CHAPTER 1 Part 3

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             I sipped a little water. Wiped my tears and looked towards her. Her sympathetic eyes seemed to be garnering my condition.

            “M-m-a’am…” I stuttered before tears trashed the gates of embarrassment.

            “Son, don’t cry. Handle yourself. Breaking down like this will only make things worse.”

             “What should I do?” I whined piteously.

             She was the sole person who could help me. The vulnerability had me forget that she was my Principal. It galvanized me to pour my heart out. When drowned in misery and vulnerability, we tend to seek shelter wherever possible.

            “My parents aren’t talking to me because of what happened. And her parents tell you that she was involved with two other guys before. What could possibly worsen things more?”

            I was miserable. Tears, beating the number of words coming out of my mouth, were flowing at a blistering pace.   

            “I don’t know what to do. I need help. I really do.” I picked the glass with my shivering hands to take yet another sip of water, sobbing.

            “Arnav, I am here to help you. But for that, you have to tell me the truth. You have to tell me everything. Only then I’ll be able to help.” She let out the words softly, causing me to seek help from her.

             I had disappointed parents back home and a girlfriend, I had been with for 18 months, whose parents accused her to have been with two guys. I couldn’t possibly sense a way to rescue myself from the cyclone of misery. Rather than questioning her concern about my story, I decided to tell her everything. Contrary to what my mind had contemplated, she was ready to help me. Again, I couldn’t think of any legit reason for a principal assuring me help in my love affair! But, it was the best way for me to make things work properly.

            “Where do you stay?” She asked the startling question which left me apprehensive.

            “Honey Heights.” I replied with a worried thought of what she had in her mind.

            “So, that’s barely a minute away. Do one thing. Today college gets over at 12:40 pm. Go home. Rest for a while and come to my place at around 4 pm. We will talk then. Is that okay?”

            “Yes, ma’am.”  Was I having any alternative?

            {Why does she want me to come at 4 pm? Does it make any sense? Can’t we talk now? She is supposed to be cruel to lovers like me. Then why is she playing so good? Or maybe Priya’s father has planned to kill me. Stop thinking, Arnav. Stop thinking rubbish!}

            “Good. Now get back to your class. And do not tell anyone about the things I’ve told you, especially Priya.” She said.

            Albeit shocked enough because of her contradictory behavior, I was more than pleased to have my principal’s empathy.

            “No ma’am, I won’t. And thanks a lot.” I wiped my tears, took a deep breath, and left the office with tons of thoughts in my mind. Negativity surrounded me. All the mistakes that Priya made in the last one year, suddenly seemed unforgivable. The incidents from the past performed theatricals in my mind. The things she said, the things she did, the fights we had. Those things got the better of my optimism.

           { ‘……and he kissed me on my lips. I slapped him and walked out of his house….’

            ‘……No, he is just a friend. And sorry I told him that I was single. I shouldn’t have lied.’

            ‘…..and here’s your kiss!!’

            ‘……you are not there, so I chat with him till late nights. He proposed me once but I rejected.’

            ‘…..I don’t want to talk about what happened between me and Abhinav. It was long before I met you. Please understand baby.’}

            These things and many, many, many more. All this made me sick. The reservoir of endurance and patience, attacked mercilessly by demons of emotional trauma for a year, seemed to have completely depleted. Sometimes you endure so much so that a little, minor thing can break you down. “Her dad said she was involved with two other guys.” This sentence played a catalyst in breaking me bit by bit and then all at once. Suddenly everything seemed to be amiss. I felt ripped off. I could endure things for over a year, but the one sentence shattered my threshold. I desired to leave everything and everyone and go far away, alone.

            { It can’t be true. Her dad is mistaken. She explained me once how her dad perceived her over-friendly behavior with guys as an affair and also how the rumors staked the cause. So, it’s not what it seems to be. She wouldn’t have lied to me about it. It’s her father who is mistaken.}

             Amidst the messy thoughts, there was an inner voice peeping out, “I love Priya, I love her.”  Battling the thoughts with grit I was about to enter into my class.

            “May I come in, Ma’am?” Palak ma’am was conducting the Physics lecture. Without even looking at the door, she instructed me to come in. I rested my body on the bench. I couldn’t hear a word what ma’am was teaching. My petrified eyes didn’t possess the strength to look at Priya. I couldn’t make myself believe that everything was fine. Though there was pin drop silence in the class, no one could listen to the trumpets my wrecked heart was letting out. Though there were 67 students in the class, no one existed for me. 

            After the lectures, everyone rushed out. Priya and her best friend, Prachal rushed towards me.

            “Baby, please tell me that everything is fine!” Priya held my hand. Her hands were cold. Nervousness had poisoned the warmth of her body.

            “Everything is fine. I have to go now. I am not feeling well. I need some rest.” I explained making an effort to lift my corpse-like body as I was about to leave.

            “Heeeyyyyy, why are you behaving like this? Talk to me baby. What happened?” She pulled me near to her. Her eyes filled with tears, voice damp, worry dominating her feelings.

            “Trust me. Nothing happened. I am just not feeling well. I need some rest.” I couldn’t let her know about my suspicious meeting scheduled with Principal ma’am.

            “It feels like I will lose you. Please stay with me baby. I am very scared, dammit. I cannot stand this pain!” Resting her forehead on my chest, she started crying.

            “Hey princess!” Holding her in my arms, I assured her, “I love you. Nothing between us has changed. And nothing can ever make me love you any less.” I embraced her pain and fear assuring her that the heaven of our love was safe and secure! One of the worst feelings is when you have to assure someone that everything is going to be fine when you yourself know that it isn’t.

             Planting a kiss on her forehead, I left requesting Prachal to be with her. I knew she was the only person who could take good care of Priya in that situation. Prachal was her childhood friend. Beneath her fluffy exterior, she possessed a mind too matured for our age. She was a deep thinker and loved to study life itself. She was one of those who grow before their age. Prachal would never be seen without a book. Her old-fashioned black round-framed spectacles made her look what she was, intellectual and mature!                     

                                                                           ^^^^^^        

               I was about to enter the second battlefield - My Home. Mom opened the door. Her fallen face, disgusted for what her son did, made my soul feel guilty. Her aqueous eyes, which had no proper sleep for 3 days, chose to ignore me completely. Air in the house had more content of humiliation than oxygen in it. My heart altered its profession from pumping blood to pumping pain, misery, and guilt into my system. Avoiding any sort of conversation with mom, I locked myself in my room and thrust my body onto the bed. I missed the pleasure of being able to share everything with mom. I wondered how things changed after my tryst with Priya was exposed. I had lied to my mother. We had migrated from a place where I would share everything with her to a place where she won’t even look at me. I had lost her trust. Well, as they say, LOVE COMES AT A COST!

            I set the alarm to buzz at 3:50 pm. I was so exhausted, both mentally and physically, that it took me less than a minute to fall asleep. At that point of time, I reckoned, dream was the only place where I could be with Priya without the world’s interference.

                                                                                               ^^^^^

. . . . to be continued . . . . 

CH 1 Part 4  16th  Dec '17


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