He was sitting behind me. “Not the ladies seat.” He indicated.
I smiled at him, “As a matter of fact, I did make the team.” I said, feeling extremely proud of myself.
“Wow, well congratulations Naina.” He pulled out a book.
“Hey, tell me something?” I was intrigued by him. I don’t know why. There was something very different about him. Maybe it was the way he handled himself, exuding confidence. I hadn’t had much interaction with anyone who had a disability. He wasn’t like anything I had imagined. I mean, in the movies, they almost always cut a sorry figure.
This guy, on the other hand was just the exact opposite.
“What?” He smiled kindly at me.
“How did you know?” I asked.
“Know what?” He folded his arms in front of him.
“You know, about my try outs?” I had been wondering about it.
“Elementary my dear Naina,” He playfully tapped my nose, “Your uniform told me you are from that school down the road. I know their sports day is coming up judging by the banners outside and you were carrying that duffel bag sort of bag. It wasn’t too difficult.”
“Wow, you are super smart.” I was in awe.
He laughed, “Why thank you kiddo.”
Kiddo? Was he calling me a “kid”?
I smiled awkwardly, and turned around leaving him to his book.
“What? You didn’t like that?”
“No, nothing like that.” I said curtly.
“Then?” He was persistent.
“Nothing.” I refused to look at him. I was feeling oddly offended.
He stopped bothering me after that and we travelled in silence. He with his book and me with my mp3 player.
I stood up as my stop came closer. I turned to look at him. He hadn’t even realized I was getting ready to leave. He was totally engrossed in the damn book!
I turned away from him and got off the bus.
I saw him wave at me as the bus started moving away. I chose not to respond. I stared right at him, to let him know that I saw him and chose not to react. He seemed rather amused and I think I saw him trying to suppress laughter. What nerve!
“Is that you Naina?” My mum called out as I rushed inside the house.
“Its me,” I confirmed. “Did Arpit call?” I asked.
“No. What happened to your try outs? Did you make the team?” She called out from the kitchen. “Are you hungry? Don’t tell me you’re already on the phone!”
I was, I had already dialed Arpit’s number.
“Uh, hello?” That was Arpit’s standard way of answering a phone call.
“Hey, its me! I made the team! Yay!”
“You did? That’s great! Congratulations!”
“Oh yeah! You should have been there, I came third!” I skipped the part that there were only 4 participants.
“Wow, Naina. So what now? You’ll have practice after school every day?”
“Yeah, I guess.. Hey, I met that weird lame guy again!”
“You did? How come?”
“He was there in the bus. He’s just some looney guy.”
“What? You’re not interested in what happened?” I accused Arpit.
“Well, you’re not interested in what happened to me??” The date, I had forgotten all about it.
“Of course I am, I was just waiting for you to bring it up. So how was it? And who is she?”
I patted myself on the back for the good save.
“You’re never going to believe it.” He was playing me. Stretching the agony.
“Aprit, if you don’t want me to beat the heck out of you the next time we meet, you better tell me now.”
He chuckled, “It’s Sneha Gill.”
I didn’t say anything. Sneha Gill? Sneha Gill was one of the most popular girls in school.
“How..?” I asked for the want of a better word.
“Yeah, can you believe it? She said yes! Naina, me and Sneha. Whoo! I can’t believe it yet.”
Sneha Gill and Arpit. I couldn’t digest it. Sneha was pretty, smart, popular. She was one of the house captains.
“But..” I started.
“I know, I couldn’t believe it either. She actually reads the science articles I write for the school magazine! She says she’s a fan! Can you believe that?”
“No..” At least I was honest this time.
“Oops, I’m getting a call. I think it’s her. See you tomorrow?”
“Huh..” was all I managed before he hung up on me.
Sneha Gill, wow! I had not seen that coming. If I was so shocked, I could imagine how the news would stun the school. I didn’t know her personally, but I knew this wouldn’t last.