The next morning I woke up with muted light nudging my eyes. The sky was light brownish and still some time left for sun to finish its morning tea and come out of the cloud blanket. My legs were still cramped but I felt refreshed and light without having to stream bucket of tears. After a long time I had slept straight through out the night, not even a single moment wasted to my knowledge. Standing at the window, I held out my arm and pretended to clutch in some freshness from outside.
Today I didn’t have to be prodded for anything. I felt the zeal to do everything on my own. I got ready for college and sat at the dining table for my breakfast.
There was a look of astonishment on my Mom’s face and also a content of relief. She looked genuinely relieved while serving me breakfast. Today again the hot stuffed Dosa was served on my plate. The smell was so delicious that even the distance of hand and mouth seemed very long. I quickly jumped on it and finished each Dosa in two bites, like Anaconda munching on human being. With mouth full of potatoes, onion, chillies, I asked Mom to make another two. I finished six Dosa shocking Mom to hell. May be I was that ravenous for real food from a long time. I took a deep sigh and bid bye to Mom.
Instead of waiting for Preeti to come, I thought to get Preeti along with me. My legs wanted to romp, I wish I could but then again I was afraid of street dogs running after me. I kept my pace normal.
Preeti was also well surprised to see me this way. She was very elated.
“Wow! What’s the secret babe? You look so happy.”
“May be your shopping idea wasn’t that bad.” I chuckled.
“Hmm...see. Didn’t I tell you this?”
“Yeah..” We walked on the road.
“Preeti.” I slowed down my pace for a while.
“Yeah.” She was digging into her bag.
She looked at me in surprise. “For what?”
“For everything. For staying with in this upheaval. For being with me even that I behaved so rudely with you. I know I should not have done..”
“Shh..” She muffled my words. “Since when you got the need to thank me? What are friends for if they are not there for you in your lows? And I haven’t done anything extraordinary. I just did what a genuine friend should have done.”
“Still then I owe a lot you.”
“Now if you say single word from now, I will tell everyone at college that.... you still sleep with your ten year old teddy bear wearing a red pooh pyjama.” She laughed out loud.
“Oh.Yeah. You do. I know it. I saw that teddy still in your room.”
I joined her. “Fine then. If you say that..then I will spread it in college that Champak Lal has written a three page love letter to you.”
“No. You won’t. You have promised me. I’ll kill you both.” Our giggle vibrated in the street air.
As soon as I reached at the bus-stop, my demeanour shifted back to the old form. I stopped laughing and stood there intensely and impatiently waiting for the bus to arrive. Arnav was there too but I pretended as I didn’t see him.
The college was same but the atmosphere was just busier, crowder and louder. The classes were off and cafeteria was deserted. The students were too frenzied for the upcoming fest. They were so busy in themselves that there would be frequent bumping accidents on each turn in college corridor everyday.
Preeti also joined the rush. She wanted me to get into but I denied. All that I needed right here was some time for me. If possible she would have taken part in each and every event. But the timeline didn’t support her enthusiasm. She took part in four events; Badminton, Drama, Face Painting and Debate.
Most of my time in college was spent in college-library. It gave me ample time to catch up with the study that I had missed. I didn’t know how helping and generous our teachers were until now that I went to them personally for help in some subject. I was amazed to see the gladness glowing on their face when I asked them my doubts. They seemed more than happy.
I completed each assignment, revised each chapter twice and again there was time left in my hand. And in the left over time I would keep staring blankly at the rows and rows of hard bound spinal columns books stacked as per their content with a reverend amazement regarding the persons who wrote each piece of it. I never had enough patience to even read a book properly. Then from where they got such enormous strength to pull back them to a place and keep pouring out the words that left me with a big puzzle.
And sometimes Preeti dropped herself in various disguise to both entertain and scare the hell out my heart; Sometimes in her drama costumes and sometimes with something weird painted on her face. Once she came with a cat painted on her face. The first look of it was so atrocious, I got goosebumps from it. She had got herself a nice guy who got along with her for Face Painting. I had never seen that guy before; may be due to my lack of concentration toward any other boy in college except Arnav.
Even after hollering, jumping, acting she would be more rattling then me in the evening. Every evening she would drag me out of home and make me roam around the whole city. We both spent our whole year’s savings buying the things knowing that we would never use half of them. But I didn’t whine then. At least shopping was fun and a better indulgence than lonely evening.
Preeti had me to buy the luxuriant pair of red open toed wineglass heels. It had sequins threaded over it. It was a piece out of synergy of modern designs and traditional work and cost me a big fortune. Though I couldn’t deny the fact that it was the prettiest pair of shoes my eyes had ever witnessed but also it carried that much of a big price tag too. And I also have always been a cumbersome walker. It was hard to manage myself on that five inch high platform balancing on a point.
To my surprise the days of fun flew by much quicker. I was feeling lot better.
Almost like I had left my past behind though I knew they were not long gone. But it was like I was in a glass box. Everyone could see me through it but no one or nothing had the reach to me. Only Preeti knew the secret password to enter into and I wanted her to be alone into it. I didn’t have any more strength to be bluffed again.