Monday, June 17

In that moment, I knew, I had taken the biggest risk ever!

‘Maa, I am going to be late for my interview. Please, iron my shirt. Please’, I called out loudly from my room, while getting ready for a shower. Yes, I am a rare species who has to get ready both before and after the shower. This week was a very important week for me; I had made it to the best commerce college in the country and got interview calls-two of them for two different courses. One interview was scheduled for today and the other one the next day. There was nothing better than this. I had made my parents proud, and my neighbors fat. Surely, eating so many rassogullas, that my mother had sent them upon hearing this news had to have an effect.

‘Vineet, you’re going to be in college and you can’t iron your clothes?’ Maa questioned back when she entered the room with an Iron. My work was done here, even after accusing me of being irresponsible, she’d iron them herself. The iron irony, right? Papa always warned her ‘It is your fault that your kid doesn’t know these basic things. You’ve spoiled him. Have you seen Sharma’s kids?’

I left for college. I was preparing myself for the various questions that I thought they’d ask while I was in the bus. Today wasn’t really a big deal. As I mentioned, I got selected for two courses and the interview for the one I wanted to pursue was scheduled tomorrow. I could bunk today’s interview entirely, but then I realized I could very well understand the process today and help myself with this knowledge tomorrow. Though these interviews were mere formality when you had good marks, still there was a minute possibility that one wouldn’t get selected. No loss in keeping your options open. Apart from that, this would help me build some confidence.

But no matter how confident I convinced myself I was, whenever I thought about tomorrow, it made me nervous. I imagined in my head the interview to go this way-

‘Which school are you from?’ they would ask.
‘Umm… school…sir it’s there, see’ and the nervousness in me would reply.
...‘You don’t know your school? You get out of here.’
…‘You didn’t get the required documents? So irresponsible. Get out of here.’
…‘You use Dove, what the hell are you? Get out of here’
…‘You are mumbling out your name? Call police, we think we have one illegal immigrant among us.’
…‘You…Get out of here’

No matter how much I tried to prepare, suddenly a situation like this would make its way in my over imaginary head, making me jump on the seat with anxiety. At least I was creative with the situations, or that I thought. But the anxiety jumps were not sitting too well with my fellow commuters who made faces like I had interrupted the formulation of the Lok Pal Bill or the Anti-Rape Bill. Anyway so, as a responsible student and citizen of this country, I decided to take a nap.
I got up with a thud on my face due to the sudden brakes and in two minutes I realized, I had missed my stop. I shouted at the conductor, ‘Idiot, when I told you I had to get down at Park Street, why didn’t you wake me up?’ His facial muscles tensed as he shouted back, ‘I know your type; you are trying to trick me. You think of me as a fool? You had the ticket till Park Street, now you’ll have to take another fresh ticket.’ I was appalled at the sudden outburst. The idiot thought that I was tricking him, for five rupees? What am I? I used to do this when I was in school, not now. Idiot.  I got down as the bus stopped and paid him a rupee less than the actual price of another ticket so he could keep the entire amount in his pockets and no one would ever know. My heartfelt dedication to anti-corruption march I attended last Sunday. I couldn’t believe myself; now I had to take another bus to reach college. Why didn’t I just take a cab today? Because they don’t react very well to bargaining and mutual-understanding ‘Dada, student hai, thoda samjho na?’

I checked my watch as I reached the college gates, the interviews had already started about 30 minutes ago; the guards standing firm, stopped me and asked me for identification before letting me in. I said ‘you don’t understand Dadaji, I came here for an interview, I don’t have an ID. Aap samajh nahi rahe hai, ID nahi hai mere pass’. I tried to be as polite as possible for his old ears to contemplate what I was saying. ‘Even the interviewees were provided with an ID card, show it or go home’ he said in perfect English leaving me with no option but to make the efforts of scavenging through my messed up bag and get that piece of paper. I showed them the ID and got in. I don’t know why I was trying to play smart, I felt so stupid. I could see in Dadaji’s eyes, how he was noticing my looks and attire so he could be precise during his chai discussions with his mates about ‘the stupidity of this one guy…he was wearing a red shirt, kya bole uske baare me 

I entered the main building passing the lawn and car parking to reach the Father’s office. There was such a huge line, all because of that idiot conductor. I spotted a friend in the front and decided to enter in the queue. This is craft. Getting into a queue I mean. No one noticed. My friend entered the room where our whole future lied, and my entire body started to shiver with nervousness. I know I didn’t want this course, now that I had the other option with me. But, if I couldn’t crack this one, I wouldn’t crack that one as well. Things were getting real. A peon came to my rescue or that’s what it seemed initially, ‘I spotted you getting in the line and I was waiting for the best time. It will taste better now. Go and stand in the end.’ I could see him grinning. What am I getting myself into? ‘But…please…sorry’ was all I could say before marching my way towards the end, humiliated.

Chai Discussion of all Dadajis:

Dadaji #1: Aaj ek ladka aaya, ID nahi dikha raha tha, bola diya hi nahi gaya. Humse hindi me aur baat karne laga. Socha hum tabhi samjhenge. Aadha ghanta khada karaye usko, par ID dekh kai hi andar jaane diye. Kaha kaha se chale aate hai.
Dadaji #2: haha
Dadaji #3: haha
Dadaji #6: arey ye toh kuch nahi, hum toh ek ladke ko pakde, bada hero banke aaya tha, laal bushaat pehan kai. Line me beech me chal gaya. Hum usko ekdum end me bahar kiye. Uska shakal dekh lete, chaar kilo khoon badh jaata!
Dadaji #2: haha, ye khoob kiya aapne.
Dadaji #1: laal bushaat? Lamba sa? Dhaadi badhaya hua?
Dadaji #6: arey ha wahi toh. Aapko bhi wahi pareshan kiya kya? Hahaha ye toh gajab ho gaya.
Dadaji #5: arey kya gajab hua humka bhi batao tanik.
Dadaji #4: arey ek ladka aaya hai koi. Bada bewkoof hai. Aap thoda pehle aate toh uske kisse sunte. Khaer jis hisab se college admission le raha hai, uske bahut kisse sunne hi padenge.

I went back and stood at the end of the line. I swear it was more than kilometer. But I didn’t complaint, how could I because that’s when, that’s the exact moment when my eyes found her, in a pink salwar wrapped around that sleek body neither too fat nor too lean, hair hiding a part of her face, trying so hard to reach her shoulders, the shades in them clearly visible; hands desperately trying to find something in the purse, but what? The kajal in her eyes was clearly visible and looked perfect, the lip gloss was clearly visible and looked perfect, her face looked perfect, what else would she need? Was she not the most beautiful girl? I checked her out once again to make sure I was falling for the right girl. I started imagining how my parents would find her, how she’d look on our wedding day, how she would look carrying our baby, how she would look lying beside me on the bed when we’re sixty. I imagined so many things. But what was she searching for in her bag so patriotically? Should I tell her she doesn’t need anything else? Should I tell her God has been really kind on her and well me? Or should I just ignore her for a minute if that’s possible and thank that bus conductor for that extra ride and the Dadajis for their strictness and my parents for conceiving me the year they did?

And that’s when she looked at me and asked, ‘Hi, I am so sorry for disturbing you like this, I can’t find my pen, do you have an extra one?’ A pen? She’s asking me for a pen? Ask me for my life and it’ll be yours.  Ask me to shout and fuck up my interview and my whole life and I’ll do it. Ask me anything. ‘Dude, do you have an extra pen?’ she asked me again. Yes of course I have, if I didn’t have, I would run and find one stationary shop and get you a whole packet, even a life supply of pens and pencils and erasers and sharpeners and whatnot. I’d do whatever you want, my wife.
She turned to another guy in front of her and asked him if he had a pen. I had missed my chance, the retard who was also ogling my wife like so many others there had a bloody pen in his hands already. This guy I hated without any remorse. Grinning from ear to ear, trying to talk to her, asking her way too many questions. Fortunately, he was as dumb as his pen. ‘It is not working,’ the minute she said it, was the minute she got a pen from my end. Ninja skills. She started filling her form and I was staring deep into her eyes which were focused on the silly piece of that paper, hands writing the words beautifully, what would it feel like to touch them? Hold them? Meet them?

‘What’s the date today?’ she asked without showing a slight interest in me. ‘Vineet’ I said, without understanding her question. ‘What?’ she said. ‘What?’ I said. She took out her phone, and checked the date. From the corner of my eyes, I could see she was smiling. ‘Okay, so Vineet, which school are you from?’ After talking for a few minutes [23 minutes and 25 seconds] we reached the gates of the interview room. ‘I’m so nervous, man’ she said. ‘Are you taking this course?’ ‘Are you not, Vineet?’ her eyes wide with surprise.

I had already started picturing myself with her in the three year long college life to come. Sitting with her on the same bench, having so much fun together, trying to impress her with my stupidity,  celebrating all the future events together, like birthdays, anniversaries, going to places, vacations, tours, all a celebration. Living life with her, I was imagining it to be a joyride.

couple holding hands on beach

'Vineet, I am talking to you, why do you get lost? Your brain's processor man. Anyway, you're not taking this course?'

‘haha, No even I am, one of my friends is not, I am taking this course only. No other course I want now. This course only. I am taking. You will do good. Don’t worry. I will pray for you.’ And in that moment, I knew, I had taken the biggest risk ever. But somehow something told me, I was doing the right thing. 

The gate opened and she was called in by another peon. I had forgotten to ask her her name, ‘Hey, what’s your name?’ I shouted; my voice would have definitely reached other ears as well.

Who cared at this point? Who cared about anything else?

‘Kyra’ she smiled and walked in.        

|| THE END ||

Most of the new readers are confused regarding the story. A friend of mine asked if this is the first part of some story. Its not. I mean, all the later parts are already written like. The characters are not new, they go a long way back; they have been to outings, they have celebrated birthdays, they have been through college. Check the stories in the links below. Actually, the first characters that I wrote about. Also, a story with five parts, that got huge response. You can read all the stories on Kyra and Vineet: 
      Photo taken from Google Images.

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