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Crossing the Mirage - Passing through Youth
While Chandra lay there snubbed, Nithya walked away in consternation.
‘What madness!’ she thought in vexation. ‘And who is he by the way? Poor chap, he seems to be suffering. But how can I help him? Am I not bellyful with trouble already? I’m more in need of help than anyone I can think of.’
As she walked aimlessly, she insensibly focused her thoughts on Chandra.
‘Since he loves me,’ the stray thought snowballed into a solution for her problem, ‘won’t he help me?’
Weighing the pros and cons, she reinvigorated herself and reversed her direction. And as she returned to the nook, she found him lying like a corpse.
“Excuse me,” she said sweetly.
“I apologize,” he gesticulated even as he sprang up to his feet.
“I know love is no blame,” she said with empathy. “But I’m sorry that I can’t reciprocate.”
“It is my fault really,’ he said in reconciliation. “I got carried away.”
“If you like,” she said invitingly, “we can be friends.”
“If only I’m not in love with you,” he said with mixed feelings, “I would’ve grabbed your friendly hand with both hands. Now, I’m afraid I can’t be content being just your friend.”
“I appreciate your frankness,” she said admiring his admission. “What I need now is a friend more than a lover. Good bye.”
Seeing her depart in disappointment, he felt dejected.
‘How mean I refused to be her friend,’ he thought in dejection, ‘Of what avail my love if it fails to provide succor to my beloved! Shameful, isn’t it? I shall stake everything for her sake.’
And he ran up to her in love.
“Forgive your friend,” he said extending his hand.
“Oh, thank you,” she said grabbing his hand.
“I'll forever remain your friend in need,” he said pressing her hand.
“I need your help,” she said lowering her eyes, “right now.”
“Tell me then,” he said, shaking her hand. “I'll do my best.”
“Oh, I’m relieved really,” she said as it showed on her face. “But still I need time to think how to talk about that odd errand. Will you please come tomorrow?”
“Same time if you please.”
“Let’s make it by four,” she said.
“Bye,” he waved her goodbye.
“Thank you, bye,” she said and walked away in relief even as he watched her with love.
‘Oh, how he invokes sympathy with his empathy!’ Nithya thought on her way back home. ‘And he’s so agreeable. But how come I was so rude to him? Anyway, I’ll make up for that now, won’t I? See we haven’t even introduced ourselves in that confusion? Unlike Vasu, hope he would be true to his word.’
Chandra, on the other hand, went back to the nook as though to commemorate their reconciliation.
‘How nice it feels to be close to her,’ he felt ecstatic. ‘What a joy it is really. What’s that she seeks from me! Weird are the ways of life, aren’t they? If not for her predicament, she wouldn’t have had a second look at me, leave alone seeking my friendship. Who knows if I could solve her problem, I may even win her affection. After all, won’t friendship between man and woman lead to love?
That night, while Nithya sank into sleep in relief, Chandra hit the pillow daydreaming.
Waking up early the next day, as though to welcome a new dawn in their lives, they both remained tentative thinking about the outcome of their expected meeting. But as the time neared for the rendezvous while Chandra was beset by doubts, Nithya was seized with shame.
‘What if she develops second thoughts?’ he was haunted by the thought.
‘How to tell him?’ she racked her brains no end.
Wearied at last, while he left the issue for his fate to decide, unable to hit upon the right presentation, she decided to entrust the matter to her instinct itself. However, in the end, driven by desire, as he reached the nook, he found her in all anticipation.
“Oh, sorry,” he said, sitting beside her, “I’ve kept you waiting.”
“You’re not late,” she said checking with her watch, “but I came early.”
‘It is funny really,’ he thought aloud. ‘We’re friends without knowing who we are!’
“I like your name,” he said. “I’m Chandra.”
“Inspiring name, isn’t it?”
“Not so if you go by my namesake who wavers in the skies.”
“Then it’s wise,” she said smiling, “to take your word before he arrives.”
“You’re a real wit,” he said in all admiration.
“Do you lack any?” she returned the compliment.
“Hope to hope.”
“Maybe for now, who knows?”
“And for now I’m at your service,” he said squatting in all attention.
“I badly need your help as I told you,” she said in embarrassment. “But I don’t know what to tell and where to begin. And it’s a delicate matter too. I am at a loss how to handle it.”
“Begin from your adolescence,” he suggested. “Though childhood would’ve a bearing on it, life really starts at that point.”
“That’s true,” she said as though he showed her the way to lead her story. “Besides helping you to get a total picture of me, it would give me time before I come to the point. Here is the embarrassing account of my life.”
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