Koena was wondering if Ranjit had gone back to England.  She looked around for him in the final year class rooms.  He was not to be seen any where around.  She could neither ask any one around about his welfare. She was afraid that her fellow students will place two and two together. They could make out that something had been going around in her mind.  Her everyday bus ride to and from the university was getting quite boring and lonely after the day she had gone for a walk through the botanical garden along with him. She was still wondering how she had agreed to his request, “it was not in her nature to speak to strangers leave aside going for a stroll with any one”.

They were walking through the garden silently when his hand brushed for a while on her waist. It gave her strange shivers down her spine.  She was sure he could feel her fear.  That’s why he took his hands off her instantly. But his electric touch lingered on for a while. It was for the first time she had been touched like this by a male stranger.  She wanted to tell him to put that hand back on her waist again.  It was a feeling of possessiveness. She felt a strange sense of security.  She had not experienced any thing like earlier even with her brother Munna who would often hold her with both his hands on her back. He would put his hands sometimes even on her shoulders. She was wondering if Ranjit also had felt the similar electric currents by that touch. It appeared to her that he was too shy to stroke her back again. However it was absolute electrifying feeling when that hand held her once more.  He gently pulled her towards him. He gave her a small hug from the side of her arm gently brushing his hand against her. This time she did not shiver.  Rather she felt his emotions of affection passing through that touch. She did not know if this is what “a love feeling” is between the boy and the girl. He did not utter a word. He but held her gently close to him while taking a stroll.  They continued walking down the green grass of the lawns for an unbelievably long time till he pulled her face towards his and gave a gentle kiss on her lips. She could feel the fire burning within her mind and body. She felt as if they have spoken so much to each other without even uttering a single word. The calm and tranquil of the endearing silence was not allowing them to break apart from each other.  They both wished their heavenly hug continued like this forever. They were both lost into another realm of human emotions.

However the group of students from her class who had come out into the lawns broke their sequence of dream run. She was not in the mood to go back to classroom but bunking class lectures was not permitted.  She will not speak an untruth at her home. She reluctantly bade him a silent farewell. She joined the other fellow students to walk into her classroom. She some how could feel that henceforth she would not be able to sleep peacefully.  Nor would she be able to concentrate on her work at home during the day. She knew that her day dreaming has already begun.  She will be looking at the stars during the full sunshine too.  “She was after all in love with him”. “But was that short-lived embrace an expression of love by Ranjit too?” she was not very sure about it.

She was in no doubt at that moment that the silent talk and walk with him had conveyed her feeling of love in her mind to him.  “It is not necessary to use the language of alphabets and words to convey the matters of heart. Married couples hardly speak of their love to each other yet their love is evident all through their lives. My parents have seldom proclaimed their love to each other so loudly yet their communication is always based on great attraction and longing for each other. I can always read the language of love in their eyes for each other. Their smallest actions speak of the great adulation for the other partner. They do not need the crutches of any vocabulary. Their silent and unspoken dictionary of small nuances, gestures and signs are enough to convey the desire, affection and pining for companionship,” thought Koena.

However the other second she receded into the cobwebs of doubt and skepticism “what if he fails to take the necessary initiative to convey his feelings to her.  This one time I may have to somehow convey my longing for his love. I know I have to. My feelings of my love for him are too intense “.

Her mother had noticed that her daughter had not been her own self for past few days. That she had been facing an acute mental disturbance.  “You have been depicting a lost and forlorn look. Is there any matter with you? I hope no one has entered your world of dreams. I must know if there is any one in your dreams.  I am your best friend.   You should know that when children grow up, the equation of our parent child relationship moves from that of filial to friendship. You must tell me if you have anything on your mind”.

Munna jokingly teased her, “you know mom this stammered little sister of mine is very shy. She is afraid of speaking to her own shadow too. How can she converse with any male member of the species .I bet she can never fall in love? By the time she says “I love you” to any one he will be long gone to the next female available”.

“You talk as if you are the great Casanova”. She hugged him.  But she felt that hugging her younger brother did not result into the same physical sensation as was provided by the sudden sensuous touch of Ranjit’s hand.

She found it difficult to concentrate on the   lecture being delivered by the professor in the classroom. The professor read on “in the room the women come and go thinking of Michelangelo”, he was explaining to the class the connotation, similes and metaphors used by the poet. He was amplifying to them about the lonely and depressed mindset of the protagonists created by poet in the poem. When the professor had referred to the stanza, “shifting across the floor of silent seas”, Koena had felt as if the professor was specifically addressing these lines to her. “What does the poet mean by shuffling across the floor of silent seas, in this stanza young lady”?

She felt embarrassed when she could not find a reply to this direct query raised by the professor.

“It appears to us that there are many tumultuous emotions hidden behind the facade of your silent exterior too young lady. You do not seem to be focused on the subject being taught in the classroom”.

“Please Excuse me! Sir” and she walked out of the room. She heard a loud laughter by the other members group of students as she crossed the door and came out of the class room.

She took a small leisurely walk to the library building. She was thinking that the serene and tranquil ambiance of the reading rooms in the university library will help her spell out her cerebral dilemma. That by doing this she will be able to spend some of her time. She did not want to leave the university premises for the day till she was by the spirit and body prepared to go to her home. This peculiar yet wonderful feeling of longing for some one was keeping her heart throbs jumping.  This painful yet sweet emotion of love for another person was gnawing at the core of her heart.  She was definite that her loving pain would not be cured till she was certain of Ranjit’s feelings towards her. She noticed him coming out of the reference section of the library. He was walking towards the main exit door.

She decided “I must talk to him now or I will have to hold my feelings of love for him to myself forever”.  She called out his name loudly. All the people sitting in the library reading room raised their eyebrows. They very consciously looked at her. She was too preoccupied with her romantic feelings to bother about paying much of the attention to the amusing glances being thrown towards her. She ran out after him. She held him by his hands. She clasped both of his hands in her own hands. She started asking him “thank god finally and at last I have been able to locate you. Where have you been hiding yourself away from me for so many days? Do you realize that I have been looking for you all over the town? You did not even leave your where about with any one? I hope nothing is the matter with your health”.

Ranjit had least expected this kind of emotional welcome from the young lady that too at a place full of as many public. He immediately held her from her arms to lead her out of the reading arena of the library.

“Come on let us go out of this place. People are getting disturbed here”. They had moved out of the library. He made her sit on a bench under the shade of a gulmohar tree. “I did not know you will be missing me. I did not know that my absence could mean so much to you.  Otherwise I would not have gone abroad even on my grand mother’s demise”. He had deliberately emphasized the word abroad, knowing fully well that he has till date not revealed his local connections to her.  Nor did he mean to tell her any truth about himself till he had finally won her over in marriage.

“I am sorry I did not know about that.  You poor soul you must have had a terrible time.  But you should have sent a message through someone. Or you could have at least come to see me before leaving for abroad.  I am sorry for the poor grand mother of yours who died”.

‘Oh just do not spare a thought for her. She was too old.  It is in a way good that the God Almighty called her back. Her living was causing a pain to many others too. She was spreading lots of soreness around for others too besides, she had been leading a miserable life for herself”. “At least this one line is true”, he smiled within, and “if she had not died she would have been a real pain for me”, muttered Ranjit very too softly to be heard.

“Come you seem to be famished.  We will have some thing to eat. I believe a cup of coffee will do you good. You seem to be lost too”, his remarks virtually brought tear to her eyes.

She wanted to tell him “it is all because of you that I do not remain my own self.  I have been like this ever since I have felt my love for you. My mind and soul will not take it easy till I declare my feelings towards you.  I want to hug you once again. I wanted to check if I get the same sensation that I had felt the first time when we had gone for a leisure walk and you had held me tenderly yet sensuously  from my waist”.  She was however apprehensive that such haste on her part could also have put him off. She did not know what feeling he had carried about her in his mind and hearts as yet.

He ordered a cup of coffee each for both them.

“Do you not feel that you should have asked me if I wanted to eat any snacks?  I am feeling voracious. I have not eaten a morsel of a good meal for a long time.  I suggest you too can join me in eating a hearty snack if you wish so. I am ordering myself a queen’s meal”. She ordered the steward to serve them a large toasted chicken sandwich along with the plate full of wafers.  “I hope you are carrying enough of cash in your pocket”, she told him.

Ranjit was at a loss to express his surprise. He was fumbling with words. He had never been a witness to this side of her personality.  She has always been very detached and reserved kind of person, an introvert. She would hardly utter an expression even in an hour long meeting that day when she had met him all alone the other day while they had walked through in the lawns. He had that day some how expected her to respond to his conversation, but she always communicated by monosyllables. Even while she was commuting by the bus to her residence he would often sit next to her to engage her in some kind of small talk. Yet she always acted as timid, scared and lost kind of girl. Her silent and balanced exterior was a quality that had pulled him towards her.

He asked her “I hope you do not have any kind of fever or any other such ailment”. He wanted to make sure she was not unwell of sort.

“Why do you want me to fall sick? I am perfectly all right. Oh I see you are worried because I am acting like a chatter box.  That is so because I have had an insight which I am sure if I tell you, you will also start jumping like I have been. Do you ever realize what it takes to fall in love? I am in love.  I want to savor the benign feeling till it lasts. However my only apprehension is so far it is only a one-sided affair”.

Ranjit was amused at her girlish pranks. “Is it the initial flowering of youth in a small girl”? He dare not ask her. He was wondering who the person on the other side of this awakening would be. “It is quite evident that my charm has found another victim.  But I must wait to hear it from the horse’s mouth or mare’s mouth. I do not want my haste to result into a big disappointment later on”.

“I hope the person on the other side is also as much in love with me. It depends on you how long you want this feeling should last”, her casual remark spoken in a very non expressive manner did not make much impact on him initially.

She burst out laughing by the time he understood her statement, “You are a stupid fellow. Do you not see that I am talking to you?  It is your acknowledgement of my love that I am desperately hoping for. And you are sitting like a dud. Can you not see that I am in love with you? Will you now acknowledge your love for me?  Or do you intend wasting the god sent opportunity to you”.

He held her right hand in his both hands. He kissed her lightly on her palm “let me admit that to you. I fell in love with you at the first glance. But I had always feared your rejection. I felt that my telling you that I am in love with you, will take you away from me.  I dared not open my mouth. I admit now many times all over again times “I love you, I love you, I love you and I love you”.

She put her hands on his mouth to stop him from speaking any further as his words were becoming too louder now. However his gesture had completely floored her. She would have thrown her into his arms on his emotional declaration of her love, if they had not been sitting in the coffee shop. People sitting on the next table could hear his acknowledgement of lady’s love in such a vocal manner. Those people just stood up from their seats.  They had started clapping for the just fallen in love couple. Ranjit and Koena both felt embarrassed.  They hurriedly got up from their chairs. He put a few ten rupees notes, enough to cover the bill, on the table and they walked into the world outside. .

“I do not think I have to travel with you in the bus again after today onwards if you consent to sit on my motor cycle, I mean on the pillion of my motor cycle. That means may I drop you home my lady if you do not mind”, he asked her.

“What do you mean by driving me home? I never knew you owned a bike also.   Just a minute, if I can understand you correctly, you are telling me that you used to travel in the bus all the way to see me and come back to this place to pick up your bike? You must be crazy. Like a fool I have been worried if you will ever tell me about your love? I do not find you a shy personality or an introvert type. Then why did you take so long in admitting your love to the one whom you have adored for so long”.

“Please do not expect me to answer all your questions in one breath. You will allow me some time to assimilate the feeling of love for a few more days.  It is only then may be I will tell you all that I had to undertake to gain your majesty’s attention”, he told her.

“Yes but for a few more days you will have to carry on with the bus journey. Once I introduce you to my parents and if they approve of you then may be we can travel back together on your vehicle’.

“And what if they say no” he put a question mark.

“Then I am sorry, sir, please forgive me”, she giggled. She also gave him the intense smile that had exuded complete love for him.  Ranjit wished he had a camera to capture her lovely smile and the twinkling of her eyes which were full of love for him for perpetuity. The two love doves could not hide the aura of affection and sensuality for each other. Their love for each other became evident to the other students traveling along in the same bus. One of the passengers passed a comment to his fellow traveler, “it seems the cupid has decided to travel with us in this bus to spread the fragrance of new valentine season”.

Ranjit knew that he had lied to her about his living in the boarding house, when she asked him about his residential address. Till date no girl had wanted to know so many details about him. They were always blindingly overawed by his make believe status of a non-resident Indian who have come from abroad to study. He felt little scared to think of the outcome after she would come to know of his real position in life.  A murderer, a smuggler and a courier of arms will certainly not be the kind of mate she had aspired for in her life. The bus took a sharp turn to the right throwing him out of the seat.  She held him back by both her hands “you must be careful lest you fall out of the seat”.  She indulgently helped him pull his weight back on to the seat again.  Her hearty care and concern for him moved him emotionally. He pulled her closely towards him.

“You are a shameless creature.  Do you not realize that this is a public place?”

“Then let us go to a place where there are no people around “, he started laughing.

“Why do you not wait?  That time will also come, after we have got married. Then you can hug me as much as you want to”. She covered her face with both her hands out of embarrassment.

Their bus had arrived at their stop too soon. She hurriedly collected her baggage and got up from the seat she had been sitting in.  Ranjit too got up. He also wanted to get down along with her. But he was pushed back by her “I am sorry you can not come with me, not today.  You go back to collect your bike. I will take you to my home at the appropriate time”. “I hope it comes little too soon” he wished. Her forthright answers, her spontaneity in acknowledging her love for him had disturbed him. “I will give up anything in life to obtain her love yet the very thought that I had been cheating her scares me.  I know it will be a short lived affair from the very beginning, because the moment she will come to know the truth about me she will not accept me. The painful thought of losing the love of my life is eating at my heart. But what the hell, I will cross the bridge when I reach there” Ranjit had been indulging into self talk with his own self.

 

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