The next day, I spent an extra hour in training. So did everybody else, the quarter finals were just around the corner and everyone was charged up.
I needed all of my courage to tell my coach that I won’t be available for evening practice sessions form now on since I had decided to volunteer after school. He didn’t seem too happy, but he couldn’t very well tell me not to go, could he now?
Today, I let Arpit and Sneha be. I was feeling oddly benevolent. Arpit thought I was just being strange.
“What were you people talking about yesterday? What’s gotten into you?” He asked persistently.
“None of your business!” I said, mildly irritated with his insistence.
“Oh come on, you don’t expect me to be curious? One moment you are all like ‘I don’t like Sneha, why did you get her?’ and the other you’re sitting with your arm around her. There’s something fishy here!” He said.
I smiled at him, “Maybe I’ve had a change of heart.” I said.
He scoffed a little, “Yeah, right!” with sarcasm heavy in his voice.
“Well, you’ll never know for sure will you?” I winked at him as I made my way inside the class. I knew I would tell him eventually, but right now, it was just so much fun seeing him burn with curiosity.
It was, just like old times.
After school, Sneha and I made a small trip to the organization where Dhruv worked. It was quite close to St. Peters and it was an animal shelter.
We found Dhruv in midst of several pups, some of them trying to clamber on to his knee as he placed a big bowl of food down.
Sneha and I started laughing, it was almost as though Dhruv was getting mauled by the little pups.
“Laugh now,” he said seriously, “From tomorrow, you both will be taking care of this section!”
“Really??” Both Sneha and I squealed in delight.
“Yes,” he said, hint of a smile appearing on his face, “I can’t run around the little mutts, now can I?”
I caught his eye as I picked up a pup. “Thank you!” I said.
He nodded gently and came closer. He put out a hand to pet the pup I held in my arms. “I thought about what you said.”
“What.. What did I say?” I asked, a little confused what he was talking about.
“You know, the letter.” He kept his head low, eyes focused on the pup as though he didn’t want to look at me.
“Oh.” I said the smartest thing I could think of.
“Well, I gave it to her.” Slowly, he looked up to see my reaction.
“You did?” I turned away from him. I hadn’t expected him to actually do it. I was just trying to say the right thing.
He didn’t attempt to make me face him.
“Yeah, I did.” He said.
I wanted to ask what happened. But doing so would only show that I was interested. And I wasn’t interested in his life, his love life to be particular. Why couldn’t he just volunteer information? Why did I have to ask everything? Shouldn’t he have just understood that I would have liked to know?
But ultimately, I didn’t ask and he didn’t tell. The closeness that I had felt with him yesterday disappeared in a flash. I watched my step around him the rest of the day, hardly saying more than three words in a sentence.
If he noticed the sudden change in my demeanor, he didn’t comment on it. Sneha on the other hand, was all over it.
“What’s wrong??” She asked every five minutes.
“Nothing.” I replied stoically.
Once the evening was over, Dhruv tried to make amends, “I’ll buy you dinner.” He said.
“No thanks.” I said curtly as I got off the bus.
“Naina..” he cajoled me.
I didn’t even turn around. I kept my head high and walked straight. I was confused. I didn’t know what I felt for Dhruv. But it was clear to me he felt nothing.
I covered my face with my hand. What was happening to me? Not like I wanted to be with him right? or did I? This was like the worst thing ever, I couldn’t make head or tail of it. So I did the only thing that a girl does when she’s hopelessly lost.
I called my best friend.