Mrs. Kapoor was standing inside the truck bunker, taking out the left out cartons. Divij wasn’t visible outside. Such an ass. I know I can’t judge someone I met a few hours ago but he should’ve helped his mother taking out the stuff not sit somewhere inside his cocoon. But, again, can’t judge him.
Priya turned to me and pointed at Mrs. Kapoor, asking if she’s our neighbour, and I nodded, with a fake trying-to-be-polite smile. She stepped forward, while Mrs. Kapoor was still taking out another box of carton and almost said, “Hello” when Mrs. Kapoor unnoticingly handed over the box of carton to Priya.
“Oh, Okay,” Priya chuckled, and lifted the box with all her might. I got that feeling that I just wanted to laugh at Priya. That laugh would sound louder than her irritating, crowing voice which was worse than crying wails. Of course, I didn’t do so, but the imagination me was evilly grinning the whole time, until the laughs of people in front of me, in the real world, grew louder. Oh, snap! What I saw was extremely horrible. It was Priya, laughing, accompanied by Mrs. Kapoor chuckling. I cannot bear Priya being happy. My imagination-me said. I have no idea how Priya manages to make others like her. But she can make me do that.
“I’m really sorry! I didn’t see you! I just thought my son was standing here,” Mrs. Kapoor apologised, chuckling and bent to take the box from the hands of little Priya.
“No! I’ll hold it, it’s alright,” Priya insisted, pulling the box away from Mrs. Kapoor's grip. She acted like a little child and after she realised it, she calmed herself and smiled, showing her not at all crooked, but wicked and perfectly white teeth. Holding the heavy box with her feeble hands, she winced but then tried to maintain her calm expression. It looked as if we were coercing this gaunt person to work for us in exchange for a minimal wage. I hate these kinds of skinny people; they have money, but only to diet.
We entered the half-empty house filled up with all the furniture provided by the defence. I noticed a beautiful painting hung on the entrance which I didn’t notice before. Its vibrant dark-blue colour was dancing a waltz with the peacock-green and the yellow was acting as a third wheel, making a vague picture of a little red boy flying an orange kite. I had never seen a painting so beautifully painted. Only one word came up on my lips, “Beautiful.” I am not that person who prefers to say this word every day, but every day, I don’t get to see something like this. Thank goodness I am not so “Priya” yet.
“Isn’t it?” a deep voice spoke beside me. Divij’s eyes were fixed on the masterpiece and the darkness of his eyes quickly shifted towards me. His mouth quirked up into a beautiful crooked smile and the happiness seemed to reach my heart but it soon failed to stay in it. The sadness in me is a shield hardened by years of misery, stored with suffering and vain solace. No one could break this shield, but the warmth of his smile soon melted my heart. What was happening with me?
“So, are you planning to stand here or do you also like to sit?” he joked.
I chuckled and slowly walked with him. “I’m sorry, but the painting is so exquisite, I had to stay there.”
“Oh, no need to apologise. Yes, the painting is really beautiful, it’s… It casts this spell on you which, doesn’t coerce you, but makes you want to stand there for the whole day and savour the moment,” he said, taking a deep breath, looking forward into nothingness. He didn’t seem like a regular popular guy at all. Maybe he was performing an illusion. There’s always a root to pull out to find all the weaknesses of a person hidden under it. He may be someone else and he’s performing to be something else. Ughh! Curse you Ritvik! Now I am thinking too much.
“Yes, it does,” I said, sitting on the wooden sofa. He sat next to me and smiled wildly, with the mysterious darkness staring at me. “What?” I asked awkwardly.
“Nothing, I’m just happy you like it.”
Mrs. Kapoor and Priya excited walked inside the living room, their faces bright and laughing as if someone just cracked a joke. Mrs. Kapoor was holding the tray with tea and Priya held the tray of snacks. They both looked like sisters united after years.
“Oh, someone has made a friend,” Priya gushed, serving the snacks to Divij. She winked at me and I gave this tiny look of disagreement. I didn’t feel like understanding what she was trying to tell me. My brother and Priya are both the same, always trying to set me up with someone. I sighed, pitying myself for being with the kind of people I am not.
Mrs. Kapoor and Priya settled down side by side on the sofa adjacent to us. I don’t know how topics produce so quickly in one’s mind. They just sat here and in the spur of a moment, they’ve transitioned from one topic to some other. Divij and I sat quietly, looking at the old ladies talking to each other as if they’re long lost sisters. Divij and I gawked at the talking women, then looked at each other and passed awkward smiles.
“So…” Divij said. “What’s… Um… You’re in which class?”
“Me too,” he smiled. “So I think you’re in The Air Force School?”
“Yes, I am,” I smiled back. I seldom smile, but if someone offers his or her smile, then I like to reflect back. “What about you? Where are you planning to go?”
“I don’t know. Air Force School, maybe?” he shrugged. “It’s near; I think it would be good. You tell me, how is it?”
Bad question. My train of thoughts whistled and advanced, starting its journey. It was a long journey to finding a way to convince him. Who should I tell about? The people? The teachers? No way. The first person who flashed in my mind, just like a flickering lightning that strikes someone in an already bad timing, was Nimisha. I hate that bitch. She is like the typical popular girl popular for her all the things a spoilt rich brat does. I don’t want to go into details about her. Bitch. Even that word can’t do the process of vanquishing the fire of hatred in me for her. That’s why I try saying that word multiple times. Bitch. Bitch. Bitch. But the list of these kinds of people in my school would never end and I have found out a way to be away from these people, I became a loner. About the teachers, I don’t want to talk about it at all, and after what happened with me, never.
“But he’s new, he doesn’t know about your past,” my inner manager whispered; the manager of my life, who is badly doing her job and is atrocious in making decisions. The worst thing is, I can’t even fire her. “Don’t worry, he’ll soon know when he joins my school,” I replied back in my mind. Yes, I talk to myself but a person does many atrocities when she has nothing to do but reflect back the environment of her society. I blinked my eyes vigorously and looked at the guy staring at me, eagerly waiting for my reply.
“It’s… nice?” I finally spoke up. It sounded like a question more than a reply. He gazed at me in awe. “I mean… You don’t want to know about it from me. I’ll say, if you join the school, you’ll figure it out on your own. Every perspective differs.”
“Every perspective differs, huh?” he crookedly smiled. “Let’s see.”
Mrs Kapoor darted her sharp sight towards us. “Divij, why don’t you show her your room?” she cajoled, her eyes wide.
“But there’s nothing to show,” Divij protested.
“Divij,” she stopped and widened her eyes more, pointing them towards the entrance of the living room. Subtle hint.
Divij rolled his eyes and got up, straightening his black tousled hair. I don’t know why he wanted to straighten them; he was looking too good with tousled hair too. Freaking popular guys, they’re never happy with their appearance. They’re always complaining like bimbos, “Oh, I don’t look good like this, maybe I should keep my hair like that, right?” All they want is someone to lick their feet and praise them. “Oh, you look fantastic,” someone says, and then they’re like, “Ah, I’m not that good looking.” “No, you’re gorgeous!” “Oh, thanks, babe.” And then they leave you after they feel they’ve had enough and are confident enough to face the day. Ugh, not again, the train of thoughts. Curse you Ritvik, I’m thinking deep like Priya now!
“He just brushed his hair, for God’s sake!” my manager complained. She was right, for the first time.
Divij opened the door to his room and bowed, greeting me. “Welcome, Madame, to the empty room!” he jeered, smiling. Now I had a feeling he was faking a natural smile but I had to smile back even if he was feigning it. “I don’t know why mom always tries to kick people out of the room whenever she finds a lady company.” He sighed.
“Well, that’s the dressing table, provided by defence,” he pointed the dressing table beside the door. “That’s the study table,” he sighed, “obviously given by the defence and that’s the bed, also by the defence,” he breathed in air and sat down on the study chair. “So I’ve shown you my room and made my mom’s wish come true, whatever. There’s nothing which belongs to me here right now. Want some cold drink?”
I didn’t prefer to talk and ignored his question, even though I was feeling thirsty. I saw this small shining red box sitting on his desk. It was a portable speaker, I don’t get to see much, let alone have one. Standing beside him, I took the red box in my fist and carefully looked at it.
“How does it work?” I asked.
“What? Oh-” he stood and I backed off a bit. He pressed its button and the music played. It sounded like Coldplay. “Here you go.” He increased the volume and the clear sound filled up the emptiness of the room. “That’s not provided by defence.”
I chuckled, and held the box in my hand, feeling its loud beats like a heart beating. “It’s good!”
“At last a reply!!! I thought I was mumbling to myself the whole time,” he joked, flashing his white teeth. “Cold drink?” I nodded.
He went out and I sat on the chair, listening to the music. The soothing sound of that song whirled in my ears, and it was somehow magical. I closed my eyes and imagined myself sitting in a dark room, listening to the music and looking up at the heavenly light of the luminous moon creeping inside the room. Past is now a dream. You could feel the words of the song and the voice was beautiful; definitely Coldplay. I heard the footsteps of Divij coming nearer, breaking my trance. He soon came in with the whole bottle of Thumbs Up. “Let’s taste the thunder! Sorry, I just like that phrase, it’s catchy.”
“You don’t need to apologise,” I said, taking the bottle.
He sat down at the edge of the bed, running his fingers through his hair. Why does he do that? I looked around at the whole room, trying to avoid eye contact. The whole set up of the room is same as mine. Actually all the houses in our block have the design, since they all belong to defence. I noticed little radium plastic planets and stars sticking at the ceiling.
“Did you put that up?” I asked pointing the roof.
He looked up and again smiled as if he has a close relationship with happiness. “They were already there when I came here,” he said. “By the way, which stream are you in?”
“Humanities,” I replied back, sounding as normal as I could. This all talking to new people is a bit abnormal for me.
“Hey! Me too! I think I’ll have to come to your school. At least I’ll have some company at the first day,” he said, cheerfully. I looked down at the little box in my hand and slowly nodded.
“That’s impossible,” I mumbled so only I could hear myself. He looks pretty good; Nimisha would be the first one to have a shot at him.
"That's "Magic", by the way," he said pointing to the box. "By Coldplay."
"I knew it was Coldplay! I was just wondering what the name of the song is. I actually love it. Thanks, this song is really nice," I said, at last trying to open up. Just then when Divij opened his mouth to say something, Priya poked her red head from the door open ajar. Great timing, Priya. She smiled wildly, and probably, villainously at me as if she just got the news of my marriage or something else. I don’t know about the problem with my brother and her. They both get super excited to see me talking to some random guy. I’ll definitely not hand them over the job to find my soulmate. They would possibly drag some random guy I must have talked to in my life to marry me. Whatever, I’ll never marry.
“Ruby, I’m going, coming with me?” Priya asked. That was unusual. Mostly her talks go on and on for hours and, if possible, for days with some stranger.
I happily jumped off the seat the moment she asked me to go. I wanted to stay and talk more about the song, but deep in my heart, I really wanted to go. I wanted to be left alone. This experience of talking to someone for so long, even though I didn’t say much, was weird. It reminded me of my argument with Ritvik. We said our goodbyes and we’ll-meet-you-again and quickly went back home. My excited brother was eagerly waiting for me and Priya to ask me if we had any mother-daughter bonding. His wild grin made me remind of Joker from Batman.
“So, how was it?” Rishi asked, excitedly, almost hopping on his toes. Okay, he wasn’t hopping but I imagined him hopping like a bunny in his mind.
Priya excitedly squealed and sat with my brother to tell him the whole story. One thing about my brother, he doesn’t like to listen to long stories. So, I watched him getting bored and laughed at him, standing behind Priya’s back, and he frowned. Then my time to frown came when they started to talk about how to set me up with the new guy. My brother was villainously grinning at me that moment. Frowning, I left and locked myself in my room. I wanted to be alone for a moment.