I had these exams approaching and so had she. School time kept going down and so did our meetings. Although she lived just a street away, we never could meet, for she was afraid that her father might come to know (whose office was nearby), and that could amount to troubles.
Then one day, we had this annual day, when there would be a celebration in the school (which happened every year). It was to be held on the evening of that day. Other than that, it was a holiday. So I was at home. In the evening, it turned out cloudy and dark, and it was probably in the winters, and I had a cold. My mind kept fluctuating between whether or not to go to the school. It would have been a hectic journey in autos. I'd have to change autos in the middle, and if it started raining, I'd be in trouble. Time kept passing, and it was already 5. It was to start at 5. I finally decided not to go and stay home. By now, mom knew about me and her. She was telling me to go if I wanted. I don't quite know what took over, but I was not feeling like going anywhere that evening.
I am Jack's slumbered nervous system.
I just went on and lied down on my bed. The next moment I knew, it was already 7. I had to get back with my books now, for that was the "routine".
The next day, after I got in the bus, I didn't see her after she got on the bus. After the bus stopped, and everyone started going down, I saw her and tried to apologize for not coming the other day. She was with a friend of hers, and no matter how much I'd call her, she won't listen to me.
I am Jack's inflamed sense of rejection.
Finally, I just stood in front of her. Now she had to talk. She was furious, something I hadn't expected. I apologized for not turning up. She was still angry at me. Then she just said it was okay, and went to her class.
That evening, we talked it over. I told her that I didn't know the bus was coming, when she told me about that.
Some weeks later we had the farewell party for the seniors. I was to sing with a friend. The function was over and me and her kept sitting beside each other the whole time. It was then, that she told me about those two seniors who had been in a relationship for the last seven years. It's beautiful when you imagine your relationship going on till the end of time.
On the way back, we were to go earlier than other kids, which meant we'd have no bus for us. Me and her walked all the way to the main road and then came back together. A newly wed couple were going in a car that day, and I remember her telling me that one day it would be us.
I was the calm little center of the world.
Days kept passing. And then the exams were over. The judgment day (the day of the results) came and we were all there. I was standing with the guys of my class, and the class teacher was giving me a quiet smirk. Then came over to me and asked how things were. I was speechless as to what he might mean by that. I just managed to pass a smile towards him.
They started announcing the results. I didn't expect much, but I sure wanted to be among the top three guys. When it came to our class, they said out the third place first. I managed to clap as everyone was clapping for him. My heart beats were going faster. Then the second. My heart was pounding inside my chest now. And then the first, and I stood dumbstruck when I heard my name. I just stood there, not being able to believe that for once, I finally did top my class. The other guys got me out of my trance. My parents were there and sure were happy for me. I couldn't wait to meet Madhu then. She'd be proud.
After the results were all over, my parents and bro went together. I just told them that I'll come in the bus. They of course knew why, and didn't question me.
Back in the bus, Madhu was sitting alone. I went near her, and asked how her result was. She kept quiet. I didn't quite understand as to why she'd not say anything, and then she just started crying. Turned out she'd not been able to pass. This was a setback not just for her, but for me as well now.
I am Jack's rage against god.
I sat beside her, took her hand in mine and told her that everything will be okay. She kept crying all the way back home. I tried to console her, but all in vain. Near home, she somehow stopped crying. When the bus stopped, without a word, she went away.
Other guys of the class asked me what had happened. I just asked them not to ask. I was in no good mood now. The topping in class no more seemed worth.
Back home, mom asked me, why I was so quiet, when I should have been happy. I just told her whatever had happened. She didn't want me to ruin my day because she had a bad result. But it was easy for her to say.
In the evening father, bro (he was second or third in his class, I can't quite recall which) and I were to go for an ice cream. We walked in silence. Dad wanted me to cheer up. I tried, but I couldn't. The day somehow passed. The next day marked the start of the new session. She was of course, nowhere to be seen.
I am Jack's tearful eyes.
That day I called her up. Her mom answered the call (I'd met her before I fell in love with Madhu). She told me how bad she was still crying, and was sad. We discussed about the examinations, and she told me that she'd be giving supplementary exams a few days later. I felt a bit relieved.
A few days later, she started coming to school again, after having cleared the supplementary. I was happy to see her. And this is when, we started loving each other more than before.
After some days, the summer holidays started. Now, we hardly could meet. I had this chemistry tuition, which was quite far from home. I used to save the money for transportation and walked all the way. With that I used to call her, but with two bucks, you can hardly talk more than a minute. She was always disappointed for this. May be she should have been.
As the holidays drew to an end, I started growing doubtful about whether or not the relationship would work out. I began to think how things might be after we passed the school. I realized we'd not be able to meet at all. With the kind of allowance I got, I could hardly afford anything. Even a phone call was a big deal. The holidays ended, and I met her. I was afraid of talking to her, always wondering what might happen. But honestly, at that time, I didn't really see a future. She admitted how disappointed she used to be for I could not talk much. She didn't go on and complain about the various wrong things I used to do, like not meeting her even when we stayed near.
The next day I caught a real bad fever. For two weeks, I had to be at home. All the time, I'd think about the future of the relationship. When I got better, I was still wondering as to what I should do to make things better. I could not see a way. For two days, despite being in school, I didn't talk to her. Sumita then asked what had happened. I think I had made a decision then. I told her to ask Madhu to meet me in lunch time. I didn't have the courage to say that myself. Rather, Madhu's class was far off that year. Sumita hadn't passed, and had a free class then. In lunch time, we met near the class (the usual place). I was sweating.
She was puzzled as to what I might have to say. Then, I just decided that I should just say it. And I said that I could not do this any more, and that we should part.
Put a gun to my head and paint the walls with my brain.
Few days later, in the chemistry tuition, my classmate offered me a cigarette. I never smoked before that. He told me that everything will finally leave you, but cigarette won't leave you till the end. And I smoked. The smoke filled my lungs and pumped along through my blood. The wave hit my brain, and suddenly all that pain dissolved away. I felt okay for some time that day. I became addicted.
Looking back now, after going through two other long distance relationships and having learned the truth, that they never work out, I feel that I did the right thing. I'm in college now, and whenever I go back to my parents', I meet Sumita. She told me that Madhu was doing a course in fashion technology. This time she said that she met her, and that she looks way modern nowadays. She tells me that I did the right thing. A break up later on, would have been harder to bear.
Why I suddenly look back into my past, after five years of all this, is that one smell. The perfume she always wore. I'll never forget that. And although I keep telling myself that I did the right thing, whenever I remember that smell, I find something within myself, question me, "Or, was it really the right thing?"