Thawing the ice: Chapter six
She stole a quick glance at him. He was deeply engaged in reading something, seemingly uninterested in conversation.
“Oh hello sir, I never noticed it was you” said she, attempting clumsily to get a chance to converse with him.
He smiled a mocking smile, narrowing his eyes and grinning mirthlessly.
She felt embarrassed and faltered for lack of further words.
He turned back to his book a bit softened.
“Waiting for the bus?” he asked after the rather trying silence of almost five minutes.
“Yes” she said, cautiously.
“Hmm... where’s your home?” he asked still not looking up, in rather a dry tone, as if making conversation for the sake of making it.
“Pasumalai and where is yours?” asked she.
“In Madurai” said he, she turned to look curiously at him.
“Yes” he said deliberately slurring over his words, “just going back to collect a few things.”
“Don’t you have classes except for drama?”
“I shall be taking a novel for you next semester. I handle fiction”.
He looked particularly handsome today, she thought, but then she replied to herself that he always seemed like that.
“What are you reading?”
He looked up suddenly closing his book shut with a hand lodged between one of the pages.
“I am reading Dr. Faustus.”
“Oh?” said she genuinely interested.
“I’ve always wanted to read that?”
“Hmm.. have you?” asked he looking down again.
“Haven’t you read it till now?”
“I am reading it again, I am planning to start taking it for the third year students, coming Monday”.
“Have you decided on our next play, sir?” asked she.
“No I haven’t, do you have a suggestion to make?” asked he quickly catching her meaning before she’d even begun.
“Yes, I thought we could do Faustus” she said animatedly.
“No, requires too many props and costumes”.
“That should never hinder the appreciation due to a great masterpiece. We can do a smashing rendition, of it, you know”.
He turned to look at her, smiling appreciatively and the twinkle in his eyes instantly warmed her heart.
“Well, we’ll see, we’ll discuss it next class” said he.
It was a glorious setting she was around. In the airy sunlight and the open country side, seated on a stone bench, you felt in harmony with nature, she thought. Determined not to interrupt his new formed regard of her by inciting his contempt by trying to woo him over, she thought she would preserve silence and then she could enjoy the lightness that she felt in her heart throughout the journey.
“Where are you going to”? she asked breaking her own promise.
“Would you believe it, my dear. I am going to Pasumalai too.” he said in a warm fashion. She was quite taken aback and much too delighted to compose herself enough not to show it so blatantly to him but ever so full of perception, he saw it and laughed.
“You seem quite interested in me?” he asked.
“I..... I do, of course, everyone is, sir. You never cease to amaze us. Your presence on the stage, your command and confidence and the utter dedication you show inspires everyone. You transform when you need to show us how to act, you do it so splendidly. Why, we have seen the very image of valiant Antony in you, the inconstant nature and plight of poor Michael Henchard and the tenderness of Caesar in you. You are.. you” and she laughed breathlessly unable to continue, face blushing bright and her eyes, almost moist.
“My dear Jennifer, you do get carried away quite. I am not sure if I deserve all that, but one thing is certain and that is that it is my absolute honour to know you” said he with a warm and genial smile. They looked at each other for a while in a meaningful sort of unbroken silence before gently turning away.