“Come, let us go to the canteen” Arjun spoke
“No, Arjun. I need to revise”
I didn’t want to go the canteen. I didn’t want to be with Arjun. I certainly didn’t want Beautiful Eyes to see me with Arjun.
“Oh Nina, you are always worried about your studies. You need to learn to relax. Chul, lets go to the canteen. I am famished.
Arjun checked the watch to see the time and spoke” I didn’t eat breakfast today because I was busy revising in the morning and by now there won’t be any lunch left at the mess. Come let us go.”
Oh Nina, Oh Nina, Oh Nina. The words were repeating over and over in my head.
I was sick and tired of Oh Nina.
“Can you stop saying Oh Nina?”
“because I hate it.”
“Why? What is wrong with saying Oh Nina?”
“I have told you so many times why I hate someone saying Oh Nina. How many more times do I have to tell you before you get it in your head?”
I wanted to say ‘get it in your dumb head’, but I didn’t want to be that rude.
Arjun was staring at me.
“You know, I am sick and tired of you yelling at me. I do everything for you. I even handed in an empty answer sheet for you.” Arjun yelled and then turned and started to walk off.
I wanted to call after him and apologize. I also wanted to be out of the mess I was in. I knew I was over reacting. Why do I get so worked up when someone says Oh Nina? Why can’t I ignore it?
I remembered each and every time Beautiful Eyes (playfully )said Oh Nina. But I never got angry with him. In fact I loved the way he used to say Oh Nina. I knew he was teasing me and I knew how much he loved me. Yet I hated it when Arjun said Oh Nina. I hated everything about Arjun. I hated the way he was standing by me. I wanted him to walk away from me. I wanted him to leave me alone.
I watched Arjun walking towards the hostel. He didn’t go to the canteen. I knew he was hungry and I felt sorry for making him so upset. I hated the way I was behaving.
I was turning out to be a person even I didn’t like!
I walked back to the hostel.
Shylaja must have been waiting for me because as soon as I opened the door I heard her ask
“So what did Dr. Murthy want?”
I looked at her while trying to think of a smart answer to tell her. I couldn’t tell her that Dr. Murthy called me to discuss the marks. I couldn’t tell her that he isn’t going to use the marks from this exam. I knew she waiting for a chance to confirm that George’s influence and my father’s money is the reason why I pass the exams.
“He wanted to know If Arjun and I are going steady”
“Oh! How did he know about both of you?” Shylaja asked
“I don’t know”
“What did you tell him?”
“Arjun told him Yes”
I wanted to make sure, she heard that right. I didn’t tell Dr.Murthy that we are going steady. Arjun said that
“Arjun was with you?”
“Yeah, he wanted to see both of us together”
“Oh ok” Shylaja went back to reading her notes.
I thought of asking her, Are you happy now? Did you get all the information you wanted?
‘Satiable curiosity’ Sensible one spoke. I almost smiled when I remembered where I read satiable curiosity. I could almost see an Elephant’s child with a nose as big as boot sitting on Shylaja’s bed and reading microbiology notes.
I heard someone opening the door and I turned to look.
“Did you hear? Dr.Murthy asked Nina. if Arjun and Nina are going steady!” Shylaja spoke even before Aparna entered the room. Anitha was with Aparna and both of them asked at the same time
“Really? How did he know?”
Both of them were staring at me
“I don’t know” I relplied
“Was he angry?” Aparna was genuinely concerned. It was a common knowledge that an angry professor meant no chance in hell to pass the viva voce and there by repeating the subject till the professor retires.
“nah, he wasn’t angry. He just wanted to know if our parents knew about it”
“Oh you are so lucky. I heard that Rajashree madam had to repeat ophthalmology because the professor didn’t like students falling in love. Apparently according to him, you have come here to study, not fall in love.” Aparna spoke
“But she is married! isn’t she? Doesn’t she tell everyone that Anil sir is her friend?” Anitha spoke
“She is married? What are you talking about?” Shylaja asked loudly the question I was sure was in all three of our mind
I remembered how Rupesh used to call them football and cricket bat! I always thought they were going steady. They were always together. They went to the class together, they were always at the canteen in the evening.
“What I heard is that Her parents forced her to marry when she was doing her plus 2. Apparently her husband is in his mid thirties”
“Really?” I asked
“Have you not noticed that she never goes home during the holidays?” Anitha asked
That was true. When I stayed back after the anonymous letter episode, Rajashree madam also didn’t go back. I remembered her telling me that she didn’t want to miss clinicals, so she decided to stay back.
I had always thought only I felt my home was a prison. Suddenly there were others who were trying to run away from the sanctity called home. I felt sorry for Rajashree madam, because I knew how it felt to run away from home when everyone around you were rushing to go back home. I also felt happy knowing that I wasn’t alone. I didn’t want to feel happy when someone was suffering. But I couldn’t help it.