CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN: COLLEGE
The next morning, the couple stepped into the college for the first time since the wedding. Both had such relieved looks on their faces as they parted ways and he flashed her one of his winning smiles but she smiled back almost sarcastically at him.
“Oh my God! There’s the bride” came the peals of laughter as she stepped into class and her three best friends almost tore to her and crowded around her. The ruckus was such that there was a huge noise going on but no one could make sense of anything. Jennifer had tears of joy in her eyes at seeing her friends and hugged them hard.
“Oh don’t leave me people. Never leave me” she sobbed and the three laughed gleefully.
“She hasn’t changed a bit except for that dazzling glow on her face” they said and she laughed amidst her tears despite her misgivings.
“Oh Meg, and oh Latha, Indhu, how I’ve missed you all!” she said hugging them anew and hand in hand, they made their way restlessly towards the desk, almost falling over each other in their excitement.
Then suddenly remembering something, she exclaimed, “Oh God! How’s he?” she asked sadly and her friends gave a sad smile at that.
“He’s often absent, but I guess he’ll soon be fine” they said, at least if only to make her feel better.
But in their unhindered and overflowing delight, they paid no heed to delicacy and started teasing and coaxing her to recount all her happy days with him.
“Oh Meg darling! How’s I’ve missed you teasing me!” repeated Jen for the hundredth, too overwhelmed to even respond.
Whenever they shared a joke, Jen gave one of her high, clear and musical laugh, not because she found it funny but because people were taking attention of her once again. At last, college commenced, first period was Ms. Jolene’s. Though extremely friendly and warm, she gave a sort of uncertain laugh at seeing Jennifer again and plunged straight into class to avoid congratulating her and hurriedly left class once the bell went off. Jennifer hardly had ears for class and one by one, the elated four sat in great self restraint to resist the temptation of having a hearty chat after so many days and stared blankly and happily at the teachers. Once the fourth period got over, a nervous silence fell over the class for it was his class. Everyone was eager to know what their relationships would be now. After a long interval, the door finally opened and he came in.
He wore a sort of defiant embarrassment on his face and without smoothly starting his classes as he always did, he abruptly started it asking them where they’d left it last. No one, unfortunately, were listening to him, they were looking alternatively at him and Jennifer. He stubbornly avoided looking at her and stared at everything before him except her. In this period alone, Jennifer was transformed into a conscientious student and took down notes and hardly ever glanced up. Once the period was over and he left, the three looked quizzically at her.
“And mayhaps thou would care to explain what happened here?” said Meg, to which question Jennifer just smiled and shrugged her shoulders.
“Oh dear! Is it serious? What’s the problem, you guys had a quarrel already” she pressed on to which Jennifer laughed a sort of bitter laugh.
Her friends immediately understood that something wasn’t right and gave her some time before gently saying, “Come now, you can tell us anything sweety” said Latha softly.
“Oh it’s nothing like that people. We are just getting to know each other” she told them in a shaky voice.
“Has he ill treated you or something?” asked Indhu in a shocked tone.
“Please don’t press me” said Jennifer, apparently on the verge of tears. And then, the three decided not to hurt her anymore and started telling her what all had happened in her absence. In their eager fondness for each other’s company, they’d completely forgotten the time and they saw that it was an hour since college had gotten over and Jennifer suddenly startled into this realization, got up saying, “Oh God! He must have been waiting for me. I need to go” she said and with a teary look at them hugged them again as if she were leaving them forever and she sadly exited her one place of consolation.
She went to the staffroom and knocking, glanced in apprehensively, prepared for his coldness which he would inflict on her for her tardiness, instead, she found him writing something in one of his notebooks and he glanced up at her with the old familiarity of old.
“Oh. Have you come already? Done with all the chit chat darling” he asked her teasingly, getting up to kiss her.
“Could you give me a five minutes till I am done” he asked her but she was still too shocked to reply and nodded. Once they were in the car he started to drive in an unusually rapid pace and started to chat ceaselessly with her but she interrupted him as he was saying something with, “Where are we going?”
He smiled in reply and said, “To the theatre, my dear” and she gasped audibly.