CHAPTER 1 Part 1

             “Arnav, Principal ma’am wants to meet you in the short recess, in her office!” Our class teacher, Anusaya ma’am, supposedly the strictest of the lot, passed on the message before starting the biology lecture on a Tuesday morning. Her words ignited the scary hell I was about to be burnt into.

            “Yes ma’am.” I answered gathering my entire strength in a vague voice. My achingly worried gaze, cutting through all the students in the classroom, prowled over Priya’s face. She too, as she had been since two days, was terrorized. We knew this was inevitable. We were going to experience hell in a short while. Each passing moment, which actually felt like ages, compelled my heartbeats to sprint. Bleary-eyed, anxious and exhausted – I was no better than a corpse. I had no idea how I was going to face principal ma’am. It wasn’t just my mind, but also my heart that pessimism was infused into.      

             The clock ticked 10:40. The short break triggered the blood-curdling thought of going into the Principal’s office, which seemed nothing less than a battlefield where my defeat was inevitable. Priya, with fear disguised as tears in her mesmerizing brown eyes, hurried towards my seat as all other students helped themselves out for the break.

            “Baby, please don’t be tensed.” She exclaimed. I was sitting on my bench, nervous, as she continued. “Everything will be fine. We will face this together. I love you, I am with you.” She held my arid dull face in her soft hands and tried to comfort me as tears formed spheres in her eyes.

            “I just hope that I don’t get suspended!” That was the worst possibility I was preparing myself for!

            “I won’t let you suffer alone. We both are responsible for whatever happened.” Her voice stipulated courage and her teary eyes stipulated a fight against fate.

            “No!” I held her hands in mine, command surging in my voice. “If it comes down to that, I will take the entire responsibility.” My eyes locked at the floor.

            “Do you think I will be able to live with myself after that? Look at me. Look at me.” She raised my face and looked deep into my eyes as if making love with them. She, I wonder how, has invariably been able to mesmerize me with her elegant eyes. “I love you, baby. And I am with you. Let whatever happen, we both will endure this together!”

            Her voice was a mixture of fear and strength, guilt and pride, plead and command. Her words bestowed me with the strength to endure whatever destiny had in store for me, for us, for our relationship. It’s ironic how a word from someone we love can change our perspective towards things.

            “I love you!”, she said.

            “I love you.” 

            “Promise me, no matter what happens, our relation won’t suffer.” Her eyes, glammed up with hope, stipulated assurance for revival.

            “I promise.”

               I left.

            As I carried my exhausted body through the lonely corridors towards the principal’s den, my mind sprinted back to the day I first saw Priya. It was back in 11th standard that I got to know her and eventually fall for her. Last one and a half year with my love flashed in front of my eyes. The way I ignored her initially, we became friends, we fell in love, we fought, we stood for each other, and all those small little things that cemented our relationship - nothing less than a fairy-tale, a fairy-tale that was now in jeopardy as a result of a mistake. What is a mistake for the world, is redemption for lovers!

              “May I come in, ma’am?” I pleaded with a knock on the office-door. It was time for me to take a stand for us, for our relationship. It was time for me to be strong.

            “Yes. Mr. Arnav Gupte. Please come in.” Her welcoming voice made me nostalgic. Maybe that was her style of hunting, I thought.

             She was in her beige saree, looking diminutive in the huge maroon armchair. Those over-sized spectacles had never seemed so threatening up till then. She hit the alarm bell to call William uncle, the peon outside her office. “William, close the door and don’t let anyone come inside.”

            {Are you gonna kill me now?}  My mind had turned phobic.     

             She instructed me to have a seat. It had been about four months that she took over the reins of St. Vincent Jr. College for Science and Commerce as the Principal. Had it been Fr. Dominic Frank, our principal prior to her, things would have been a little less horrifying as he knew about me and Priya. And surprisingly, he never played a hurdle for us. The possible reason behind his extravagant support, I had assumed, was that he might have sensed the pure love between us or maybe it was my sincere persona or the fact that Priya was his favorite or maybe it was our all-round agility in both, academics and sports that fetched our relation a soft corner in his heart. We would never know! And there was no way we ever felt the need to question that. We were his favorite. That was all that actually mattered.

                However, Principal Jennet, as rumor had it, was a rigorous control freak when it was about student’s love-affairs. She was believed to have a vigorous ability to emasculate love and execute lovers and as my worst fortune could present it, I was her first case in this genre. She was all set to open her love-assassination account. I couldn’t possibly imagine what outcome our meeting would bring.

                  As I descended on the chair, a scene from the movie 300, where the 300 Spartans successfully slaughtered their rivals, resulting in a pile of dead bodies, barged into my already vanquished mind. It hopelessly drew an analogy between the various trophies placed in a full-packed showcase on the wall behind her and the spears that warriors carry to wars. The trophies seemed all geared up to surpass my chest as the spears would have. Terrible!

            “I believe you are aware of what I have called you for!” She placed her elbows on the table and rested her chin on the knuckles.

            “Yes ma’am.” I said, trying to be as soft-spoken as I could. {I know that you are about to confront me for my love-affair and probably, suspend me!} I thought to myself sitting timidly in the chair.

            “I’ll directly come to the point. Tell me exactly what happened on Saturday.” 

            The question I was afraid of had hit me. I became anxious as fear engulfed my mind. I tried not to freak out. Amalgamating my entire courage, I looked up right into her eyes.

            “Ma’am, on Saturday I went to Priya’s house.” Was all I could say before my eyes skulked from her intimidating gaze. I looked down at her desk. I couldn’t utter a word more. I found it easier to observe the annual budget of the college lying on her desk than to look up at her and answer.

            “And, what happened there?” All of a sudden she appeared like a giant monster to me, I seemed her prey. Her tweaked eyebrows expressed curiosity more than anger.

    “Ma’am, Saturday,” I gasped, “The whole day I was with Priya, in her house. Her parents were out of town. It was just the two of us the entire day.”

            {Now please don’t ask me what we did the entire day!} My heart yelled, my mouth sealed. {What do lovers do when they are alone?}

. . . . to be continued . . . . 

CH 1 Part 2 :  3rd Dec '17



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