Anamika

Storizen Magazine - - Contribute - by Dr. Ke­taki Pat­ward­han

It was a pretty nor­mal day. The Oc­to­ber heat had be­gun show­ing its ef­fects al­ready. It was not even 9 in the morn­ing and I could feel heat em­a­nat­ing from the ground. I walked down the stairs and on the foot­path to go to the cafe five blocks away for my Sun­day morn­ing brunch.

Yes, every Sun­day morn­ing I have brunch here, so that I can sleep the en­tire day away in my lazy bach­e­lors pad. I had just taken a seat when I saw her.

The first thing I no­ticed about her, were her dark brown ex­pres­sive eyes. They changed their size as she an­i­mat­edly spoke to her friends. They laughed as she nar­rated some funny in­ci­dent, her fair hands sway­ing around, mak­ing dif­fer­ent ges­tures. And then it hap­pened. For just a mo­ment, a frac­tion of a sec­ond, our eyes met. That frac­tion of mo­ment seemed like an eter­nity to me. I was trans­fixed. Just as quickly, she had her eyes back to her friends sit­ting around her. But to me, every­thing was oc­cur­ring in slow mo­tion, just like they show in movies. I could see her in vi­va­cious colours.

Every­thing around her was black and white, and blurred, just like in movies. I couldn't hear her. But I couldn't hear any­thing at all. A sooth­ing mu­sic hummed deep some­where in the back of my mind as I

con­tin­ued to watch her. "What are you star­ing at mis­ter?" I was jolted back to re­al­ity at the harsh voice. I sud­denly came out of my trance. The beau­ti­ful girl was no longer laugh­ing. She just sat there, giv­ing me an an­gry stare. One of her friends stood in front of me, chal­leng­ing me to an­swer her ques­tion.

All pa­trons in the restau­rant stared at us.

"I... I am sorry;” I mut­tered an apol­ogy.

"You bet­ter be," She said and stormed away.

I looked back at her. She was still star­ing at me, an­grily. I quickly looked away.

Em­bar­rassed, im­mersed my­self I in my club sand­wich and Latte, and dashed home af­ter quickly pay­ing the bill.At home, I couldn't sleep a wink. The girl had de­stroyed my peace of mind. She had de­stroyed my en­tire Sun­day. Other

Sun­day's were fully ded­i­cated to my pre­cious sleep. But not this one. Not any­more. Fi­nally, at 2 pm, I de­cided enough was enough. I had to find her. I got up and changed into my jeans and a tee. The heat had in­ten­si­fied now. But I was de­ter­mined. I grabbed my cap and shades and went down­stairs. I had no idea where to look for her. And there was no pos­si­bil­ity that she would still be sit­ting there. But still, I walked to the restau­rant.I peeped in­side through the glass wall. The restau­rant was now buzzing with ac­tiv­ity. But she was nowhere. The skep­ti­cally. guard looked Even at me though we hadn't spo­ken to each other ever, we

knew each other, the same way you know the guy sit­ting in the shop in front of your house for the last ten years, or the guy who sits by the win­dow in your bus - the bus you take daily to reach of­fice. I ap­proached him. To my great re­lief, he gave me a smile. It was that kind of smile, the one you give to a per­son you are not sure about. "What are you look­ing for Sir?" he asked, and at that mo­ment I knew that he knew what I was look­ing for. I stayed silent, won­der­ing how to put it. He res­cued me from for­mu­lat­ing any sen­tence. "That morn­ing girl?" he asked. So he too had wit­nessed the drama. I men­tally face-palmed my­self. He was wait­ing. I nod­ded at him. "She took bus no. 14 from this stop," he said, point­ing at the bus stop op­po­site the road. "Thanks mate," I said and hur­ried to­wards the

bus stop. I had no idea where bus no 14 stopped. And out of all stops, at what stop she had got­ten down. Though it was a pretty nor­mal day, for me, every­thing about this day was turn­ing out to be ab­nor­mal. I de­cided to fol­low my in­stincts.

Which, if at all were there any­where, weren't telling me any­thing at the mo­ment. So I waited at the stop for bus no. 14. As I looked around, my eyes caught the guard look­ing at me. I smiled at him sheep­ishly. He knew my lit­tle se­cret. That I was stalk­ing an un­known girl. He didn't re­turn my smile though. He went about his work, hold­ing the door open for in­com­ing and out­go­ing pa­trons. Thank­fully, the bus ar­rived and saved me any fur­ther hu­mil­i­a­tion. I got in through the rear door. It was al­most empty.No one wanted to roam around the city in the scorch­ing heat on a Sun­day af­ter­noon. Ex­cept crazy, smit­ten guys like me. I won­der­ing sat on a seat, what des­ti­na­tion I would tell the con­duc­tor. Just then

a flicker of move­ment caught my eye. I got up to take a good look. There it was. The scarf. The white scarf with se­quinned bor­der that she had loosely tied her hair with. It flut­tered in the wind as the bus gath­ered speed. "Where to?" the con­duc­tor asked,

to­tally dis­in­ter­ested. "Whose scarf is that?" I asked him, point­ing at the scarf.He looked at me with the ex­pres­sions as if I had asked him to get naked. "Whose scarf is that?" I re­peated the ques­tion, giv­ing him an ex­pres­sion that said, come on, it's a sim­ple ques­tion dude. "How am I sup­posed to know?" he replied when he re­alised I was se­ri­ous. "Must be some lady," he added as an af­ter­thought.

Great.

I de­cided to still try my luck. "Where did that lady get off?" I asked. Now he looked at me like I was get­ting naked.But I kept star­ing at him de­fi­antly. His look said, are you se­ri­ous?? But I kept look­ing him straight in the eyes, to him know I was damn se­ri­ous. "Parel," he said, prob­a­bly to get me off his back. I was as­ton­ished he re­mem­bered. But of course, how could any­one not re­mem­ber such a mes­meris­ing face! "Thank you," I replied, mean­ing it. But he re­mained dis­in­ter­ested. "Ticket till?" he asked.

"Parel," I said con­fi­dently.He looked at me point­edly. Now he too knew my lit­tle se­cret. His eye brows were raised by just half a mil­lime­ter. But he said let noth­ing and handed me the ticket. I went ahead and grabbed the scarf. It was stuck in a nail that had come out from one of the seats. I turned around to see if the con­duc­tor had seen me. He had. He was star­ing at me. But then he averted his gaze and went about his busi­ness. With the only other guy on our bus. For a mo­ment I thought he too was star­ing at me. Did he too know my lit­tle se­cret? That I was stalk­ing an un­known girl? With the scarf clutched tightly in my hand, I got down at Parel. The sun was shin­ing harshly and I could feel beads of sweat form­ing on my fore­head. I wiped my fore­head with the scarf and as I did so, I smelled the per­fume. Her per­fume. Wow! It was tan­ta­lis­ing to all my senses. It was the smell of crushed roses. I kept on tak­ing deep breaths so that I could

fill my en­tire lungs and even­tu­ally my en­tire be­ing with her smell.

A foot­path man walk­ing bumped on into the me and brought me out of my reverie. And back to re­al­ity. Here I was, on a hot Sun­day af­ter­noon, stand­ing on the foot­path in an un­known area, smelling the scarf of a mys­te­ri­ous girl whom I was stalk­ing for no rea­son. I was cer­tainly go­ing crazy.Be­fore peo­ple around me could no­tice my odd be­hav­iour,

I be­gan walk­ing to­wards one side with pur­pose and stride, though I was to­tally clue­less what I would do next. The foot­path led to a road which had small shops on both sides. Shops that sold kurti, ear­rings, neck­laces, purses...

and scarves. I stopped in my tracks when I saw an ex­act replica of the scarf that I was now clutch­ing to my chest. He looked at me point­edly. Now he too knew my lit­tle se­cret. His eye brows were raised by just half a mil­lime­ter. But he said noth­ing and handed me the ticket. I went ahead and grabbed the scarf. It was stuck in a nail that had come out from one of the seats. I turned around to see if the con­duc­tor had seen me. He had. He was star­ing at me. But then he averted his gaze and went about his busi­ness. With the only other guy on our bus.

For a mo­ment I thought he too was star­ing at me. Did he too know my lit­tle se­cret? That I was stalk­ing an un­known girl? With the scarf clutched tightly in my hand, I got down at Parel. The sun was shin­ing harshly and I could feel beads of sweat form­ing on my fore­head. I wiped my fore­head with the scarf and as I did so, I smelled the per­fume. Her per­fume. Wow! It was tan­ta­lis­ing to all my senses. It was the smell of crushed roses. I kept on tak­ing deep breaths so that I could fill my en­tire lungs and even­tu­ally my en­tire be­ing with her smell. A man walk­ing on the foot­path bumped into me and brought me out

of my reverie. And back to re­al­ity. Here I was, on a hot Sun­day af­ter­noon, stand­ing on the foot­path in an un­known area, smelling the scarf of a mys­te­ri­ous girl whom I was stalk­ing for no rea­son. I was cer­tainly go­ing crazy.

Be­fore peo­ple around me could be­hav­ior, walk­ing no­tice to­wards I be­gan my odd one side with pur­pose and stride, though I was to­tally clue­less what I would do next. The foot­path led to a road which had small shops on both sides. Shops that sold kurti, ear­rings, neck­laces, purses...and scarves. I stopped in my tracks when I saw an ex­act replica of the scarf that I was now clutch­ing to my chest.

With­out for­mu­lat­ing any plan of what I was go­ing to do or say, I en­tered the shop, and be­gan ex­am­in­ing the scarf.

"250 rs sir," a bored sales girl in­formed me. She prob­a­bly hadn't had her lunch yet. Her face screamed hy­po­gly­caemia.

"Has any­one re­cently bought a sim­i­lar scarf as this?"

"Eh?"

She was con­fused.

"Has any­one re­cently bought a scarf just like this one?" I re­peated my ques­tion, dan­gling the scarf in her face.

She gave me 'the look' af­ter which she was

prob­a­bly go­ing to kick me out.

But she turned and went in­side. A mo­ment later she was back with an­other girl who prob­a­bly just had lunch.

"Yes sir?" She asked with a plas­tic sweet smile.

"Has any­one re­cently bought a same scarf as this?"I re­peated again.

"Yes, a few days back a girl bought it," she said, now eye­ing me skep­ti­cally, "Why do you ask sir?"

"Ac­tu­ally she's my girl friend and she left her scarf at my place,” I blurted out, won­der­ing how such a ridicu­lous thing could leave my

mouth. “I need to re­turn it, and hence wanted her ad­dress,” I added.

The girls ex­changed 'the look'.

"Your girl friend?" She asked.

The way she asked of­fended me as it sounded like I was the last per­son on the earth who could have a girl friend. Though she was prob­a­bly right!

"Yes," I replied with fake valor.

"Then you don't know where she stays?" She asked, one eye­brow raised.

Oh shit! Now I would have to lie more.

"Her par­ents dont know about us. She vis­its my place, but I have never been to hers, though I am sure its some­where nearby,” I said, aware how ridicu­lously fake it sounded.

I don't know if my lie con­vinced the girl, but she ex­changed a glance with the hy­po­gly­caemic girl, gave me a smile and went to bring her re­ceipt book.

She searched for what felt like eter­nity and just as I was about to lose hope, she showed me the re­ceipt for the scarf.

The bill was in the name of Anamika, and a mo­bile num­ber was scrib­bled on it.

Anamika! How apt!

"Sorry sir, there's no ad­dress on it,” she said, clos­ing the re­ceipt book.

I had to think fast. I needed the phone num­ber. But there was no way she was go­ing to be­lieve I didn't have the mo­bile num­ber of my girl friend.

"Wait a minute. Show me the re­ceipt again,” I said, a plan quickly for­mu­lat­ing in my brain. Never had my brain worked so fast.

She opened the book again. I quickly saw the mo­bile num­ber and stamped it to mem­ory.

"Anamika. No, you have the wrong girl. Her name is Raavi".

Re­ally? Raavi? The fe­male char­ac­ter from the daily soap my mom watches at home?

"Oh, then it must be some other shop," the girl said, still eye­ing me sus­pi­ciously, as if she didn't be­lieve a sin­gle word I had said. The hy­po­gly­caemic girl too was star­ing at me.

I left the shop as fast as I could. I quickly re­trieved my mo­bile from my pocket and punched the num­bers I had been recit­ing in my head. Had my mem­ory been so sharp and brain been so ac­tive and cre­ative when I was in school, I would prob­a­bly have been a rocket sci­en­tist by now.

I di­aled the num­ber with­out think­ing.

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