"What were you doing there?"
"Inside the baddy court?"
"Was playing......what you expect from me other than playing inside the baddy court!!! Huh!!" I pretended as I was the champ badminton player in the college!
"Don't lie....you were smoking!!"
It was like a bolt from blue sky! How could she figure it out!! There was not a single girl inside when we were smoking, and the guys I was with were all my friends, they didn't know her well...even some of them don't know any of our college students......they just come from outside to have "feel" of the ELITE COLLEGEHOOD of my college!! Then how she came to know!
"Answer me." Her voice was calm but steady, low but much fierce. Instantly I felt like my mom has caught me stealing coins from my dad’s wallet.
“I…I….” WTF!!! Why I always stammer in confrontation with her? Shit… this is so irritating that whenever I think this is going to worsen the situation, I ended up in the worst condition I ever felt.
“What happened? You don’t have words, naa!! Fine, just tell me when you wish to talk to me…” She turned around and what did I do!! I stood as I was without a word to refrain her from going. She was thinking I would do it, she looked back and understanding the lack of presence of mind in me, she went away.
I was stunned, tried to catch her, but that too mentally, physically I could do nothing but standing in front of a dozen fools laughing at me. They were very happy to have a free post lunch drama within the canteen area. A guy (I disliked most) approached me and tried to give me a short lecture on how to handle a girl and not to let her in a man’s private space. I was so disturbed that I could not tell anything to that big fat fellow and let him continue. He ordered two lemon teas and offering one of those he started his own triumph over the sedative world of Maya and how he was going to attain Moksha!!! Now it was going too far, so suddenly I remembered that my lecture is going to start in next five minutes and thanking him for the tea I departed.
As I was passing by the union room, I saw her sitting inside the room alone, she was not like sitting idle without any friends around. I figured it out that something’s very wrong with her but hesitated to enter the union room. In those days, the union was being ruled by the opponents and we used to avoid the union room. And what more, she was a silent supporter for the opponents. But what could I do that day without crossing the door to talk to her!! She was sitting on a table with resting her feet on a chair beside it. Her face was pinkish and what is it!!! I was shocked when I saw she was crying… her eyes were like filled ponds in the rains trying to hold the excess water but unable to restrict the flood of emotions. I just asked “What happened?”
She kept mum. I wanted to get close to say her sorry, but she pushed me away with lots of anger in her eyes. “Don’t ever try to do it with me.”
I felt so humiliated that I couldn’t control my temper. “What I was doing?” I shouted as few fools looked inside the room as the second part of the post lunch free drama was being enacted for their pleasure.
“Don’t shout. Please leave me.” She told with biting lips with her teeth.
It was enough for me to control myself and I shouted again. “Why? This room is not your property. Why should I leave?”
“Fine!” Now she shouted, “Then I’m leaving. Have fun and please smoke inside the union room, it’s all yours.”
“Why on Earth girls are so furious about his boyfriend’s smoking habit, would you please explain miss?” I placed my hand so efficiently that she couldn’t get her out of the room. “Why they are not bothered when their friends smoke, they rather enjoy talking to them, but when this friend changes into her boyfriend, she tries to be his mom. Why is it so?”
“Because she tries to protect you, fool!” She was struggling with my hands to cross the door.
“That could be done patiently, without an Oscar winning emotional drama.” Slowly I was gaining confidence to confront her without fumbling.
“Yes, it could be done. But if your father is a patient of asthma and if you saw his gasping agony in the middle of the night with a single puff of cigarette and then if you have searched for a taxi like a mad girl running in the streets to reach the nearest hospital to let him breathe properly with oxygen musk, you could do nothing but what I have done.” She stopped. Her face was reddish, she was sweating heavily, I could hear her breathlessness.
I found myself so guilty for everything that I could not even hold my hand across the door. She went away.
Slowly I moved, my self confidence what was growing like Mt. Everest few minutes back, has zeroed by this time. I came back to my department. Tried her number, it was switched off. I couldn’t concentrate in the next lectures; even one of my favorite prof scolded me a little. I was pretending that today she won’t be going to board the train with me. And when it turned out to be true, I was shattered. I wished if I could say her sorry and my gratitude to her for thinking only good for me, always being there for me. But I was helpless. Strained, lost I entered the station and without buying the ticket I was moving towards the electronic gates.
“Who will buy your ticket, me? Do you expect me to do it for you after all this?”
“I… I was…” I started stammering again.
“Enough. Take it.” She gave me a ticket. “Now, let’s go, otherwise we’ll miss the train.” She started running.
“Oii…. Am sorry. Really, I mean it.” I tried to make her understand that I am very sorry for it.
“It’s okay. Now run.” She gestured.
“I am really sorry that I did not know your father’s case and behaved very bad.”
“It’s okay, I said.” The train entered the station and the door opened.
“Believe me, I am really sorry for my misconduct… and not for the cigarette.”
“You……..” She was trying to start the fight again but as people were pushing us from behind to get into the train, she couldn’t.
We boarded the train.