9 months earlier…
“I can’t believe you did that to me. I thought you were my friend.” said Anu indignantly.
“Of course, I am your friend. But you have to look at the truth of the situation. You were wrong in there. I had to agree with the other girl. Why do you have to take it so seriously?” he replied, clearly exasperated with her.
“She b*****s about me and you agree with her?”
“Listen, she wasn’t doing that. And stop using words that are so unlike you!”
“I can’t believe you are supporting her even now!”
“I wasn’t supporting her. Stop introducing minor arguments in the conversation. God, you girls always do that!”
Anu stomped off in an unladylike fashion at that. She resolved never to talk to him again in her life.
The final semester rampaged across everyone’s time and there was not even a minute left to think or feel about what had happened. Three months later, an unfortunate headlong crash into his car eased matters to a certain extent. They could at least look at each other and let loose a smile from their otherwise rigid countenances, after that.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
And now, all I can do is just talk to Gautham about stuff like the Margazhi Kolam Contest or the special episode on the hydrological habits of amphibians. Funny, how your best friend turns into a stranger overnight. Funnier is how it doesn’t happen with thunderous blaring of horns and warning sirens. It just takes a silly argument blown out of proportion.
I scrubbed furiously at the non-existent stain on the table and stepped back to enjoy my handiwork. Anyone could eat right out of the table, it was so squeaky clean. But however, it failed to give me that satisfaction. I needed to do something else to shirk off the niggling feeling in my chest.
Paati looked up from the newspaper and smirked, “Unna inikki ponnu paaka varaala?” (Is a boy’s family coming over to see you, for alliance’s sake?)
I stilled and looked at her incredulously. I couldn’t believe she asked me that. I felt this innate urge to bring her down from where she was sitting. I gave voice to the horns and the forked tail that were trying very hard to sprout out.
“Illai, ennoda boyfriend varaan, Paati. Avanoda kujaals panna poren.” (No, my boyfriend’s coming over. I am going to have fun with him.)
“Boyfriend aa?” asked Paati, more surprised than traumatized.
“Aamaam. Saayangaalam varaan.” (Yes. He’s coming over this evening.)
“Anu, unnaala unnaiye manage pannikka mudiyaadhu. Boyfriend ellaam manage panriya? Parava illiye!” (Anu, you cannot deal with yourself. You’re actually able to manage a boyfriend? That’s impressive!)
My tongue got stuck to the roof of my mouth as I stared mutely after her; she walked into the other room with a smile, to get a pen to solve the crossword puzzle in The Hindu. I didn’t know which one actually shut me up- Paati’s calm and yet caustic tenor or the high-pitched implication that I wouldn’t be able to manage any boyfriend(s).
So much for my promise that I would tie a noose around my tongue the minute it toed out of line; I quite forgot how Paati takes everything in her stride. A quip about kujaals with a boyfriend would hardly scandalize her in the least. Even a Bollywood (I hate to call it that, by the way) version of a rain-dance with the heroine wearing the most transparent of sarees (wonder why they even add the water shower when it is hardly necessary) and the hero looking at her from underneath a gazebo in the garden (forgive him, he is conveniently hydrophobic), would only serve the purpose of annoying Paati. On par with the level of a buzzing house-fly.
I flopped down on the couch, supremely dejected with life and its supplementary offers. Switching the TV on, I sagged back and idly played with the remote control.
“And we catch Gautham today-,” I sat bolt upright when the interviewer on TV continued with, “-on the onset of the audio release of his much awaited film Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya…”
Twisting my mouth wryly, I wondered about my instinctive reaction. I might have tried putting my head inside the TV, if the interviewer had decided on a longer pause in the middle of his announcement.
Get a grip, it’s just a name. What’s the matter with me?
I couldn’t understand my thoughts or the direction they seemed to stray in. The best way to deal with the confusion, other than cleaning the whole house, seemed to lie in simply attempting to bury it deep down and pretend as if nothing happened. I was really tired of the surprises lurking at every corner I turned. I reclined further into the plush cushion and closed my eyes.
Just five minutes. And then I will rearrange my wardrobe. Five minutes…
Eons later, I woke up suddenly to the screech of brakes hit in the last minute on a slippery surface.
I sat up, instantly alert, wondering who screamed his name. My gaze fell on the TV and I fell back with a groan. A movie was going on; the actress was pleading with the actor to take it a bit rationally (typical).
“Gautham.. please, enakku bayama irukku. Please!!” (Gautham, please, I’m scared. Please!!)
“Gautham, unnoda nooru varsham vaazhanum nnu aasai padaren. Please, purinjikko.” (Gautham, I want to live a hundred years with you. Please understand.)
Ah, jeez girl, you’ve got to be kidding right? Hundred is a number, not chocolate ice cream. You’d wish to have just led a life of severe austerities in the Himalayas all through that, when those hundred years are over. Gautham…God, this name seems to follow me everywhere!
I changed the channel…
“Gauthama Buddha found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree which is a holy…” The narrator was speaking enthusiastically in the documentary.
…and I promptly switched the TV off.