CHAPTER 1 Part 4


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           The alarm beeped. It was bestowed with life as it seemed to yell, ‘Get up you bastard, you are not supposed to sleep peacefully!’

            It was 3:50. All I desired to do was stay alone, but I had to force myself to get ready.

             “Mom, principal ma’am has called me to her place. It will be a while.”


             She didn’t bother to say a word in reply. She couldn’t forgive me for what I had put her through. Fair enough.

               I left.
  
            {Are you going to break up with Priya?} Yet again, the inner bastard started playing games with me. There were two voices – ‘Stay with her’ and ‘break up with her.’

            {Are you going to break up with her? You probably should!

             Never, I have promised to love her till my last breath! I will love her for eternity and even after that!

            Not even after what her dad told principal? Two booyysss??

            It isn’t as it sounds. It’s only because of her over-friendly behavior with boys that her dad thinks she had two affairs. She never had a thing for anyone. Her over-friendly behavior had her dad misinterpret it as an affair. She did tell me about it once. There is no truth in that accusation.

            Do you really think so?

            Yes. And for all I know, her dad might be saying all this stuff just to break us up, to create differences between us. I am not letting that happen. Not at all!

          But still, she has made so many mistakes. Before and even after you both were together.

           No matter what, I love her!

           Do you trust her?

           Yes, I do!

          Then why are you, so desperately, making yourself understand that she is innocent and those accusations are false? If you really trusted her, you never would have had this conversation in your mind!

          What the hell do you mean? Stop confusing me. I love her. That is all I know! I love her.

          Her past mistakes are whirling you in the cyclone of a dilemma, aren’t they?

          I love her! I love her! I love her! }


     
           And the conflict between the two inner voices, which always ceased in a mystifying verdict, prolonged until I finally reached Principal’s home. A black German shepherd dog, big enough to terrorize a stranger, welcomed me with some outrageous barks. I thanked heavens for he was bound to a pole when I walked in through the gate.

            The main door opened after three consecutive knocks.

            “Umm, I am here to...”

            “Are you Arnav?” A smiling face questioned before I could complete my sentence.

            “Yes.” I replied politely. {Hell No! I cannot be so goddamn famous for having an affair.}

            “Come on in, Ma’am told me that you would come.” A slender woman, in her mid-30s wearing a maroon colored apron, possibly the maid, opened the door. Her bushy head and steamy face and the malleable wheat flour stuck to her palms made it clear that she was working in the kitchen.

            “What should I get you? Coffee or something?” She asked wiping her sweaty forehead with the back of her right wrist as the flour left its vague white residues on her forehead.

            {Some Poison, please!}

           “Thank you. I am good. If only you could inform ma’am that I am here.”

            “Okay. Just make yourself comfortable. She will be here in five minutes.”

            She rushed into the kitchen to carry on with her work. I was sitting timidly in one of the three sofa chairs in blue jeans and a black full sleeved T-shirt. There were some papers scattered on the sofa. For a moment, I thought those were my suspension letters. Hell! I was certain that her dad wanted me suspended. Hanged till death would be a more precise punishment he would have imagined, for I had committed the unpardonable sin of loving his daughter.

            The walls sheltered many paintings but the scariest thing for me in that situation was to see the taxidermy of a reindeer’s face with huge horns hung right above the Samsung LCD. I could visualize my face in that exact position. The hall was dark, courtesy of the closed curtains. A single bulb, glowing in the farthest corner of the hall, made things barely visible.

             I felt like a terrorist, waiting in the interrogation room, about to be interrogated and tortured. The world seemed a scary place to be in.

            “Hey, young man!” She was wearing a pink gown with some flower design on it. “Glad you are here! Did you have your lunch?” She seemed casual as though nothing had happened. Her partly greyed hair complimented her wrinkleless skin. Anti-aging creams at work!

            She switched on the lights to brighten the vicinity. I hoped she could do the same for my darkened heart as well.

            “Yes ma’am.” I had no manners to ask about her lunch.

            {Mom served me some silent treatment for lunch. It was tasty though.}

              A few moments of awkward silence followed before she broke the ice.

             “Arnav,” she began, comfortable in the armchair next to mine, “You know, back when my brother was a fine young scholar like you, he survived through the situations you are going through right now, probably even worse. But he did one thing right, he shared everything with me. And hence I could help him. I could have spoken to you in the office itself, but you would never have been comfortable enough like you would be here. I don’t want to talk to you as your Principal, I want to be your friend right now. So, right now I’m not your principal, but just an old lady who is willing to help you.” She wasn’t wearing those big glasses without which she looked less scary.

            Her words served as soothing snowfall in an arid desert.

           "Thank you ma'am. Thanks a lot." I heaved as every single drop of my blood experienced a respite." Such words coming from you really eases the pressure off me." It felt like a knapsack - comprising of unbearable pain, abominable agony, chronic distress, hurt, frustration – weighing zillion kilograms was taken off my heart. Phew! A ray of hope, thus, was emerging.

            “First, tell me.” She implored. “Do you really believe she had two affairs as her dad told me?”

            “No way in hell, ma’am. It’s rubbish. You know how Indian parents are. If a girl talks with a boy, it’s perceived as an affair. She told me how friendly she was to a couple of guys and how things got worse when her dad thought it was an affair. She made a few mistakes, but we all do in that age. But I’m sure as hell, she never had an affair as her dad claims to. She would never hide something that huge from me."

            “Then, why were you perplexed when I told you about what her dad said. I mean, you were in tears.” She agreed to my answer, but wanted me to testify to know how staunch I was on my view.

            “Ma’am,” I heaved along with a lopsided smile. “A guy whose parents aren’t talking with him, whose girlfriend’s parents happen to barge into his house to threaten him, who dreaded his suspension, who was petrified with the thought of losing his love, gets to know that his girlfriend’s dad told the principal that her daughter had two affairs. What do you expect that guy to do in such turmoil? Whatever her dad said, just didn’t sound right to my ears. I needed a reason to cry and that was it. But, my heart knew all the way long that it is as false as the existence of ghosts. I was sad that her dad said such a thing about her."

            “Yeah, I figured that out.” She agreed with me.

            “Ma’am, can I ask you something?” I had to get rid of my curiosity.

            “Sure, son!”

            “Ma’am, all I had heard about you was that you are forbiddingly strict when it comes to student’s affair. Then….” 
 
            “Hahaha…..” Her derisive laughter interrupted my question. “Arnav, there are many affairs going on in every corner. But rarely do I come across some serious lovers like you. I can see it in your eyes, Arnav. And that is why I felt you need help. I don’t want it to destroy you.”

            That made me feel special. That made me feel proud about my love. There are only a few in this world who understand true love!

            “But for that,” She continued with a slight pause to catch my unflinching attention, “I will have to know each and everything. Right from the very beginning. How it started, what it led to, everything till this very minute. Each and every tiny detail. Let there be no truth untold.”

             Two glasses of lime juice had arrived to fuel some energy into me.

            “I don’t know where to start from!” I took a sip, clueless of what exactly I should tell her.

            “Simple, from the beginning.” She giggled. “Start from the day you first saw her.” She was much on the edge of her armchair eager to take heed of my story.

            I took a long pause before losing myself in the past.

            “It all started with a simple question.”
                                                                        *******

. . . . to be continued . . . . 

CH 2 Part 1 : 23 Dec '17


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