Chapter 5

Pallavi woke up early on Sunday morning. She checked to see if Ma was around. Her mother had already left for her morning walk.

Good. I will not have to answer any ‘buts’ and ‘whys’.

She hastily scribbled a note for her mother saying that she was going over to Shreya’s place for breakfast. She thought about whether it would be a good idea to take the bike. It was a good ten kilometers to Shreya’s house. It wasn’t raining though, and she felt she really needed to feel the cool wind in her face. Maybe the wind would be able to brush off the cobwebs of the past that had once again accumulated in her mind.

She was right. The wind did indeed feel good on her skin. Maybe now she would be able to take an objective look at all the circumstances she had been in. Maybe remember those days without a causing her eyes to moisten.

Shreya was waiting for her. It wasn’t like her to get up early on her day off. But being away from family has its perks and this was the best one of them. Not today though. Shreya hadn’t been able to get much of sleep anyways. She had bathed early and waited for Pallavi to come home.

She had just put on a pot of tea for the two of them when Pallavi rang the doorbell.

“Hey, good morning! How are you feeling today?”

“You know how, Shreya. How come you live here all alone? Don’t you feel even a little bit afraid?”

“You know ya, I am between roomies. The last one nearly drove me insane with her OCD. I hope to find a normal, messy roomie this time around.”

“Well you should take me in with you then.”

“You? No thank you! I prefer the OCD lady to you anyway!” Shreya joked. “You know, you have never really told me much about Amit. Maybe now is the time to get it all off your chest.”

Pallavi glanced forlornly at Shreya. In her mind she was already back in time. That first time when she had met Amit.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Pallavi had hated going to school. She was the only one in her class to wear spectacles, and for that reason she was the butt of all jokes in her school. There was this particular guy, a bully who would leave no stone unturned in trying to make her miserable. His raison d’être it seemed was to make Pallavi cry.

This year will be no different, Pallavi thought.

She had barely even entered her sixth grade classroom when the bully came over and began his ritual of joking about Pallavi’s spectacles.

“Man I thought you might have changed this year, Poo, but you are still the same old ugly, four-eyed creature you were last year!”

Pallavi ran out of the classroom into the verandah. She could hear the laughter from inside her classroom. She was fishing for her handkerchief from her pocket when she saw a new hand lending a clean white handkerchief to her.

“Here, take this.”

Amit was new to class that year. His father had recently moved to Mumbai from Pune for a new job placement. He was just entering school when he saw a slender bespectacled girl crying and fumbling for something.

Pallo looked up at him quizzically. She had never seen this boy before, and wondered why he was being nice to her.

Amit had never felt this way about a girl ever before. Before this, he had been painfully shy and uneasy around girls. But something about this little girl had made him want to comfort her, and to protect her.

He saw the sunlight being reflected from a stray tear on her cheek.

He pointed awkwardly to his own cheek and said, “You have one more, right there.”

“Oh, thank you. Are you new to this school?” Pallavi asked.

“Yeah. My name is Amit.”

“And that’s Poo!” the bully shouted from inside the classroom.

Pallavi was too ashamed to say anything more. She just turned around and hurriedly went inside her class to take her seat next to the only other girl in the class quieter than she was.

Amit watched her go and followed her inside the classroom.

Little did they both know that they were soon to become the thickest of pals, the best of friends.

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