Soon to be graduating with a dreamy and fulfilling job. Beginning of a really long holiday. No urgent deadline or important commitment. What could be the reason for my headache? I was curious. “Less sleep last night maybe,” I concluded.
The gel was not causing my headache to die down and there seemed no chance of falling into sleep any sooner. My room seemed to be suffocating me. I stepped for a walk outside. I was not allowed to go out of the Hall boundary due to lockdown unless there was some urgent or genuinely important reason. I didn’t want to go to the hospital on campus just for the headache because I knew it was going to be okay just in a night of sleep. I decided to circumference the boundary of my Hall of Residence. Covering the pi-times-radius along the boundary, I planned to go on the LBS rooftop but I was doubtful which gate to the terrace would be opened. I was successful in my second attempt when stairs near the beginning of the D-block led me to the terrace.
The LBS rooftop is not like a usual rooftop, it’s not all leveled up. In fact, it is flat just above the rooms but just above the corridor, it has got several triangular-shaped-elevated roofs, each inclined in the opposite direction with respect to its neighboring structure and side-walled by glass panes to let enter the light in the wing corridor during the day. I lay down in one of the triangular structures inclined towards the east. The inclination was making it more fun but I realized that the glass pane which was placed to ensure sufficient light in the wing corridor during the day was throwing lights on the rooftop and it was hitting my eye. I had to go down and switch off the lights. I walked for a few minutes on the flat part of the roof and lay down again. The wind, cold as ice, blowing through my thin black hair and hitting my head was healing my headache really fast.
“Please do not switch on the lights of the corridor when you go down.” I requested one of my fellow boarders who was going towards the stairs.
“Okay, bro.” The sound didn’t look familiar. Anyway, he agreed and that was important.
Rooftop is an amazing place to be. Away from people and things, you are all by yourself but you are not alone. Memories. Dreams. Imaginations. Everyone joins your party and it is so much fun and natural. I started counting the stars in the sky. “Zero.” And, then made a failed attempt to search for the moon. I wondered why the clouds were rushing? Who was it competing against?
I got up and sat with my arms around my knees. I could see the floodlights on the IIT bridge just outside the campus boundary. Lights were still ON in some of the rooms. The residents of the other room must have left for their home before the lockdown. A cat obstructed my view as it went towards the stairs, perhaps in the hope of some prey.
“Counting the stars in the cloudy sky was more fun,” I thought. I lay down again. The wind felt cooler, stronger and more soothing. I closed my eyes.
“Helloo!! Kya kar rahe ho?”
“Aapke phone ka intezaar,” she almost sang the reply.
“Ohh Really! Wow!” the innocent me could not understand her sarcasm.
“Sleeping. Idiot. Itti raat ko phone ka kaun wait karega.” She sounded irritated not because I disturbed her sleep but because I could not understand her sarcasm.
“Did I disturb you?”
“I am not sorry,” I tried to sing.
“Sorry bolne ki jarurat bhi nahi hai. Ye batao abhi call kyun kiya?”
“You know abhi mai kaha hun?”
“In front of my house?”
“Are nooo.. That’s practically not possible even if I want to. The country is under lockdown na. Wo adventure kabhi aur karenge.”
“Yaar, I am currently on the rooftop away from everything and everyone. The wind is perfectly chilled and It is…”
“Romantic mahaul hai matlab?” she interrupted.
“Bahut jyada romantic. Aur is romantic mahaul mein, you are my best girlfriend to call,” I intentionally erred.
“Best girlfriend? You…” She went ballistic, and her voice shot up at least fifty octaves.
“Sorry I mean, you are the best person to turn this ordinary moment into a sweet memory,” I interrupted her trying to cover up.
“So, why is my best girlfriend silent? Sorry, I meant my girlfriend,” I continued irritating her on purpose.
“I am feeling sleepy,” she said gritting her teeth.
“Can you go to your rooftop?”
“My best boyfriend, unlike you, I am at my home and I don’t have the privilege to go anywhere I want this late at night.” she expressed her forcednes with retaliation. I had already lost the right to mind the word “best boyfriend.”
“Not even on the top of your home.”
“No. By the way, why do you want me to go on the rooftop? I can talk here.”
“To get a better feel of this romantic setup. We can feel the cold winds together. We can watch the night sky and the Moon together. We can count the stars together. So many good reasons you see”
“That’s so cute but sorry yaar, I can’t go. Mai room mein baith kar hi feel le lungi. You count the stars for me.”
“There are no stars in the sky anyways. It is cloudy here. But, winds and sky. Leave. No worries. I understand”
“Thanks.” She must have made a sad puppy face.
“I am imagining you to be sitting beside me. Permission?”
“What are you wearing?”
“Is that important?”
“I can imagine you better.”
“Rose petals printed on black shorts and top,” she grinned.
“Silky black hair, cupid’s-bow red lips, dimples pressed under your low cheekbones. I can imagine all that as well. And your nose ring. I love this the most especially when your nose gets rosy. Ha ha!” I added the flavors.
“I am not feeling sleepy now,” she whispered. I could feel from her voice her lightened mood and the joy that sparkled inside her.
“Perfect.” Her’s jubilation resonated with mine.
I stretched out my hands to her. The soft hands of her intertwined in mine, her long and thin fingers, completing the space left in mine. I noticed her long fingers terminated in painted, polished nails.
“The purple color suits you even more.”
“Purple for me. This is not fair yaar. You always confuse me with a few extra words in the color. Itte color to Inorganic Chemistry mein bhi ratne nai padte.”
“Okay Mr. Padhaku, this is purple and not frosty purple.”
“Thanks. By the way, did you wear that purple color salwar-suit today in which you look extra-stunning?”
“Not today but yesterday.”
“And, you did not send me a pic. Essh.. I hate you.”
“Sorry, I forgot actually, I’ll send you right after the call. Promise.”
“Aap batao. By the way, am I expected to plan everything? Your turn now.”
“Hmm, that is interesting. I’ll have to think about that for a while”
“You have your time. Meanwhile, let me check the destiny lines in your hand which made you mine.”
Before I could trace any line in her hand, undoing our tangled hands, she said, “Okay I have something.”
“And, does that require us to unleash our hands?”
“Yes. You are not my boyfriend. I mean imagine. And now, propose to me.”
“That’s interesting, but promise me that you will remain, my girlfriend, even if you drop my proposal this time.”
“Try smart. Make sure I don’t dismiss.” I could see bullying smile on her face.
After some calculations over the phone I was ready.
“Yaar, it has been quite some time since we are together. 2 years, 10 months and 8 days. And, after spending this long time with you, I feel so comfortable sharing my insecurities, talking through my goals, and being willing to improve whenever necessary. Ab itte time ke baad bhi feelings aisi ho to kuch magic to hai hamare beech. Sushmita, you are the one who not only completes me but also the things around me. Like this wind, I am liking the wind even more now because it is carrying your fragrance and intoxicating me with love. Your love.”
“Am I getting passing marks?” I was curious.
“Hmmm.. Let me check the paper,” she laughed.
“My eyes don’t blink when I see you and my heart sinks when you touch. So, will you be my girlfriend for the second time?” I completed my proposal monologue like a student completes the question paper after the bell rings for the final time and just before his copy gets snatched.
“Was my time up?” I doubted if she would consider my final lines or not.
She locked her fingers with mine again and looked deep into my eyes like a puppy. Her midnight-black hair flowing over her shoulders.
“Is your heart sinking now?” she smiled. I thought she was making fun out of me.
I put our entangled hands close to my chest.
“Can you feel the fast thud of my heart through this single touch.”
“Is it beating for me?”
“You are holding my hand. There’s no one around.”
“You said that your eyes don’t blink when you see me but it ….” She could not complete.
“Wait… Save… Bend..,” my eyes met with a pair of wide-opened dark-colored optic, high on the skull. It was horrifying, it was to attack someone who was going to become my girlfriend for the second time. I leaned forward to cover her with my arms and bend down along with her. I wanted to be the hero of our movie. Cat – The villain.
I slammed hard on the concrete rooftop.
“It’s not fair why did you go away?”
I heard the silence.
“Hello, are you there?”
I got up in the hope to connect to the signal. My smartwatch sensed a difference in elevation and lit up as a consequence. 3:45 AM. “It’s too late,” I thought. I had to come back to my room. I checked my Facebook relationship status. “This can be deceiving,” I thought. Most people wrong on this status. I checked the recent call logs and the contact list of my phone.