It was a sunny morning and he woke up to the sound of his cell phone ringing beside his pillow. He looked at the name on the 2.1 inch screen and smiled, it was his personal alarming man calling to wake him up. He cut the call and promptly fell asleep again. When he woke up again he found that, he had slept for over 45 minutes, the clock displayed 8.30 A.M.
He had just enough time to shriek, “Shit!”, before he dashed off to the bathroom to finish his daily rituals. When he came back, it was almost 8.45 and he had another 15 minutes to dress up and walk the 1.5 km distance to his college, which he barely managed. As he noticed his professor, he sprinted across the corridor and entered the classroom just before the professor. He promptly went to the last bench and proceeded to complete his sleep there. This was the daily routine of the guy who went by the name Sandy.
Sandy was a tall guy, over 6 feet high. Around 20 years old, a bit dark and was proud of the fact that an average man had to be sliced in half vertically to get the same width as him. The thick growth of moustache would remind anyone of a 90′s head honcho or the primary antagonist of a Bollywood movie. But beneath this antagonist look, was the twinkle in his eyes that would spread warmth in the hearts of those who had the opportunity to get to know him personally.
While trying hard to enjoy his lunch at the college canteen during the break he received a hard punch on his back. With anger burning up in his eyes, he searched for the one who was responsible for disturbing his eating. But the fire was quickly doused, when he saw who it was.
“Hey, Monkey Boy”, Ashima said. “ Didn’t call me when you came here”, she said smugly.
“Hunger drives a person insane”, he winked.
“Where do you stuff all that you eat? You could even give a complex to the thinnest of models.” she said with her eyebrows raised.
“I got my secrets. Can’t tell you how they go missing.” He completed the sentence with a broad grin.
“Hey listen, I need your advice and also help if possible.” she sounded worried.
“There is this guy who has been trying to woo me for some time and…”
“Congratulations! You owe me a treat then!”
“Shut up! And be serious for once at least.” she was exasperated.
“Okay. Poker-face mode ON. Speak!”
“It started with him forwarding all those friend type messages. How he got my number still eludes me. As it was an unknown number I ignored them. But then he started calling me late at nights, quoting excerpts from romantic Bollywood songs. And no matter how many times I hang up, he still keeps calling me.”
“Ever thought of changing your number?”
“He is Sid, from our branch. So, changing the number won’t work. He would get it one way or the other.”
“That certainly screws things up. Talk to him directly. Or maybe don’t talk; shout whatever you want to say near his ears. With the Banshee like voice you have, it would certainly stop him from calling you, for a few days at least.” he grinned.
“ Didn’t I tell you to be serious?” He got another hit.
“Dog’s tail.” he quipped. “But how did you know who it was? His voice?”
“He approached me yesterday during the break and asked if I liked those songs he sang for me.”
“And he is alive till now? You’ve certainly lost your touch, lady.” Sandy said, feeling his back, now sore with the punches he had received. “Then you could have ended it there, by refusing his advances directly. What is the need for my help?”
“There’s a word called ‘Patience’, and you seem to be missing it kiddo. I said, that I was not interested in him and to that he said, that he was interested enough for both of us. That burned me up with rage and I just walked off from there.”
“So what do you propose I do?”
“Exactly what you said.”
Sandy’s eyebrows shot up, “What do you mean?”
“Propose to me.” She seemed serious.
“What the F***!! Hey! I am not interested in being in a relationship. And certainly not with one who can break me up literally.” She burst into laughter. “I expected you to refuse, but that reaction was epic! Listen, next time he calls me, I am going to say I have a boyfriend, and you are helping me there.”
“By pretending to be the guy in my life, who isn’t actually there.”
“I never lie. And I am not going to change that now kid.”
“You don’t have to. Just keep your monkey-face shut when I ask you to. Do it and you earn yourself two treats.”
“You are black-mailing now!” He seemed furious. Then after a few seconds of silence, a broad smile covered his face. “You do know how to convince me.”
“You need to start by proposing to me.” She had the wicked grin on her face.
“Four treats then!”
“Three. Fixed price. No bargaining.”
“Agreed. Here I go. Let’s date.” He sighed. “Don’t expect anything more from me.”
“I didn’t expect this one even.” Her cheeks were a deeper shade of pink.
When classes ended, Ashima walked towards her block exit, where she noticed Sandy leaning on a pillar, hands in his jacket.
“What are you doing here? Walking all the way from your block to mine? I suppose you prided in your laziness.”
“I proposed. Now, I got to pay for my sin, don’t I?”
“Oh! A method actor, eh!”
“You can say that. I will walk you to your hostel.”
“Now all that’s missing is rain.” she quipped.
“Nothing. Let’s walk. By the way, he’s the guy in the grey sweatshirt right next to the one in the red kurta. Just don’t look at him directly.”
“I am going to hold an unofficial stare down contest with him now.” he had an evil, but childlike innocent smile, one of his trademark ones. Sandy didn’t even blink for the next 10 seconds that Sid took to cross the building exit.
“Wow! That looked serious.” she said as they started walking towards the girls’ hostel. “Too serious in fact, my eyes are hurting now.” Sandy added.
“I never would have believed that you were so caring.”
“The only thing I care about is food and sleep. Mark my words, ’cause that shall be the tagline of the chain of hotels I shall be the owner of — in my dreams.” The last part he spoke under his breath. As they reached the hostel, they bid each other goodbye, and she went inside her hostel, while Sandy trudged the distance of the 3 km back to his mess. As soon as he reached, he changed his clothes and promptly fell on his bed.
Suddenly, he felt the sound of his cell phone ringtone waking him up. Through the corner of his eye, he saw that over 5 hours had passed since his fall, and the digital clock now read 11.30 P.M. He picked up his phone and without glancing at the name, pressed the answer button and put it up to his ears, closing his eyes, hoping to drift into his sleep again.
“Speak.” he yawned.
“What’s up?” He said hearing Ashima’s strained voice on the other side.
“He called me. Just now.”
“Good for you. What did he say about your new boyfriend?” asked Sandy with a naughty smile enveloping his face.
“He used expletives on you and even used unspeakable words for Me.” she broke into tears. Sandy sat up, his sleep having completely vanished now. “Elaborate!”
“He called me up sometime back and I picked up the call just ’cause I wanted to know what effect today had on him.”
“Apparently not a good one, not on him at least.” he mumbled.
“Anyways, he asked me who you were and when I said you were my boyfriend he started hurling abuses at me. He also used a few expletives to describe you.”
“Remind me not to name him as a reference in my resume.” Sandy cut her off.
“Stop interrupting me so much.” Her tears seemed to have stopped. At least she sobbed less often now. “He said he would put you through hell. I just hung up on him. That was 15 minutes ago. I think I shouldn’t have involved you in this. Unnecessarily, you got dragged in.” she sounded worried.
“Don’t worry about me, I love to screw up F******. As for him making me go through hell, he doesn’t have the slightest idea who he is dealing with.” An odd menacing smile was there in place of the stupid innocent look. “Let’s have a face-off with him tomorrow.”
“It’s scaring me.”
“Don’t be. And trust me, I may not look the part, but I can be reliable, I think. Tomorrow, meet me during the break in the food court, and make sure he hears of it. I’m off to sleep now; got some assignments to complete in the morning. Good night and you sleep too. You need a bit of rest, for there’s a storm coming tomorrow.”
“What do you mean?”
“Patience lady, patience.” And he cut the call.
Next day during the break time, Sandy took off to the food court with a grim look on his face. He brought a pack of chips and sat down at his favorite table, which fortunately was empty. He opened the pack, and had just started munching in, when his glance fell on Sid who quietly came and sat on the table directly opposite his. Ashima arrived a couple of minutes later. Seeing Sid there, she stopped. Sandy got up, walked towards him and sat on the table facing Sid. “Ashima! Here” He said. She looked a bit unsure at this recent transpiration of events. Sid too looked confused and a bit angry. “Don’t worry. Just sit here.” He said pulling a chair next to his. She sat still looking perplexed.
“Listen, I don’t know who you are, and I seriously don’t give a damn. But if you hassle my girlfriend again, you will have a lot to answer to.” Sandy looked serious.
“Who do you think you are? And what the hell do you think you can do? Strangle me?” He gave a haughty laugh.
“For starters, I might decide to not let you sleep at night. I will give you a ring each time you call her late at night. Or even better, I might key in a ‘wrong’ number and ‘accidentally’ reach your Dad’s cell. I don’t know. I might end up telling it all to him.” Sid’s face was getting redder by the minute. “You wouldn’t dare!” he spat. “I won’t bet on it. After all, I am ‘madly’ in love with the girl.” “I might even advice the poor damsel here, to lodge a harassment complaint.”
Ashima had a shocked expression on her face. Without a warning, Sid reached out and grabbed Sandy’s collar. A scream escaped Ashima’s lips. The others in the food court stared at the three. Sandy still had a calm expression. “This should help quite a bit, if we have to lodge a complaint on how violent you can be!” Sid let go of his collar faster than he had grabbed it. “I will get you for this. You will pay!” He stomped off.
“You don’t need to get anything for me and if you want me to pay, I prefer buying my own stuff.” Sandy quipped on his back.
Now that the drama had finally seemed to end, the people around settled back in their places. “Was all this really necessary? You trying to act like a hero.” she asked, her eyes swelling up.
“Come on! You are breaking my heart with these ice cold words of yours.” He gave her an assuring smile. “I wouldn’t have done it, had it not been necessary. You ask me to do a job, I do it. My way, my rules.”
“You think it is over?”
“Don’t know. But I guess, I have earned you a few days of peace.” he gave one of his stupid smiles. “Let’s get out of here. I guess you better get to your class.”
“I won’t be attending the rest of my classes today.” She seemed depressed. “Could you walk with me for a while?” They got up, and walked away from the crowd, he let her decide which direction she wanted to take. They walked in silence for around 15 minutes, before Ashima finally spoke.
“Thanks for whatever you did. Not many would have done it.” She said without looking at him. She seemed to have controlled her tears. “There’s a reason I say I am a one-piece” he winked. She was still looking straight ahead. “You all right? Or do I need to fix an appointment with a shrink for you?”
“Can’t you ever be serious?”
“Practicing hard not to ever be.”
She gave him a disapproving look. “There’s something serious that I need to tell you.”
Ashima had stopped walking. She turned towards him, “I know this is sudden, but, I love you.”
- Missing Diaries: Foreword (psyched013.wordpress.com)