‘In ten minutes,’ Came the beautiful voice from my mobile. I was standing in front of one of the most reputed educational institutes in India, IIT Madras. Not because I study here, not because the sweet girl whom I was going to meet studies here (we were classmates once upon a time, and had recently discovered each other via Facebook), but because the IIT Madras campus is huge, and is very much compatible to long walks and open-heart conversations. My eyes indulged in an involuntary indulgence in the fast pacing traffic on the roads before me. Every two minutes had a city bus passing by, and a spark of hope that Ms. Sweet might be in it had its birth. I looked up at the sky only to discover the sun to be at his most enraging temperatures. How can one take a walk in this hot sun? I thought and slightly began to admonish the girl I was about to meet, when a voice came from behind, like a mammoth ball of ice trying to cool off the straws of temporary irritation burning within me. ‘Ravi?’
I turned around. My heart melted and my eyes froze. For a moment, I felt an hour had already passed by. We exchanged a traditional ‘hi’ and walked into the campus on a silent note. I gazed at the front gates; my parents had wanted me here as a student, but here I was for some other reason, a reason I was yet to discover. We walked our way to the bus stop and waited. (Since the campus is a huge one, frequent local buses keep moving; and again, since the campus is a huge one, everyone who sees you thinks you are a student here). One good thing about meeting at IIT is that you won’t be victimised by the weird looks of middle-aged as well as old people which you get when you are walking and talking with a girl; and that too, a beautiful girl.
The bus made its arrival minutes later. We both boarded and she found a place for herself beside the window, leaving the seat beside vacant. I did my best to overcome the walls of hesitation clinching my nerves, and tried to make myself comfortable after taking my seat next to her. By the time we had crossed the next stop, we were amidst a sea of school going children (Kendriya Vidyalaya, IIT region) and few other students of IIT Madras (or maybe a bunch of clueless couples just like us) . Thanks to the frequent speed-breakers, whenever the bus rolled over them, a couple of kids used to fall on me, pushing me towards her; and taking my hand to the point of contact with her’s. That sense of touch sent chills through my body, and the intensity of shock I received proved to be more than all the shocks in my life put together. Every time my skin embraced with her’s, our eyes met. I could see her beautiful round eyes behind her glasses; they had something in them which rendered me speechless, motionless and sometimes, clueless. We got down near a roundabout and footed slowly to a nearby cafe. That 2 minute walk consisted of a convo which was broken by routine elements like the schools we studied in and the places we were born in and brought up. A plate of cold dessert and a glass of lemon juice went through our orders, and soon we were seated facing each other. I tended to give myself a temporary break from the nervous situation and munched my way through the dessert.
Our dishes were about to get emptied, and so was the container of hesitation that lied between us. We walked off tied together with ropes of laughter and giggles. My moments of crazy comfort returned to me. But still, the tougher part lied ahead. One, I had to reveal to her what she meant to me; and two, I had to be ready to face the reply. ‘This way.’ She said pointing to a lonely road that went through dense lines of green trees on either side. My breathing frequency went from low to extremely high as we walked down the solitary stretch of tar. Despite the cool environment, I could sense an air of heat spreading over my entire body. We walked like that for sometime, now elevating the level of our conversation to ambitions and future plans. Loneliness accompanied by the serenity of the nature around and the beauty of the girl beside, I felt this was one of the best walks I had ever had. And the most memorable. Our hands came closer again, without our knowledge I suppose, and I instantly clutched her palm and held it close to me. ‘I love you.’ Came those words with less of thought and more of feel. Her eyes grew wider. I had a sense of a thousand hearts within me pumping blood in a thousand different directions. For a few seconds, nothing, absolutely nothing happened. My heart beat so loud that I guessed even she could hear and take a count of it. She then pulled my head down and planted her lips on my forehead. A kiss of warmth, I would say. A smile appeared on her face which answered all those million questions squeezing my mind. We then walked hand in hand and reached the end of the road.
The road had ended, but a new life had just begun; I thought.