I saw myself totally petrified at the idea of taking part in a speech olympiad kind of thing. I saw huge stadium with people from all over the world as audience as well as participants. It was an international event. I was one of the participants purely on the basis of my academic performance, is what I recall.
As I walked across my room, slowly keeping each foot after the other one, with soft sun-rays entering my room (illuminating the dust particles and keeping my room warm), I tried to build the speech in my mind on a random topic. The main point here was to keep on speaking on the topic without any long or lingering pause or pauses. I did that for a few topics in my mind till I couldn't control my anxiety any longer. For all I could recall, I had never spoken in front of any audience anything for a duration of five minutes. And now I was supposed to keep them engaged and interesed in my speech.
I asked my mother about the topic of my speech and she said she had given the slip of paper with the topic on it, to me a couple of hours ago. I started looking for the slip of paper and when I
found it, read the topic on the paper. It gave me cold feet.
My mother then suddenly came to my room and asked me for some medicines. She said they were for my father. I took out the medicine kit from the closet, looked for those medicines and gave them to her. Well, most of the medicines in that kit were for me! It was but evident that I couldn't take part in the speech olympiad because my parents had to leave as my father's
health had gone bad and he also had to get back to work in a couple of days. My mother urged me to take part and return home a couple of days later, but I refused. I felt slightly relieved for not speaking on the podium in front of such eminent people making the audience, but I also knew that it was a big opportunity lost.
I met her yet again, this time when I got back home after not attending speech olympiad. Meeting her made me forget all about the speech olympiad. She told me that she'd moved to this city but was visiting the city for the first time. She wanted me to drop her home. Her presence is something I can never deny.
As a third person, I saw her and me in a cab or an auto-rickshaw. Then as first person, I sat beside her and we talked. I slowly dozed off (What an idiot!). Perhaps a couple of minutes later, I was woken up by a sudden jolt in the movement of the cab. I realized that I had my head on her shoulders. I again closed my eyes. I felt drawn to her and for no reason, I kissed her cheek gently. She shook in a state of surprise. I pretended to be just awakened by my deep sleep and that I didn't know what happened and that whatever happened was while I was asleep. She only smiled. And I smiled too.
After reaching her place, she asked me if I was in contact with any of our common friends. I replied in affirmative and gave her the contact no. and e-mail ids of a few of them I was in touch with. She was really happy about that.
Later that day, when I went back to her apartment to do a favour by getting her something she had asked for, I found the door open. I entered the house. There was a laptop on a small round table in the center of drawing room. Stuffs were thrown on the furnitures. I saw the door of her bedroom ajar. I moved closer to a door and saw a guy lying on the bed with all clothes and shoes on. Who was this guy? I moved closer and saw her head on his belly and eating some ice cream candy, and both were talking. The guy was playing with her hair.
Of course she has a boyfriend... idiot me!
Perhaps the guy saw me, and following his line of sight, so did she. After a brief span of shock, she smiled and introduced me to him. She thanked me for all my help (of course I would have helped, and of course it doesn't make a difference!). Maybe she was too overwhelmed by all my "help" that she showed me a message she'd be sending to one of our common friends. She asked me for suggestions about the message. It had been a long time since she had not communicated with anyone of us. I said it was just the thing she should write, a part as apology, a part about all that had been going on in life, and about present state of life.
As I began to leave, I turned and looked at her again. She was still smiling and her face was still glowing, her eyes still shining. This was what had mesmerized me ten years ago. She had changed a lot, but she was still the person.
Alas, we are just friends, and even though I still feel the love for her, friendship is not love, isn't it!
I was glad to be back in college, in the Old Boy's Hostel among my friends for the final year. I saw Mridul grinning at me, the way he always does, for no reason whatsoever. I saw a heap of books wrapped in plastic. Akshay came from behind, saying something and ends his talk with a broad smile, in the process saving himself from tumbling over the heap of books. I asked him what he was saying and he said, "never mind, I'll explain later. First we must pick this heap of books and take it to my room." I couldn't interpret the words he said. I felt nostalgic about the fact that all my btech batchmates wouldn't be around after one year...