There she goes again.
I’ve learnt to spell GATE, thanks to the girl who owns me. Sahana. She’s one gorgeous woman I’ve ever laid my eyes on. No wonder he fell head over heels for her.
Anyway, he’s the reason I’m here in her room, stuck over a short cactus in a pot. An awkward place to be, yes. But, that’s where he wants me to be placed.
The cactus stands testimony of his unrequited love for her.
I’m a red umbrella. I’m small, unlike my larger counterparts. Actually, I’m not even made to serve the purpose of an umbrella. I’m made as a token of love, to be passed between the hands of two souls in love, but, haven’t been expressive of it yet. I’m one of those lovey-dovey articles that foray the market just before Valentine’s Day. That’s one occasion when humans go gaga over gifts and when businesses thrive by providing any ‘thing’ under the name of gift, with a peculiar meaning attached as to why it’s the best gift to their soulmates.
Like me. I’m one such odd example. Otherwise, who’d even think of gifting an umbrella to woo a girl?
That Valentine’s Day, precisely eight months back, I was given to Sahana by him. I’ve never known that I’d such a dainty meaning attached, until he opened his heart to her and explained why I was chosen as a representation of his love.
Ummm…a little mushy it is! I’m supposed to indicate the hope of a rain of love from her. Sickly sloppy, isn’t it?
Anyhow, everything’s fair in love, right?
That was the day when I met them both. Sahana and Vijay. I could sense a strong unvoiced flow of fondness between them.
“I like you. I’d like to see my future with you,” he confessed after depositing me in her hands. “Uff! Feels good to have gotten it out of me. Been throbbing me for two years now.” He gave her a mesmerising smile and her face flushed scarlet. She tried to gather herself. I could hear her heart race maniacally and see her eyes getting moist.
“Thank you,” she said, pulling a straight face. “But, I don’t think it’ll work. I have a career path carved out for myself. It needs my scrupulous attention.” She spoke in a single breath to which he simply nodded. My heart went out to the boy. His explicit expression of feelings was met with a piercing gaze from her.
“Hmmm…ambitions…I understand. So, where are you heading, if I may ask?” He managed to utter stoically.
“Heard of GATE? Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering? I’m preparing for it. My aim is to get into an IIT for post-graduation. I also have plans of doing Ph.D further,” she answered as if in a viva-voce assessment.
“Wow! You’re quite studious,” he gave one of his boyish grins and her heart skipped a beat.
Their conversation ended with her stern goodbye and his all-knowing smile. That was the first and last time I saw them talk to each other. That was the day when I got a home for myself, away from staring through the window panes of an ostentatious store. Though she refused to reciprocate his love, she didn’t want to part with me. She took me home and perched me on her study table, neatly arranged with books. A white board brimming with notes and calculations overlooked the table.
She does like him. If not, why would she have held me close as if I’m something precious? Damn, why can’t she say that? This fairer sex has quite a complicated neural network. No wonder they say it’s difficult to understand a woman.
Well, that’s how the hitherto tacit relationship of love bloomed between them, with me being an unusual witness to its expression. In fact, once I became a part of Sahana’s room decor, I happened to assimilate a lot more information about them, courtesy of her eccentric friend, Nisha. She visits her often and Sahana calls her, her best friend for life. I find her too nosily talkative. For every five sentences from her, my girl speaks two words. Weird best friends, I say.
What I gathered is that Sahana and Vijay are in their final lap of getting brewed out as respectable engineers to the society. Apparently, the two had first met as latecomers to their Dean’s official welcome address to their batch. A quirky first meeting, indeed. With their course streams different, they never got a chance to attend a single session together. But, they’d struck a connection with each other by choosing their desks beside a convenient window in their respective classes. Willingly or unintentionally, I’d never know. But, the universe conspired it that way.
That served as a means to nourish their bond during their graduating years. They’re even nick-named as the window-benchers by their friends. Suits them well!
With only casual glances and occasional smiles, with neither a formal introduction nor a conventional display of interest, with their common characteristic as the Stars of the batch accessorising their affection, they seemed to unknowingly cherish their budding relationship.
In a way, I’m happy that Sahana has such a garrulous friend. If not for her, I’d have never known their love story. She enjoys reminding her friend with flashbacks involving him, punctuated with her signature ‘ooooohs’. She’s pointed out blatantly that she likes him but denies acknowledging it.
Well, I can’t agree more with her. I like that girl for that open declaration, which invariably is received with a pursed lips, and furrowed brows from Sahana.
“There’s more to life than GATE, babe!” Nisha often says.
“True. But, right now, it tops my priority,” she closes the conversation shaking her head furiously.
Every time, she thinks her focus digresses, she cleans the white board and writes GATE on it, to remind herself staunchly on what she’s to concentrate on. But, after an hour of preparation, she looks thoughtfully at the board and scribbles his name on it, umpteen times.
Girls! They’re definitely a strange species, I tell you.
The cactus, supposedly Vijay’s second and last gift, and I are the only indications of his love for her in her room. Though meagre in number, I claim that we occupy a larger share of her heart.
Months pass as she toils preparing for the entrance exam. I marvel at her unfailing determination to achieve what she wants to. The date gets announced and it falls on February 14th. What an irony! I chuckle at the uncanny coincidence of the exam date.
She writes the test and comes out in flying colours. Being a top scorer, she gets admission offers from most of the premier institutes. By the time she graduates, the road ahead becomes clear as she decides to pursue her Masters in IIT-Madras.
I’d remember this day throughout my existence, as I see her holding the admission letter from IIT-M, with such tenderness and looks at me pensively. She calls me her lucky charm and picks me up. The moment she holds me, copious tears flow out and she starts filling the board with his name.
Well, I’ve gotten used to her passionate flow of love on the board. How I wish I can somehow communicate it to Vijay and give him a glimpse of what I see often. But, some love stories are meant to be the way it is. Nurtured in silence, expressed by one and stifled by the other, yet, longed to be in the companionship of each other. Simply complex, I say.
The day of her joining the institute arrives and I see her dressed elegantly in a sari, with matching embellishments. I overhear that it is fresher’s party today. She carries me along with her, thanks to my new designation as her lucky charm.
Lo and behold! As we enter the auditorium, my gaze falls on him and I get bowled over.
Handsomely dressed in a crisp navy-blue suit and a checkered tie is Vijay, in the front row, waving at her and calling her to sit beside him. She trudges across dazedly.
“Are you stalking me, Mister?” she manages to whisper, unable to suppress the smile which threatens to escape any moment.
“No! I’m also a fresher here,” he says and he notices me dangling from her satchel’s strap. “I see that you’ve not discarded the little umbrella.”
With that, she sheds her austerity and gives into the gush of warmth flooding her, only unique to his company. She smiles at him and holds his hands.
“Have you heard of the story of two silly nerds, madly in love?” she breathes as the students rise to greet the Chairman.
“Two? Since when?” he shoots back with mock surprise.
I smother my laughter and wish them the longest life of happiness together.
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