I rolled into my bed as soon as I got into my room. I had faked of being tired and full of food and scurried to room. In the same dress I lumped to bed. Unknowingly and unintentionally a fat drop of tear streamed down the cheek. It was soaked into the pillow as I quilled myself into a lifeless ball.
My phone buzzed in bag which I had neglected on floor. I didn’t want to move, even an inch. It must be Preeti again, in the mood to pull leg. I closed eyes tight shut, trying to forget and just accept the truth that I’m safe and whatever happened that was just an accident and could happen to anyone. Thanks to the eternity, Madhav was there in time.
Madhav? Damn! He is waiting for my call.
Before I decided to get up or not my legs were out of the bed and running to the clumped bag on floor. My instinct was correct.
“You reached home?”
There was this message on phone and immediately trailed with another one.
“Are you there? Reached home safely?”
The care and concern that was enveloped with it felt like a punch on deep core. It filled me with guilt. He did so much for me and I only hurt him in return.
I texted back. “Ya. In home. Safe. Thank you.”
I wanted to write Be safe too but I didn’t. I didn’t know whether it’s the perfect time to make any advance.
About half an hour later, the phone beeped in the silent room. I was wide-eyed till then, far away evaded from sleeping.
Well! It was some question or accusation. The unusual timing and correctness of his surmise was totally mismatching. It felt like his eyes watching me from somewhere.
“Awake? Good then.”
“Good?” I rolled onto my back and shifted to lean over headrest on the pile of pillows while punching the keys on phone.
“Good as I forgot to tell you something. Ask what?”
Ask what? Why will I?
Again his message broke my silent conversation with myself.
“Arey ask what?”
I rolled my eyes and messaged back. “WHAT?”
“You looked awesome today. So beautiful that it won’t be his fault if anyone chases after you. Even you were a great distraction while driving. I had to be extra careful not to take any wrong turn or hit anyone.”
A small smile finally vanquished all the negativity and found its way to my face and stayed a long time till another message banked in my phone.
“Can I call you?Plz.”
It was probably midnight and the whole house was trapped in dead silence. Even I could hear the gruelling hums of refrigerator downstairs or it was my heartbeat.
Without waiting for my answer, my phone buzzed to noise or let’s say the ringtone that Preeti had set a few days back. It startled me so much that I was almost there on the floor.
The phone fidgeted in my hands for two more seconds till I found the correct button and pressed it.
“Hello.” I hissed as low as possible.
“Hey. Sorry. It was impossible to wait more for your answer.”
Answer? Was I expected for any answer? OH! Now I remember I was to send yes or no. But what I was to say I had already forgotten. All that centred in my mind right now was not to get caught talking with him.
“Again thinking?” He spoke. His voice was like a lull.
“Your silence is lot better than waiting for the messages.”
“Seriously.” He sounded both cheesy and truth. “That’s why I called you. Now you know at least someone with zero patience.”
“But my papa says patience is the most needed virtue.”
“Ah! What else does he say?” His fun laced tone mocked me.
“He says many other things.”
“Like early to bed keep you and your mind healthy.”
“Wow! Great.” His pretended as if he didn’t know. Of course he knew it unless he didn’t go to kindergarten at all and didn’t have to sing all those rhyme for thousand times.
“So it’s time to bed. Bye. Goodnight.” I said.
“Hey..wait. What’s there to hurry? Come on. It’s been just a few minutes. And half of the time you were lost somewhere in thoughts.”
I checked the time. It was twelve thirty. By this time, in general I was supposed to be firmly tucked in bed. But this guy has stormed everything in and out. I was still ambivalent about him, but my heart seemed on rivalry.
“Helloo..Again gone? At least tell me where you get disappeared in middle. Sometimes it’s scary to have you like this.”
“Umm..I was thinking.”
“Yeah.I know but what were you thinking about? Or Who?” His sentence ended with a speculative mock.
“You.” The moment the word slipped I regretted the most the in my life. I had no place to hide. Though it was dark in my room, I was so much blushing out of embarrassment that just wanted to creep under bed.
“Oho! About me. See! I’m encroached in your mind too. Now it won’t take much time before your heart will be after me.”
“Really?” I had to somehow make up the situation. “I was thinking how my life has been drastically turned upside down since the day you intruded into it.”
“That’s true.” He was barely audible to me as if he was speaking for himself. “I’m the one.”
“I didn’t mean so.”
“Nah! You are right. I’m the only one to put you into danger and believe me I’m never going to forgive myself for plunging you into such danger. If I were not there you would have never gone to that fucking place and we wouldn’t have to deal with them.”
And if he weren’t there we would be lying torn and naked in some dark corner or road side or thrown into water. I shuddered even on the thought of it. The whole thing was going to be real just for my stupidity and how many times I have to repeat this to him.
The conversation was taking the turn which I didn’t want it to go. But this was also the perfect chance to dig out the exact matter.
“Maddy, what did you say to them? I mean you were talking something really alien to us. What did you exactly tell them?
“Nothing much. I just told them that these girls are with me. So they better leave them.”
“Wow! And they obeyed you?”
“Hm. Then they asked who is with you? I told them both. You are my girlfriend and Preeti is my sister.”
I sighed to lessen the intense blow of gratitude I was feeling. This guy was slowly turning into some superhero to me.
“And I told them I know who they are and it’s not a good place to put everything in danger just for two girls.”
“You know them?”
“Not exactly. I just guessed.”
“But how?” I wondered, loudly.
There was silence from his side. I thought the call was interrupted but he was silent as if he was lost in thoughts, like me.
“Madhav, you there?”
“Hm.” He nodded.
“How do you know them?” The curiosity inside me propelled to repeat the question without measuring the risk.
“You saw the tattoo on their arms?”
I had totally forgotten to register them into notice but they weren’t something anyone can ignore. They were monstrous, scary and dark matching their piercing gaze. Their both arms were inked with unreadable large motifs and letters.
“Yeah. Some certain cults bear those tattoos. Those are mostly from other countries. They were from Spain.”
I was listening to him so attentively that I forgot my usual nodding.
“Ava, you slept?”
“Ah? No..I was thinking.”
“What?” He demanded.
“I was just..nothing. Forget it.”
“Ava. What were you thinking?” His ice cold voice spoke.
“Just that..” I gulped down the dry lump in throat. “How did you know how to deal with them and that also you gave them so much money.”
“It’s fine Ava.” There was heavy sigh from his side. “All that matters now that you are safe.”
“Hm.” I whispered.
“Ava.” That’s all he said before taking a long pause.
“Will you promise me that you won’t ever do it again? No matter what happens. Just never do it. Please.”
It was hard to think now as if someone had clamped down all the ways through which thoughts travelled. I didn’t know whether our relationship was that much strong and stable to exchange any promise. I even didn’t know whether any relationship existed between us.
“Ava? You are again thinking?”
“Nah! I was just pondering over the fact that..”
I shifted the conversation to somewhere else. I very well sensed the somber things to come and I would have no answer to them. So I repeatedly kept shifting topics, rambling about nonsenses, talking about things that barely related any of us but just useful to keep those broody things away. I rotated, turned, balled and flattened all the topics I could till the words were lost to unconsciousness. All that I remembered he was all awake till end.
In morning I woke up, lying across the opposite side of my bed. Pillows were wriggled all around me and my hairs were hanging from the edge of bed over my face. I looked someone who had undergone exorcism. The phone was ringing on my side.
I picked up without looking into the screen.
“Hey sleepyhead, Get up now.” His musical voice breezed to my ear.
It was unmistakably Madhav’s voice. “Hmm.Good morning.” I spoke lamely to him.
“Very good morning my angel. Now get up. Won’t you go to college today? You have to submit your assignment. Right?”
Angel? Huh! He has nickenamed too. I appreciatively gave it a tight smile, still half slept.
“Yeah. I’ll. But just five minutes more.”
“Do you know the time?”
“Uuumm..” I looked at the watch and it was ten minutes to seven. My whole body sprung into crouch.
“No. I have to run. I’ll talk to you later.” I made plan within that. No bath. Just change the cloth and run to bus.
“Wait. No need to hurry for bus.”
“What are you saying? Preeti will be here in any minute. I have to run.”
“No. Listen. You get ready. I’ll pick you up today.”
“No. No you can’t.” I was worried. What if anyone will see us at college? I didn’t want to publicize my relationship. Not at least now.
“Don’t worry and don’t argue. You have exactly twenty minutes till I come to your stoppage. If you are not there, I’ll get to your home.” His tones sounded like order of alpha male.
“No. It’s fine. I’ll come.”
“Then go and get ready. And don’t forget to call Preeti. If she also wants to join, then she is welcome.”
“Okay. Bye.” I eneded the call and hurried myself to bathroom with dialling to Preeti on phone.
Preeti received it. “Hey Ava. I’m just at your door.”
“Stop.” I screamed and her feet halted, I could hear it.
“What happened?” She sounded worried.
“Nothing. Just..hmm... I just got up now and I was to get ready for college bus but...Madhav said he can take me to college. Soo..”
“Ohh..” Her Ohh.. was really long with an accused note at the end. “So planning to go with boyfriend alone. Hm?”
“Nothing like that Preeti. I said you that I got up late and I am late now. Still if you want I can get ready for bus.”
“No need to.” She said it firm. “I was just pulling your leg.”
“Hmm..No. Give me five minutes. I’ll come with you.”
“No. You go with Maddy. No need to rush for bus when you have such a handsome driver. ”
“Preeti.” I moaned.
She laughed wildly on phone. “Okay. See you at college.”
“Listen. He said you can also join us.”
“He said or you are saying to console me for leaving alone?”
“No dear. I swear, he said it.”
“Fine. But I don’t want to ruin your romance. I can manage alone. And it’s just about going to college. Isn’t it?”
“Hmm.” I nodded. “Preeti?”
“Am I doing anything wrong?” I asked her threatened.
“No darling. You are not. You are exactly what one should do when they are in love.” Her words assured me..
Love? Boyfriend? Isn’t too fast to name all these stuff?