Nick of Time
Trina fell back on to the bed hard. The spring bounced and took her with it. The fan whirled uselessly above her head trying to dispel this heavy humidity. She noted it. She put every small detail in a notebook at the back of her mind. She would probably remember this day anyway, even without the memory notebook. She looked out of the window to her right. First rains of the summer had engulfed the sprawling campus and wet birds seeking shelter from the warm rain cooed at her window sill. She looked at them and they looked right back at her.
Trina slowly turned to her left. By the time her gaze met Sanjeev’s, a big grin was threatening to break out on her face. She couldn’t help it. She started giggling. Sanjeev too was smiling a new kind of smile.
“What is it, Trina? Stop giggling.” He said that while fighting his own urge to supress his giggles.
This afternoon their lives had changed forever, Trina thought. Sanjeev thought that too, but with some caution, “At least as long as forever is. We are young. Life is long.” The cynic in him wanted to protect his heart.
“What is it?” He asked again. He wanted to confirm what he already knew.
“That was something.” Trina said and buried her face in his chest. They were aware of their naked bodies sticking to each other at places but they barely noticed the humidity or felt discomfort; their bodies were still singing a new song.
“This is the best sex I’ve had.” Trina lifter her head and kissed Sanjeev lightly on the chin, where he was trying to grow a new beard. “This is the best sex we’ve had, no?”
Sanjeev smiled. The expression on his face hovered between Triumph and fear. Fear of losing what he had in this room, with Trina.
“Something has changed, no?” Trina prodded, looking deep into Sanjeev’s eyes.
Sanjeev broke the gaze and buried his face in the crook of Trina’s neck and started to trace the shape of her ears with his long fore-finger. “Why do you think so?” Sanjeev mumbled into her neck.
Trina wasn’t sure what had happened. They had been fighting last week and had been on the verge of breaking up their 1 year-old relationship. Trina’s heart lurched as she thought of how close she had come to leaving Sanjeev.
She lifted his head by his hair and looked into his eyes and saw a small dimple she had never noticed before.
“I want this. I want us to work.” She took Sanjeev’s hand in hers and grasped it tightly. “Sanjeev I love you too.” She said as seriously as she could before chuckling nervously.
Sanjeev’s face relaxed and he looked relieved, “Me too.” He said and mirrored her laugh. They stared at each other till heat built up again and the young lovers stopped laughing, while a shameless pigeon watched from the window.
The train had just pulled out of the lake station. The yellow flowers from the trees on the platform and the shiny mirror of the lake in the background whizzed past and soon all Sanjeev could see were the flyovers and cars and hot burning concrete roads. The compartment was hot as hell and there were no signs of rain in the city.
Sanjeev was a psychology student at University at the end of the train line. He sat at the window and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. The heat was not bothering him as much as the thought of Trina and the thesis he had to submit at the end of the year. He looked at the kids sitting a little far from him and grudged them their excitement. They were going to school and a new year had just started. These little people wouldn’t yet know the pain that love caused and all their shitty academic efforts were probably being applauded by their teachers and doting parents.
He frowned at the kids and their parents. He knew all of them by sight. These children, the vegetable sellers near the door, the IT guys going to Hitech city, the railway employees using their passes and other students like him with their noses deep in books, like the guy sitting right in front of him wearing a purple batman t-shirt.
As if aware of Sanjeev’s eyes on him, the batman guy looked up. He looked right into Sanjeev’s face. Stunned, Sanjeev looked back at his face. The two guys stared at each other, transfixed. They had identical expressions on their faces. First, confusion, then disbelief, horror and repulsion and soon something akin to delight played out on their faces.
“I am Sanjeev and I am a Psychology student at HCU.” He said.
“I am Dileep. I am unemployed. I am taking time out to finish my novel.” Said he.
Wordlessly they stared at each other. Each knew exactly what the other was thinking. It was so obvious that it looked like magic or telepathy but for them it was as if they were following a pre-destined script.
“That’s great. Just what I want.” Said Sanjeev
“I would love to. Thank you.” Said Dileep.
Around them, in the train compartment a buzz or murmur rose and people pointed and stared at them
The child closest to them spoke up, “Are you twins?” she asked.
Sanjeev and Dileep looked at the kid and smiled identical smiles and said in unison, “No, we just met.”
They had only till Hitech city station to decide. Just before the train pulled into the station, they shook on it. Sanjeev took Dileep’s bag and got off the train. He came to the window to assure Dileep, “Call me if you need anything.”
Sanjeev stood at the platform and waved till the train blew the whistle.
Dileep moved to where Sanjeev had been sitting. His heart thudded painfully in his chest. The train raced to Lingampally and towards his new life.