Final board exams were 3 days away. We were going to school and I was sitting next to her in the bus. I felt great in her presence. We were good friends and as always, we laughed and chatted. I felt sad that after a couple of weeks, maybe i'll never be able to see her. I looked at her as she laughed and giggled. I would really be missing something in life.
After the school, while I was sitting in the bus, on my favourite seat, the second row seat near the window, I saw her getting her practical workbook signed by the teacher. I was reminded of the fact that I also needed to get my practical workbook checked and signed and so I should complete my work in it.
'Maybe i'll have to come to school early tomorrow, finish my work in the lab and get it signed. That would mean reading a lot tonight. Maybe i'd be sleeping at 2 tonight.' My thoughts were interrupted as she came into the bus and sat beside me.
"Hey what happened? You look dull and sad!" she asked.
"Nothing, it's just that you reminded me of something important that I must do, about this practical workbook" and I poked her bag with my finger.
"Oh! Yeah." and she smiled, with dimples spread on either side of her lips. I really loved her smile!
As the bus started moving, I suddenly got this empty feeling again that maybe after a couple of weeks we may never meet. Somehow I thought I couldn't do without her!
We were watching an exhibition of paintings, handicrafts and more importantly, electronics and computer stuffs. I had hard time, hiding my face from my batchmates, seniors, professors, just to be with her and not do some stupid moving around, helping the visitors, answering their queries... My college was organising this exhibition and she had insisted on coming here. I was happy that people were liking the new idea. I had also worked till late last night for this. In short, I was supposed to be a volunteer!
I took her to the basement exhibition rooms, thinking that none of my batchmates would be there (handicrafts exhibition!), but as we moved down the stairs, I saw 'Harsh' coming up the stairs and he saw me!
"Where have you been? Sir is calling you, come fast." he said, gave me a who-is-she kind of look and left in a hurry.
"What is he saying, I don't understand? Is he your friend? Why is he in such a hurry?" she asked me so many questions.
"Yeah he is my friend and I didn't tell you one thing." I said as we entered one of the rooms in the basement section.
"What?" she said it in such a way that I felt like saying, "I think i've fallen in love with you!"
"That my college is organizing this whole exhibition and I should be helping till the event is not over."
"Then you should go and help. I will be fine looking around things, alone." she said and I realised that she was not happy that I had not told her this.
Suddenly, Bhanukiran came from nowhere and said to me, "What are you doing here? You should be..."
"Yeah I know that! I am helping." I said and gestured towards her, "Sorry ma'am I was unable to get your query. Too much interruptions." I said indicating Bhanukiran. I took her outside the room. I thought she would play along, but she pushed me aside, introduced herself and asked for his name.
"He's my batchmate." I said and she was not listening.
"I can't believe it." Suddenly Bhanukiran exclaimed, "I am a big fan of yours! I really like your work." I couldn't understand what was happening.
"I'm glad to hear that." she said and looked at me with disgust.
"What are you people talking about?" I asked in bewilderment, "Bhanu, what's the matter?"
"Don't you know?"
"No." I replied simply.
"She is an artist, an excellent painter." he said, "Her name was on the list of people whose paintings would be displayed."
"Her name was on the list, not her photo." He said and asked her, "Do you know him?"
"We are friends! We have... " I said.
"We were together in school." she interrupted me.
"Hey that's great." And then looking at her, he said, "Ma'am I am a great admirer of yours. Can I talk to you for sometime, just say 5 minutes. I am really excited about this!"
"Hey hey, are you both talking?" I looked at her and got no response. She wore a dirty look on her face for me.
"All right, I'm leaving. Are you guys talking? If yes, then i'm leaving. Are you talking?" I heard a feeble 'No' and she repeated it a few times. I climbed the stairs, crossed the entrance hall and was about to leave the building, when I saw someone in front of me call someone behind me. I turned back and saw her walking towards me. Her friend had come to this exhibition(i donno from where and why?!).
"I've come to pick you up. So, how was the general response? I'm sure you'd be a sensation. People have been talking about you and appreciating your work lately." her friend said.
"It was fine. Seems like some people just don't know what's happening around them." she said and turned to look at me.
I was frustrated at this and turned away. I heard her friend ask, "Do you know him? Is he a friend?"
Something got into me and I ran towards them. Panting, I said, "Yes, I am a friend and I promise I'd bring her back."
Her friend was puzzled and looked at her with inquiring eyes, with a look of what-do-you-want-to-do.
I said, "Please don't go away so early. We are meeting after 2 years and... I'm sorry if I have done something wrong. Please stay with me!"
Her friend had to drive back, alone.
"You never told me you were an artist. I thought you were always into science and more science." I exclaimed and rather excited about it.
"You should have known. I have been exhibiting a lot of my paintings lately and its' also in the news." she said coldly.
"I am new to this place! Today is my second day... and this building you see," I pointed towards the college building where the exhibition was going on. We were standing outside the gate.
"that building is not my college building. I have traveled 300 kms just to meet you, after I came to know that you were here. My college is organizing it, not hosting it. So don't think I never wanted to meet you in the last two years. I always wanted to meet you... and yeah, I hate reading newspapers!"
She wanted to say something but she didn't. Maybe she was feeling guilty for all the misunderstanding. I looked at her and as she turned to look at me, I looked at the trees (what an ass I was) !!
Finally a bus came and I asked him if he could accommodate us.
"Sorry, there's no space!"
"But I travel everyday in this bus?"
"Timings changed! No vacancy."
And so we didn't get any mode of transportation. Meanwhile we started talking about our lives and about past two years. It was great to be with her again.
After an hour, she said, "Would you mind walking?"
"Not at all," I said. It was getting dark and we walked on the pavement. I was surprised to find no vehicle on the road, except for those who had come to see the exhibition. But moving a little away, we did find a few auto-rickshaws and buses, but I guess she just wanted to walk and talk. I've always wanted this, always wanted to meet her again and spend maximum time with her. So we walked and walked and disappeared into the darkness.