The next day as usual I got to college with Preeti. We got ourselves settled on in class. That’s when Maddy entered the room. His elegant and gracile gait was welcomed with raising of some neatly plucked and lined brows as a treat of flattery and also some furiously knotted thick bushes as a sign of jealousy.
He naturally shouldered the flair of an artist and performer, on or off the stage. The confidence and invisible sphere of magnetism gave a logical explanation to the unending queue of female follower. He looked snappy as usual and the short hair looked more flirtatious to his slender figure. The black jeans and black T-shirt that attributed to his all-black attire made him more smoky and groovy and also leaner.
Clutching the bag over his shoulder he silently crossed our seats, looking too attentively down at his feet. At least he should have greeted to Preeti but he didn’t. It was like we were invisible to him. He looked gripped and tensed as if someone had strangled his puppy from the tree very next to his house; although I have no idea of any of his possessions, living or non-living.
He took the empty seat at the row behind ours, in boys’ side. Soon like bee around honey, boys started to gather around him. He seemed to answer them very little, not boisterously as his style goes, speaking only two to three words when nodding was not enough.
The class abruptly arranged to place when teacher entered. The teacher opened the attendance register and started calling out names loudly, thundering the weak walls. It continued for another five minutes till he parked his pen at the end of the name-list. There he took a pause and called out a name that was alien to the class. Satya Sarit Madhavan Acharya.
We all looked around for the proprietor of this quaint name. “Yes sir!” The answer followed Maddy standing in his place. Everyone looked at him awestruck. His name was something really contrasting with his personality and till now no one knew his real name. All were in the impression that Maddy was his name but Satya Sarit.... whatever, it was off the sack.
“So you are the new kid.” It was less of introducing and more of mockery to him from the teacher. His looked pissed off at him. “You are the one playing around stage? Besides than jumping with that thing and strings, do you do anything else or not?”
“You mean guitar sir?” He smugly answered.
Abruptly the boys started to laugh loudly. It was strange. What made them laugh so hard that benches started to wobble? I looked back at Maddy or Madhav, I would like address him only if he doesn’t mind much. He looked amused. A soft smile was sculptured on his lips that disappeared as soon as his eyes caught mine. The same impassive mask returned back.
“Silence. Silence you donkeys.” The teacher roared. “How much have you secured in boards?”His question darted to Madhav.
“Ninety three percent, sir.” He politely answered. Damn! Music and brain, looks and panache, modesty and attitude- a predator with all the lethal combinations. What in the world he isn’t capable of?
“Okay. Okay. Sit down and remember, no disturbance in my class. You got that!” Teacher returned to the black board.
I looked over my shoulder, stealthily, at him. He was dense and impenetrable like before but the surrounding had remarkably changed. Girls were stealing brief coy sights of him and boys were trying to be extra genial to him, glancing with their lets-be-friends smile.
The class went smoothly followed by another class until the interval bell rung. All started to leave the room. Preeti jumped from her seat and went over to Madhav.
They talked for a while that was completely inaudible to me. When Preeti returned, she looked cut up.
“Is everything fine?” When I asked her this, I was replied with a sulking look and silence. I followed her to canteen where we took the usual corner seat. The canteen was swarming with students. Preeti sat there grumpily thumping her bag. So I skipped to bring food. There was long line before me. There were two lines to the counter and on the right hand queue Madhav was waiting at the end.
I skipped to that line, not because he was there but because the line was shorter than the other. Though the difference was of one or two person, still it was shorter. I quietly added myself after Madhav. He smelled good, at least better than the hot samosas and puris on the counter. A misty scent clutched to him, not too strong to disguise still indistinctly undeniable reminding the early spring morning.
The line moved slowly, lazily stepping forth, talking as if they were up to something really grave and important waiting for them than buying meals. Finally it was Madhav’s turn. He grabbed a sandwich and a coke and stepped aside so that I can place order while he waited for the manager to return the money next to me.
“One plate samosa , a sandwich and two cokes.” I slowly ordered to the man who was serving meals, watching carefully over Madhav.
“Sorry Maam! No coke!” He gave two plates with samosas and sandwich.
“Not even one!” Why don’t they get the stock with enough supply? They always keep running out of this or that. I groaned. A tin of coke bumped before me with a slight thud. “I don’t need the coke.” Madhav placed the tin before me, talked straight to the man and left the place before I could say anything.
I silently gathered the coke with the plates and left the counter. He was talking with a group of boys when I crossed him.
I went over the table and Preeti still looked grim. “What happened, Preeti? Will you tell me anything?” Her silence was driving me up the wall.
“Nothing.” A curt reply. She picked up a samosa and started breaking it into bits, picking out small peanuts from the potato stuffing inside and nibbling at it.
Madhav walked past us, pausing hesitantly near us, obviously searching for table. The place was full and he still had to make friends to get tables reserved like we do.
“Why don’t you sit here?” Preeti riveted at Madhav.
He looked over us for a while. “Thanks but I will get one. Don’t worry.”
“Hey! Come on. You won’t get a seat now unless you want to sit in the veranda.”
She giggled, relieving me from stress.
“I’ll manage. Don’t worry.” He faked a dry smile and paddled out.
I looked down at my sandwich and cautiously taking out bites from it.
“It’s all because of you.” She spoke in an alleged voice.
“What’s my fault?”
“Don’t pretend as if you don’t know anything.”
“Arey. Seriously. If you think he didn’t sit here because of me, then I’ll leave, if that’s gonna make you happy.” In no way on the earth I was going to leave the seat. Puff!
I knew it. Actually I could even feel it. It did hurt somewhere, where I know it shouldn’t. It did hurt to be ignored. After the way he kept following, pleasing, flattering down, I was getting slowly addicted to his gratifying finagles. Now all of sudden such avoidance was crude. Though it’s me who had told him to get off my trail and again it’s me repenting over it.
It was clearly my greedy heart that wanted him back, getting breathless deep there without his attention. But my mind adhered to the decision, providing consoling stimulation, making me feel that everything will get fine with time. Still the quavering of heart was hard to ignore. I loathed this contrast. I wanted my mind and heart to be aligned.
“Why are you always running after your own happiness with a big hammer, Ava? Why don’t you just let yourself be little happy? There is no harm in it.” She growled. She was still baffled over me denying to his proposal. But did I deny it? I need to make it clear.
“When did I ever say him a No? He just presumed it.”
She surged at me like some dead frog tested with galvanism. “Does that mean Yes?”
“I never said so.”
She was clearly appalled by my bi-headed answer. “Damn it! Then what’s your response? Get it clear.”
I gulped down the bread and slowly took a sip of coke. “At first let me get it clear. I’m still stuck in middle. I don’t know. I don’t feel like relying over him just because he got a new hairstyle. See! How ridiculous that sounds.”
“Oh gosh! It’s less weird than what you are doing. It’s not just the hairstyle. Why don’t see what lies beneath the table. He is nailing at every possibility to impress you. He is like totally mad after you. If tomorrow you say that your favourite flower bloom on the tip of Everest, I’m much sure that he will cross that height for your happiness. He will do anything and that’s just for you, Ava.” She patted the back my hand. I shivered with the affinity. It made my throat choke with anticipations. Her final few words had some meaning.
Actually I have also wondered many times that why is he after me? I don’t find anything in me that will woo any boy. That also someone like him. It was strange, illogical and unexplainable. He could get any girl in the town with a snap of his finger and also hotter than me. I was like a cup of melted ice-cream before him, not deserving. Then why only me? Why was he putting on so much for me?
“What am I supposed to do then? Run back after him, get collapsed in his arms. Grow up!”
“You grow up and get some sense. Why can’t you see that he loves you.” Her voice rose to desperate wail.
“Shh..don’t make fuss now. If he loves me, he needs to prove it. He has to show that he deserve my heart. I’ve done enough mistakes to learn not to get ensnared with these showy traps.”
“Deal then. He will convince you and the moment he succeeds you will confront your feeling.” She was edged with enthusiasm.
“Deal.” I said with a heavy breath.
It was sure going to cost me a lot. But I had to do it. I couldn’t see Preeti worrying so much for me. I felt guilty for her, at least.
I instantly lit up. “I have a plan. Let’s see how long your horse can run.”