That night all that Priya could think of was not of the bitter incident, but the guy and his swift thrashings, effortlessness in doing so, his husky voice, the heat radiating from him as he stood nearby, his firm and pleasant grip on her hand. Moreover, he filled her thoughts up that night, till she fell asleep.
The next day, she was at the campus early. Mr.Mathur pleasantly welcomed her with his smile. She couldn’t wait to get to know more about this Anand guy.
‘Good Morning Sir!’
‘Morning, I heard there was a small tussle yesterday from my nephew. You alright I guess.’ said the professor.
‘Pretty much alright sir, for your nephew had to work a bit.’, she said smilingly.
‘Oh is it? He never mentioned. Was there something serious? Hope not’, exclaimed the professor.
‘No sir, nothing serious. There was this group whom Anand had to tussle with for they came in my way.’ she deliberately trying to hide the groping and his violent interference.
‘I hope he gave what those guys deserved. Ha ha…’ laughed the professor. She looks at him in surprise with thoughts whether he is some underworld gangster of some sort.
‘I guess the group was new in town or else they wouldn’t have messed with Anand. Since he was a professional boxing athlete, I can imagine how he must have handled the tussle. Anyway I had told him yesterday to leave his contact with you, so that if anytime you want to travel around and feel unsafe you can call him. He will be happy to help.’
Priya had 101 questions about this guy, but rather chose not to be curious and give hints of inquisitiveness to Mr.Mathur. Anyway she had his number and all the permissions in the world to contact him. She gets back to her work. Her schedule was a bit tight for the internship, she took her time to adjust with the schedule and she felt the internship was really a testing one. But not a day passed without his thought, her baffled eyes searching for him whenever she steps out.
Days passed, a week passed. It’s been two weeks and she was busy with internship. But that weekend she was given off to ease the pressure. She had no clue as to where Anand was. As the weekend arrived, she thought to herself
‘If he is not going to contact me, fineI will contact him.’, irritated by the curiosity. After 10-15mins of rehearsing as to what should be her conversation with him, she cautiously dials his number.
‘Hello! Is this Anand I am talking to?’ she asks in her cute voice
‘This is Priya, I hope you remember from that night, I w….’
‘Yes, I do remember you. Tell me how can I help you?’, he answers without letting her complete her sentence. All her confidence in drain, she just somehow wanted to convey what she had rehearsed to Anand. With a bit of hesitation, she continues,
‘I was thinking of going to the beach this evening. Today is my day off and I haven’t been around much as well. So I was thinking if you could go with me if you are free in the evening.’ she says it all in a breath.
‘What time would you like to go?’ he asks.
‘Around 6 PM may be’
After a second or two of complete silence, he says
‘I will meet you at the bus stop nearby your building at 5:30 PM’
Beep…Beep…Beep, he hangs the phone.
It’s already 5:30 PM and she is still getting ready, while Anand is waiting for her at the bus stop. She storms through the stairs and by 5:35 PM she is in the bus stop.
‘Sorry, I guess I didn’t keep you waiting too long.’ she trying to initiate a conversation.
The bus arrived. They board the bus and soon they reach the intended beach. Weather was perfect, a bit overcast but still perfect.
Anand is very much quiet as usual and she is really bugged by that, if it was to walk quietly she could have been here alone. Again she goes,
‘How have you been these days?’
‘I am doing OK.’ came the reply
‘What do you do for a living? I heard from Mr. Mathur that you were a professional boxing athlete. Do you still train?’ she trying to unfold the mystery.
‘I used to train boxing. Not anymore.’ he pauses
‘I am instructor in one of the small academy here for boxing. Also a couple of part time jobs and that’s it.’
‘Hmm…that is interesting.’ she exclaimed.
‘So why did you stop training for boxing? Why did you not make it your profession?’
Anand turns to her and in his manly tone replies, ‘I hope you are not doing your project on me.’
Her face turns pale and she didn’t know how to hide it. Somehow she had to overcome that moment, which she managed by hook or crook and they continued to stroll. Within another few minutes, she ended the walk and they both left. Anand accompanied her till the bus stop where they met before and he disappeared into the crowd. Priya walked back home with a heavy heart.
The evening passed and that night she didn’t do much apart from thinking if she had asked him something wrong. This was the first experience in her life that someone had shut her up in such a manner. Tears, one or two rolled down of which she never took notice.
Lying on the bed again, thoughts began to disturb her and she decided that after that day she would never be bothered to call him or know about him. She hugged her pillow tight and shut her eyelids.
After the weekend, she was back to business.
Mr. Mathur enquired about her weekend adventures.
‘Not much sir. I went to the beach along with Anand the other day and that was pretty much it. I thought Anand might have shared it with you.’
‘You should know by now that he is not really good at sharing’, professor giggles.
‘Oh I thought he might have shared, he got a bit upset when I asked him about boxing and why he stopped.’ Priya said in a sorry tone.
‘His father was an army officer, who is no more. His mother, my sister stays with him and yes it was his aim to make it big as a boxing athlete. After his father passed away, his mother decided to move in to this city, as I was here. She was very close to me from her childhood.’
She listens carefully as he continues,
‘He was really an aggressive and a good boxing athlete. He also had a couple of street fights for which I had to bail him out from the police station. He won the zone level championship, the district level and his state level match but after the state level match he had some brawl outside the ring after the bout. I don’t know much about that but soon after that he was in a relationship with a girl named Betty.’
She could just visualize how aggressive Anand would be in his prime and Betty, who could she be? She curiously turns to the professor and asks him what happened later.
‘Nothing much, we all have met Betty. He was never afraid to tell us about his relationship. Betty didn’t like him being a boxer, so did his mother. Later before his national level championship, Betty died in an accident. He refrained from attending that match and later stopped pursuing boxing but he still trains.’
’He was good in academics too. He has a degree in Psychology.’ he stopped saying that. ‘I hope you got some answers.’ he smiles.
Priya smiles back at him and says, ‘I was just casually trying to get to know him, but yes it is good to know a person more I guess.’
Her whole viewpoint changes about the guy. All the decisions that she took last night went to drains.
(To be continued)