My second year pre-degree exam was starting in 7 days time and I realized unlike SSLC exams, I haven’t studied anything. I looked at all the books on the table. There was English, French, Physics, Chemistry and biology to learn and I had roughly a day to study for each subjects. I also had to re-write 2 papers from last year. I needed more time to study french, I figured If I study english subject in a day, then may be I will have more time to study the rest of the subjects. I picked up the English text book. There were poetry to learn by heart and there was stories to read. I looked at the stories, there were 12 short stories and I had no time to read all the stories. I shouldn’t have bunked all the classes. I cursed my own stupidity. There was only one option.
Amma was in the kitchen.
“Amma I will come now”
“Where are you going Nina?”
“To the library. I will be back in 1/2 hour”
I took 3 ten Rs note from the inside cover of my record book and was just going out of the door
“Nina can I come with you?” Sally asked
“I am just going to the library Liza! You will be bored”
“Please Nina, Liza is gone for the basketball practise and I am bored. Please can I come with you?”
“Ok. Come, go change your clothes”
“Amma I am taking Sally with me” I announced as I closed the door.
We walked past the BCM college library.
“Are you not going to the library?” Sally asked me
“Then were are we going?” She looked at me suspeciously
“Shhh. don’t tell Amma. I am going to meet my boyfriend.”
“You have a boyfriend?” My sister looked too scandalized
“Why? I can’t have a boyfriend? What is wrong in having a boyfriend?”
“You really have a boyfriend? God promise Nina?”
” God promise? Don’t you know you shouldn’t swear on God? Promise Yes, I really do have a boyfriend. please don’t tell Amma. I trust you to keep a secret”
“What does he do?”
“He is studying”
“Aiyyah You are asking too much question. wait till you meet him!”
“Is he handsome?”
“Oh Sally, What a silly question! You think I will fall in love with a monkey? He is tall and have the most mesmerising eyes!”
“Where are you going to meet him?”
“Wait la. You need to learn something called patience!”
We reached the traffic light near the post office.
“come, we need to cross the road” I held Sally’s hand and crossed the road and walked to Vidyarthimithram book shop.
“Are you seeing him in the book shop?”
“May be!, Hurry up” I pulled her hand and walked inside
I asked the girl at the counter
“Do you have Assissi guide books for Pre-degree English”
I watched her checking through the shelf.
“No we don’t. We will have new supply in July.”
I wanted to tell her, by then I will be either dead or in a medical college studying medicine.
“Come” I pulled Sally’s hand
“Where is your boyfriend?”
“Come, I will show you” We walked to the bookshop near CMS college. They too didn’t have any stock. Next to the book shop was a small bakery.
“Nina, can you buy me a meat puff?”
“You have money?” I asked her
My baby sister pouted her lips and showed me such a pityful face.
“Yeah yeah, pout your lips. You know I will fall for that! Come, I will buy meat puffs for you”
We sat on the rickety bench.
“2 meat puffs please” I ordered
“2 torino please” Sally ordered
I stared at my sister, the audacity she has! She had a sheepish grin on her face. I felt like pinching her for being so cheeky. But then again she is my baby sister!.
As we ate our puffs, I watched a guy parking his motorbike and entering the shop. Soon few other guys came inside, followed by more girls. They must have been studying in CMS college. This is the life I would have had, if I studied in CMS college, instead I am stuck with nuns, who think wearing jeans and sleeveless top is a sin against humanity. I watched them talking and laughing and it occured to me, I don’t even have a friend.
I looked at the guy who came in first. He was wearing a red check shirt. Suddenly he looked up and our eyes met. I quickly looked down. I cursed myself for staring at him. Now I will be a laughing stock. I expected him to tell his friends about me and waited for them to laugh at me. But that didn’t happen. I could see him stealing glances at me and our eyes met again and he smiled. I would have sat there, till the shop closed in the evening, but I still haven’t managed to find the books I was looking for. I wished I had the guts like matsalleh women and walk up to the apple of my eyes and give him my phone number. I paid the bills and I knew, he was still looking at me. Sadly I walked out of the shop. I passed the bike he was riding, I memorised the registration number 5184. My fascination for red check shirts and bikes began that moment.
“Nina, where are we going now? Sally asked me as we walked to the last book shop near the muncipal office.
“walk and stop talking” I was in no mood to talk to Sally. I was thinking of the odds of ever meeting my red check shirt guy.
Silently we walked to the book shop. An old Appachan with Soda kannadi(spectacles) at the tip of nose, lifted his head and looked at us.
“hmmm?” He asked
“Guide books for pre-degree” I was too scared to add anymore words.
“hmm” He muttered.
I watched him climb the ricketty old chair and getting a bundle of old, dusty books from the top of the shelf. Holding the books in one hand, he climbed down slowly. He patted the books to remove the dust and looked at me
I watched him turn the books and checking the date
“You are wasting your money. Syllabus changes this year!”
“I know, the books are for this year”
Appachan suppressed a sudden cough. I hoped he won’t die of heart attack. I must have been the first student in his life he would have seen buying guide books a week before the exams.
As I paid the bills and walked out of the shop, there were too many mixed emotions going through my head. I haven’t studied anything for the exams and failure is something I don’t want to tackle. I also fell in love with an unattainable image. All I know is a bike registarion number!
“Where is your boy friend?”
“Aiyyah Sally, Don’t you know I was fooling you”
“But you said promise”
“yes I did.. I was talking about promise toothpaste!”
“Go Nina, you always cheat. I am not talking to you anymore”
Happy Deepavali to all my Beloved Readers.