The Pugilist is a working title and will be changed as soon as I come up with something better.
The college bell was ringing loud enough for him to hear, but Vijay Vardhan refused to budge. He was still standing near the water cooler, gawking at her. Sitting amongst her friends at the college canteen, she was clapping, as that guitar totting freak sang some English song for all of them. The freak would occasionally wink at her and she would lower her eyes and just giggle.
“That guy is such a sham!” Vijay seemed to be angrier with the way Mansi was responding.
Of course, Mansi Contractor was his senior in college and a fresher wouldn’t dare to go and talk to any of “them”, let alone sharing his feelings. The boys from the second year section at St Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad were fairly big for 20 year olds, besides, he hadn’t made enough friends who would come to his aid, if there was some kind of a brawl.
But then he couldn’t miss how her silk smooth hair fell on her face when she laughed. She would roll her eyes and smile playfully, pushing him, whenever that freak would come closer. The white tee shirt, hugging her fit body. Oh she was hot, alright. Whenever she walked by, the scent of her fancy perfume would linger around for a few seconds. While the sight of her fish-shaped, Kajal-lined eyes, made Vijay keep staring at her without blinking even once. Sometimes, she would catch him staring and Vijay wished that the ground swallowed him. But then she would quietly walk away, like nothing ever happened.
“Dude, you need to stop checking her out. If any of those seniors see us, we’re going to be pulp,” Pragnesh Shah was just being the pussy that he was. But then Shah was probably the only guy in college who thought Vijay wasn’t entirely cuckoo!
“No way, Shah. Today, I’m going to go talk to her. I’ve been thinking over the last one week and I’ve had enough of this silent staring business. I’m going to go talk to her and buy her a, err… a bag of chips. Yes!”
Before Shah could stop him, Vijay was already on his path to destruction. There were a bunch of senior boys standing around the corner, watching him. But instead of opposing, they just kept looking, eager to know what will follow. Mansi had been one of those girl that everyone wanted to take out for coffee, or a bike ride, but she had always said no with a smile. And here was a fresher, ready to try his luck with her. Definitely a sight, they thought.
Vijay felt his legs refusing to move and asphyxia kicking in, drops of sweat on his forehead and hands trembling. For a second he thought that he should simply turn back, but then she looked at him. The way she bit her lower lip, looking at him suspiciously, with the faintest hint of a smile was on her face, he couldn’t turn back. Like a moth finding its way to a candle, Vijay kept walking.
Both of them had their eyes locked for about 5 seconds, neither saying anything to the other. The second years boys gathered around Vijay and one of them slapped his back, prompting him to talk to her.
“Umm…Hi!” He was still trying to keep his hands down, waving them like this made no sense.
“Hi!?” Her eyes moving as his hands waved around.
“So, umm…hi! My name is Vijay Vardhan and I’m uh, I’m a fresher here”
“Oh…I’m Mansi Contractor and umm, I’m your senior” she had one of those smiles, the ones before she played mischief. “You want something?”
“Umm..no, actually yes…no wait, no! I wanted to ask you, if you wanted s0mething. Tea? Coffee? Maaza? Chips? anything?”
“You work with the canteen?”
“No, no! I was just asking you, so that we could talk, maybe”
“We’re talking now, right?”
The mischievous grin now turned into a genuine smile now. “Okay, I’ll have that cream and onion thing and a cold drink.”
Over the big bag of chips and drinks, he told her about his school and how he was really enjoying college, considering his school didn’t even have a playground. He really wanted to play a sport actively, he said. He ended up telling her how he could play the guitar as well. How that internet course had helped him learn the chords and how he could play Chura Liya Hain Tumne Jo Dil Ko, with ease.
She told him how she was loving it at Xavier’s Ahmedabad as well. It was her third year in the city, since her family moved here from Delhi. Vijay, had lived in Ahmedabad for over 8 years now, there was hardly anything he didn’t know about the place. Plans were made to visit the old city soon, as Mansi had never seen that part. She never felt the need to visit the old place after living in the posh Judge’s Bungalow area. Also, her father was particularly against visiting that area.
In the next few weeks, their friendship grew from waving hands at each other to exchanging numbers. The chats then extended beyond college hours, over text messages and late night phone calls. Since neither said it out, they never agreed to the fact that they were highly attracted to each other.
Then one day Vijay offered to drop her home and for the first time ever, Mansi smiled and agreed to sit on the back of a guy’s bike. As they walked to the parking lot, something caught Vijay’s eye. He stopped near a torn A4 size poster, sticking on the street light pole, just gazing.
“Boxing try-outs on Saturday?! Wow, you’re into boxing, Vijay?” asked Mansi, tugging at his shirt sleeve.
“Since I was 13, I’ve been practicing on my own. Boxing is what I really want to do in life.”
“Wow, I never knew this. So you’re going for the try-outs then?”
“Arey, but why?”
“Tu jaanti nahi meri Maa kaun hai!” (to be continued…)