We returned home with wagons of homework those avenging teachers pushed on us. Maths and Chemistry assignments, both were to submit in a day. Thankfully the English teacher was sweet enough to consider postpone the painstaking assignment of scrapping down another twenty pages for a day.
Later in the evening Preeti came home for combine study. In most evenings of combine study we would do more gossip than study. But today was something different. We needed our energy and brain to be put together so as to finish the work in time.
By the time she entered I was swarming in numerous books, copious pages and dozens of color pens scrambled all over. She came jumping over them on her toe.
“What’s all this, Ava?” She pointing at the intractable mess I had pulled around me.
“I don’t get a damn of chemistry. I am fed up with all the formulae and symbols and digits. My brain feels like it would detonate anytime with these never ending chemical equations.”
“Have patience, Ava.”
“Stop giving philosophy and come here, solve all these numerical, help finish these fast or else you know what he is going to spit out...GET OUT OF MY CLASS.” We merrily sung the last phrase in unison emulating our chemistry teacher and giggled.
Just then my mobile rang and an unknown number flashed. I ignored it completely. Later a minute, again the same unknown number intermittent on the tiny screen.
This time Preeti took the call. “Who’s this?” She spoke in her way-to-handle-nuisance style.
She waited for a while listening to phone sandwiched between her shoulder and ear. Then she handed me the phone.
“Hello. Who is this?” I answered in a timid unnerving tone.
“Hey Ava. Hmm. It’s Maddy.” My jaw slacked to floor length in surprise. Where did he get my number from?
“You there?” He asked me as I didn’t speak for a long minute.
“Yeah. Tell what made you call me.”
“Nothing. Just called to tell that this is my number. Anytime you feel lonely or need any help, you can call on this at any hour.”
“I asked what your genuine purpose of calling me is.”
“That is a genuine purpose darling.” He chuckled and I seethed over his addressing to me. Darling! My foot!
“Then I think you have expressed your great reason. Thank you for calling. Have good evening and good night. Sweet dream. Sleep tight. Good bye.”
I hung up the call pressing the end button repeatedly with double force and turned abruptly to Preeti. “Who gave him my number?”
“You should have asked him na! How can I say?” She said casually turning pages.
“Did you give that?” My tone reached peak. I had never shouted at Preeti before. A layer of terror clouded on her face. She stared at me in horror.
I didn’t say more and resumed writing the assignment. The letters started to appear wry and mere smear.
“Are you fine Ava?” Preeti held my hand.
“I didn’t do that. I also don’t know who did it. But I’ll surely find out who gave your number to him. I promise. You don’t be angry.” Her trepid voice shivered.
Without my knowledge the anger was now fluxed into despondence. Tear stung into eyes despite my effort to hide it. I was having a difficult time in handling emotions. I was a box of emotional wreckage.
“I am sorry, Ava.” I said to her. I need not to say anymore and she got what I meant then. I didn’t know what invoked my anger. May be I didn’t want any more infiltration into the barricade I had built up around me. I had enough in past and had my share of realization, regret, repent, penitence. I can’t go through all these again. I had hardly sorted myself from the messy crumble that incident had gnawed me into and I don’t want to again stand between mind and heart rumbling at each other.
We finished all the assignment silently. She left home in time that we didn’t expect to be possible seeing the load of work but may be our all concentration was diverted to work to evade from other sensitive matters.
The next morning we went to college as usual. Preeti looked undifferentiated. It made me glad and relief from the burden of guilt I was carrying from the last night.
On the way from home to bus-stop, a small girl came running with bunches of flowers. She was holding lots of flower bunches. There were Daisies, Red roses, White Roses, Tulips, Chrysanthemum, Lillies and a lot. She asked us to take some. They smelt so sweet and looked so fresh, just like the spring morning, I couldn’t deny buying one. I picked up the Daisy bunch and asked how much. She smiled a toothy grin showing the small gape for two teeth in the front and ran from there quickly.
I looked at Preeti in surprise.
She loosened out a folded paper from the stems and flicked it open and read it loudly.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE SMILED, MY SUN IS RISING FROM THE DARK NIGHT.
“Someone sent it.” I was astonished.
“Wow. Great. Flowers with a anonymous note.”
“But who sent it? I don’t feel good about it.”
“Then what to do?”
I wanted to throw the bunch but then again the yellow blossoms were so gracious I could not let them rot on roadside. I stowed them in the bag.
Upon reaching at the bus-stop Preeti drawled to me. “Who do you suspect?”
I literally had no idea. “I don’t know.”
She then shifted my attention towards Arnav. He was standing casually or bit more tensed than casual looking down at the road, lost deep in some thoughts and left behind the conversation carried by the group of boys. Something grave was bugging him. I flexed to flee to him and steal his worries. I craved to make him smile. But then again I was reminded that I don’t have that right.
“I don’t think so.” Why would he when there were no feelings from his side.
The bus arrived and we silently got into the bus. As we arrived at the college, we saw a few students slowing down at a point. When we reached there, we saw a white puppy with brown patches was sitting there scratching his ear. A square white board hanging from its bushy neck and was staggering the floor.
There was the handwritten message that read as:
CAN I HAVE THE DIRECTION
TO YOUR HEART?
It looked more sophisticated for roaming around street let alone a deserted place like our college. It was clear that someone had left it intentionally there. Preeti took out the pink chit from bag that was stringed to the bunch of Daisy and showed it to me. The handwriting matched perfectly.
Suddenly someone picked up the puppy and the mob trailed after him.
It was strange to see these cue all of sudden. I was darting in the pitch dark of my brain. I couldn’t see anybody having any reason to do all these.
We entered into class. My stomach was rolling with expectation and weird instinctive butterflies were fluttering inside my heart. Three classes were over without anything to notice. In the break we went to canteen.
Preeti again came with a plate of samosa. I winced seeing the oil sticking to plate.
“Didn’t you get anything else?”
“I asked but he said others items are finished. If I want anything, I have to wait another half an hour.”
I didn’t have any dieting issues but Preeti also knew it very well that I hate oiling food. They stick to your tips and leave stains everywhere. They make you drowsy. They give you heart-attack. I hate them.
I picked up at samosa precariously holding at the pine angle of its cone structure and cracked it to have a bit.
A small paper roll fell onto plate. I and Preeti stared at each other in both surprise and amusement.
“Let me see.” Preeti snitched the paper.
NOW SCIENTISTS HAVE FOUND A COMPONENT MORE THREATENING THAT CAN INTOXICATE A MASS JUST WITH A GLANCE. AND THEY SAY THE MASS DESTRUCTIVE COMPONENT IS HIGHLY FOUND IN YOUR EYES.
The YOU was written in dark red and other words were in black. Preeti gave me a sly look.
“Now stop pretending that you don’t know anything.”
“Come on, Preeti. I really don’t know. And by the way you are always there with me wherever I go. Then do you think I can have affair without your knowledge.” I looked around for someone who could do all these.
“I think someone loves you.” She retorted and stuffed her mouth with potato stuffing.
I closed my eyes and leaned above the table scanning all the options that could do this.