Gauri was waiting for him to come. Where was he? He said he would be here by 4 pm.
What’s taking him so long?
Gauri was oblivious to all the fun and frolic around her. Her friends were having a ball at the farewell party. Their last get together. But her object of affection had not made his presence yet. ‘Abhilash would be here any minute’, she mused to herself. As she sat in a corner, far from the crowd, her mind strayed…
“Guys, buck up! Let’s have more energy!”
Gauri was worried about the Annual Day dance performance. She wanted it to be the best event of the day. Though an exemplary dancer herself, she was interested in choreographing rather than being in the limelight. The team was low on energy on the eve of the D-day, and worse, the co-ordination was non-existent.
She was so engrossed in getting the performance perfect, she did not realise time fly by. Before she knew it, it was past 7:30. "Oh no! Mom had asked me to be back by 6:30; now it’s past 7:30! I am dead meat!!!” she shrieked. Abhilash consoled her. “Don’t worry; I have my brother’s scooter with me. Come, I shall drop you right away”, he calmly offered. Gauri knew it for a fact that her mom’s blood would be boiling by now and she gave out a loud sigh in apprehension of the drumming she would receive. She mentally prepared herself to listen to her mom rant and rave; and decided that she would not react, come what may.
And so, together they set off.
The drive was calm and the cool evening breeze had a soothing effect on Gauri’s frayed nerves. Her home was at the outskirts of the town and as Abhilash took a detour, the concrete jungle gave way to verdant paddy fields.
Just when she thought the worst was over, it happened.
The scooter spluttered. It choked. And then it stopped. They were stranded in the middle of nowhere. Gauri could not believe it! “Today is the best day of my life!” she exclaimed as she gritted her teeth. Abhilash tried his best to bring the scooter back to life. But it refused to obey like a wanton boy. He tried to console Gauri, but it fell on deaf ears. She was busy fuming to even pay heed to his words. He decided to look for help, albeit it seemed certain that there was no soul nearby.
A few minutes went by; and then a few more. Gauri suddenly woke up to the fact that she was alone on a dark road with just a dead scooter for company. And suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She screamed out loud. “Hey, it’s me! Relax!” Abhilash said. She was so consumed by fury, she yelled, “What the hell do you think you are doing? I was scared out of my wits!!! First, you desert me and go. Then you just scare the hell out of me…”
All he did was stand calmly and take her wrath. She suddenly felt sorry for him; after all, he was only trying to help. And here she was, insensitive to the helping hand he had extended.
“Do you think I would desert you?”
“I am sorry Abhi. I was getting late and then the scooter incident…I lost it then…”
“Your mom will understand if you tell her what happened, won’t she?” he interjected. And then, he drew her closer to him, to console her.
Was it the night?
The next thing she knew, she was in his arms. He looked at her face. By the moonlight, her face seemed to glow. She felt a kind of rush she had never felt before. She instinctively closed her eyes.
Even before she could complete that thought, she felt his lips on hers. And they kissed. After what felt like an eternity, they parted. He hugged her tight. And she reciprocated. She slowly slid her arm on his. That’s when she felt his watch. She shook herself out of the reverie and was appalled when she checked the time by his digital watch – 8:30.
“My God! I have to go home!” she shrieked. They rushed to the scooter, confused as to what to do. He decided to try the scooter one last time. Much to his surprise, it kicked back to life. There were no two souls more surprised than them!
What was that all about?
As he dropped her off at the gate, he said, “Sorry, it was unintentional. It was a mistake. Please forget it… and forgive me.” He rode off. She walked in; confused.
That night was a long, sleepless one for Gauri. She kept thinking – why is he sorry about it? It did not feel wrong. Of course, the ‘moral police’ would beg to differ. But she felt it was a natural expression of love. Abhilash was her best friend. But she began to wonder – is there more to it? And it perplexed her even more. A thousand apprehensions tore her heart. The night was long gone when she finally dozed off.
The next day, she went to school with a million thoughts tormenting her. How would he react? Surprisingly, he seemed as if nothing had happened between them. The school’s Annual Day went without a hitch. All the while, she was astonished that Abhilash was refusing to acknowledge the previous night’s incident. Was she taking it all too seriously? Was there nothing to it? Was it just a passing moment?
She accepted his silence with dismay. She had hoped it would be the beginning of something. She felt like she was stuck in a no man’s land; somewhere between friendship and love. And she felt trapped by her thoughts, which constantly wandered back to the same point.
Did it not mean anything to him? Is it just me? Why is he running away from what happened?
Was it a moment of weakness or a moment of truth?
‘Life is a bunch of unanswered questions’, she dryly thought.
He smiled at her, as he came in. She smiled back. Abhilash was finally here. Again, the sinking feeling of being caught in no man’s land crept into Gauri.
She consoled herself. Life is a bunch of unanswered questions.
"Thought for the day: No one has ever loved anyone the way everyone wants to be loved."