“Are you OK?” – I asked Anushka.
The tiffin episode with Anushka had evoked much anger (jealousy or whatever) among my “smart ass” friends. After all, I was the “clumsy, shy, lousy” fellow in class – and guess what – I had the privilege of having tiffin with Miss. Best Girl!
A new joke started doing the rounds – as the tiffin bell would ring – one or other of my smart ass friends would go – “Ari – will you have tiffin with me today? I have got EXTRA PARATHAS!” – they would say mocking Anushka’s statement the other day. Needless to say, this got really embarassing, and I decided NOT to add any fuel to the fire.
I withdrew in my shell – typical of a Cancerian !
I hadn’t spoken much with Anushka after our tiffin that Friday. But, I had to talk to her that day…
The last period – our Maths class had just ended. The students had rushed out to catch their respective buses. Anushka, as always, was packing her bags – ever slowly.
About twenty minutes ago – halfway through the maths class, the teacher – Kamal sir, had given an algebra equation for us to solve. Kamal sir was nicknamed “Khadoos Kamal” (Khadoos = Irritable, angy, not liked by anyone) – KK for short. There would be complete silence in his class – we spoke only when asked to by KK sir.
Anushka and Devika sat together. That day, Devika – I think – had whispered something to Anushka, and she had smiled back & made a face. This act was noticed by KK sir – just after he had written the algebra question on the board, and turned back to face the class.
Sir : Anushka, what are you giggling at?
Anushka : Uh.. Nothing sir…
Sir: What nothing, I just now saw you looking at Devika and making a face..
Anushka : Nothing sir, nothing
Sir: Stand up, when I am talking to you… First, you don’t do too well in the weekly tests in maths, and then, instead of concentrating and trying to improve – you giggle and make faces in the class.
Anushka : (standing up now, and looking down. Saying anything can only lead to more trouble)
Sir: Get out of my class! Go! Get out now!
Anushka was almost in tears.. Her head hung in shame. The scum bags in class, the smart asses looked on with amusement in their eyes. I did not know what to do.. How can I help her?
Anushka : Sorry sir… it will never happen again sir…
Sir: Get out, right now! All these stupid girls, with no interest in studies.. Why do you come to school? Sit at home, and cook food…
Anushka ran out of the class. She could not stand this any more.
I went up to her, as she was almost done packing her bag.
ME: Are you Ok?
Anushka: (Wiping away tears from her eyes) Yeah.. I guess so
ME: Don’t worry too much on what KK said.. He is an asshole! In fact, most teachers are! (I hoped that this would make her more comfortable)
Anushka: I don’t know. I shouldn’t have listened to Devika.. KK will screw me now in Maths. I anyway, don’t understand algebra well enough…
Maths was not her subject. She would score very well in the weekly tests in most others – Hindi, English, Geography, History… but somehow, she would not be in the top few in Maths. On the contrary, Maths was the only subject that I seemed to have interest in!
ME: Hey, listen. I can help you with Maths. We can study together.. you know.
She looked at me, with awe! For a shy guy, the above statement was a BOLD one! I had no idea – why, or how my mind had formulated the statement and blurted it out! In fact, after saying it, I wondered if it can give her wrong signals…
ME: Hey. Hey.. I have no intention of being “The next one on the list of morons after you”.. OK? This is purely for study reasons. (I stressed on purely, as much as I could)
Anushka laughed. For a moment, she had forgotten the bitter incident in the Maths class…
Anushka: That will be good Ari… I think I can do with some help in Maths. And also, I need some friends here… real friends. You seem to be like a safe-zone guy. The kind of guy you can be just friends – right? (She smiled and looked at her desk to ensure she did not leave anything)
A safe zone guy!! What does that mean? Who wants to be JUST FRIENDS with a girl… JUST FRIENDS! Its like having a chocolate cake and never eating it… Only wimps do that!
We walked out of the class and towards the school bus…
I tried to look at the positive side of things – Well, at least, we were friends now… and things can only get better from here!