I wanted to see Beautiful Eyes, I wanted to talk to him. I had to. But how? I couldn’t send a word through the canteen operator, that would be dangerous. Both Arjun and Caroline will come to know. I couldn’t send him a letter, knowing Indian postal service, it may never reach him. What else can I do? I felt so restless. I had to do something. I took the novel I was reading from underneath my pillow. The novel Arjun got for me from Eloor library. I felt so guilty thinking about what I am doing to Arjun.
‘Nina, you can’t do this to Arjun. You can’t hurt him. He does everything for you. How can you cheat on him?’
But I am not cheating him. I don’t love him. I love Beautiful Eyes. I tried to convince myself.
May be I should tell Arjun that I don’t love him. I adore him as a friend, but not anything further.
“Do you want me to lock the door?” Aparna asked as she was leaving
“Nah,I am hungry, I will go and eat breakfast and later ask Gangamma to lock the door”
I waited for everyone to leave the hostel. I didn’t want to answer a thousand questions as to why I didn’t go for the clinics. By the time I reached the mess, the cook was already cleaning the serving counter.
“Oh Madama,You are late, I already switched off the fire” He spoke
“Nina ma, today is poori day, I already switched off the fire,the dough also finsihed! so there is no break fast for you”
“Any tea left?”
I watched the cook tilting the stainless steel tea pot to see if there was any tea.
He shook his head
“Damn” I muttered
I didn’t eat dinner last night and now there is no break fast. There was nothing to eat in the room either. I should have brought some bread when I went out yesterday. Yeah you were in a good mental state to do that! I told myself
May be I should go to the canteen and eat something. May be I might get to see Beautiful Eyes!
I walked back to my room to take some money and walked to the canteen, hoping against hope that Princy won’t come to the canteen for inspection. I would be in big trouble, if he found out that I bunked the clinics. What is it with all these people that they think only the students who attend the classes would pass the exams? Then I should have never passed first year MBBS exams!
Canteen was empty. Not a single student around. Nobody wanted to risk getting caught by the princy in the morning.
As soon as I entered the canteen, the operator looked at me and asked
“Why madam, why you didn’t go to the clinics?”
“Fever” I replied.
“Oh no, you must have got it from the clinics” He sounded genuinely sad
“yes” I pouted my lips and nodded my head sadly
“You have anything to eat?”
“Oh No madam, don’t you know you shouldn’t eat anything if you have fever? My mother used to say feed a cold and starve a fever”
I could almost hear my stomach growling
“You shouldn’t eat anything Madam, you will get well soon, if you just take rest and drink plenty of fluids”
I thought of asking the fellow when did he become a doctor? I cursed my own stupid tongue for saying fever. I should have said head ache! Why am I so bad at lying?
“Can I have a cup of tea please”
I sat down on the chair. I was so tired. A part of me really wished Beautiful eyes would just walk in. I really needed to see him.
The canteen operator brought the tea and I drank it slowly, hoping each second that Beautiful Eyes would walk in. Finally when I drank the last drop of tea in the cup,I gave up waiting and paid the money and walked out of the canteen.
Gangamma was sitting on the floor of the hostel entrance with all the cleaning ladies
“What Nina Ma, why you didn’t go to the hospital?” She looked at me worried
“head ache Gangamma”
“Shall I massage your forehead ma?” She got up from the floor
“No Gangamma, I am fine, I just need to rest. I will sleep for a while. Will you lock the door for me?”
“Sure ma” She followed me to my room. I walked in and closed the door.
“Keep the key with you Gangamma” I shouted
I wished I could hide from all my worries as easy as I could hide from Princy’s eyes!
I switched on the fan and lay down on my bed. I woke up when the fan stopped suddenly
‘Damn it, the power supply went off again?’ I cursed. It was too hot inside and without a fan, I would die. I opened the windows hoping some wind would enter my room. I didn’t want to risk calling out from the room and ask Gangamma to open the door. What if the Princy was around?
As I walked back to my bed, I noticed Aparna’s emergency light. It should have switched on automatically when the power supply went off. It didn’t. What is going on? I switched on the light in the room. The light was working. I switched off and switched on the fan switch over and over. The fan was not working. Damn it. Not during the hot summer months, there is no way I can survive without a fan.
Shylaja was the first to come back to the room and as soon as she opened the door I told her
“Shylaja, I think the the fan is spoiled”
“What did you do?” She sounded angry
“What? I didn’t do anything. It just stopped working”
I watched Shylaja walking towards the switch board and trying to on the switch. She too tried to switch it on and off. Aparna walked in and we both told Aparna that the fan is not working
She too tried to on the switch, May be she thought she could do magic. Anyway it didn’t work. The fan didn’t move
“Well, you have to pay to get it repaired” Shylaja spoke looking at me
“Pardon me, why do I have to pay? We are all staying in this room”
“Well, you are the only one who needed the fan and you were the last one to use it, so you have to pay”
“Hey, that is not fair. Three of us have to chip in together, three of us use the fan”
“I can live without a fan” She shrugged her shoulder
I looked at Aparna, hoping she would see how ridiculous the whole situation is
“Come Aparna, let us go and eat” Shylaja spoke to Aparna and together they walked off.
I wasn’t going to pay for a new fan. I couldn’t afford it. It was only fair that the three of us shared the payment. I was so angry, thinking about how selfish people are. Why am I blamed for everything?
Well let me see, how long both of them would survive without a fan. I too decided to play along.
I ate my lunch at the mess and walked to the gallery to attend the lectures. Arjun was waiting outside
“Hey, you ok? Why didn’t you come for the clinics?”
“I wasn’t feeling well”
“You ok now?”
I walked inside the gallery. Shylaja was sitting in my place. She was staring at me with a look that said
‘hey I beat you, too bad you can’t sit on your favourite seat’
I wasn’t going to let it bother me. I wasn’t going to bring myself to her low level.
I was angry with Shylaja for being so mean. I went and sat at the back of the class, promising myself tomorrow I would eat fast and be at the gallery before Shylaja. I needed to sit in the front row, so I can hear and be able to lip read the professors.
After the classes were over, I followed Arjun to the canteen. Beautiful eyes was in the canteen and as soon as he saw me I smiled at him. I could see the twinkle in his eyes.
When Arjun went to place the order I mimed and told him ‘Thanks for the flower’ He nodded his head and said ‘welcome’
“Sing a song Da” Someone told Beautiful Eyes.
I watched Arjun coming back holding two cups of tea.
“Shall we sit outside, it is pretty hot inside” Arjun suggested.
It was indeed hot inside the canteen, but I wanted to see Beautiful Eyes. I wanted to hear him singing, but I didn’t have any excuse to tell Arjun, so I took my tea from his hand and silently followed Arjun. The song was loud and clear
“There goes my baby
With someone new
She sure looks happy
I sure am blue
She was my baby
Till he stepped in
Goodbye to romance
That might have been”
“Bye bye love,
I knew the song was meant for me. I wanted to see his face, so I slowly turned my head to where he was sitting and he winked the moment our eyes met. I quickly turned my face away. My heart was leaping with joy.
“What kind of a song is that?” Arjun asked annoyed. May be he saw me smiling?
“It is Bye bye love, sung by Everly brothers” I replied
“How do you know?”
“My father used to listen to it”
“Oldies. Stupid song”
“No Arjun, it isn’t a stupid song, it is a lovely song”
“Right! Only pansies like such songs”
“My father isn’t a pansy”
I was so mad at Arjun for calling my father a pansy. What does he think of himself?
“Why are you fighting with me? You don’t even talk to your father”
Damn it. I should have never told Arjun about my parents. Now what ever I told him, he is using against me. Damn it!
“But that doesn’t mean that he is a pansy, Arjun”
“You are weird, it is ok for you not to talk to your own father, but it is not ok for me to criticise your father”
“No it is not ok. He is my father for heaven’s sake”
“Whatever” He shrugged his shoulder. We drank the tea in silence.
“Arjun, I need to go”
“Ok” he didn’t even look at me.
As soon I entered my room, I noticed the new changes. Aparna and Shylaja had adjusted their beds. Earlier, my bed was facing the door, Aparna’s by the side of the windows and Shylaja’s was parallel to mine on the other sid of the room. Like the letter U. Now both Aparna’s and Shylaja’s were parallel to each other. What is going on? I wondered. Aparna was sitting on her bed and reading Femina magazine. She pretended not to notice me. May be she felt guilty.
Soon Shylaja walked in, holding a table fan. She grabbed her chair and placed the fan between my bed and theirs, with the back of the fan facing me and switched it on. She looked at me to see my reaction.
‘Bitch’ I thought.Earlier she said, She can survive without a fan, but now she managed to get a table fan from some where and placed it such a way that, I won’t get any wind!
Aparna, Shylaja and I are the future of medical profession. In 3 years, we would be entrusted with saving lives. We are expected to uphold the honour of our profession. How are we going to do that when we can’t even be nice to each other?
The fan regulator had burned out and it would have only cost less than 200 rs to repair. Aparna and Shylaja refused to chip in. Eventually, after enduring 2 weeks of hot, sweaty summer days, I got the electrician to connect the fan directly to the supply, by passing the regulator.
Soon the table fan disappeared from the room and the beds went back to their original position!