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ASHISH GULATI

Drama


5.0  

ASHISH GULATI

Drama


No Money, No Honey

No Money, No Honey

20 mins 17.1K 20 mins 17.1K

This story may begin by sounding as something that every teenage boy goes through, but the later part of this story gave me a major lesson of my life.

My school was till the tenth standard, so all the students had to shift to other schools after class tenth. We had a tradition in our school of taking autographs of each other the week before the session ended. It was real fun to read what others, especially girls, had written in the autograph books. In the tenth standard towards the end of the session I bought a simple but stylish autograph book and was dying of excitement just wondering what others would write about me.

On one of the pages of the autograph book it was written that the last page was meant for your lover, and so it should be kept free. I knew who was going to sign the last page of my book – a girl by the name of Sapna. I had always admired her and thought that she liked me too. My friends would tell me that she was going out with a guy named Mirdul, who was the son of a stinking-rich businessman, but I never believed them, as Sapna was taller than Mirdul and quite good looking and very good at studies. So whenever I would hear any gossip about them I would tell myself that it could not be true.

In the last week before school got over I somehow pulled all my strength together. Then one day I decided that I would walk up to Sapna and say, ‘Sapna, I would like to be your friend’. The entire first half of the day I was watching Sapna and waiting for my chance, thinking how to go about the whole thing. The lunch bell rang, and my heart rang even louder when I saw Sapna walking towards me with a smile on her face, running her fingers through her bob-cut golden hair. My heart started beating louder and louder, and soon, Sapna was standing in front of me. She handed me her autograph book and asked me to get it back the next day. Yes! I was the happiest guy in the word. Then I handed my autograph book to her.

After school I was walking back home with one of my friends and told him what had happened and asked him what I should write in her autograph book. The first thing I did after I reached home was to read Sapna’s autograph book, and it also had one of the pages that said, ‘The last page is for your lover, so keep it free’. I was thrilled and wanted to write on the last page, so that I could ask her out without actually having to do so, but I couldn’t pick up the courage, as I did not know if she was actually involved with the other guy or if she would get annoyed. With a very heavy heart I didn’t sign on the last page and kept it free. Something inside me was hoping that when she sees that I had kept the last page free, she would ask me to sign it.

I was eagerly waiting for the next day, when I would return the book to her – and get a chance to talk to her again. I woke up early the next day, dreaming about Sapna. I got to school and was getting increasingly restless when I saw a guy approaching me with my autograph book in his hands. Before I could ask him why he had my autograph book with him, he came and stood in front of me and tore my autograph book into pieces. I was speechless. He told me to keep away from Sapna and told me that she was already involved with someone else. I tried to say something but could not. This guy told me that Mirdul and Sapna would get married in future, so I should stay away from her. He went on to say a lot of mean things to me, including comparing my status with Mirdul’s, telling me that I stood nowhere close to him.

I attended the classes that day but was unable to face Sapna. I was wondering how Sapna came to know about my feelings for her and why she had told them to that guy. Suddenly I realised that I had told one guy about the crush I had on Sapna, and I was sure that he must have told either Sapna or the guy who had threatened me. I went back home with a heavy heart and a mind full of questions. I kept thinking what was so great about Mirdul and where exactly I lacked. I had no answers, but I put the incident out of my mind and started preparing for my board exams.

After the board exams were over I met my friends and kept, enquiring about Mirdul and Sapna. But slowly, time took Sapna out of my mind. Then came ‘the day’ of the board exam results, and me and my family went to my school to see my results. I was one of the first to turn up. There was a lot of tension mounting up in the air about what the results would be like. I was literally trembling and chanting Hanuman Chalisa in my mind while browsing the list of names pinned to the noticeboard. I jumped with joy when found that I was among the top five scorers in the school. I again started browsing the sheet, trying to find out how others had performed. I saw the results of Sapna and Mirdul, and both of them had not performed well. I stood for some time near the noticeboard, waiting for the other students to come. Somewhere in my heart I wanted Sapna and Mirdul to turn up, but they did not. Now I started on another journey, which was to find a school where I could pursue higher studies.

My friend Nischal had performed equally well, so we went to many schools together to apply for admission. We were both selected in a school which was near our locality. On the day we had gone there with the money draft to pay the admission fee we met another guy who was from our school and was a close friend of Mirdul’s. I asked him about Mirdul and came to know that his father had sent him to live with his aunt in Rajasthan and that Sapna’s father had been transferred to some other place, because of which Sapna too had had to relocate. I was unhappy with the second part, though the first part made me really happy.

Then came the first day of my new school. I was a little excited and a little nervous about what would happen. We all assembled in the ground and stood with our classmates. The environment there was completely different, as I was from a Catholic school and this was a Vedic school. After the assembly, our teacher escorted us to our respective classes.

Our class teacher told us our roll numbers, which were written on the desks on which we were supposed to sit. I had to sit with a guy who had been in the same school since the beginning. I also saw some of my old schoolmates sitting in the same class. Our class teacher gave us a small introduction about herself and asked us to introduce ourselves to the rest of the class.

Suddenly I saw a girl standing at the door, wearing a white polka-dot shirt and a knee-length white skirt. She had a smile on her face, and she told the teacher that she belonged to this section. The teacher guided her to the seat which was just in front of me. She had golden hair, which were neatly tied up with a black rubber band in a ponytail.

Then came her turn to introduce herself, and she told the class that her name was Manisha and that she was from Himachal, but because her father had been posted in this city she had to join this school. We all introduced ourselves, and after the introductions were over I realised that Sapna was no more in my thoughts. Now my thoughts were occupied by Manisha. For the first few days we only had a number of teachers coming and introducing themselves to the class, with no actual studies taking place.

Manisha had started to become one of the most popular girls in the school. She and I had a number of common friends, so I got a chance to have lunch with her many times. Manisha had a very close friend, Ritika, and they would always hang out together. Manisha and Ritika often had lunch at the school canteen, but since I couldn’t afford to eat at the canteen frequently, I mostly had home-cooked food.

A close friend of mine was quite popular with the girls. I told him that I had a crush on Manisha and that I wanted to ask her out. He told me to directly approach her and tell her what was on my mind, but after the Sapna episode I did not want to take that risk, so I decided to approach Ritika instead to find out if Manisha had the same feelings for me. The next day I saw Ritika standing alone, so I walked towards her, with my heart beating harder and harder, and stood in front of her. She smiled at me and asked me why I was looking so tense. With a great amount of courage I asked her if she thought that Manisha would like to go out with me. She told me with an expressionless face that I looked like a monkey and stood nowhere near Manisha. She also told me that that I shouldn’t think about it again, and if I dare ask Manisha out I would have a really hard time. I was shattered and walked back to the classroom with a heavy heart.

The second half of the day somehow passed. My classmate who was sitting next to me on the bus asked me if I was all right, as he said that I was looking unwell. I didn’t tell him anything about my humiliation. Then all of a sudden he asked me if I knew that Manisha had asked a guy out, and this was a real shock to me because I knew this guy very well. He was the son of a very big bakery owner and had recently bought a new bike.

I reached home and saw my mother waiting at the front door. She looked at my face and asked me if I was feeling well. She touched my forehead and brought a thermometer to take my temperature. She found that I was suffering with fever. At that time I was closer to my mother than my father. I started weeping in front of her and narrated the whole incident. She consoled me and told me that this was not the right age to indulge in such activities and that I should rather concentrate on my studies as I had to support my family in future. She had always dreamed that I would become a doctor, and that too an eye surgeon.

Dreams don’t always come true. I couldn’t become a doctor, but I got admission in an engineering college. Thrashed twice, my ambition of having a girlfriend was still there somewhere in a corner of my heart. I successfully completed the first year of engineering and became one of the senior students of the college. We all were eagerly waiting for the arrival of the new students. One of the reasons for our wait was that until the new batch joined the college we would not actually be seniors.

The day came, and the students of the new batch started pouring in. We could see a lot of new faces around, and all our juniors greeted us whenever they saw us. We could see fear on their faces, which pleased us a lot. I remember it was a Monday, and after having my breakfast from the canteen I was going back to class. We had to cross the parking to go from the canteen towards the main building of the college. I saw a girl driving a scooter entering the parking. She took off her helmet and started combing her hair in the rear-view mirror. She was a very fair, tall girl with golden hair, dressed up in salwar and kameez. She started walking towards the main building, and I followed her. She entered the first-semester computer science class.

After my classes were over I went to the class where I had seen this girl enter, but the students had left. I went back to the hostel and told my friends Samir and Naveen, who were in the final year of engineering, that I had seen a very beautiful girl who was in the first semester. Now the excitement began again! The next day we stood in front of the college well ahead of the class timing. We saw two girls on scooters, with two girls sitting behind them, driving towards the parking. Three girls were young and very good looking, and the fourth one seemed to be the chaperone for these girls. One of them was the girl whom I had previously seen. Suddenly we saw another beautiful girl greeting the gang. They all started moving towards the college building and entered the same classroom.

I used to follow the gang and made sure that they saw me every time, but I always went unnoticed. I asked Samir and Naveen if they knew anything about the girl. They told me that they would introduce me to her shortly. What? Introduce me? I knew something was going on, as these two were known as the Casanovas of the college. Weeks passed by, and one fine day Samir came to me and told me that the girl’s name was Shree and that she was also interested in me, so I should ask her out. No! Not again! I did not want to have the same episodes repeated, but this time I was a bit confident.

Samir came to my classroom in the second half and told me that Shree was waiting for me in front of her classroom. I walked to Shree’s classroom and saw her standing outside. When she saw me, a blush spread over her face. I was confident that this time luck was in my favour. I went to her and stood stammering, but somehow I managed to ask her out, hoping that she had understood what I had said. Then her professor entered the class, and she quickly went back. I was sure that she would not have understood what I had said, as I was too excited to even to speak properly.

After the classes I saw Shree walking back to the parking area. She was with her gang. I walked towards her and called her. She stepped away from her gang and told them to carry on. I asked her if she would accompany me to the canteen, and she agreed with a smile. Yes! Yes! Yes! I had a girlfriend now. This was one of the happiest moments of my life. We took the corner-most seats, and I quickly bought cold drinks and samosas. I asked her about her family, about her life, where she had grown up and a number of other things. I told her everything about myself without even giving her a chance to ask questions. After some time she told me that she was getting late and that her friends were waiting for her. I asked her if we could meet somewhere outside the college, and she said yes. That made my day!

I escorted her back to the parking area, and I saw Samir and Naveen standing with the members of the gang. They looked at me and smiled. The gang drove out of the college. I asked Samir and Naveen what the scenario was. They told me that they had been able to approach Shree because the other two girls were their girlfriends. They had told Shree that I had a crush on her, and she had told them that she did not mind going out with me. Samir, Naveen, the gang and me started going out after the college on weekends and holidays to either some lonely place or some restaurant. Out of the entire group I was always the most excited person. Samir and Naveen used to meet their girlfriends separately as well, so I asked Shree if we could also meet alone and she agreed.

I was one of the most popular students of my batch, so my seniors advised me to contest the college elections. I agreed. The voting day was decided, and we got busy with the campaigning. In my free time I would talk to Shree and take her out. But she had started acting a little strange, and soon she was behaving as if I was forcing her to talk to me. I did not pay much attention to the change in her behaviour, as my main focus at that time were the elections. Then one day, she told me that she couldn’t go out with me as often as she used to, as there were some people in the city who knew her family very well. The next day the votes were to be cast. On the day of the voting we were standing in front of the voting area and watching the expressions of the people, trying to figure out if they had voted for me. Shree and her gang didn’t turn up for the voting. The very same evening the counting started, and Dada kept motivating me by saying that he knew that I would surely win.

The college clerk walked out of the counting room and pasted the results on the notice board. We all ran towards the notice board. I had won the elections for the position of General Secretary. The guys around me lifted me on their shoulders. My party members called me, and we all decided to have a party in the hostel. We went to the market and arranged for liquor and food. On my way back I went to the telephone booth and called Shree up to share the news. Her hostel warden picked up the phone and told me that she had gone to her hometown and would be back within a few days. I next called up my parents and shared the news with them; they were really happy, as my father too had been a union member in his college days. I went back to the hostel, and we all celebrated throughout the night.

After a few days Shree was back and was in a better mood than before. She asked me if I could accompany her to a nearby temple, to which I willingly agreed. I didn’t go inside the temple with her but waited outside – this was my way (howsoever foolish it may seem now) of showing her that I was different from the rest of the world. After a few minutes she came outside the temple with a bindi on her forehead and prasad in her hands. She gave some prasad to me and asked me if we could sit for some time. I drove her to the foothills of the mountain. She started asking me very strange questions – like what I would do if someone tried to hurt her, what I would do after completing my studies and why I liked her. These questions left me confused, and I could sense that she was moving away from me.

Time went by, and our exams got closer. My meetings with Shree became quite infrequent. But I used to wait for Shree before every exam. My exams didn’t go very well, and after the last exam I asked Shree if we could go out for a cup of tea. We both went out, and I told her that I would go to my hometown for two weeks and so wanted to know how I could contact her. She gave me a telephone number and told me that I could leave a message on this number, and her friend will pass the message on to her.

I went back home and told my father and mother about Shree. I told them that I was going steady with her and that I wanted to get married to her. They were happy for me and didn’t have any complaints. They even told me they would gladly change their lifestyle, as Shree and I were from totally different cultures. My mother even gave me some jewellery for Shree. I called up the number given by Shree, and her friend picked up the phone. She told me that Shree would come in the evening to her place and I could talk to her then. I called up the number in the evening, and it was Shree who picked up the phone. She told me that she found it awkward talking to me in somebody else’s house, so we couldn’t talk over the phone.

Few weeks later I went back to college, and the first thing I did after reaching there was to look for Shree. I saw Shree standing in front of her classroom. I went there and called her. She came to me, and even before she said anything I could sense that something about her was completely different. I asked her if we could go out for a cup of tea, and she replied that she had to attend her classes. I decided to wait in the parking for her. After some time, I saw the gang walking towards me. One of the girls approached me and told me not to try to meet Shree again because she was no longer interested in continuing the relationship. I said nothing and walked back to the college. In the evening I went out with my friends for some drinks. We started drinking, and after sometime I became drunk and started ranting about Shree. Finally my friends had to carry me back to the hostel. The next day we got our results, and I had just managed to reach the next semester.

And so my relationship with Shree had ended, or so I had thought. My friends never left a chance to tease me and would often tell me that they had seen Shree and she was looking very good, that they had seen her with another boy and what not. This went to such the extent that once during a women’s cricket match in the college, when Shree came out to play, everybody started shouting, ‘Well done, Ashish! Keep it up’, and those who had said this were treated to tea and sweets for saying so. I started focusing more on my studies, and in the next semester I got really good results. In my final year I found out that Shree was going out with one of her classmates. He was the son of a very renowned businessman. I saw them in the canteen, in the market, near the tea stall and just about everywhere.

One day I saw that Samir had come to the college to collect his certificates. We got talking, and during the conversation I asked him if he knew about my break-up with Shree. He told me that after I had left for my hometown Shree had enquired about my family from Samir, and he had told her everything about my family. She told him that after knowing about my family she did not see a future with me. She even told him that her parents had come to know about our relationship, and she had asked him for a advice. He told her that she was correct and that this relationship did not have a future. So now I knew what the story was and who the real culprit was. I met Samir in the evening, and for the first time in my life I hit someone. Samir will still be carrying a scar on his head as a reminder of our meeting.

I graduated from college with very good results and got a really good job. One day I went to the market and saw a new mutton shop. I was surprised to find out that the owner was Manisha’s boyfriend – well, now ex-boyfriend. I went up to him and asked him what he had been up to, and he told me that he had got married a few months back. I asked him how Manisha was, and he told me that Manisha had got married to some other guy, not him, and that Sapna had married an American citizen.

Some years later I met a colleague of Shree’s, and he told me that she was living in the United States and was working there as a software programmer. She was still not married. Her parents had asked the guy with whom she was going out to marry her. But his father had refused, saying that there was a big gap between the two families. So Shree found a job in the States and migrated there.

I realised that all three instances may have been nothing more than infatuation, but money plays a very important part in one’s relationships. You are respected if you have money; people praise you if you have money; people treat you well if you have money; people recognise you if you have money; and you can buy a lot of pleasures if you have money. So a lesson learnt really the hard way by me is that no honey, no money.


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