On hearing the tone of my voice, he came right over. Arpit that is.
“Its okay,” he said. “Let it go.” Gently, he stroked my hair and let me cry. I knew he didn’t understand why I was crying, heck I’ll be damned if I knew! But it was just comforting to know that someone cared enough to be miserable when I was feeling down in the dumps.
“Did you like him?” He asked softly as I sat there sniffling.
I shook my head, “I don’t know, maybe. He seemed nice.”
Arpit smiled, “He is nice. That fact doesn’t change, does it?”
“I guess not, but I was really fond of him, not he’ll also get a girlfriend.” I said unintentionally. I stopped suddenly realizing what i had just said.
“And become like me?” He didn’t sound mad but I couldn’t turn and look at him.
“I didn’t say that.” I said, sitting very still.
He put one arm around me and squeezed tightly, “I don’t know why you think I’ve changed. I’ve not.” After a pause he added, “And Dhruv will not.”
“Maybe you don’t see it.” I moved away from him slightly and rested my chin on my palm.
“Whatever it is. It’s in your head. If you like him,” he said getting up, “Just tell him and see how it goes.” He planted a little peck on my forehead. “You’re crazy you know that right?”
I smiled despite myself. “Birds of a feather flock together!!” I called out after him. I saw him laugh a little as he rode away on his scooter.
The next day, absolutely nothing happened. Dhruv didn’t show up at all. And I didn’t, like the last time, get off the bus and wait for him. Besides, Sneha was with me. As we did our chores around the animal shelter, I kept an eye out for Dhruv, but either he did an excellent job of avoiding us or he just wasn’t there.
I knew Sneha knew, but I was glad she didn’t bring it up. I thought of calling him. I even dialed his number a couple of times and put the phone down. What right did I have over him to ask him why he didn’t meet me?
As it turned out, I didn’t see him for the next couple of days. Didn’t he miss me? I sure as hell missed him. I missed his witty retorts, his clever jokes, mostly, I think I just missed his presence. Even in the midst of a practice session, I would see him standing around but when I stopped to look, he wasn’t there. I was obsessing with his absence. But still I couldn’t get myself to call him. If he wanted to meet me, he would make an effort right?
“Forget about him okay, his purpose was to help you get into St. Peter’s. He gave you some excellent pointers, now he’s gone.” Arpit consoled me. “Focus on the race. You can worry about him tomorrow.” He touched my chin, “After you’ve won.”
Tomorrow, oh yeah, my quarter finals were tomorrow. I had a lot of contradictory advice coming my way from “Good riddance” to “Go find him.” Frankly speaking, I couldn’t care less about the race.. Just that when I was running, those few minutes, when the blood rushed through me I didn’t wonder why he had disappeared on me. I didn’t question why he hadn’t tried to reach me. In those few precious moments, I felt almost normal.