As soon as the class was over, I walked up to Arjun’s room mate and asked him
“Rupesh, Where is Arjun? Where did he go?”
“Oh Arjun! He said he is going for long ride on his bike. He wanted to clear his head! So what were you guys fighting about this time?”
“We didn’t have a fight” I protested. “We only argued!”
“Right, No fight. Both of you don’t fight. Seriously Nina, you are a walking dynamite and he is the match stick!” Rupesh was laughing. “and fadafat we have the fireworks!!”
There was a little bit of truth in what Rupesh was talking about. I don’t normally look for a fight. I always walk away from a fight, but with Arjun it is different. Instead of walking off when he told me to go to hell, I told him to go to hell first. He somehow has the ability to bring out the worst in me.
“Do you want to wait for him at the canteen?” Rupesh checked his watch.”He should be back any time now”
I sat on the veranda and Rupesh went inside to order.
“Nina, tea for you right?” He shouted from inside the canteen
“Yes” I shouted back. I turned my head to look inside to see if he heard me and saw the entire batallion of malayalee seniors staring at me. I ignored them.
“eda malayalikal entha utharendiakkarude koodano eppol koottu. Nammaley onnum vendayirikkum (why does a malayalee want to sit with a north Indian)
“Athu pinney free ayittu chaya adikkana, alley da. Eval okkey paisa nokkiyalley orungi ketti nadakkuney. Veruthey medicine padikkanennum parnaju varum! Ellavanteyum koodey keri nari bakki ollontey perum nashippikkum ( She just wants to get a good catch, the one with the money!! She is out to spoil our(mallu) good name)
“Nina, are they talking about you?” Rupesh passed the cup of tea to me and asked
The last thing I wanted was a north Indian, south Indian fight.
Eda evalu arudey koodeya eppol? Ee marankothan ano atho mattavan Arjun ano? (who is she going out with now? This guy or the other one ie Arjun?)
“Nina your clan is talking about you No? I don’t speak your language, but I can surely understand what is going on. do you want me to tell them off? ” Rupesh asked again
“No, I am fine”
“Nina Listen, You need help, you just have to ask. Arjun and I will always be there for you”
“Football and cricket bat, they look good together. Don’t you think?” Rupesh asked me
“What?” I looked at him stunned. What was he talking about?
“Rajashree and Anil, see them” he pointed to my super senior couple walking towards the library
“Why did you call them football and cricket bat?”
“Look at their size! Rajashree Madam is short, fat and round like a football and Anil Sir is tall and thin like a cricket bat”
It was true. Both of them indeed looked like football and cricket bat. “Do you have a name for everyone?” i asked him
We were both laughing.
“Hey,Did you know the story about the guy who send a telegram to his father*?” Rupesh asked me
“No tell me”
“Well, this guy spend all the money, he wanted to send a telegram to his father asking for more money. He thought he is very smart. Guess what he wrote in the telegram?”
“What? Tell me
“He wrote, no mon, no fun, your son”
“Mon for money”
“oh. ok. Then?”
“His father was even more smarter. Guess what he wrote?”
“Don’t know tell me”
” So sad, so bad, your dad”
I laughed so much that other students in the canteen were staring at us.
“Gosh Rupesh, you are so funny”
“He he he” He laughed
“Nina, Can I ask you something?”
I get freaked out, when someone ask me such a question. My heart started to pound
“Sure” I whispered. Trying very hard to figure out what exactly he wants to know? Is he going to ask about the letter? Does he know anything about my sister and my uncle? Does he know anything about my mother?
“How do you do it?”
“Do what Rupesh?” I desperately tried to figure out what I did that he wants to know more about? Is he going to ask how I wrote the exam after the letter fiasco? I would surely give him a piece of my mind if he asked him anything about that. It was none of his business
“When do you study?”
“When do you study? We know you switch off the light in your room by 10.30pm. Aparna told John that you wake up only at 7.30. So when do you study?”
“How did you know that I switch off the lights by 10.30?”
“Come on Nina, we just have to look at your window. If there is light in your room, then you are studying. If there is no light, then you are asleep”
“oh like that”
“So tell me”
“Tell you what?”
“Your secret. When do you study?”
“Well, The truth is, I start studying only a few days before the exam. I read and read and read. Then I revise and revise and revise. That is all”
“There your boyfriend is coming” He pointed to Arjun’s bike
I thought of telling Rupesh that Arjun isn’t my boyfriend. But it wouldn’t have made any difference. I also wanted to show to the annoying Malayalee bunch that someone cares for me and I don’t give a damn if he is North Indian, south Indian, West Indian or East Indian.
“Arjun” Rupesh called out. I watched Arjun walking towards us. He looked tired. I felt sorry for fighting with him
“Now you two lovers sort all our problems. I am going to my room and study” Rupesh got up.
“Rupesh, Thanks” I spoke
“For the tea”
“Come on Nina, you are dating my best friend and I am obligated to take care of you in his absence”
“You are welcome anyway”
We both laughed again.
Arjun came and sat next to me
“I am sorry” I apologized sincerely.
“Me too” He sounded so tired
“Thanks for the Salwar”
“You are welcome”
“When did you go and buy it?”
“I didn’t buy it. My brother in law went to Rajasthan for a business trip. He got Salwar material for everyone, including you”
“How did he know that I like green colour?”
“he didn’t. He got yellow, red, and green colur material. I knew you liked green, so I took the green one for you. Did you like it?”
“Yes I did. thank you very much”
“Nina” He called my name
“Are we always going to fight like this? I feel very sad when we fight. I don’t want us to fight. Promise me you won’t fight”
All I ever wanted was a family. A mother, father, brother and sister, who would love me for what I am. I got all that in Arjun’s family. But I just don’t know why I can’t love him and why I fight with him. Why is it so hard for me to love Arjun? May be I should try harder. I should really make an effort
“I promise I will try” I spoke
The sun was setting and the sky was clear. I looked for all the familiar stars I know. That is when I noticed planet venus
“Arjun look, that is planet Venus” I pointed Venus to him
“See the bright one there. That is Venus” I showed him
He didn’t show even a tiny bit of interest. May be I should try harder.
“Did you know Venus is the only planet among the solar system with a feminine name?”
“is it?” Arjun asked
“The symbol for female that we use is actually the symbal for venus(circle with cross at the bottom) and symbol for male is actually the symbol for Mars”
“So?” He was looking at me
I looked at him trying to figure out why he asked So?
“So what Nina? So what if we use the Mars symbol and Venus symbol? What difference does it make?”
I didn’t know what to answer. I didn’t know what is wrong with me. But the guy I wanted to be with, I wanted him to be crazy like me. I wanted him to be knowledgeable and teach me things I didn’t know. There are things I didn’t know. I never understood why Venus is known both as morning star and evening star. But how can I ask that to Arjun, when he is not even interested in knowing anything about Venus.
Then I asked myself so what? What if a guy didn’t know from where the symbols came from? Would it make him a bad person? No It wouldn’t, would it?
“So you are coming home with me this week end?” Arjun asked
There was no sign of Beautiful eyes, I had no idea where he went and I no longer knew what I should do.
“Good, Preetha is waiting for you. She wants to take you to get the salwar stitched”
Thursday evening, I talked to Arjun till about 8.30. We planned to skip the afternoon class, so we can go and watch a movie before going to his house. After talking to him, I went and ate my dinner at the mess.
I was on my way to my room when I heard Anitha shouting my name from the first floor
“Nina, phone for you” Anitha was looking at me
I didn’t want to take any phone call, But I was already in the corridoor and there was no way I could ignore the phone call and walk away
” who is it?” I asked
“Arjun? I just spoke to him 1/2 an hour ago”
“Don’t know, may be he is missing you already” She was teasing me
I ran up the steps to the phone room and picked up the receiver
“Hey it is me. Skip the clinics tomorrow and meet me at the bus station in the morning”
“Where were you until now?” I was so mad
“I will explain everything tomorrow. I just came back 10 minutes ago. I need to see you tomorrow”
“I can’t. I am supposed to go with him” I looked outside. Anitha was still standing outside the door. She might be expecting a call from home
“Do something Nina, I need to see you. There is something I need to tell you”
There was something about Beautiful Eyes. I melt hearing his voice.
“I will see you after he goes home” I whispered
“don’t know. may be 12.30, may be 1 may be 2. I don’t know”
“I will wait for you at the restaurent across the bus station.”
“I love you baby”
“hmm” I mumbled
“I asked What hmm?”
“Nothing. See you tomorrow. Bye”
I quickly put the phone down and walked out of the room
“My God Nina, you are blushing”
“No I am not”
I quickly ran down the steps to my room. My brain was in panicky mode. What was I going to do? How was I going to avoid Arjun tomorrow?
Think Nina think.
I knew what I am going to do. I had to fall sick. Onion! I need onion. Years ago I read somewhere that if you keep onion in the arm pit, you get fever.(probably malgudi days!!)
I ran to the mess. They were just about closing the mess when I reached there
“Annai, I need an onion” I shouted to the cook
“There is a rat in my room. My grandmother says, rats will not come anywhere near the onion.” I bluffed
“Really” I nodded my head
“Then we should also try the same” He was speaking to his side kick
“Try it and let me know”
I took the onion from the sack and ran back to my room. I had to do it when no one was looking. I waited for Aparna and Shylaja to sleep and then cut the onion in half and placed it in both my arm pits. It felt awful. But I had to get a fever. I waited and waited. Every few minutes I checked my temp. There was no sign of a fever. I was beginning to smell like a rotten onion and my temperature was still in the normal range. I finally gave up trying to get a fever.
Because I smelled like a rotten onion, I was forced to take my shower at 12.30 in the night. I took my bucket and walked to the washroom. I turned on the water heater tap and filled the bucket. I dipped my hand in the water to check the temperature.
“Ouch” I screamed. Water was ice cold. Gangamma must have switched off the heater before going to bed.
“Damn it” I cursed myself. I deserved this anyway. I was trying to cheat Arjun. But still, I wanted to see beautiful eyes. I wanted to be with him. I was willing to take a very cold shower for a chance to be with him.
While taking my bath I remembered Aspirin. I am allergic to aspirin. I get severe hives.
When i came out of the washroom I spotted One of my junior was walking outside the corridoor and studying
“hey do you have any aspirin. I have a severe head ache”
“Does your room mate have an aspirin?”
“Don’t know madam. I can check for you” I watched her going to her room
I knew I was going crazy. Who ever would have heard of such a brilliant idea of taking a medicine to get an allergy?
“Madam, she only has a single aspirin tablet”
“That is fine. Tomorrow I will send Gangamma to buy some from the pharmacy. Thanks” I took the precious pill from her hand.
“Nina, Oh my goodness, What happend to you?” Aparna was screaming
“Allergic reaction. I think I am allergic to Aspirin”
“Do you want to go to the hospital? Come I take you”
“Oh don’t worry Aparna. I am fine. It will settle on its own”
“Are you sure?”
“Oh yes. Can you do me a favour?”
“Can you please tell Arjun that I won’t be able to go home with him today?”
“Sure. Nina are you ok?”
I wasn’t sure if I was ok because I was cheating on the guy who loves me, and my whole body was itching.
* When Rupesh told me the story, I thought it was an original,but I found later that it was from reader’s digest
You can see Venus now