Good Morning New Yorkers, this is your editor here and it’s time to feature a new talented blogger as promised on our entertainment home page every fourth Friday of the month. And our this month’s pick is Often Me from WordPress. The blogger has forwarded an extract from her upcoming novel “Friends, Love and Betrayals” to be showcased here. Congratulations Often Me, this is your lucky space today.
“Sid take your goddamn phone. It just won’t stop buzzing. She has been calling for the last half an hour. Talk to her man,” cried out Anshuman.
Siddharth or as his friends call him Sid was playing badminton at the recreational centre when his phone kept ringing incessantly. It was a tiresome day at class and after such a long day, an hour or two at the RC refreshed him for the long night of pending assignments he had to get done.
“Hey Sid, why the hell do you keep a phone if you ain’t gonna receive calls?”
“Listen am in the middle of a match.”
“Come on phones are meant to receive, call, text-basic features. Duh!!”
“Yea but listen…”
“No you listen I suddenly have a coffee craving and the canteen sucks. Shirin’s out to visit her cousin and everybody else is busy doing I dunno what. So you are comin with me.”
“But I got…”
“No buts. Half an hour. Wait for me at the college gate. 6 sharp.”
And the line got disconnected. Sid stood there open mouthed totally numb about what just happened, not just once but every time he talked to Nina. She seemed to have an extreme over bearing power on him he failed to revolt against. At times like today he totally cursed himself for not being able to dodge her.
Refra Power, a subsidy of the renowned Refra Group, recruited hundred candidates from all over the country with different back grounds and was sent for their classroom training at a premier institute wherein the ten friends made their debut. Whoever said you don’t make friends at work must never have met this group. It wasn’t even two months into their joining the company and like some adolescence cronies they became close knit as ever sharing every part of their lives. They were ten best friends-two girls and eight boys-Shirin, Nina, Sid, Anshuman, Ravi, Gaurav, Ron, Pritam, Sushil(Jindal) and Sushil(Chatterjee).
Sid often followed Nina around like a plush pup. He got laughed at for his loss of self control but he didn’t mind. He knew Nina was a good friend. She would have perhaps done the same for him or so he liked to think. What was incomprehensible for Sid was that he couldn’t say “no” to Nina’s requests; craziness as others depicted those to be. Just like today, like every other day, he liked to think she had only asked him and nobody else. Personally. He left the game, went to his room, quickly showered and hurriedly went through the mess of clothes on the floor to dig out a clean t-shirt.
Dada aka Sushil Chatterjee was the Kumbhkaran (the Indian mythological character who could continuously sleep for six months at a stretch and stay awake eating for the rest six months) in the group. He could sleep like anything and through anything. He was named Dada for two reasons- he was a bengali and his name same as a famous cricketer, Bengali again, and nick named the same. Just post break up with his girlfriend of four years, the only thing Dada kept busy with were sleeping all day long even missing classes and when awake, watching replays of old movies and series and videos on his laptop.
Sid’s rustlings through the small three-sitter dorm room woke Dada up.
“Where to dude? Were you not supposed to complete those assignments? I have to copy yours.”
“Yeah man I am yet to get started on them.”
“Then where are you going? Sit down at the desk and lets get your brains working.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t be long. I just have some important stuff to take care of. Will be back soon.”
“Fine. My head’s heavy with all the sleep. I need some food in my system. Am coming with you.”
Sid alarmingly jumps back at him shouting. “No! Am going out of campus. You go to the canteen. Get a cup of tea or something. You will be fine there.”
Dada gives a skeptical look. “Are you going with someone?”
Sid timidly replies “Nina.”
Dada smirks. “Again! Carry on dude. I wouldn’t wanna be caught in the middle of two lovebirds.” And winks.
Sid protests, “It’s not a date or something but she just asked me to come along. You know how she has these sudden cravings and even Shirin’s not there to accompany her today.”
Dada breaks into a wide grin. “Dude don’t justify yourself and whoever even mentioned anything about a date. Well I suddenly lost the appetite to go out. Gonna watch the Big Bang Theory and drool over Penny. Come back soon lover boy.”
The total shy Sid turns red. He slips out of the room somehow managing a “Bye.”
“Am a girl. I am supposed to be fashionably late” argues Nina.
“Yes of course but you were the one about the sharp 6” Sid protests.
“And it’s only 6:20. What’s the rush?”
Nina was wearing a red tank top and paired it up with black skinny denims. Her eyes seemed to be dancing around just to show off an air of carelessness and sovereignty.
“She probably isn’t beautiful but something about her is charmingly attracting. If anybody could talk through eyes, they probably must have been tutored by her,” Sid thought to himself.
Sid chuckles and hesitantly manages a “Nothing.”
Nina catches the tense air and she knows something is different about her friend. “Hey what happened? Come on tell me. Please” she insists.
Sid couldn’t manage the worried brow on her face and he lets out, “The paper on the boiler-turbine theory, well that’s due tomorrow and I haven’t started it as of yet.”
“What? Why? I mean why didn’t you tell me earlier? We could have gone some other time. Oh God how can you be so stupid!”
Sid tries protesting but gives up mid way. He knows she would keep her rants on and wouldn’t listen to anything he has to say.
Nina continues, “I have my paper ready. Let’s go back and I will help you change parts of the paper so that they don’t look copied from.”
“No need. We boys always copy; everybody knows that. Let’s get something to eat and then I can come back and take your paper.”
“Oh are you hungry? Did you skip lunch again?”
“Yea I kind of slept off the entire lunch period.”
Nina gets furious. “How can you guys be so childish? Everything has to be fed to you with a spoon. Gawd!”
The hype she creates when she gets worried for such simple things always amuses Sid. He gives an easy smile, “Come on you don’t wanna starve me or do you? Let’s go have something.”
“Yes please hurry. I just can’t believe the company got stuck with such children. However did you get the job!”
“How about CCD?”
Nina lights up, “Awesome. Coffee and grilled sandwiches. Love it. Let’s go.”
“From worried to anger to hatred to laughter probably nobody changes emotions that fast,” Sid silently thinks and chuckles. Tonight he seems quite pleased with himself for coming up with the place.
The nearest CCD outlet was just fifteen minutes walk from the institute gate. It was a cold November evening and they walked towards the café, Nina as usual relentlessly talking and Sid silently listening hanging over at each word as she uttered.
The café was quite crowded at this time of the evening and they couldn’t manage a table. But Nina was adamant at being at CCD. So they waited for around half an hour before they got a table and that too on the porch. But she was satisfied and this obvious for Sid too. They ordered and until the food arrived Nina chattered and when the food arrived she continued still. Sid didn’t mind. It seemed like that’s the best evening he could conjure up in the recent past days. He was happy to be there with her. Alone.
Nina was presently talking about her break up with Vikas, the handsome dude or so as the rest of the ladies clan in the company has been referring to and the guy whom all of the guys thought to be a douche box. Nina had been shooting questions all throughout the conversation and like all times not even pausing to get an answer for them while Sid simply meekly stared at her.
“Do you know he said he liked my eyes? He says my eyes sparkle? Do you really think they do? Is my hair dull or shiny? Do you think I should wear more perfume? He says I talk too much. But then he says he loves the way I talk.” And so it continues.
A pause and Sid manages to say, “You are better off without him. You deserve better.”
Nina lights up at that but then sinks saying, “I really liked him.”
Sid manages a flirty remark, “Did you know you have a dimple on your left cheek.”
“What!” the somewhat embarrassed Nina screams excitedly. “Are you sure? Hope it doesn’t make me look cranky. Anyways that’s enough about me. Tell me about your crush out here.”
Before Sid manages a reply, Nina lets out again, “Hey I saw you talking to that dork girl Sheila. She plays badminton right?”
Embarassed Sid somewhat manages to say, “Yes she does come to the court at times.”
With a flutter of hands in the air Nina starts apologizing, “Oh my God! I am so sorry. You must have been playing or waiting for her when I called. Why didn’t you tell me? Dude you need to speak up a little more.”
“Hey am not into her. I just talked to her that one very instant,” Sid protested.
Nina chuckles and rolls her eyes off. “Man you need to be way more extrovert than that. It’s nothing wrong to like that chick. Come on now. I’ll set you both up.”
“What now you gonna play the cupid?”
“Hey don’t underestimate my talents. Am very good at matchmaking,” Nina shines.
“Yes of course. You were Nina the drama queen and now Nina the cupid,” Sid manages nervously about his destiny to be marred by the sweet but total childish girl.
With a glowing victorious smile, Nina descends onto other topics about her past, her college and any endless thing not discussed earlier.
She a Bengali girl, very dominant along with being talkative and he a Telugu boy and actually quite the opposite in nature to her. She could keep chattering on non stop, talking relentlessly on anything and everything and at most times it did make little or no sense but he loved to hear her out. The excitement in her voice, the little sounds she would make when she talked about some far off distant lands, the soft laughter she would give on the funny thing she herself might have uttered or the sheer disappointment when she thought something didn’t turn out as she expected it to be. In all this the constant thing that made everything wonderful around her was the soft twinkle in her eyes, the way it would lit up on a happy note and the way the lights would dance about when her conversation got to the sheer point of excitement and the way his heart ached when the twinkle dimmed on a sad note. At times he got so engrossed with the smile and the eyes that he actually forgot to be a part of the conversation and that crossed her to heights. He liked her but couldn’t risk telling her. They were the best of friends and he was afraid building a relationship on that as that might actually ruin the friendship. He was afraid to lose her. Ever!