I've decided to revive the series I had been writing earlier. For some reason I discontinued it, assuming it didn't generate enough interest also 'cause I didn't have time earlier. But lately I've been getting requests on Facebook and elsewhere from blog buddies to continue the story. So here's the next part. Enjoy!
For newcomers, the story so far - Part 1 - Distance
"How much you got?" I ask her in a mildly apologetic tone, pointedly looking in the direction of the canteen where two guys from my class are engaged in a mini wrestling match over a can of Coke.
I sense her furious gaze on me but I feign ignorance.
After what seemed like years, she looks away and empties out the contents of her purse on the plastic table while I take out my smart phone and play with the touchscreen interface in an effort to appear unconcerned.
"Three hundred twenty-three....no twenty-four bucks" she says after a minute.
"I guess that's about enough. You said you got a hundred?"
"Yeah." I look up at her finally with a guilty smile.
"Why are you such a scatterbrain?"
She almost looks like an Angry Bird, when she scowls.
Cute in other words.
"I....err..just didn't check how much......"
"When do you EVER check? You wake up at 10 in the morning, then rush to class like a madman. How will you get the TIME for anything?"
"Huh? Stop finding fault with every little thing I do. If you're that pissed off, let's not go in the first place." I perk up.
"I want to watch the movie today. And I got no free time this coming week or the next one." She softens her tone.
"Stupid effin' part time job." I mutter under my breath.
"Atleast I get PAID unlike a certain self-proclaimed rich boy who forgets to bring enough money with him on pre-planned dates. And stop swearing so mu..." she counters.
"Self-proclaimed? when have I ever bragged about being rich? ..." I cut across.
"Yeah yeah....alright. You are rich anyway. So let's drop this discussion...."
"Well you were the one who brought it u....."
"Alright now let's go......we'll be late." she drags me by the sleeve of my Tommy Hilfiger and urges me to get up.
That's Avni for you. She is always precise, always to the point, always the one in control.
Someone who values the importance of a moment even before it comes into existence. To her, time spent in engaging in verbal duels or casual banter, is equivalent to time wasted.
I wonder how someone as sensible as her could acquire a dangerous addiction like smoking. Good thing she has almost gotten rid of the habit now. My incessant nagging can work wonders after all.
It is a Hollywood rom-com again. Movies I really hate. I'm more into horror, mindless gore and thrillers.
I choose to watch her instead, she is infinitely more interesting to me right now - the way her hand unconsciously digs into the tub of popcorn and makes its way back to reach her soft mouth, the way her eyes are glued to the screen betraying no other emotion but complete involvement in the plot.
Her hair is never in place, seldom neatly tied back in a ponytail. She doesn't use any make-up unless it's an obligatory appearance at a social or formal event.
She doesn't dress impeccably either. The term "casually chic" can best describe her fashion sense. I see her mostly in faded jeans, full-sleeved single-color tees with witty one-liners printed on them and kurtis in muted shades.
No skirts. No dresses.
But even then she is pretty. Undeniably so.
"Stop staring at me...." she says all of a sudden looking at me with the faint hint of a smile.
"Don't want to." I whisper back.
"Suit yourself." She turns her attention back to the movie.
Typical Avni. Unromantic and impervious in key moments.
All of us get into a relationship with pre-conceived notions about love. We have reasons for each one of our actions. Nothing is without a meaning or purpose. We deliberate on how best to behave with the other person, how much vulnerability we can or cannot show. How much to give and how much to extract in return.
But somehow whenever I'm with Avni I feel as if all rules of dating can go to hell.
I've had girlfriends before too. Girls who only saw my credit cards, my "good guy" persona, my designer wear and collection of gadgets. None of them were as rude to me as Avni always is.
None of them would scold me either for being such a slacker. None of them were bothered about the fact that I feel nauseous inside an elevator.
Avni is. She holds my hand whenever we're inside one.
And that is why Avni is much more beautiful to me than any of them will ever be.
"I'm sorry for shouting at you earlier." she says interrupting my chain of thoughts, eyes still on the screen. She goes on to add "That however doesn't change the fact that you're pathetic, Gaurav." matter-of-factly.
I smile inwardly. I want to say so many things right now, but then I'm not as good with words as Avni is.
"Stay with me always."
I open my eyes and try to focus on the only source of light in the dark theatre. While I was busy reminiscing, I seem to have missed about 15 minutes of the action movie I'd have killed to watch 6 months back. Now I couldn't care less about it.
My friends seem to care very much though. They're eyeing a skimpily-clad babe running at top speed with a rifle in hand, with earnest interest.
Memories come back to me more often than I'd like them to. Hurtful ones. And yet I'd rather conjure them up one by one, see them playing out right in front of my mind's eye, and relive those moments of spontaneity again and again.
"Stay with me always."
That's what I had said to her back then. I can't recall whether it had sounded like a plea or a command. All I remember is that she had given me a look full of mild surprise at the moment I said it.
But anyway, that doesn't matter right now. For whatever it may have sounded like, it had gone unheeded in the end.
---> Part 5 - Contact