Translated By Priya Arun
Why was I falling in love with her? Was it the beauty? If it was just looks, I should have been in love with Meera instead. Was it her mesmerizing curls? Or was it her boyish gait? Until today, I don’t know what it was about her that drove me crazy. Try as I might, I couldn’t take my mind off her. Her thoughts didn't leave me in my sleep too. Funnily, I'd been dreaming of her prancing around like a gaudily dressed Telugu film actress!
No one had ever bothered me so much until that time. "Dude, she isn't the regular type. Theirs is not just a loaded but a reputed family. You'd better watch out," warned Meera the next day. I didn't make a big deal out of these new feelings even at that point. But then, I couldn't get even one item off my ‘To Do List’ for that day. I was distracted out of my wits. All I wanted to do was to just meet her. I chided myself out of such thoughts and decided not to meet her for the next two days at least and try to get busy with my own work. Well, I found myself at her office in the next half an hour. So much for my self-control!
I found them both in the cafeteria. She looked way more attractive than she did yesterday. Meera cast a knowing look and chuckled softly. “Hi! Want to eat something? You look hungry.” said Shraddha as she placed a box of sandwiches in front of me. “Here, have some.” I looked at her sharply.
She is made just for me. These words kept ringing in my ears. I kept looking at the sandwiches that she had placed in front of me. “Are you still mad at me? Look, I’ve already accepted my mistake and have even apologized. Why are you still harping on it? Now we’re friends. Right? So please eat,” she said, venturing into a zone of familiarity.
I was floored. All I wanted to do was to watch her talk. “Hey! Come on now, eat. Stop ogling at her. Will you?” whispered Meera. I collected myself and starting nibbling at the sandwich. “Now, that’s my boy!” said Shraddha, tousling my hair. It sent happy shivers down my spine. And that urged me to caress her cheek affectionately. Just as I extended my arm to reach out to her cheek, she lunged back. My finger got stuck in her gold loops. The earring perhaps had a sharp edge somewhere that scratched my finger. I pulled my finger back in reflex and realised it had started bleeding. While Meera went looking for something to stop the bleeding, on an impulse, Shraddha grabbed my finger and put it to her mouth to arrest the blood flow. While she was doing this, I kept gazing at her in awe. As the warmth from her mouth slowly comforted me... I tried to call out her name but I wasn’t sure if even I could hear it.
Or perhaps she heard me. She looked into my eyes and gestured a “What?” my finger still firmly clutched in her mouth. I cleared my throat again and muttered, “That will do Shraddha.” Meera had been observing all this with a snigger. Shraddha realised this and quickly removed my finger from her mouth. She gave me a sheepish grin. I didn’t say anything. I gobbled my sandwich and got up to leave. All I could say was, “Shraddha, I really like you.” She smiled. “Thanks....friend,” she said and waved me goodbye. Just as we were about to leave, I mustered the courage to suggest going out for dinner the next day. Meera was the first to respond, “Dinner? No way. I can’t make it.” I ignored her and waited for Shraddha’s response. Shraddha hesitated to answer. “Umm…it’s...getting late...got to go. Why don’t you give me your number?” I took her cell phone and dialled my number from it and gave it back to her. “Call me.” I ordered and walked away, not waiting for her response.
I felt completely thrilled. I was almost sure she’d call me back. Oh God! She has to call me. Yes, she will. I left the place whistling a favorite tune, as my heart brimmed with hope. I didn’t sleep all night. I kept staring at the phone, as if by doing that, I could hypnotize her into calling me! I don’t remember when exactly I had drifted off to sleep but my incessantly ringing phone jolted me awake. It was Shraddha.