For a change, we sat together. Conversing naturally, as though we had known each other forever. Anyone listening to our playful banter would have had a smile on their face. I knew I had one perpetually fixed on my face.
“So, serious stuff.” Dhruv started suddenly, “You’ll need to be good in maths. The test is 55% maths. Are you any good?”
“Good?” I scoffed, “I’m brilliant.” I said brightly. I was blessed with some kind of internal computational device. I didn’t understand the conventional ways of solving problems, but something guided me to solve them anyway; that too in a much quicker way. Arpit had tried to get me to explain it to him, but I couldn’t. It just didn’t make sense put in words.
“That’s good to hear. Second thing, co-curricular activities? Involved in any?” Dhruv asked, “Apart from your track events.” He smiled. I guess he remembered our conversation earlier on.
“Ummm.. Does trying for the debate team and dance team count?” I said. To my surprise, he burst out laughing. “Hey! I’m serious!” I was mildly offended. It wasn’t like my school was very encouraging towards co-curriculum activities. The teachers had a select few pets who ended up participating and might I add, winning everything.
“Oh.” Dhruv stopped laughing abruptly, “In that case no. So you’ll need to work on that.”
I sighed. “But how!”
Dhruv looked at my dejected face, “I might be able to help you out there.”
“How?” I was mystified.
“I do some work in some school here and sometimes in an animal shelter. Could get you in there. That will make you look really good.” Then as an afterthought, he added, “On paper.”
I was besides myself. Where did they make people like him! I stared at him in awe. He was everything I had ever wanted to be. He was obviously smart, funny, intelligent, socially aware, loved animals and he wasn’t bad to look at. In my eyes, at that moment, he had it all.
“You’re just incredible!” I couldn’t help exclaiming.
He got a strange look on his face. “No, you are. You don’t know what a blessing you’ve been.”
Then as I got up to get off the bus, he grinned a little, probably at the doting admiration that must have been apparent on my face and “But, thank you, I was beginning to forget that.”
At that moment I didn’t find his goodbye odd. I was all smiles as I walked back home from the bus stop replaying the whole scenario in my head over and over again. It was only during the fourth or fifth rerun did I begin to feel uncomfortable with his parting sentence.
The sentence mixed with the look told me something didn’t quite add up.