Irim and I planned to go to Roorkee over the upcoming weekend. Thomso, the popular youth festival of IIT Roorkee was just round the corner and we had to be there. Well, I had to be there,... and since I did not want to alone I asked Irim to accompany me. Shashank was already at Roorkee since the past week tending his ailing father, so it was not too difficult to convince Irim to come along.
It was so good to be back home. Mom was super zealous and Papa was, well Papa.
After inquiring about our well being Mom got busy getting us refreshments. We sipped tea in the balcony and enjoyed the gentle breeze. Irim was happy and I daresay she looked pretty. She may not be the most beautiful woman but she was definitely attractive. With her childlike innocence and pleasing personality, she was worth being cherished. But yes, she could be troublesome too. Could be? She was. Her clumsiness, naivety and firm believe in universal goodness had led to a hell of lot troubles.
But whatever it is. Ira Manchandani aka Irim was a beautiful being.
I smiled at Irim.
She smiled back and asked "What are you smiling about?”
"Nothing.." I replied. "It’s beautiful here. I am happy to be back."
"So I am" said Irim with a sad smile.
I could decipher that smile. Roorkee had been Irim's home too. A lot of her memories were attached to the place. More or less to do with Shashank. She had been Shanshank's neighbor for 12 years. Shashank's family had been quite fond of Irim. I suspect Shanshank's late mother had an inkling of Irim's feelings towards Shashank. Nevetheless, Irim's family had moved to Noida just after she finished her graduation. Her father set up a publishing house there.
"Ira, why do you like Shashank. He is just so perfect. Its almost vulgar." I said
"I can’t help it Iti. I am in love with him and his perfection, despite my imperfections. I even love his coldness. I am helpless. I have loved him since I was in class 10 and I have not thought about anyone else since then. "
"Since class ten. Like seriously. Its been 7 years !!" I exclaimed.
I suddenly found myself counting my number of crushes. 12 in seven years. Of course none of whom I had the courage to talk to.
"It is a fact that he is intelligent and good looking. But what attracts me is that he needs me. He does not know it yet. But he needs me.” said Irim
"You are a wishful thinker. He has never noticed you or any other girl for that matter. He always a perfect gentlemen well, Until he is with you."
"Yeah. He is different with me. That's the real him. His anger and frustration, which he comfortably hides from everybody else, is known to me. He has opened up to me. He even let me know of his dream to be an Author."
I was not very convinced but looking at Irim's happy face. I said nothing.
I called up Shashank the following morning. I wanted to inquire about his father's health and the ask him to join us for Thomso.
"Hi. How are you doing ?" I said.
"Just fine. You ?" He said.
"Okay. How is your Papa doing ?"
"Much better. Thanks"
"I am here for Thomso. Care to join us."
"Me and Irim"
He was silent for a moment. I thought he was not happy with the prospect of seeing Irim. The ever so bubbly and beaming Irim. I wonder if he thinks that some her enthusiasm would rub on him and change his personality.
Nevertheless , I broke my trail of thoughts and spoke before he could refuse.
"Listen, I would not take a No for answer. You owe me that much."
"I owe you nothing !!!"
"Well... Remember the day when I discovered a host of not so decent magazines in your room. I did not tell about that to anyone."
"Hmm...No one would have believed you."
"Then...But its different now. Now they'll believe."
"It wouldn't matter now."
"Nope. I can still tarnish your image about how you were..to..to people who idolize you."
Shashank chuckled. "Your blackmailing skills are amazing. Okay I will come to the stadium around 7. See you and Miss Dumb."
"Shes not so dumb Shashank. She has more EQ than all of us together. Nevertheless, Lets Catch up today."
"What did he say?" Asked Irim eagerly as soon as I disconnected the call.
"Said yes." I smiled.
"Wow Iti you are amazing!" With this she started dancing around like a plane. Happiness lit up her features.
The prospect of seeing him had got her so much happiness, I wonder what it would be like if she has him for life.
We reached at the Open air theater around quater to 7 pm. It was beautiful out there. The lights, wind, colors, music and youth. It was all so vibrant. Irim waited patiently for Shashank for some time but she zoned out after a while.
Shashank arrived at 9 pm.
"You are so late." I said
"I am sorry. Got caught up with a few things." said Shashank.
Irim was tired but gave a cute smile to Shashank. Shashank looked at Irim but didn’t smile.
We all took a stroll on the ground for all a while and then comfortably ensconced ourselves on the ground. Irim was dreamy. Shanshank was brooding. I was. Well, I was just happy. I looked at the clear sky and the stars, and I remembered that Irim used to worship stars. And then, I felt they were indeed divine .
Irim was so happy to be with Shashank. How can someone not be effected. I thought.
"You are really silly. Praying to stars again." I heard Shashank remark to Irim.
"Whats so silly ?"
"The stars you are actually praying to may not be exist in the present time frame. They may have been long exploded. What you are viewing right now is the light from the stars which is traveling to us in a million years.
"You are far too practical for your own good. How Can I ignore and not pay respect to something which is taking million of years to come to me."
We all lied on ground and talked. With the dim light and the humdrum around, I must have slept. When I woke up it was cold. And then I saw something unexpected.
Shashank was wrapping his jacket around a sleeping Irim. He was closely observing her and bending himself slowly towards Irim's face. It seemed like a dream. I was sure he was going to kiss her. But then I might have thought aloud or would have made some noise, because at that instant Shashank looked at me and our eyes meet. He turned back on ground and lied in his original position, closed his eyes and put his arm over them.
What had I just witnessed? Does Shanshank really like Irim? What could have happened if he had not caught me looking at them?
How would Irim react if I let her about her almost kiss with Shashank.
Around 11 pm Shanshank dropped us back home. Irim gave a teary goodbye to Shashank who was nonplussed.
"Cant you sleep?" I asked Irim who kept shuffling in the bed.
"I can't. Today was such a beautiful day. Shanshank was just beside me. It was just like the old times."
"The old times?" I said.
"The time when we were in high school. The time before the day when I had confessed my feelings for Shashank. He became so mean and cruel after that day." Irim cried.
"Dont cry after him Irim. You deserve much better. To think you gave him 7 years of your life and got no...." and my voice trailed. Did really she get nothing out of Shashank? Was he really as cool as he played? Or was he putting up a cool garb because he did want to seem vulnerable.
"Nevertheless. Lets drop it. You had a happy evening and that is what counts." I finally said.
"Yeah and you know. I had dream while I fell sleep in the stadium. I dreamt that I was roaming in jungle and was just on the verge of tripping when Shanshank caught me. He chided me for being careless and then….and then he kissed me on my forehead. Oh Iti, I am just so happy that I was kissed by Shanshank if only in my dream."
"And dreams do come true." I said thoughtfully.
"Oh ...Oh no" shouted Irim.
"It was late night dream. Only early morning dreams come true. The late night dream turn out opposite in reality."
"Oh dear Irim, no need to be so sad. If the dream turns opposite. It would only mean that you would kiss Shanshank rather than him kissing you."
"Oh Iti, you are so gross. How could you say something that like that."
I could have said more but I decided not to. How can I tell Irim of Shashank's feelings when he himself is unsure of them?
Certain things take time to be discovered and rediscovered. Shanshank would have to discover and accept his feelings.