Deserves? Deserved? A frown appeared on my face but Dhruv wasn’t looking at me. He was staring into space. He was reliving his own history.
I chose my next words carefully “So this girl, Priya, never knew that you felt this way?”
He gave a me a quizzled look, “Maya.” He corrected.
I smiled, “Not Sara?”
He nodded softly and looked straight at me, “Not Sara.”
“So, you changed her name and you used present tense.” I walked over to him, “You still like her?”
He shook his head, “No, it’s been way too long. We’re friends now. Like, like you and Arpit. And I don’t want to lose that too.”
I folded the letter and put it Dhruv’s shirt pocket. “I think you should give it to her.”
“Nah.. it would just complicate things. We’re good now. Talk regularly, hang out sometimes. Things are good. But I’ll hold on to this.” He touched his pocket slightly.
“Think about what I said.” I said ominously.
“And you?” He asked, “Why were you so curious?”
“Me? No reason, just a healthy curiosity about you.” I said quickly.
Quite out of the blue, he touched my hand softly, “Thank you.” He said.
I looked around, quite unnerved by him. I had never seen him this intense. I shook off his hand and stepped away. “What are you doing?” I asked cautiously.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to freak you out.” He put up his hands to indicate defenselessness. “Just wanted to thank you.”
“Whatever for?” I asked, surprised.
“You’re the first one, since Maya..” he started slowly, “who is interested in me, as a person.”
I didn’t say anything. I was too stunned to speak. I didn’t know what to make of it.
“Say something.” He said, his hand rubbing his neck trying to hide the embarrassment he was feeling.
“I don’t understand.” I was close to the door now. While we were talking about him, I was comfortable. Now that the topic of discussion was me, I was looking for an escape route.
“What I mean is, you’re good for my confidence. You know, the day you made me get up in the bus, remember?” I nodded, confused as to where this was going. “I was incredibly happy. I felt normal. I had been getting quite sick of all the pity I was getting.” He was smiling now, effortlessly.
“You know, you’re weird. Very weird.” I said what Arpit usually said to me.
“See, this is what I mean. You don’t handle me with rubber gloves, afraid that I might feel bad or worried that you might hurt my feelings.” He said excitedly.
“Hey! I resent that!” I said vehemently.
He waved his hands in front of him as though trying to erase what he had just said, “You know what I mean right?” he asked eagerly.
I didn’t, but I didn’t feel like breaking his enthusiasm. Besides, I wanted this conversation to get over as soon as possible.
I nodded a little. “I think so.” I said slowly.
We sat around for a while, talking about something when someone knocked on the door.
“Its open.” I shouted.
My mum snuck her head in slowly, relieved to see we were laughing a little.
“Why don’t you stay for dinner Dhruv?” She asked.
Dhruv thought for a moment, “Sure, I would love to. Thank you!”
My mum smiled and then turned to me, “Why don’t you call Arpit also?”
I nodded half heartedly. I didn’t want to call him, but explaining to my mum why I didn’t want to call him would be difficult.
I dialed Arpit’s number. I was very aware that mum and Dhruv were listening in. So I kept the conversation cryptic. After I hung up, I wasn’t really sure whether he had understood at all, because all he kept saying was “Huh??”
I figured out after an hour that he clearly hadn’t understood what I had been trying to convey because he didn’t come alone. Next to him, smilingly brightly was Sneha.