The light just started to break through the dark. The flickering street lights seemed to cast a magical spell on the roads. The streets lit up and shined golden one moment and turned black cold in the next second. The light bugs had lived their life span and had dropped stiff underneath the street poles. The breeze was cool and serene. Dried fallen leaves playfully rolled with the wind.
Apart from the milkman who silently swooshed past him on his bicycle Aakash didn’t spot a single soul. His walk had been complimented with a jump as he hummed a merry tune. There was something nice about having the entire city to him. He stretched his arms and ran like plane on a runway, childish he thought to himself but did it anyway. This was the best part of his day- walking to railway station at four in the morning at boarding the four forty five Memu to Vadodara. He suddenly pulled back his outstretched arms as a light from an apartment interrupted his friendly darkness. Now too cautious of his tall body, moderately built frame he walked like a gentleman.
The following day the light irritated him further. His solo ownership of the early morning was being infringed. He paused a moment to catch the culprit. He felt the curtains slide but assumed it was air and his dreamy eyes still heavy with sleep. The routine followed and curiosity builded. He imagined the anger that would engulf him if he finally saw the person switching on that light. He was positive it would be a grumpy little old man too meticulous about picking up the morning milk in person to ensure fine quality. A silhouette cured his curiosity, and surprisingly his anger. Was that a girl? At seventeen he felt excited about the silhouette- unreasonable, he told himself- wishful thinking- and left it at that. After a week the light never switched on.
The alarm blared into ears. Aakriti helplessly tried to place the hand on the snooze but kept missing it. Her eyelids felt burdened by heavy boulders of sleep. She finally slammed the alarm on the floor and kicked herself out the bed after the alarm failed to shut up. She picked it up with a wicked smile and spoke to it,” I knew you were good!” and pulled out the batteries. She peered through the window and let the cold air caress her face. She spotted a grown up man or boy swinging as if he were a plane. She couldn’t make out the face or the features. Just the outline of a happy young man- is there a possibility he is homeless retard- who feels so happy in the morning? She flipped the light on and pulled a fat book lying in an untouched dusty corner of the study table. She took a week’s time to figure out the desire to secure an admission in a good college was nothing in comparison to her desire to have a sound sleep.” Lets just say- I am contended with little.” she justified herself at the breakfast table in an attempt to convince herself of the decision but publicly announcing it without guilt.
A year later…
The room was jam packed. The air was humid with sweat and heavy breath. The uncertainty of the future of thirteen hundred prospective students added a buzz to the room. Announcements from different speakers overlapped and left the worried parents clueless about the procedure. A young lady walked to the main entrance of a local college auditorium. “Queue list one to sixty three- one to sixty three Walk in right now. If you don’t report by the time your number is called, you miss the counselling- I repeat- you will miss the counselling“. The woman felt exhausted by the first announcement of the day. Her hands already felt sweaty and the crowd would just get worse and worse till the end of the day. As much as she loved working in a college- enjoying the summer breaks she hated the admissions season for obvious reasons. With her last words a part of the impatient crowd stormed through the door and crashed past her as if she was no more needed after the much awaited announcement she made.
“Why can’t you decide? You said you want to Computer Science, now what happened?” her father looked confused. Aakriti extended a- you know how I feel look to her mom who had decided to remain silent in the father daughter conversation. “Papa, it is not a good college!” she mumbled. Her father tried his level best to make her decide, “Aah. Listen. If you like sleeping so much young lady- I can tell you a college any better than this is going to do a good job depriving you of it. And it is a decent college.” A little drop rolled off her cheek. But she nodded her head in agreement. Her thoughts were interpreted by a loud reprimand..
“I sent you all the way to Baroda. Wonder what you studied there. You didn’t clear IIT and now sixty third in line for the admission of a local college. You won’t even get computer science. Are you even listening to me…?” Aakash was looking at a girl sitting two rows ahead of him crying? He never understood the fuss girls made about education. Half the girls don’t even work after education. They take away the seats of the boys who have no other option but to take up jobs. He smirked and spoke to his father without weighing his words, “ Dad, see that girl she is crying.. ha ha ha.. she is bloody some thirty ranks ahead of me and she is crying.!” His dad screamed in anger, “ Oh atleast she is crying. You idiot! You have no bloody shame. Eh Shanta? Your son.. shameless!”
She wiped off her tears and shot an angry look at smug, shameless face laughing at her. She quickly and now more confidently proceeded to the next formalities – She wouldn’t be an IITian but atleast she was better than someone!
4 Years later..
To be continued..