacingly, pulling Geet a little behind my body to shield her. Her hand holds mine securely. Since I have a well-built physique which makes me look older than I am, my presence intimidates them and they wordlessly disappear in the dark alley.
Not wanting to let her go alone after this, I pull her along with me to my car. She doesn't resist and I open the passenger door for her without saying a word. She opens her mouth to say something - to protest, I'm sure - but thinks better of it after having a look at my expression. I close the door after she sits in and walk around to seat myself looking back at the alley to be sure those goons are gone. My anger on them is still just beneath the surface when I get in the car. Moments pass by in silence before I hear Geet whisper, 'Thank you!'
This just opens the floodgates. 'You really need to be more careful Geet. Do you have any idea what could have happened right now? Do you think it's bravery to be out here alone at this time? Or going home late from the cafe every time? You don't have to stay out here so late. It's not safe for you.'
I stop to take a deep breath and calm myself. 'How do you know I stay here late?'
Her question stumps me for a moment as I fumble for an answer. 'I, uh... I pass by this route regularly.' There. That sounds good enough. 'But you need to be careful.'
I divert her mind from dwelling too much on the lame excuse I have just given. 'Will do. Thanks for your help.'
She smiles at me and I sigh, starting the car to drop her off. The whole ride is silent with her looking out the window and I, wondering if I should ask her.
Approaching the white hostel building, I speak up. 'Can I ask you a question?'
Her nod encourages me. 'Why do you work? I mean, do you want to or do you need to?'
She doesn't answer for a few moments as I park the car at the gates. 'I want to.'
She says just before getting out and leaving after thanking me again. I watch her walk away wondering if there's more to this than she let it show. The relief I feel at having been there at the right time makes me feel satisfied with myself and I drive back home.-------------------------------------
A glance at my watch makes me aware of the fact that I've stayed in the cafe much longer than I should. A quick look out the window at the dark night and I regret being so lost in studying that I haven't noticed the sun set and the darkness take over. I quickly collect my things to leave and walk out after saying a goodbye to the cafe owner. The area is silent, creepy but I don't get scared until I notice three haggard looking men coming my way. A chill shoots up my spine as I realise that they don't seem to be working men returning home from their offices. They look like goons with their untidy clothes and the loud way they're talking. I pray fervently in my head to appear as confident and brave as can be even though my insides were beginning to quiver with the fear of the unknown. I take strength from the fact that I have my pepper spray in my bag and if need be, these men will get a taste of their own medicine.
Upon nearing them, when they don't change their path and I feel their dirty looks at me, I untangle my hand from my bag's strap to get my pepper spray out. No sooner do I straighten my arm, a hand comes from behind to hold mine. The sudden touch freaks me out and I almost scream turning to look at the person right next to me. It's Maan. For a moment, relief floods through me and I don't resist his hold. Instead, I grip his hand firmly when he covers me from the hooligans' view and gives them a deadly stare. Maan's form is enough to warn them and change their paths while Maan drags me to a corner where I see his car. He doesn't seem to be in a mood to listen to a refusal so I silently get in from the door he holds open for me.
After he sits in, I notice he looks angry. On what, I can guess. I whisper my gratitude in the simplest possible way, not having any words to express my gratefulness for saving me. Instead of reassurance, I get a blasting for being careless. I let him speak, to get the anger out of his system but one thing he says catches my attention. I question him on his knowledge of my late evening adventures every other day and he gives a reasonable reason for knowing about it. He asks a question which I'm not very comfortable answering; whether I really need to work. I think for a moment, deciding if I should answer him or not but I feel indebted to return his favour in some form, so I give a short reply before hurriedly getting out of the car and heading to my room.-------------------------------------
I return home the next day tired and miffed at the exams. The chances I have of at least greeting Geet are cut short due to the busy schedule. After last night's incident, I wished to talk to her, to know if she is alright. But luck isn't with me. I get late and she is already in the seat by the time I enter the room. After the class is over, she hurries after the professor thus deflating my hope of a word or two with her. Through the lunch, Anaya wants me to explain a few concepts and I can't refuse her. After college, I'm dragged along by Ayush for a coffee in the cafe, citing the excuse of a little break. As luck would have it, it isn't Geet's working day today and I get deprived of my regular peeking in the common room as well as seeing her working in the cafe. All of these events just irritate me to no end and I'm in a foul mood which my mother notices.
I slump on the couch and Mom comes with a glass of juice seating herself beside me. I take the glass silently and begin to sip at it. Mom looks at me for a while before raising her hand and pushing my hair away from my forehead. 'Is everything okay, Maan?'
I nod to her motherly question. 'Just tired.'
A few moments pass in silence before I ask her about her day. She starts narrating her regular routine. '... and I met my friend again in the store.' 'Which friend? Oh yes yes. Your talkative friend. You never told me her name then.' 'What's there in the name, eh?'
I raise an eyebrow at her failed attempt to joke and she chuckles. 'I know it was a bad joke. Anyway, her name is Geet and - '
I choke on the sip of juice I've just taken and start coughing. Mom rubs my back frantically. Some coughs later, when I get my breath back and tell Mom I'm fine, I ask her, 'What did you say her name is?'
She looks confused but still repeats the name. 'Geet'
.Just a coincidence, Maan. Mom says her friend is talkative. Geet isn't talkative. There can be many girls named Geet. Don't raise your hopes! 'Whats wrong Maan? Do you know Geet?' 'Umm... How old is she? What does she look like?'
The confused expression on her face turns suspicious with a glint of mischief in her eyes. 'Why are you so interested in how she looks like?'
I shake my head stubbornly. 'Tell me first. I'll tell you why I'm asking it.' 'Okay. She must be close to your age. She's moderately tall, has light brown eyes and light brown hair with a fair skin. Now tell me why you want to know all this about her.'
With everything she says about her, my mouth and my eyes open wider. Can this be real? Is the world really such a small place?
I turn to face Mom with barely concealed excitement etched over my face and my voice betraying the pleasantly surprised state I'm in. 'Mom. Geet is
her. She's the common room girl.'
I smile widely at my mother as she processes the words and realisation sinks in. She gasps covering her mouth with her hands. I have never mentioned the name of the girl who's been on my mind for three years, always referring to her as the 'common room girl'. This is the reason my mother knew not who she has befriended.
Mom jumps out of her place and squeals childishly. I didn't expect her to react so excitedly when she screams, 'Oh my God! Oh my God! I can't believe it.'
I laugh at that, too excited myself to chide her for her reaction. 'I'm going to meet her again soon and then I'll tell her about this connection we have.'
She smiles widely but I interrupt. 'No no Mom! Don't tell her that. Call her over for tea or lunch or something. If she comes to know that you're my mother and it's my house that you're inviting her to, she probably won't come.'
Mom looks at my fallen face and says with a strong but mischievous voice, 'Well, if she won't come to
your house, she will come to
I look at her in confusion and she winks making her intention clear. Understanding that she won't tell Geet about this being my house, I smile and hug her excitedly. 'You're the best!'
Just then Ranbir comes in from the door and I tell both of them I've to study. I rush to my room after whispering to Mom, 'Don't forget Mom!'
After closing the door of my room, I pump my fist in the air and twirl a little before composing myself and getting down to study.-------------------------------------
The mocks start and I'm buried neck deep in them, not having time enough to carry on with my usual routine. Unable to spend any time with my friends, nor able to get any chances of talking to Geet. The most I see of her is a cursory glance when she takes her exams and I pass by the corridor. Since most of our subjects differ, our paths don't cross often while the exams are held.
Four days into the mocks and one week still to go, I take a much needed jog in the evening. Jogging is a very effective way for me to think things through, to clear my head and to be in peace. As the cool breeze relieves my mind from the stress of exams, my mind wanders to what I found out a few days earlier. Geet hasn't visited Mom yet. Because of the exams or something else, I don't know. I wonder if she'll come when the exams are over. How am I going to react when we come face to face at my house?
It's going to be difficult, yes, but not impossible to carry a conversation with her.
Reaching home, I open the front door and my heart skips a beat seeing Mom sitting with someone whose face I can't see. All I can figure out is her light brown her. Is that Geet?
I get conscious of the way I'm dressed: in my tracks and a black vest, sweating from the jog. Mom notices me and speaks up. 'Look Maan. My friend is here.'
The girl stands up and turns to face me with a smile. As I look at her face, I can feel the accelerated rate of my heartbeat screech to a break before restarting at a slower speed. Who is this? 'Son, this is Geeta.'
I look at Mom's smiling face in bewilderment. Geeta? 'She is the one I was talking about.'
Turning to the girl, Mom says, 'I'm so sorry sweetheart. I confused your name all this time.' What
, I wanted to say. How can you be confused about her
But I just stay silent. Mom answers the question in my head. 'Actually Maan, she prefers being called G, so after she told me her name the first time, I've always called her G. And on that first meeting, I just heard her name to be 'Geet' rather than 'Geeta'.'
She lets out an embarrassed laugh and the girl reassures her that it's alright. When she turns to me to greet me, I only respond politely with the shortest of responses. I excuse myself to freshen up and stomp my way to my room, - albeit silently, for the presence of a guest in the house - my lips pressed in a thin line and my annoyance at my mother soaring higher by the second. I should have known that I'm not so lucky for the girl to be Geet. All that excitement over nothing. Great!
Edited by mayyo13 - 20 February 2013 at 4:40am