CHAPTER TWELVE: TO BE OR NOT TO BE IN LOVE
“I can’t forget him just like that guys, and for the hundredth time, stop with all the giggling and teasing” she told them sharply.
“Oh, won’t you just let it go? I see the way you look at Rakesh, are you really going to deny how much you like him, and for a change, Jen, you finally liked someone who likes you back” Divya said.
“I know Divya” she told her pleadingly, “I can’t explain it. Rakesh is what you would call puppy love. Everyone, I mean, everyone likes him but..” she said looking into Divya’s eyes, “I know there is no depth to that feeling. It is purely superficial. What is not there to like about him? He is warm, sweet and handsome, in his own sort of way. But that’s just how much I like him. The feeling doesn’t go any deeper than that. I know in my heart that I like and will always only like him, it won’t blossom into anything more when I have this perennial fascination towards another person. And if you think of it, Rakesh many not know about any of this, I feel guilty.” “I feel guilty” she whispered, looking down with sad eyes.
“I think you should tell him, Jen” said Meg, crisply. Jennifer looked up to gaze uncertainly at her.
“Oh Meg, don’t be stupid. Everyone knows, do you think he hasn’t heard it till now? Everyone has these feelings and these phases sometimes. If you tell him, it will only be making a huge deal out of it. Why does he even need to know? Come on, think a bit, he is perfect for you. I completely deny that anything you felt for you-know-who was love and just a passing phase, nothing more. Only with Rakesh, you have a shot at happiness. He is young and to be practical, has really good prospects, he is smart, considerate, gentle and is crazy for you” Divya said.
“Alright, even if you agree with Meg, what will you tell him? That you still have a certain regard for your teacher. What are you thinking Jen? For God’s sake, are you or are you not aware that he does not love you and nor is likely to love you. And even if he does, can you ever get your parents to approve of this or the whole world, everyone will condemn and judge you, not that I say any of it matters, I am just saying why invite all this scandal on yourself. And furthermore, if you truly love him, do you really want to disgrace the reputation he has by making him seem like a mean, cheap opportunist with loose morals. The very things and qualities you adore of him, they will all be torn down” she said quietly.
Shades of sunshine pranced about the room. They were all sitting on the narrow hard bed together and had not yet revived completely from the excitement caused by the other night.
“I have to tell him” said Jen, resolutely and got up and put on her sandals and walked out the room.
She knocked on the hostel door which was opened by a lanky lean fellow, who was just brushing his teeth though it was almost 09:00.
“Can you call Rakesh?” she said.
“Ooohh...” the fellow said irritatingly and called out for Rakesh.
It was a long time before steps finally sounded on the staircase. He came looking as precise and neat as ever.
“Done with the make up?” she asking him teasingly and laughed. Oh, why should he always move her like this when she was trying to be grave and serious.
At the last flight , he simply popped out by putting his arms on the railings and landed wonderfully on the floor once again.
Jen laughed again.
“How fairest thou, my fair lady?” he asked taking her hands and kissing it.
“Oh stop it” said Jen giggling then with sudden reserve, she caught hold of his hands and pulled him outside.
She cleared her throat and began, “Rakesh, I have to something to tell you.”
But he simply leaned forward and gently pushed a stray strand of hair behind her ears, hardly paying notice to her serious demeanour.
She slapped his hand away.
“Can you behave like an adult for an instant and hear me out?” she told him sternly.
“Of course, darling” he said, with his broad grin.
“Listen” she started speaking slowly, “Listen, Rakesh, what you did yesterday was beautiful and I loved every moment of it” she told him with enchanted eyes.
“You know that I have always liked you. Liked your style, liked how fun you are and liked the wonderful person that you are”.
“Do I sense a but, milady?” he told her with a thick British accent and set her laughing again.
“You are sweet and generous and so friendly with everyone. You give so freely, you spread happiness wherever you are” she said, putting one of her palms on to her chest to steady the fast beating of her heart.
“And anyone would be so lucky to have your love but, as you know, as you may have heard” she said, inhaling deeply.
“I have been in love before now with our college professor, he takes Drama for us” she was saying, with strenuous effort when he gathered her hands in his own and moved closer to her.
“Sweetie, I know all about it. And even when I knew it, I knew too that I loved you, from the very first moment you swept into class. You are so genuine and child-like, I just want to pamper you and call you beautiful, sweetheart and darling everyday.”
But she had opened her lips to say something, but he cut her short.
“I know that love isn’t an easy thing, you can’t simply erase it as if it had been written with a pencil. But one thing is certain, I love you and will always love you no matter where you go, no matter what. I just wanted to put some down-payment down” he told her laughing, suddenly becoming lighter, “lest you choose some other person over me. Whatever you decide” and he said, looking deeply into her eyes, taking away her breath, “whenever you decide, remember what I told you today” he told her.
And with his fingers, he gestured, saying, I love you and she laughed, carried away.
“Good bye, lest the warden should see us talking here” he said, winking at her. See you later” he told, bowing low before her and stealing a sudden kiss on her cheek, he ran away.