I reached the campus on time. It was Monday, the day of our microeconomics lecture; and I was overexcited with hopes of seeing Rajeev.
As I entered the class, my eyes roamed through the entire class. Shikha waved at me sitting in one of the front rows. She gave a slight shake to her shoulders upon seeing me, as if trying to communicate that she was keeping a seat for me but someone came and sat there.
Sharing a friendly smile with her, I located a spot in one of the middle rows and tried to settle up myself. Taking out my notebook, I started turning the pages to go through the previous notes, but my mind was taking leaps and bounds somewhere else. It was lost in Rajeev’s thoughts wandering whether he would make up to the class today or not.
The lecturer came in and droned the lecture. I was least interested in hearing and taking down the notes as my heart was desperately waiting or better said missing him. Gathering myself together, I tried to listen to the teacher to at least make out what topic she was talking about just when I heard a student came in and pushed back a chair in the adjacent row.
And when I looked up, a fresh breeze of air tousled my hair and touched my heart. Happiness washed over me when I saw Rajeev sliding into the chair. I felt content that my day didn’t get wasted as I got a chance to see him at least. I kept on looking at him so that he could notice me, and when he looked at me directly and smiled at me, my heart pounded even harder.
He was looking extra handsome in denim blue casual shirt that gave a slight peek of his chiseled chest; his messy gelled hair complimented his cleanly shaven face, and he looked rebellious when he outstared me with his deep brown eyes.
Shivering with the growing affection I started to feel for him, I reciprocated the smile and then forced my eyes away from his extra charming face to stare at my notes, trying hard to wipe off the smile that was constantly trying to reveal my unsaid undisclosed feelings for him.
I stole glances every now and then and found Rajeev paying full attention to the lecture. He hardly looked at me, and all the time he was either looking at Ms. Thimmaih, our microeconomics lecturer, trying to grasp what she was explaining or taking down the notes of what she was dictating.
At the end of the lecture, I started gathering my things waiting for him to approach me, but when he didn’t come near me, I couldn’t resist myself to look in his direction once again.
“Oh…shucks….” I whispered, my lips pursed with irritation. His red-colored plastic girlfriend was leaning over his desk with an inch distance from him.
Disappointment whirled around me, and I backpacked my things to walk out of the classroom without looking at the duo. As I walked past them, I heard Rajeev saying, “Got to go Anks…will catch up later.”
Coming out of the classroom, I started walking in the corridor with tortoise steps waiting for him to come after me, and a moment later, I heard him calling my name. “Hey…Ruchi…just a sec…”
I turned around and looked at him as if it’s just a normal thing for me but the reality was far away from what I pretended, and the truth was that I was trying hard to calm down my trembling heartbeat when I heard him calling me from behind.
“Hey Rajeev…good to see…great that you make up to the class,” I said.
“Good to see you too Ruchi…yeah, I had to work over the weekend and it was really tough to get to the class on time but at last I made it…” he said.
“So…what’s up…” I asked.
“Well…Ruchi…I was thinking if you’re doing anything important this evening.”
“Nothing much….just homework and the revision for the class test next week.” His question was kind of abrupt, and it took a little time for me to reply…
“That’s cool….that means not much of a work on you…so you can take some time out to have some dinner with me…” he asked.
“Ummm….well…” My voice slurred. No words could escape from my mouth as my lips glued together because of the elation that unchained my emotions.
“Oh..it’s okay…if you don’t want to come with me…”He looked a little disappointed and was about to turn back just when I regained my lost control and cried like a child…“No…No…I want to…”
I immediately realized that I sounded like an inexperienced teenager and cursed myself upon my stupidity.
“Cool then…I’ll pick you up at 7.” He flashed a pearly smile.
“See you in the evening.” He winked at me this time and left the corridor. I stood still and saw him leave the hallway. A jumble of exhilaration, joy, and thrill ran through my blood and I felt my whole body heated up.
“Oh…so he has invited me on a real date.”
At sharp 7, I heard a car honking outside my commune…. Stepping out into the balcony, when I looked down, I found a blue Nissan Ultima standing outside the gate of the apartment building.
Standing there, I tried to comb my hair to get ready for the evening, when I saw the car door opening and there he was….
Yes it was Rajeev’s car. He came to pick me up.
“Oh…he’s so punctual….it’s just 7 and he is here…” I asked him to wait there. Tying my hair into a loose bun, I hurried to reach him as fast as I could.
“Hey….why you are in such a hurry?” Dia was sitting on the couch watching TV….She was surprised to see me all dressed up and going out as she was used to of seeing me in my loose pajamas and T-shirt, studying or cuddling up in my bed with my favorite novel in hands.
“Got to go now…Would talk to you later…someone is waiting for me…” I said making my way to the exit of our flat.
“It seems she is seeing someone….I saw a handsome hunk standing at the gateway while coming in…” Tina murmured but it was loud enough that I could make out what they were gossiping about…
I smiled and rushed down the elevator and soon the lift reached the ground floor. I saw Rajeev waiting for me leaning over his car. He grinned ear to ear and waved at me…
I was so excited upon seeing him that I missed a few steps of the entry staircase and couldn’t get the grab of the side rail….I stumbled upon and fell down…Trying hard to get up, I felt a sharp stabbing pain radiating down my right thigh. My right ankle was sprained, and I couldn’t get up.
“What have you done Ruchi? You should be careful while walking…” He came running to me. He bent down on his knee and tried to grab my shoulder to lift me up in his arms…
“Come… we will go upstairs…” he said scooping me up in his arms…
“No…no…its okay…I’m fine…please lower me down…I don’t want to go back home…” I said adamantly as I didn’t want to create a scene and became a subject of mockery in front of Tina and Dia…
“Are you sure?” He arched his eyebrows and looked down in my eyes. His brown eyes again left me mesmerized.
“Okay fine…then we’ll go with the plan…” he said. He carried me down to his car and made me comfortable on the front seat next to his…He then hopped onto his seat….
“Put on the seatbelts Ruchi….,” he said. Putting the ignition on, he geared up the vehicle and the car roared with a glorious sound. The vehicle ran through the passageway to the main street and finally we took the last turn to enter the main road.
We headed towards the hub of the city, the Brigade Road, only stopping at a medical store to get some pain relieving gel…He applied the topical muscle relaxant on my sprained ankle, and soon the pain soothed down. I was flying high in the clear sky of the night…walking over the clouds. I’d never expected that kind of care from a man except my Dad.
I never thought that Rajeev could be so caring. He was so concerned about me that he held my hand all the time as we walked through the crowded pedestrian pathways of the Brigade road and at some places; he encircled his arm around my waist as if trying to protect me from the crowd.
The night was charming and alluring, and it seemed like one of the romantic nights of the novel I read, full of passion, longing, and desire.
“This is my favorite place…calm and quiet…” he said as we seated in the Al-Fresco dining area of the restaurant named Coconut Grove on Church Street.
The place was pretty and was beautifully ornamented with several rows and circles of green plants and shrubs. A cascading water feature was adding more to the serenity of the environment. The entire ambience was enamoring yet tranquil and I wondered how this place could be so peaceful even located amidst the buzzing Church Street.
“So…what would you like to have?” he asked navigating through the menu…
“Anything that they are famous for…” I said.
He ordered an elaborate dinner including Chicken Chettinad, pepper prawn, Kerala-styled fish curry, and idiyappam.
“It seems you are a big sea-food lover…” I asked.
“You guessed it right….I really miss Goan prawn curry and fried fish from my mom’s kitchen…” he said.
We talked about inconsequential things during which I got to know that he was basically from Goa. He had a younger brother who was studying in Mumbai while his Mom and Dad were staying in their ancestral home in the ancient town of Varca in North Goa.
To Be Continued…
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