Exactly at 9 AM, I walked to the canteen. All those attending the clinics had already gone to the hospital and the first year students were already at the gallery.
I could hardly open my eyes because the morning sun was further hurting my head. But I had to endure it. There was no choice.
There were few seniors in the canteen. The guys who had cars/ bikes who doesn’t need to take the bus to the hospital.
They were staring at me. Did they know? I wondered. I felt guilty. I will fix it today. I told myself.
I ordered tea and found a place to sit. I waited for the seniors to leave.
As soon as they left, I went to the canteen operator and asked him to send message to the Men’s hostel.
“Can you please tell ‘beautiful eyes’ that I want to see him”
The operator looked at me quizzically.
I wasn’t going to explain anything.
I watched him call one of his helper and telling him to go to the hostel and call ‘beautiful eyes’
That boy must have only been around 11 or 12 years old. Isn’t there a law in this country about employing children?
But I wanted the message to be send and I couldn’t care who the messenger was.
A little while later I saw the boy coming out of the men’s hostel. He was alone.
As soon s he came in to the canteen I asked him
“Did you tell the message?”
“Yes Akka” he nodded
“What did he say?”
The boy shook his head.
“Did you see the tight person? How does he look?” I questioned the boy.
He was adamant he saw the right person.
Who employs children? I wondered. It was so frustrating.
I looked at the canteen operator. he was busy stashing Ciggies under the counter.
“Did he say what time he is coming?” I asked the boy again
Arghhhh. I wanted to scream. I couldn’t, because my head was on fire.
I went back and sat down on the chair. My tea was cold and I wasn’t thirsty. So I just left it.
There was nothing much I could do but to wait.
I closed my eyes and waited.
I knew he would come.
Time flies…The time I had earmarked to study was flying. I knew I should go back to the hostel and either sleep off the migraine or study.
But I need to see him.
I checked my watch.
He must be getting ready. He must have taken his shower. It is just a matter of few more minutes, for I was sure he would come.
There was few microscopically tiny drops of water inside my watch. Damn. It formed a cute circle in the middle of the glass covering the dial.
I took my watch off my hand. The leather strap was stinking. I used the end of my salwar duppatta and wiped the glass cover.
Stupid, the moisture was inside, how can you wipe it off from the outside? I admonished myself.
I needed a new watch. One of those fancy pansy Timex watch. The one with tiny white stones in the dial. Fake diamonds.
I remembered my first watch. Appa gave to me before he left to work overseas. I never knew why he gave it to me and not to Chechy. It had silver straps and it was so big. Every time I tried to wear it I couldn’t lift my hand. Not because the watch was too heavy, but because my arm was pencil thin and the watch would go all the way past my elbow.
Amma wouldn’t shorten the strap because she didn’t want to ‘damage’ the watch. I used to keep that watch on my bed. Any time I missed my dad, I would sniff the watch. it still had his smell. Then one day the watch disappeared. Years later, I leaned my mother gave that watch to my cousin in an act of generosity and he pawned it the very next day and never bothered to pay back the pawn shop and collect the watch.
Except for the two birthmarks on my hand I had nothing to remember my father. Nothing.
It was the same as the story of Esau. Only in reverse. I was the second! The rightful loser.
I could smell potato pailiya being cooked. I normally loved the smell of potato, especially when you mash the hot potato. But right now I hated it. The smell only made my headache worst.
I checked the watch again. 9.4o AM. Time stopped flying. It was dragging now. May be my watch was showing the wrong time
“bhaiiyya What time is it?” I called out. Those few spoken words almost killed me.
“9.40 Ma’am” He spoke.
There was so much of noise coming from the canteen kitchen. Someone was singing a Tamil song off key. I really needed to sleep.
Then I heard the very familiar bike sound.
I got up and ran outside.
I watched him starting the bike and leaving the campus. He didn’t even look towards the canteen.