In the evening I reached college before 6.30 but was hiding near a tree and was waiting. She called me up at 6.30 but I didn’t answer. About 15 mins later she came out and was waiting near the entrance. It was around 7.15, I went there and she saw me as if she’s gonna smolder me to flames. “I’m very sorry, I had a flat Tyre and I had to get it fixed and that was the reason for the delay”, saying this I handed over the record book and said, “Thanks a bunch and I’m extremely sorry for the delay in returning the record as well as for making you wait for such a long time”. She grabbed the record from me and started walking without saying anything. I started my bike and went near her and said, “Come I’ll drop you home, it’s dark”. She walked hastily towards an auto rickshaw coming towards us. She hired the auto rickshaw and got into it. I followed her; after sometime the auto rickshaw stopped she got down and asked, “Why are you following me?” I said, “It is my fault and I’m responsible for your safety, its dark and the area is lonely; no street lights too. How can I trust a stranger and send you in an auto rickshaw? Come with me or if you prefer the auto rickshaw, you can go but I’ll follow you till you reach your place to ensure you reach safely” and smiled. She went to the auto rickshaw, paid him and came and sat on my bike. I started the bike and she kept giving me instructions as “left, right, and straight” she didn’t speak anything except this. After 30 mins she said, “Stop” near a ladies hostel. I asked, “Oh you stay in a hostel, which is your native, where are your parents?” As soon as I stopped she got down and walked off without saying anything. I went home and told my Mom all that happened today. My Mom said, “Poor girl, she must be feeling home sick and that’s why is always sad. Food is not good in some hostels and that could also add up to her sadness” I said, “Yeah Mom, maybe that’s the reason she is always sad. Mom, please prepare my favourite Poori tomorrow for breakfast and pack it for her too mom. She said, “Okay, I’ll do it”.
The next day I went to her and said, “Hi” and placed the lunch box in her desk and said, “My mom prepared Poori today; it’s my favorite so I got it for you too. Have it during the break” I didn’t wait for her response and went to my desk. In the evening I found the box in the place where I placed it, she didn’t take it too. I felt bad, I troubled my Mom and if I take it back home she’ll feel bad too. I didn’t want to waste it so I took it home and put it in the microwave and had it and told my mom what happened. She said, “It is okay, never mind, maybe she didn’t like poori that’s why she didn’t eat” I said, “I think she didn’t even open the box mom”. She said, “It’s okay, leave it” I didn’t stop bringing food for her from my home. Every day I used to give her a box. She didn’t touch it at all. One day, I checked her date of birth with the class representative and found that she was a year and three months younger to me (I missed a year when I was studying 4th standard due to chicken pox) and her birthday is a week ahead. There was a good practice in our class and that was we used to collect 25 bucks from everyone in the class every month and celebrate our classmate’s birthday. It was an activity that excited everyone. On her birthday, before she could come I placed a gift on her desk. When she saw the gift she was surprised and was wondering if it was for her. I went to her desk and said, “Happy birthday. This is my birthday gift for you” She didn’t even open it but threw it on my desk and saying, “I don’t like gifts and I don’t have to take anything from you.”
Being insulted in front of the class I felt ashamed and walked to my desk. I was very disappointed by her behaviour; yet I couldn’t hate her because I had a soft corner for her. I didn’t stop bringing food for her even after this incident and as usual she did not take it. I liked her but not her behaviour. Though initially it was the challenge that made me talk to her but now there was an unusual feeling that made me cling on to her and fight for her friendship. About a fortnight passed and to my surprise, one day the box I gave her was empty. I was very happy and asked her if she liked the food. She said, “Yes, it was nice. Thanks”. The next day during lunch break I asked her, “Shall I join you for lunch?” She said, “Okay” and we occupied a table. I grabbed her box and pushed my box to her and said, “Lets exchange our lunch today.” Before she could refuse I opened the box and started eating. You know it was sick and I felt like saying yuck; but since she’ll feel bad I said, “Hmmm tastes good henceforth we’ll exchange our lunch, okay?” She didn’t say anything but started to eat. I asked, “How is it? She said, “Very tasty” I continued, “m,y mom prepares tasty food; I love all the dishes she prepares and I asked, “How about you?” Her face turned pale and few tear droplets fell from her eyes on the table. She was struggling to pretend as if she was not crying and without finishing her lunch she left the place. I thought she was missing her parents and I felt bad that I reminded her of them. The boy who placed the bet came and asked, “How did you befriend her? Oh, I failed the bet” I said, “Never mind about the bet, I just took it because the challenge was interesting and not for money” I went to her desk, returned her lunch box and said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you” She said, “It is okay” and started to write some record. I left the place in dismay. At home during our dinner I told my mom about her. My dad said, “Arjun, bring her home one day, poor little girl, she must be missing her parents.” I said, “But she doesn’t speak with anyone dad, anyway I’ll invite her”. My dad said, “Invite her for your birthday” I said, “Hmm, that’s a good idea dad.” Turning towards my mom I said, “Mom, her hostel food is sick; please pack an extra box of lunch for her every day. At least she’ll have one good meal a day” She said, “Okay. Check what she likes, I’ll include in the menu and prepare it frequently”. My parents were my friends and I used to discuss everything with them; there was nothing that I hid from them. My sister Adithi was also my best friend. She’s studying in the 8th standard and I used to help her out in her studies, record works, sports, assignments etc. As days passed on Nethra and I become friends and we used to have lunch together every day. I was the only person she would talk to among all the other students in the class. She never spoke anything else other than studies. Our 1st semester got over and a month’s winter vacation was announced. Everybody had planned something or the other for the vacation. I asked her, “Nethra when are you leaving to your native?”. She said, “I’m gonna stay in the hostel” Perplexed I asked, “It is a month’s vacation and you were feeling home sick you can spend some time with your parents”. Her face turned gloomy and said, “No, I’m not going” and she left the place. I told my Mom about her vacation plans with utter displeasure. She was shocked but continued to say, “Maybe her parents are busy with their work or they must be abroad. Anyway your birthday falls during the vacation; invite her home.” I said, “Okay”.
A week later I called her and said, “Tomorrow is my birthday and we have a small party at our home and I’m inviting you for that. Be ready by 4.00 pm, I’ll come to pick you. Okay, take care, bye.” and hung the phone even before she could refuse or accept. The next day before I started I called her and informed that I started. She said, “I’m not coming don’t waste your time.” I said, “I started, no excuse. Please be ready”.
See you in Episode 3😃…