Gaurav could not believe his luck. He had just entered the college gates and his heart almost leapt out of his body. There she was - the gorgeous, svelte, delicate, sweet Mahak! He rubbed his eyes. Was he really looking at her or was it the conjuring of one of his many fantasies?
The thrill of seeing her burst like a bubble the very next moment.
'I hate you! Go to hell!' She had said on that ill-fated day not so long ago and his world had become as interesting as a dried prune. Days had collided into each other and then merged into one long, black stretch of empty time. Vikas and Saumya, his best friends had put up with his moods - black, blacker and blackest.
God! Did he really want to meet her? Gaurav slowed down and walked on smiling vacantly in the other direction. He certainly wasn't looking forward to any more ribbing from his friends on her account to add to his agony.
He looked out of the corner of his eye. She seemed to have moved away.
He sighed inwardly with relief and strode into his classroom, switching off all other thoughts as he focused on his lecture. Gaurav Gupta had always been a good student, no actually, an excellent one. His report card had staggered on A1. He had cracked the AIEEE exam and qualified for Engineering as his parents had hoped. However, not for the top notch Indian Institute of Technology’s (IITs) but the second or third rung of colleges.
That too was fine as Gaurav was confident he would find a placement of his choice.
Now in the final year of his Electronics Engineering course, he was looking forward to an internship in a leading oil drilling firm in Canada for which he had been handpicked and recommended by his lecturers.
Gaurav picked up his books and headed to the canteen. Luckily, his school friend Vikas was with him even though he had picked mechanical engineering.
They walked easily with their friends and the day started becoming just another one in Gaurav's page of life. He loved the campus with its stretching greens and tall trees. His home was in the midst of the concrete jungle of the city with the balcony of one apartment almost elbowing the other.
Gaurav could never afford to deviate from his goals, not in school and not now in college. Romance was a deviation. He would avoid Mahak at all costs, he declared.
"Hey, Gaurav, do you know Mahak has joined in the second year?" Vikas said.
"Oh really? So?"
Vikas thrust his hands in his pockets and stopped. Gaurav stared at the ground and then looked him straight in the eye. Vikas saw the resolve in his eyes and turned away. They boarded the college bus and took up vacant seats.
"Hello, Gaurav....Hi, Vikas!" A twinkling voice cut through their comfortable camaraderie.
Gaurav turned red as he looked at the source of the sound.
Writing order: Het (Ind), Mat Clarke (Aus), Kalli Deschampa(USA), Anna Zhigareva (Scot), cynthiaclare (NZ), Hemali Ajmera (Ind), Sameer Nagarajan (Sri Lanka), Leif Rennes (USA), aiden-penn (Aus), Tulika Saha (Ind)