People were coming, and moving out, stroking my hair every time they meet me. The house was glowing with the oil lamp, filled with the fragrance of flowers and rose water. Musicals instruments were playing as people were dancing on the tune. I had never thought my dad will throw an enormous party for securing the first rank.
Everything was wonderful, but I didn't understand one thing. What did the girl do? I was uncomfortable the whole evening as she sat beside me. By her jewelry and clothes, I don't think she had secured a rank. I had never seen a girl in my school.
As the guest departed from the house I was free to go back to the room. I will study hard and secure the first rank in the next exam. As I entered the room a strong fragrance of flowers hit my nostrils, I remove the flower garlands from the neck placing it carefully on the table. The entire bed covered in the flowers I had heard the stories were king slept on the flower bed. Today I felt like a king.
It alarmed me seeing the same girl sleeping on the bed. Why is she sleeping in my bed? I walked toward her trying to wake her up she didn't budge from her position. She was covering more than half of the bed. Where will I sleep now?
I woke up, sprinted toward the window; I looked outside, the sun was still orange-red. The boy glaring at me last night was sleeping on the sofa. I was feeling ashamed all evening as he was glaring at me in front of all the people. What would they have thought about me?
Freshening up, I walked inside the kitchen as a woman dressed in a blood-red saree was preparing the breakfast. "You wake up already," she said, throwing the onion in the pot.
I smiled and raised my head high in the air "My father told me to wake up early in the morning it is good for health," I said.
"Hmm.... your father had told you agreeable things now take this and give it to Shekhar," she said handing me a glass of milk.
The name perplexed me she noticed the confusion. "The boy who was sleeping in the same room," she said.
Oh, so his name is Shekhar.
I felt a hand pushing me and the next thing I came in contact with the floor. I rose, gritting my teeth as I stand before the same girl, she was wearing a sunny yellow saree draped around her small and petite figure. Her long charcoaled black hair swaying sideways as she turned her head.
"Why did you push me?"
"It is 7 in the morning. Don't you have any shame of waking up so late in the morning." she said, "My father had told me those who wake up late is a monster."
"It is all your fault," I said.
"How is it my fault?"
"You slept on my bed and you were snoring all night because of which I couldn't sleep and now you pushed me," I said.
"I was told to sleep there. I don't have any interest to sleep on your bed," she said, slamming the glass on the table before storming out.
It was midafternoon as the sun stand up high in the sky there was no one with whom I can play here. I wished I should have stayed back at my home rather than coming here. What will Meenakshi be doing now?
He scattered the book on the study table I picked up a notebook I was about to read the book a hand snatched it away from me. I turned back as Shekhar was hiding the book behind him I glared at him for his misbehavior. It was not as if I was stealing it from him.
"Why you are touching my things?" he said. "You want to secure the first rank so that dad can throw a party for you."
"You will never secure a rank I will always be first," he said raising his head.
"I am not interested in competing with you," I said sitting on the bed.
"Then why you are here," he said.
"I am here for summer vacation soon I will be back in my home," I said.
I sprinted toward my room, placing the book on the bed. I sat in the middle as she entered the room, standing near the bed.
"I want to sleep," she said I started reciting the essay I had written today.
"I want to sleep," she yelled.
"I am completing my school work if you are so sleepy you can sleep on the sofa," I said. She fumed looking at me as I started reciting the essay and copying it down on the notebook.
I brought the glass of milk for him as he sleeps peacefully on the bed above the book. He is a monster. I sprinkle water on his eyes, waking him up.
"Can't you wake me up like a normal person?" he said rubbing the eyes.
I mimicked him, "My whole body aches," I said.
"So, what can I do?"
"It is because of the sofa. I will tell everything to my father. He will punish you."
"Go tell him, I don't care. And you only told me you don't have the interest to sleep on my bed. So from now on, you will sleep on the sofa."
"No need to show off you can have your bed, I am not like you," I said, "I had an enormous bed in my room."
"You will never be like me," he said placing the book on the table.
(2 weeks later)
I could not concentrate on the maths sums slamming the book down I snapped, "Why don't you go out and giggle? Can't you see I am studying here?"
Lalita and Giri ignored me and continued to giggle. God, this girl is getting on my nerve day by day. I wished she returned to her home quickly. "Don't you have homework to do, Giri?" I asked.
"I had already done it," he said, as he continued to play with her.
I cursed myself for calling him. Had I known early on he will play with her, I would have never invited him.
She was talking and playing with him, and she never talked to me without fighting.
I moved out of the room, slamming the door on the way. How could she talk to him? She doesn't even know him, yet they seem like a best friend.
"Here take it," I said handing him the glass.
"I don't want it," he said motioning me to move away.
I don't know what his problem? He is playing with his friend now, but he couldn't stand me playing with others. How rudely he slammed the door? I never believed Giri is his friend. They seem to be so opposite. How could Giri have handed his tantrums for so long?
Giri came snatching the glass from me "I will drink it if he doesn't want it," he said a smile curved up on my lips.
From the corners of my eyes, I saw Shekhar's face was flushed red from seeing him. If he doesn't want to drink it, then what is the problem if his friend drinks it. Doesn't they are a best friend? Best friends share everything with each other.
I placed the soft mattress on the sofa as he came inside the room. He was not alone, Gauri also came behind him clutching his shirt. Doesn't she have any shame to walk alone in another room at night? I also had a cousin, but I never walked clutching their clothes leaning on their body.
"I want to tell her stories," he said looking at me.
"Do what you want it is your room?" I said lying on the sofa.
He never told me any stories, and he wants to tell her. I don't care what he does?
I placed the cushion on my ears to block his voice.
"When is your friend going to come?" she asked, standing in front of me.
I looked up from my notebook, "He will not going to come from now onwards."
"Because I don't want him to come."
"You are so rude and selfish," she said.
"Say whatever you want he will not going to come into the house."
"You are jealous because he is becoming my friend. You couldn't see me playing with him," she said.
"Who said he is your friend? He is my friend, not yours."
She stormed out from the room coming back she pours a glass of water above me. I stand up the chair slide back she ran out before I can catch her.
Shekhar was standing in front of me as I was wearing the jewelry it had been a week since I pour the water on him.
"What?" I asked, irritated by his glare.
"It is Sunday," he said.
"I know it already," I snapped.
"It is my school holiday, and you didn't go out much. I thought to take you out and show you the surrounding," he said.
"I don't want to go with you," I said.
"Gauri is also coming with us," he said I stared at him.
"Then you can enjoy with her I don't have time for it," I said storming out the room.
I was eating the apple as Shekhar, and Gauri was walking out of the house. I acted as if I hadn't seen them. He came beside me, "Are you sure? You don't want to come with us."
"You can still come with us if you like," he insisted.
"Yeah, we will enjoy together," Gauri said. I looked at her as she leans onto Shekhar's body. How could he let her stand so close to him?
I couldn't stand the thought of them roaming together, walking side by side. Gauri clutching Shekhar's shirt and he sitting close to her.
Maybe I should go with them and spoil their moments. Then he will know how I feel when he doesn't let Giri come into the house.
I stand up and walked behind them as he leads the way. He walked toward the thick grass and muddy sand, Gauri irked as the clay slipped under her feet.
"Where you are taking us, Shekhar?" she asked.
"Oh, there is a beautiful scenery just a few miles away," he said, "There is a mango tree also we can eat it sitting under the shade of the tree."
The wind cut through the grass making a sharp noise frightened by it Gauri ran back toward the house. I giggled looking at her Shekhar didn't care to look back and walked straight up.
I walked forward, but he was nowhere in sight "Shekhar, where are you?"
There was no reply from him. My heartbeat sped up, I didn't know the places around here well. What if something happened to him? There was no sign of him.
I looked back. Everything happened so fast and there was a splash sound. I looked down Shekhar was drowning in the lake. I jumped into the lake, carrying him to the shore. He was unconscious I pressed his chest to pump out the water he didn't breathe. I ran back home bringing the people.
I opened my eyes feeling heavy in my head I saw my family inside my room standing around the bed. I coughed up the air, trying to breathe. My father placed his hand on me as if to not wake up from the bed.
I saw everyone there, but Lalita was now where to see.
"How are you feeling son?" mother said sitting beside me.
"I am fine mother nothing happened to me," I said.
After a few minutes, everyone was out of my bedroom still there was no sign of her. I saw her jumping in the lake as I was struggling to come up. I hope she was all right and nothing serious might happen to her. I heard the footsteps, but it was Gauri who entered the room.
"Are you okay?" she said sitting close to me. I shift away from her, nodding my head.
"Where is she?" I asked, unable to control myself.
"She is downstairs working, everyone scolded her."
"Why?" I asked.
"She pushed you into the lake," she said.
"Who told you that?" I said straighten up.
"I heard when they were scolding her."
"I want to rest you can go now," I said not interested in talking with her.
She entered the room in the night with a glass of milk. Her eyes puffed and red, she took the mattress and walk toward the sofa.
"You can sleep on the bed," I said she didn't look at me, not uttered a word as she slammed the mattress on the sofa.
"If I need something in the night, I can wake you up and you can call my mother," I said hoping she would reply.
She leaves the mattress as it is as she lies on one side with her back facing me. It was all because of me I was about to push her in the lake. If my legs wouldn't have slipped, she would be in my place today. Yet, she saved me and jumped into the lake without thinking twice.
A warm hand placed on my shoulder, I smiled hoping she might talk to me. My face fell seeing my mother with a glass of milk. "Are you all right?" she asked, stroking my hair.
"Where is she?"
"She went back to her home for a few days. Get ready or you might get late for school."
My heart shattered hearing about her departure. She could have at least said goodbye to me. Every day, she woke me up, but today she left without waking me. How could she go like that without telling me anything?
The teacher was snoring as we were solving the sum Giri smack my elbow. "What is it?"
He extended his small hand filled with raw mango, "Give it to her," he said.
"She is not here," I said. His face twisted in confusion.
"Where is she then?" he whispered.
"To her home, I guess," I said.
"Do you know where she lives?" he asked.
I shook my head in disapproval I hadn't asked her. All I know she was there for vacation.
"How was it there? I had heard they are rich people," Meenakshi said, twirling her ponytails.
"It is good and nothing special," I said, "There was no one with whom I can play."
"Are you going back then?" she asked, looking straight into my eyes.
"I know nothing. I don't want to go back. He is a monster."
I entered our house the smell of meat hit into my nostrils. I ran toward the kitchen, "Mother I am hungry by the smell....," I stopped in my track as my eyes landed on her.
She was serving the food on the plate I sat down staring at her gigantic eyes who was not looking at me. Her soft pink lips, her small black hair coming in front of her eyes.
"Would you like to hear stories?" she turns her back at me folding the clothes once we were back in our room.
I walked in front of her, "We can go out and climb the mango tree," I said.
"How could you go back without telling me?" she snorted through her flared nostrils.
"Why should I tell you? Don't you want me to go away? Aren't you happy after I leave?" she rambled out.
"I had missed you so much," I said, lowering my eyes.
"But I hadn't missed you. I was having a pleasant time with my friend back there," she said, her eyes glinting as a smile curved upon her lips.
Here I had to spend all my day engrossed in her thought and she was playing with her friend."If you don't miss me then why you came back," I said, "You could have stayed back in your home."
"I don't want to come back my father brought me," she said.
The sleep eluded me as I shifted restlessly on the sofa. I can feel his presence behind me. "You can sleep on the bed if you like," he said.
"I don't want to and it is your bed," I whispered under the cushion.
"Are you still angry with me?"
"Why would I be angry with you? You are not my friend and nor my cousin," I muffled.
"Then what I am to you. Why you are sleeping in my room?" he asked, "You could have slept in my mother's room."
"How could I know all this? I am doing what my father had told me."
"And what does your father told you?" he asked.
"To obey your mother, and she told me to sleep here. If you want to know anything you can ask your mother."
It was the warmest day in the entire summer, Shekhar entered the room with a glass of lemon juice. He extended one glass toward me. I gulped it down as he was staring at me. Why he always stares at me?
I picked up the glass standing up he held my hand making me sit down. "I know why you leave in my room," he said looking straight through my eyes.
It baffled me he slams the hand on his head as he leans toward me "Yesterday you had told me to ask my mother why she made you sleep here," he said.
"Some boys in my school also have a girl in their room. They spend the time together playing, eating, laughing, and telling stories to each other."
"How did you know?" I asked.
"I had asked them today in the school to know more about what my mother told me," he said.
"What did she tell you?"
He curved up his lips looking straight through my eyes "They marry us that's why we live in the same room."
"What is meant by marriage?"
"After marriage, the boy and girl live together forever in the same room," he said.
"I don't want to live with you. You are a monster," I said.
"I am not a monster, I am..," he scratched the back of his head placing his index finger near the temple, "Yes I am your husband and you are my wife."
"What is mean by wife?" I asked he leans closer placing his soft lips on my cheeks.