It was around eight in the evening, one could accurately predict just by looking at the menacing state of traffic jam near Banjara Hills. A long wait for getting an auto had driven Sharanya into such a devastating zone of irritation that almost three kilometres of walking seemed legitimate to her, but her luck was compassionate enough not to let her return empty handed. An auto-journey that usually takes less than a quarter of an hour, took more than fifty minutes and nobody was to be blamed other than the packed roads. She walked down to her nest, like every other day; this was a very enjoyable part of her day. Office hours used to get extended often, her colleagues used to keep on brooding over the rules and regulations of the office, even she did not like working for such long hours, but she was ready to let go of every symbol of mundanity, just for one pocket of sunshine, her evening walk. Flashes of light: red, blue, green, yellow, or maybe a mixture of them all, overloaded with jerky movements of liveliness used to settle on her face, bringing out that smile, the one that she coveted at the end of each day.
She had this habit of eating food as soon as she returned from work following which came another favourite part of her daily routine: going to Shalini’s room. Shalini was a young lady of twenty six, who looked too serious to bear a deceptive appearance. Sharanya had gladly welcomed her peaceful nature and both of them used to get along very well.
“Shalini di?”, knocked Sharanya.
None of them would run out of topics and even if they did, their phones would come in between and solve the problem. Hilarious as it sounds, they used to keep scrolling photos in each other’s galleries and on that day, the same thing was happening until Shalini sighted upon a particular picture.
“Who’s this guy with you?”
“A friend, college friend.”, stammered Sharanya.
“Okay! I thought he’s your boyfriend, you guys look so cute together!”
Sharanya laughed the matter away but something had been eating her up from within. There were many questions playing on her mind.
November it was, back in 2014. In the early days of this month, the scorching rays of sun almost fight a battle against the chills of winter, knowing that failure is guaranteed, and it becomes difficult to put on a sweater in the day or switch on the the fan at night. However, in Jalpaiguri, with the onset of November, the atmosphere turns greyish, and chilly winds keep blowing off and on. Sharanya, who hated even the sunny winters of Kolkata, had found one more reason to hate Jalpaiguri. It had only been a few months that she had moved to this town for pursuing her career; Jalpaiguri Government Engineering College, also called “Jolu” by the students, was where she was studying. Sharanya had to make peace with almost every new thing that came her way including friendly interactions with seniors, which rarely transformed into heated arguments at the end(the case was different with most of the boys). Her ship was sailing well until one fine day, when something strange happened.
The teacher had called it a day and Sharanya had just left her classroom when something caught her attention. Next to her classroom was another one which was filled with boys, all of them were impatiently waiting for their teacher to arrive as was evident from loud noises emanating from that room. Amidst that chaos, she sighted upon a heart-shaped face, which she had not seen before. He wore half-rim glasses and there was an addictive seriousness on his face that was pulling her attention towards him. This stealthy staring game continued until she noticed a friend named Ishan coming out of that classroom, who had also noticed her. Sharanya had a weird habit of walking speedily, so much so that her footsteps could be heard distinctly, when someone used to catch her while doing something fishy. With books in her hand, she hurried down the stairs and poor Ishan thought that she was ignoring him as he watched her walk away.
Sharanya liked what she saw, the feeling was too innocent to be described in terms of love or lust, and yet it was beautiful and serene. After that day, she rarely used to go back to her accommodation with Raima(her room mate). She had found her pocket of sunshine, next to her classroom. There used to be days when she had to sight upon an empty classroom, but that did not weigh down heavily upon her; she was accustomed to living in her own dark space which used to get lighted up sporadically by his presence, and that was enough for her, she thought. On one such day, some senior students got hold of her.
“Hey you! First year, right?”
Their dress code spoke much more than their mouths could ever dare to. They asked her a few questions and she answered each of them with utmost humility, more so because she was scared of them. They let her go as she seemed to look unwell( she had been acting like that to escape from their clutches).
This kept on happening for about a month after which it came to an end, not the liking that she had for him, but the wait. The exact reason behind this abrupt ending had become prey to forgetfulness and the pressure of semester examination. Strangely, a few months later, she met him at Jalpaiguri Road Station on a spring afternoon, where she found him sitting on a bench and fidgeting with his phone. On interaction, she came to know that his name was Shekhar and that he was from the Mechanical Department, which used to be referred to as the most notorious department in the entire college. She just could not help but look at him with all her sanity which was an act of insanity in itself, and his unusually usual smile was responsible for this.
“What’s the passcode of your phone?”, enquired Shalini.
Sharanya typed in some numbers and quietly moved close to the window. Shalini, realizing that she had been absent-minded all this while, decided not to bother her.
Was this feeling normal? Looking outside the window, she stared with an unblinking vision, at glaring multitudes of nothing!
Just then, Shalini handed over the vibrating phone to her. As she looked at the screen, a very familiar name caused one of her eyebrows to twitch.