CHAPTER TEN: THE MEETING
A sudden bout of laughter broke out into the chill, breezy air.
“I can jump over it” she said, turning around with wondrously, bright eyes and putting her hands majestically on her hips, indicating the huge pool of muddy brown rain water.
“No Jen. Something’s got into you today. Just think of what an absolute idiot you’ll make of yourself showing up for class, all slushy and muddy”.
“Oh hush” she said waving it away carelessly and turning around with excitement written all over her.
“I think Meg’s right for once, you can’t”, but Jen had swirled around and pulling Div over to her, tried to persuade her to do this with her, but Div shook her off and ran away, to stand far away from her.
“Hopeless clown” she said, sighing, making them all laugh again.
“Hopeless, indeed” said Meg, smiling fondly at Jen’s childish fancies and resigned herself and stood cautiously next to Divya.
Jen took a few steps back and running over to the pool made a tremendous leap, landing successfully on dry ground once again, but the leap had upset her balance and frantically waving her arms around in the air, she slipped. But instead of falling right into the little pool, she fell into staunch arms and was whisked away from the pool and as fate would have, she turned around rather ruefully to look at her saviour and found it was the man she was bound to hate all her life and gave a pout at him.
He said nothing, but looked anxiously at her and with a little nod of acknowledgement, started to go about on his way when he was stopped by her voice.
“Wait, stop. Please, can I have a word with you” she said, looking rather sadly and ashamedly at him.
“Of course” he said, softly, hardly even moving his lips, looking down and again up at her, alternatively and stopping instantly in his tracks with an irresolute stance.
The other saw this, and Div gave Meg a gentle tug and they scuttled off to stand aside.
Jen came nervously up to him.
“I am really and terribly sorry. I understand now how foolishly and insensibly I have behaved, making an absolute clown of myself” and she looked down. He was so astonished that he could barely reply but looked at her in an awestruck sort of manner.
But as she looked expectantly up at him, he gave a sort of startled nod and opened his lips as if to speak to her but she cut him short with her eagerness to finish whatever she was saying.
“And I want to thank you. I know that... that you could have had me expelled or made a scandal of this. Any other person would have been outraged at the way I behaved when you came to explain to me” and stopped abruptly, as if unable to continue.
“Please, all that’s past. I am truly glad you are happy. It is lovely to see you so happy with your friends again, and also, you have not changed one bit” and he laughed, inciting a forced laugh from her too.
But the awkwardness still remained in both of them and no one knew when to take their leave.
“Is that all?’ he finally asked.
“Yes, yes, that’s all. That’s it” she said, looking with slightly misty eyes at him.
But since she made no effort to leave, he too stood patiently alongside her.
“I don’t see you in drama classes anymore or Meghna. I and everyone else would be overjoyed if you would come again” he told her gently.
“Thank you” she said anxiously in a husky, breathy voice and smiled.
He smiled too, a whole hearted, warm and endearing smile that made her heart feel light.
“We... we have taken up Dr. Faustus you know” he told her appeasingly.
“You have?” she asked him, touched at his kindness and by how gentlemanly he was.
“Thank you”, she said, “We would love to come”, she said looking up at him, into the gentle warmth of his eyes.
He smiled and took his leave and they departed, with a greater regard for each other than they had ever known before.