A Strange Request
A Strange Request
That was the first time I saw her, few days back, at our coaching centre. College was off and we were having our class at morning hours. The coaching centre I went to, was one of the finest Science coaching centres in the whole city. This was the reason our batch was almost full, despite being the very first month of the session.
It was around 9:30 AM when she entered the class. She was late by thirty minutes. I didn't notice her at first. My eyes were glued to my notebook, my pen running across it, trying every possible way to make the LHS equal to RHS. Trigonometry is tough.
My concentration broke when her voice echoed the room.
`Excuse me, sir,' she called out.
Her enthralling voice made me look at her.
I looked at her. She looked unreal. She was tall, her eyes were glistering and her hair co-ordinating it perfectly. Her slight pink lips were matching her bulging cheeks with her ear rings twinkling. Each and every detail of hers was beautifying her pre-beautiful face. She looked just wonderful. My words would fall short if I were to explain my feeling I was having then. She was too beautiful.
`Sorry, sir. As this is my first class, I was not aware of time,' she apologised for her late-coming. She had a lovely voice, I must say.
`No problem, Nisha. Come in,' maths sir addressed her.
She came in and took the very first seat which was vacant. I was two seats back, on the third one, but my eyes were right close to her, beholding her. I could not concentrate on the black board anymore. My eyes, brain and heart were on her. It was an eerie feeling. A feeling I had never felt before. It was a sensation I had never sensed before. I had started falling for her.
After that day, each and every day I used to pass the complete period just by looking at her. Just a look of hers was enough to bring a smile on my face and make my heart jingle. It was most satisfying for me.
Every single day I would keep peeping out of the window, searching for her, waiting for her to come in and sit in front of me. I was not looking at the blackboard anymore, neither the teacher. Every class used to pass keeping an eye on her. I had never dared to talk to her or initiate a conversation, until that day.
That day, I decided to shift myself one seat further (believe me, it took a lot of courage). On that day, I came ten minutes prior to the regular starting time of the class to occupy the second seat in the row, right behind her. I was giggling, thinking I would be much closer to her. I was nervous at the same time as well.
Around ten minutes passed and the students began coming in, taking their seats. But she hadn't come yet. I was desperately waiting for her to come and sit in front of me. I was lost in my thoughts when an not-so-good-looking girl appeared from nowhere and kept her bag on the seat in front of me where I was expecting Nisha to come and sit. I was becoming restless, but couldn't do anything. I could not have just told her, `get off the chair idiot; I want Nisha to come and sit here. I have reserved the seat for her.' I could not say anything.
More couple of minutes passed, but neither there was any sign of Nisha, nor any sign of that girl's moving off Nisha's place. Not able to keep my relentlessness within me anymore, I finally asked her,
`Are you going to sit here?'
`Yes,' she responded.
I silently cursed her. Did she get only this place to sit, when I shifted myself? On other days, that idiot would sit at the very last bench, gossiping with her friends. I didn't know what made her sit on the very first bench that day. I wanted to pull and throw her to the place she came from.
`How come you wished to sit here? You always sit at the last bench, na?,' I told her, maintaining a smile on my face.
`Ha ha ha,' she laughed, showing her teeth, as if I had cracked some joke. She sat down finally.
After five minutes of waiting with gritted teeth, Nisha entered. As I saw her, all my anger vanished away in an instance. It just fled off, as if some magic was spelled on me. My jaw was dropping slowly, which I controlled soon.
Taking my eyes off her, I began scribbling through my notes. I acted as if I were finding something out in my text book. I didn't want her to know that I was waiting for her but I didn't want to take my eyes off her, either. But I turned my eyes down, believe me, it was a reflex action. It just happened involuntary. Despite being waiting for her since long, I couldn't match my eyes with hers. Nervousness, as we call it.
Nobody has the courage to look directly into the eyes of that person they like or have a crush on, especially when the conversation hasn't initiated.
It's quite weird. When the person is not around, you long for them, you miss them, you want to see them badly. But when the person appears, you cannot even look straight into them. You start getting goose bumps, heart pounds faster than ever, face becomes red and you lose your senses for some time. I was going exactly through the same.
My heart was beating so fast that I felt it would come out of my mouth anytime. I could sense my face getting red. I could do nothing but to look down into my notes and pretend I was studying or writing or reading or whatever. I just wanted to show myself busy and pretend that I didn't notice her coming in.
She stepped in and began walking towards her seat. My heart beat was increasing with each step she was taking. She approached and stood in front of her seat.
`Umm, will you sit here, sima?' Nisha asked, very sweetly, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear.
`Yes, could you please sit somewhere else for today? Actually I was absent, so,' sima replied.
`Oh, sure,' Nisha said and gave her ever beautiful smile.
She then moved on to the third bench, which was now vacant. As the one who regular sat there, was now sitting at the second one (me).
She put down her bag and sat down there.
Oh God! She was right behind me. I was damn very nervous. My heart was now racing faster than ever. I was thinking twice before doing any movement, as she would be noticing each of my activity, I thought. I was very nervous. My legs were shivering, trust me.
Soon the subject teacher arrived and took over the class. After teaching for around ten minutes, sir stopped and allowed us time for self studying. The whole of our class was the sincere one, so everyone was quietly studying.
Even my nerves calmed down after some time and nervousness decreased. I was now getting normal when I felt a hand on my right shoulder. I turned back. It was Nisha.
Oh My God! Again my heart beat caught the speed they had left few minutes back.
`Do you have an extra pen?' She asked, with the most beautiful smile. I felt I would melt right there.
`Ye….. Yes,' I fumbled. I searched my bag and gave her the most attractive pen I had with me at that time. It was a red one with white lines. It was beautiful, but not more than her. I handed it over to her.
`Thank you,' she said. Her voice was so sweet.
I was too happy. I could not control the smile on my face then. I was smiling like an idiot, for which I had to cover with my hand to avoid the attention of the teacher. I was giggling throughout the period.
The period finished and all the students paved their way out of the class in queue. I turned back to see if Nisha was coming behind me. She wasn't there. Thinking she must have gone some other way, I got off my seat to leave. I hung my bag and moved out of the class to the stairs.
I was stepping down when I heard my name being called.
`Hey, excuse me, Vijay,' she called out.
It was Nisha.
`Thank you. Here's your pen. I forgot to give it back to you. Actually I went to meet one of the teachers. I came here running, thinking you must have gone.' She gave me the pen back.
`Oh, you're welcome,' I smiled.
`Myself Nisha,' she stretched her hand out for a hand shake. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
`Myself Vijay,' I shook hands with her. Wow!
`Are you going home?' She asked.
`Ya, me too,' she said, `which side are you going?'
`Temple side,' I replied.
`Oh great! Even I go from that side. Can we go together?'
I was astonished for a while. `Yes, sure,' I said with a grin.
`What else can I wish for,' I thought.
We moved out together. I could feel my cheeks were bulging red and I was trying very hard to stop myself from smiling.
We began walking by the side of the road. `Where is your house at?' She asked.
`Just a bit further to the temple,' I replied, `and yours?'
`Mine? Just behind the temple. The green one. It is easily recognisable.'
I smiled in response.
We continued talking over different topics, such as hobbies, which schools we belonged to, favourite subjects, movies, places and even food. I loved the conversation.
After a 15 minute walk, her stop arrived. `Bye, see you tomorrow,' she said.
`Bye bye,' I replied back.
I had commenced walking when she called me out from behind, `Vijay.'
`Yes,' I turned back.
`Can we walk to the coaching together, tomorrow?'
My mouth just fell open. Did she ask me to go with her?
`Yes, of course,' I said in excitement.
`At 3:30, tomorrow. Okay.'
My heart was flying. I felt like jumping all over and dancing on the streets. I was just, tooooo happy.
As I reached home, I just couldn't wait for the day to end. All I was waiting for was 3:30 PM, the next day. I was restless. I couldn't sleep the whole night. And the next morning when I woke up, I woke up with charm, just waiting for the clock to show 3:30 PM.
I finished up my lunch at 2, which I usually do at 3. I packed my bag and left for coaching at sharp 3.
I reached the temple at 3:15 and sat there, waiting for her. At sharp 3:30, she appeared from the alley between throng of people. She looked as beautiful as always. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
She smiled as she came nearer.
`Let's go,' she said. We again talked upon diverse topics and some fun chats.
For next many days, we continued going and coming back from coaching together. Our topics of conversation shifted from formal to casual ones. We started having a lot of fun talks.
It was one day when she made a very strange request. `Do you have trees around your house?'
`Yes, behind my house,' I said, `why?'
`Yes, but why?'
`Can you take me over there?'
I thought for a while. `Yes, I can. But, why?' I asked, confused.
`Please take me over there,' she pleaded.
`Now? We can go over there tomorrow. We are already late today.'
`No!' She almost screamed. `No, not tomorrow. Lets go today itself, please,' her voice changed to a pleading one now.
`Tomorrow never comes,' she smiled. I grinned.
`Okay, fine,' I said to keep her heart.
The place which I suggested was away from the crowd of people, full of trees. As we reached near the trees, I was baffled by her final request. `Can you please give me your hand, I want to climb on it,' she said.
I was taken aback. `Have you gone mad? You may fall and injure yourself.'
`Okay,' I said and reached out my hand to her. She put her foot on the first branch, then on second and finally reached to the top. She spent more than ten minutes over there, despite my constant shouts. She must have enjoyed the jaw dropping sceneries that could be seen from the top. She seemed to have entered some other world, probably of her imagination. She heard my final call. I wondered how would she come down, but she did. I was guiding her on each step of hers.
She came down after anyhow. And when she put her foot on the ground, she sprang towards me and hugged me tightly. I was blank. I was surprised. Was this even true? I thought. I could feel nothing more than the emotions of the action.
`You are my best friend,' she said with a huge grin, `thank you.'
Her response towards me and her behaviour towards me made me feel that I was something special for her. She never used to get so open up with anybody else except me. I didn't know about her, but I had fallen in love with her. And that day, I decided to confess it to her. I soon went home, grabbed a note book and a pen and wrote out a confession letter of two pages. I made all my feelings blot the paper. I folded it and kept it inside my bag. I decided to give it to her on the very next day. I thought I would silently keep the piece of paper inside her bag and make her open the surprise.
That night also I couldn't sleep. I went to coaching centre the other day very excitedly, thinking my plan over and over all the time. On the previous day she had told me not to wait for her.
I reached our coaching, took my seat, reserved a seat for her, waited for her but she didn't come. I thought she would come late. I waited. Teacher came in, the class started, ten minutes also passed, but she never came.
I remember I was very upset that day. And we didn't have any calling or texting facility with us that I could have texted or call her and ask about her.
On that day, she didn't come, neither on the next day. Like this, seven days passed, she was getting absent each and every day. I was petrified. I thought it would be some health issues. Or the worse – did she leave the place. Her family had recently shifted in the city. So, on the eighth day, I decided to go to her house, as by this time I was pretty sure that she was going through some issues.
On the eighth day, I missed my class and opted to visit her. I had kept the piece of paper in my pocket. I didn't know why, but I felt like keeping it. I started off from the temple looking left and right every other second to find her house. I had never seen her house but I remembered she once described her house to me, and I was pretty sure that I would find it. After around ten minutes of search, I found a house that was perfectly matching with her description. It was a green coloured house.
It had a big brown-coloured gate, which was half-open. As I entered, I noticed the hugeness of the house. It had a big garden. As I entered, there was an eerie silence which broke by a slow weeping sound. As I moved forward, the weeping sound became distinctly audible, and a small crowd of people was also visible to me now. All were dressed in white and their heads were down. They were surrounding something, they were standing making a circle.
I thought I went in a wrong house, but I considered it was better to ask someone out. I moved forward and tapped a man's shoulder.
`What is happening here, uncle,' I asked.
He had tears in his eyes, rolling down his cheeks. He wiped his eyes and said, `Nisha beti, she… she is no more. She left ussss,' he wept again and his shoulder shook. Tears again rolled down his cheeks.
I just froze. I felt my blood just stopped flowing, my heart stopped beating.
`She was very brave, very lively, faced everything courageously, but couldn't fight cancer,' the man continued. He just couldn't stop crying. He patted my back, pushing me forward, telling me to go and see her.
I couldn't move. My legs refused to move. I could no more feel sense in my body.
Was this true? Did that man say true? Did I hear it right? Was this really happening? How can this be true? It was just a matter of a week when she was enjoying with me. It was just before a week we used to go and come back from coaching together. She never told me anything about this. How happy we used to be together! How happy the moments we spent together used to be! How fun and laughter-filled our conversation used to be! How can this happen? All of sudden? From nowhere? How can life slap me this hard?
I moved forward. I saw Nisha sleeping peacefully on the ground, covered in a white blanket. She seemed to be in a deep sleep, lost in the world of her dreams and had nothing to do with the real world. She seemed so care free.
Her mother was right beside her, crying loud. But she wasn't responding. Bad girl! One should not leave their mother crying.
I could see a diary kept on a table near her. I reached out and took the diary in my hands. I opened it.
Inside it was colourful, notes written in multi-coloured pens. I opened the first page. It had a heading, `WISHES TO COMPLETE TILL I LIVE.'
I flipped through more couple of pages. Each page started with a wish as it's heading and was described how it was accomplished.
In that list, the very last wish she had written was, `TO CLIMB A TREE.'
As I read the sentence, tears rolled down my face.
I flipped to the last page of the diary to see the description of that wish, I saw there was no such description like rest other pages. Rather, it was written in big letters, `THANK YOU VIJAY.'
I didn't know how to react. I got a slight smile on my face, despite the wet cheeks.
I got down to my knees near Nisha, took her hand and placed in mine. I saw a strand of hair on her face; I tucked it behind her ear. I slowly caressed her hand, opened it and placed the folded piece of paper in it, which I had decided to give her. I then easefully closed her fists and stood up.
As I stood up, I don't know where the sound came from or it was just the illusion caused by my mind.
`Love you too,' it said. It was as sweet as Nisha's voice
I got a light smile on my face, with tears constantly rolling out.
I took that diary in my hands and left.
4 years have passed now. Still I remember the feeling when I first saw her. I still remember the moment when she first asked me for a pen. I still remember the handshake. I still remember our first conversation. I still remember our walks to the coaching and back. I still remember her beautiful smile. I still remember her sweet voice.
She might be dead for the world, but she is still alive for me, in my memories. And she will ever be. Maybe that is the reason my emotions didn't blast out that day. Because I knew she left the world, not me.