RUSA BHOWMIK - SEMESTER
A new day starts with new hope. Is happiness related when we try something new? Life is so uncertain. All good things happen all of a sudden. She felt that she has been so busy studying and making notes through her college life that love will never come in her life. Then she met Jayanta. He was indeed one jovial soul anyone can ever lay their eyes upon, and that cute smile can win hearts. She is daydreaming, feeling excited to meet him again in her Extra Departmental class this semester. Thrice a week she will be meeting him, and that very thought is now making her feel nervous. She had never felt like this before.
Is it love? Yes, maybe, or just a fatal attraction?
Jayanta asked if he could sit beside her in yesterday’s class. She felt so giddy at that moment, but she has always positioned herself in front of everyone as a shy, reserved typical studious girl. Therefore, today was no exception. Rather it shouldn’t be. After all, she doesn’t want to make a butt of jokes in front of her friends and especially Jayanta.
There was one time in life when she had given up hope about love. Her father used to pick her up from school and her mother dropped her at school. And in between nothing happened in her Convent Girls’ school. Life is tough. Probably it was for the best. She dreaded that she had to go for arrange marriage like her cousin. The stories that she hears from her makes her feel depressed, leave alone even facing them. How would she feel if someone pointed out that being a lefty is a sin and that too suddenly when people are discussing spending lives. She was shocked; she was appalled when she got to know her cousin got rejected because she was a lefty. She wondered how she will feel if someone rejects her because of something that is biological and genetic in nature. But, this new alliance that came for her is nice and sober and they will be getting married soon. She hopes she will also find her true match.
Well, even though there were some girls who made fun of her left-handedness her cousin always asked her to ignore them, she used to say those girls were jealous. Now, that she has grown up she knows it is not the case but it was something she needed that time, that false assurance to feel better. Things were quite different when she came to college. No one, not one single entity mocked her or showed surprise. She was so excited that she jumped in glee when she met her cousin and said that, she nonchalantly said, “It’s college now, what do you expect?”.
“Sudeshna? Oi! daydreaming?” Jayanta’s voice made her return to the present. She blushed for no reason. She knows it seems comical now. Now he will get to know that she has a crush on him. How embarrassing will it be now! Oh my God!
Will he fall for her as she has fallen for him? Maybe he will before the semester ends. Just a semester won’t fit her emotions. In an overwhelming state of mind, she is right now. It suddenly reminds her of a few lines from Tagore. She can’t exactly remember the lines from the short story Samapti, but it went something like when a Samurai shows their skills with those fine Samurai swords and if a human body is cut into two pieces no one would know until it is touched and then those two pieces fall apart. Similarly, she felt like the character in that story who suddenly understood love and her childhood fell apart from the youth. Sudeshna was feeling mesmerised with her newfound feelings.
It has been ten days now that Jayanta hadn’t come to class. She wished she had exchanged numbers on the first day, if not at least on the next day when he sat beside her, but she remained quite clumsy and now she can’t even ask anyone his number.
Only she knows how she had spent those ten days and ten nights. She felt like she was stuck in Noah’s ark. Her heart is pumping blood, but this time it is with a little solution named love poured and mixed in her little heart making her hallucinating about reality. He is nowhere near her now, but she is for him. He will come today, maybe tomorrow, but he will come to class someday and she is now going to count those days.
She was losing her logic, she had never made any mistakes in any of her assessment tests till date. She had always scored A+ in her grades. What is going wrong? She is feeling so messed up right now.
On the count of the eleventh day he arrived. That day after class they went to the canteen and shared food, he once rubbed off a little mayonnaise from the edge of her lip with his thumb and she went numb. She will mark this day forever in her life. They walked through the footpath and talked about the ideas shared in the class that day and why did they take up French lessons. He wanted to know more about art and architecture; she wanted to know more about the literature. He shared with her how he lost his first love out of his ignorance and stupidity. When she asked him about loving someone and starting fresh, he said he too wants that, but not without any friendship. After all, friendship is the base of any relationship. And true friendship is hard to find just like love. She felt they were going to start their journey soon. He shared his pain, his love, and his life, his ambitions, and they went on and on until it was almost evening. Finally, they had exchanged numbers.
She was scribbling in her diary that night.
I came, I saw and I was lost! Veni Vidi Vici no, I lost. I was just lost in his eyes. Words are too less to describe. I was lost in his eyes today. The pain that reflected from his eyes when he shared it with me, but underneath I did notice the incurable romance hidden under it. I know I have taken the right path, as the right path is filled with pain and struggle and there will be struggles to the road to Paradiso, it is only hell where there are flowers strewn on the way. I was quite sentimental I realise when we were just looking at each other’s eyes and smiled and were comfortable in silence. We all are our own sinner, our own saint. We all love ourselves and betray at the simultaneous phase.
I am not any expert in hiding or showing anything as such.
She was shuffling through her notes and random thoughts came to her mind. Some of which were related to today’s afternoon, some were not.
Is reality based on perspective? What one perceives as truth, can it be called true if the other does not about it? Will that make it false from the other perspective?
Can a person be romantic and practical at the same time? Or is it the experience that makes one pragmatic based on the past, and the hope for the future makes one romantic. One who can balance is wise. Did he realise her feelings for him? She thinks so. Else why will he just befriend someone and share his whole life, his past, and present without any purpose? This will take some time to unfold.
A few weeks have passed and they are good friends now. They know each other’s favourite color, cuisine, books and so on. They have planned for a trip to the museum today. Unfortunately, today RB ma’am wanted to take extra classes as she will be leaving for some conference next week. Anyway, she wanted to spend the whole day especially his birthday that falls next week. She was wondering how to come up with a plan to spend time with him next week.
Sudeshna is quite happy to get an invitation from him on his birthday. She will be meeting his friends for the first time. She was the only one to be invited from her class. She felt special. She hummed “A very special day, it’s someone’s b-day”.
It was a nice day and an even better evening spent together. She met him, spoke and spent time with him, those were beautiful moments together. They got quite a few pictures clicked. She had left her hair open, it was appreciated by him. He said she looked good in all colors but she has never looked so beautiful before. She was wearing his favourite colors after all, blue and green. “Eh, oui mon ami” he called her.
She got him a perfume. She had also written a small poem on the card for him.
On this very special day
Had a few things to say –
A token of friendship on your birthday
Hope you will like this and keep it near,
It might remind you of someone dear.
Nothing lasts and this too will fade away,
But these moments will leave a trace on your way.
Some of these will be a life’s lesson,
some will let you drop a tear.
Most of these will be lost and forgotten
and few will be cherished year after year.
Every year is special in its way
All I have now left to say
Many Many Happy Returns of the Day.
The gift was liked by him and also the poem. She was said that she has a poetic touch in her. And that appreciation was coming from the lead guitarist of the band. She felt elated as her little efforts mattered and were liked genuinely. He remarked that his brother just said she is such a close friend in such a few days after he has completed opening all the gifts and then the bottle of Jovan Musk and had mentioned about the gift giver.
What can she say after listening to this when he remarked that this got a predatory feeling and he might hunt? She kept her mouth tame and appreciated his joke and her mind went unleashed. How will she stop herself from falling for him? Who can stop her now? It was magnetic, the days are passing and she is getting into him in every way. She is delving deep into him, into his eyes, his heart, his soul. She is going to get lost and found in the world of his eyes. She understood that there is a lot to care and she can feel it. But a broken heart needs to heal up first and then excite she thought. Her cousin is so busy with her own wedding plans that even though she desperately wanted to contact her once, to tell her about Jayanta, but she couldn’t. She wanted to consult her if she is going in the right way. Moreover, somewhere deep down she needed to be sure of herself whether she was ready to take up the responsibility along with the affection and care. Life is not a bed of roses, but the leaves or thorns come along with it is indeed dependent on the choice. Until next semester she won’t realise how strong their bond is, how strong it has been forged. By then she will be sure if it’s a heaven matched or a star crossed pair they are. The more she spent her time with him the more she liked him, and she was having a relationship with someone who was not in a relationship with her. She felt and improved the old adage and stated alone “wine and relationships, the older the better”. It was neither the presence nor the absence, it was that every moment spent with the person or the thought for the person makes it precious, maybe more than all materialistic things.
It has occurred to her that there was nothing in life to offer her in terms of love. But with almost a month of their friendship now she felt as if the best is saved for the last. She wondered how fast time goes on. Just a month ago, she was hopelessly desiring and cherishing those little moments of their first meet. Everything about romance is so uncertain and when one knows not what happens or will happen makes the moments as beautiful as a rainbow.
It never crossed her mind that this can be just a passing phase of her newly tasted adulthood, that’s how life will be. Neither did she give a thought nor did she feel that this can be just friendship and everything was going in her head, that Jayanta never hinted about a relationship nor did she say a word about it directly to let him know what she was feeling or maybe even if anything can happen it can be just something casual. There were so many factors and she ignored those and remained in her undiscovered state of innocence and bliss.
She didn’t know that he was still friends with his ex-girlfriend. He never told her. It is from his brother she got to know, rather he kind of informed her. Sudeshna was blooming in her own built dream palace and never felt to ask him about his feelings and where do they stand. Jayanta was completely unaware of the whole scenario and, even if this had had a potential, both of them could have avoided a sore misunderstanding which was upcoming; whether they realised it or resolved it was a matter of time. Now, she didn’t know whether it was that time to realise or resolve. When she got to know she felt hurt, as why would anyone be close to someone if one has to get over it?
A month had gone like the fall of autumnal leaves. The beauty of those days, those moments won’t be like any other. She longed for better moments to come. She didn’t know what it was or what it wasn’t. She just knew that the truth she faced didn’t sit with her well in her mind. She felt isolated from that piece of truth. The truth was it has been a month now that she came to know that he and his ex-girlfriend were friends and since then, she was keeping a distance. She made up the excuse in her mind that the semester examinations were upcoming and she was studying hard. They were still friends, but she had refused twice to meet him and hang out or as Jayanta calls ‘adda sessions’ after class. She had also started taking notice of the little things now. She was now noticing the fear, the reluctance whenever they got too close and talked about emotions as if he didn’t believe in a second chance. She felt the problem was his fear overcame his desire. The twinkle in his eyes, the smile in his lips, and the passion in his heart are all buried underneath his pain, agony, and the fear of loss. She felt it was justified as none wants to get lost and cry in anguish. The pain of a broken heart which dreamt and longed and made a palace of dreams, illusions that were enveloped in wishes and in the end like a house of cards it crumbles down into nothing. The more she grew close to him, the more she felt his pain; and she was falling and drowning while trying to save him. She never expected someone to save her but she was never told that he was not hers to save. The only person who can help him was time and his own wish to overcome.
Keeping the mind’s eye open and avoiding the fatality of nature and destiny never happens for a young heart.
She again scribbled in her diary after a span of several weeks.
Everything is so uncertain. Feel like a whirlwind. And his presence gives me composure to think, re-think and most importantly feel, feel a lot. A strange sensation I feel. The pain it gives my heart is the pleasure in itself that heals my heart as well. Is it more than just attraction or liking? Oh Mon Dieu! I can’t see, I can’t touch, I can’t hear, I can just feel.
It has taught me several things. If I can’t be someone’s partner for life, then I can be at least a happy catalyst and bring enthusiasm in someone’s life.
We live and die at the same time, because as soon as we move forward with time we progress for living life leaving behind those moments as memories that would be cherished when we would have to move forward. Isn’t that a type of death? “To be or not to be”...we love, we want to feel loved, is it an option or necessity?
The semester was coming to an end now. They had extra classes today. Today was the third time he asked if she wanted to join him in an afternoon stroll. She couldn’t refuse today anymore. It has been weeks now she has been avoiding him and she felt as if she was getting weak without his presence. She wondered if he felt her absence. Did he notice her absence? Did his heart grow fonder in her absence?
She shuddered in pain and fear of losing him. None knows how long it will be that distance in the future. This was their only semester together; they will be in college but no same classes until next year. She realised they have never discussed or even thought about discussing how they will be in contact after graduation. Will long distance work? Does it work at all? She wondered if two people love each other and their hearts beat in unison will the distance be it in metres or miles, or even light years matter?
An afternoon stroll for a few minutes doesn’t matter, neither the time nor the amount of it. What matters is the quality in it, the longing, and the desire to be one and for one. She just wanted to make sure of one certain thing between them. In the process of getting close to each other she didn’t want to get hurt or be the reason for his pain.
After every meet in the class, she construed her own love story and painted the canvas of life in her own colours. After every day with him she felt there were a lot of things to say and remained unsaid. There was a lot to care about and she felt why love isn’t fair? Everything was so misty and a moment or two guided her to her truth, to her perception of love. There was a beautiful comfort in them and that kept the warmth of friendship alive. It was not a burning passion that was set ablaze and everything then wrapped up in darkness. It was like a slow steady flame that burned like the temple atop the hill in the midst of the night, all alone but bright, steady, and hopeful amidst the dark, murky night. He was like the light in the watchtower which made her hope. She was the ship in the storm which was moving towards the shore with the guidance of the lighthouse in the form of him.
There were so many feelings and so many words, yet so less to emote those. She really wished she had the ability to pen down all her jumbled up thoughts. She was very upset that day thinking about the future. How will it be if the Battle of Troy happened now? No, she was no Helen of Troy. She just wondered, will someone be that desperate or at least significantly desperate in love to fight against all odds? Was love true then? or now? Or is it more complicated now? She wanted to empty herself, pour out the pain, depression, and anxiety. She was right now a person living without hope.
She will talk to Jayanta once the semester is over. She will let the friendship grow in pace and let it bloom in peace and with time. If it is not supposed to bloom it won’t and if it is meant to happen it will be. If it is supposed to end up in heartbreak, let it be, let it remain in its’ half opened bud. She started scribbling.
Everything is welcomed in its’ shape, in its’ color with all the odd combinations. My feelings are pouring in and out. In the intangible casket of love, the most transparent form of feeling locked inside the hidden chamber of the heart, the most complicated organ, and the most mysterious contraption indeed. Now, the casket will be unlocked or the key will be lost and the existence of the casket will be forgotten. Anyway, I will deal with it. I have faith in me, my feelings, and my existence. I didn’t know it happened until I got the pain. I know it just happened.
She was going to start fresh in the morning.
She woke up and checked her phone. Jayanta’s notification!
Let’s meet at South City Mall. Ping me when you are free today. J
She typed... 4 ish...?
He immediately replied. cool..Au revoir mon ami. J
She had hoped he would remember that tomorrow is her birthday. She was disappointed, truth to be told. She was free in the afternoon and wanted a break from studies, so it was okay to meet him.
She didn’t expect that he would bring gifts for her that too so much in advance. Her birthday was tomorrow. He remembered it. A box of chocolates and a teddy bear. He looked so cool with that scarf tied on his head, just like a rockstar. Should she say that she likes him? After all, why else will he persuade her to tell about him at home? It was confusing. Was he hinting something? Everything about the afternoon was so sweet. But he looked dismayed and he absolutely didn’t like the fact that she had not yet informed her home about their friendship. Anyhow, he persuaded her to tell her at home and asked her not to hide the gifts else he would feel bad.
They kept on strolling closely, their shoulders touching while they walked through the roads of Southern Avenue. She realised her feelings are growing for him, she was wondering what will happen after the semester. She just hoped there would be light at the end of the tunnel.
She cried that night, just before hours of her birthday. She after all belonged to a conservative family. She was not sure how her parents would react with her being so close friends with a guy and especially when he had gifted her, but it was her birthday she rationalised, but didn’t expect such harsh words from her father. She loved him dearly and she never expected her father to be this cruel. He reminded her that her focus should be on studies, and not befriending lumpens and vagabonds. If she wants to be like them she might become a hippie and leave the house.
She wanted to tell Jayanta when he called her up in the morning to wish her birthday. But she couldn’t. She didn’t want to make him feel guilty. They hung up with him saying he will be busy next week. He has a gig next week and he will be practising and be busy. He asked her if she was interested in attending his gig. She blatantly refused. She knew she wouldn't get any permission at her house.
The weeks went by and she focused on her studies. Jayanta was important, but not more than her examinations right now. She didn’t even call him or texted him asking how his gig went.
They met again on the day of the examination.
She sat on the first bench as usual. Jayanta came and smiled at her. She noticed he was wearing a new bracelet.
“looks nice on you” she muttered.
“yeah, thanks; birthday gift”
“you didn’t wear before, lucky charm?”
“oh! ha ha! I am sitting just behind you so you are my lucky charm” and he winked.
“umm...didn’t get you”
“like helping out each other”
“you mean cheating? I don’t do that. Neither with career nor with people”
“hey! hey! hey! Why are you being so rude? Fine I will sit somewhere else”
He took his items and while leaving the seat she heard him calling her “nerdy stuck up bitch”.
It felt bad. It was hurtful. She couldn’t believe Jayanta would say something like that to her. But, he said.
She knew she had screwed things up. She was being so damn crazy with the examination pressure and everything. How awful he must've felt. But, still, he shouldn’t have called her like that just because she refused to cheat. It’s her choice not to cheat. What is wrong with being honest and sincere?
After the examination, she saw him leaving hurriedly. She called him twice, he didn’t even look back. He just saw her side-eyed and left.
By this time Sudeshna realised things will not be the same again. She learnt her lesson. She never knew the real person. She was fantasising him, making him up as a whole new person to suit her fancy. He felt perfect, seemed nice to her because she had never stepped outside her bubble; she had never stepped into reality. She has made her judgement call. She realised this even more when the results came out. She was not happy for the first time in her life even though she had topped in her class. He has flunked in French. His overall results were disastrous. He won’t be able to continue next semester.
She thought about if it will be okay to meet him. She did want to meet him and tell him how much he meant to her. She quickly took the stairs; she knew he would be there somewhere near the new building’s canteen. She was feeling perturbed, unsure whether it would be a good call on her part to try, but it turned from a ball of mixed emotions to just sadness when she saw him from a distance, today she didn’t step towards him, she didn’t want to step in his world. He was laughing with his bunch of friends strumming his guitar. He didn’t even care about his results. She remembered how he cared about his songs’ when he couldn’t make new compositions or find a nice rhythm to sing to it. She realised it was for the best she never told him about her feelings. She realised their worlds are vastly different. This idea of romance had made her deviate from reality. In romance novels it happens, all those oddball stories. But this is reality. In reality, cool people like Jayanta never go for nerdy people like Sudeshna. It happens once in a while. But, the exception is not the rule. He will be doing gigs and enjoy life and can live as he wants. He will not have any boundaries or limits. Whereas, she came to the college with an ambition, to be an A grade student, to achieve good marks, to get a good job. Their ideals were very different. And she knew there was no point in progressing this or thinking about this. She decided to just throw this hope out and treat that as stupidity from her part to even think about it, and move on, seeking life (and still being hopeful about finding love someday) seriously.
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