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“What is it Shy Guy?” – Anushka asked.
I had decided that the discussion with Anushka cannot wait till end of school. My grey cells were anyway not working – and I needed to pick her brain. The Maths class was over, and the Geography class was about to start. Geography was a subject I never liked and Bansal sir-our Geo teacher spoke in such a montone that he made the boring subject sound even more boring. It seemed like the right time.
I decided to bunk the Geography class.
I went over to Anushka’s desk, and gestured ever so slightly for her to follow me out. I went out and waited near the stairs. Anushka joined me in few minutes.
Anushka: What is it Shy Guy?
ME: Had to talk to you. About yesterday…
Anushka: No More Ari.. Not the same crap again! We spoke about it in tiffin. Is that what all you guys think about?
ME: No, Anushka. Its not that! Mom was very upset yesterday, and she feels that you and I are more than just aquaintainces.
Anushka: (Winks at me) Are we?
I hated it when she made these statements. Even if, what is seemed like, jokingly! Honestly, I was very insecure in our relationship. In fact, I was not even sure we were in a relationship.
ME: Stop it Anushka. This is serious! I have been grounded. No more going out in the afternoon, no more calls. When do we meet each other?
Anushka: Hmm, what do you think we should do?
ME: I don’t know. I cant think. (I heard someone shouting LOSER, LOSER, LOSER in my head… I hoped Anushka didn’t think of me like that)
No hiding away from the fact – I was indeed a CONFUSED LOSER!
Anushka: What’s the big deal Ari.. Its simple. You can call me when you are free or give me a missed call and I will call you back. And about meeting, we anyway meet in school. We can probably plan to meet up over the weekend or something – fix up some time. Its simple Ari. Don’t worry so much.
She patted me on the back! She had made it sound so simple! But did she think I was an ass.. Someone who could not figure such a simple thing out! Why was I so insecure?
ME: But, she is worried about my grades, my studies.
Anushka: Don’t over think & complicate things, my friend! Lets enjoy being together. Its your mom – she loves you more than anyone else, I am sure. If it comes to that, I am sure you can explain to her. More than that you need to be more confident Ari. You know everything, but you are not able to express. Let go off your shyness, your inhibitions when you speak.
I think she was 15 years old. At that moment, she sounded like 30. I was letting the sermon from Saint Anushka sink in – absorbing every detail. Be confident, ability to express.. Enjoy being together. Don’t complicate things.. MY FRIEND!!
She again called me friend!
I felt her holding my hand and pulling towards her. My brain thought it was a good thing. Maybe, she was going to hug me.
Anushka pulled me towards her, and went BENEATH the stairs. She and I crouched beneath in an uncomfortable position. I looked at her. She made a gesture for me to keep absolutely quiet. I obeyed and listened.
An uncomfortable 10-15 seconds later, I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Someone was coming down the stairs, and Anushka had pulled me beneath the stairs to hide.
Who was this intruder?
We studied in a convent school, and bunking class was daring (and quiet unheard of) to say the least – especially in those days.
Being caught while bunking would result in us being severely rebuked!
Being caught while bunking and hiding beneath the stairs with a girl in an uncomfortable position – BLASPHEMOUS!
The intruder was now next to us. The lady was looking away from us (Thankfully) and reviewing some notes that she had taken. She stood few meters away from us.
I froze! I felt Anushka holding on to my hand – harder!
It was Shilpa maa’m (our class teacher) – the teacher who had caused me lot of embarrassment in tiffin trouble already!
God was kind. She seemed satisfied with what she saw in her notes, and walked away to the teacher’s room. We came out from our shady hideout, and let out a sigh of relief! The bell rang for the next class.
We decided to return just the way we had gone out! This time, Anushka went in first. I followed after 5 minutes or so.
Vikram stopped me near the teacher’s podium. He hated me from the day Anushka offered me tiffin. We never went along well after the Tiffin Trouble incident.
Viks: What man? You bunked Geo class – huh?
Ari: Yeah, not feeling well..
Viks: Ooooh.. What did you do? Both you and Anushka not feeling well… huh? What did you do man? Or rather, what did you do with her?
Ari: Shut up! Don’t drag her in.. (I said as assertively as I can)
Viks: Oooooh.. Angry Young Man.. I am pissing in my pants.. Ooooh.!! Have you slept with her?
A spurt of rage rushed through me. I felt like smashing him, beating him up right there.. One more sentence and I would have killed him.
Ari: Shut up man! Filthy fellow.. Keep quiet!
I started to brush him aside and move to my seat
Viks: So, you did sleep with her – huh? Its written on your face…
I could not control any more. I took him by the collar, and punched him on his face! I pushed him hard towards the wall.
Viks landed on the teacher’s board – and the entire board hanging from the wall fell and broke into pieces. The entire class turned around and gasped.
Viks lay on the floor holding his head. Blood spewed out from his lips.
Everyone was stunned! Including myself.That’s when Shilpa maa’m – the dreaded class teacher of ours – walked in!
She surveyed the damages, looked at me and said – “Arindam, you will be black listed. Come with me to the teacher’s room”
Life was moving downward at a frantic pace. Yes, downward!! I was going to be black listed.
Would I be thrown out of school? What will I tell my parents? Should I run away to save myself from further embarrassment? What should I do?