Test and a Tryst
“Lets see who sits in front of me, the exam is going to start and the person is still absent, must be a genius or a fool”, I contemplated while waiting for my question paper to be handed over to me. I was a bit agitated and it was quite natural, it was not just another entrance exam, it was the entrance test for Indian Statistical Institute. Had heard quite a few tales about the level of the questions and that did not help either!! It was April and already the room felt stuffy. I wished for a whiff of a breeze or anything remotely pleasant to soothe my nerves.
“Wow!! Hope she sits in the empty chair in front of me”. I thanked god for sending this whiff of fresh air to soothe my frayed nerves. Those beautiful light brown eyes finely chiseled face, peach and milk complexion and the pout; my heart skipped a beat. And voila, she sits in front of me. Then suddenly I came back to reality of the examination, as I was given the question paper. Time flew like anything and soon the first paper was over. I had done pretty well but pretty well don’t suffice in this exam, a handful of seats for thousands of candidates. The next paper was after 2 hours, I had to spend the time somehow. I was not feeling like revising the formulas, even the heat seemed too oppressive to go out. The class was empty within two minutes of the test getting over; “the paper was not that easy!!? Even the pretty girl left”.
I was contemplating in my solitude when she rushed back to the room. She looked anxious. She came over to me and said, “Hey, I forgot to write my roll number in the question paper. What to do now?” As if I was the examination coordinator. I thanked the person who made the rules for test (about even writing ones roll no. on the question paper), which I thought was ridiculous till then. Rather than ceasing the opportunity and becoming the knight in the shining armor, I stayed put in my seat and blurted out something about her going to the staff room and talking to the authorities. I have always prayed for opportunities like these but when the situation comes I disappoint myself. “She won’t come back after such an un-gentlemanly conduct by me” and I tried to concentrate on the formulas to drive away the feeling of disappointment. Suddenly a soft voice startled me “Thank you”. She was gazing down on me with brown almond eyes and a smile breaking on her face. Even I smiled or grinned, I am not sure but I was pleasantly surprised by my stars, “if my luck is running so well today I will crack the test too!!”
“So what happened? Things have been sorted out?” and I gestured her to sit. “Thank you so much, I did as you said and things has been taken care of.” She sat on the bench in front of me as she spoke. I hadn’t noticed till then she even had the famous Cindy Crawford mole just above her upper lip. I gazed into those sparkling eyes and asked whether she had her lunch; the words came out with a real tinge of concern. Why it happened? Well maybe my own hunger (for food off-course) or it was her effect or was I really concerned, I was not sure. Frankly speaking I am no James Bond; yes I can speak well and I may flirt at times too but that day every thing fell into place even without me trying for it. As if the whole universe was conspiring to ruin my exam. I just could not fathom at that time that it was a boon or a bane. She sensed the concern in my voice and her features became soft. “I will go out and eat something; my dad won’t come now. He will be waiting for me outside after the tests get over.”
“Hey don’t worry; it is too hot outside so share my lunch.”
“Thank you but it is for you, if you share it won’t you fell hungry?” she questioned with intent and concern. “It is always advisable to eat less during exams.” I quipped with a smile, pulling out my lunch box.
We both started to eat out of my lunch box, which contained some lip smacking sandwiches and which I should have grudged to share with anyone but I just realized I was happy to share them with her. In the course of time I came to know that she was from Dhanbad. She wanted to pursue Biotechnology (then why the hell is she giving this exam?!) and for that she even took tips from me. The smart alec I was, even without knowing what they teach in Biotechnology, I rattled of colleges she should try to get into. This surely impressed her. It went on for sometime with my putting in lines like; “your name is as pretty as your face”, “you have something in you, it is different from most of the usual pretty girls” and she blushed with a smile every time. And the lines came out with real conviction, not like some trite remark.
“Are you the only one from Dhanbad, haven’t any of your friends come to give this exam?”
“Yes few of them are here; one of my close friends is here”
“So won’t you go and meet them?”
“I meet them everyday so today I rather stay here” she put in with a smile, that infectious smile that could melt the most stoic of men.
“Can we go out for a walk, it seems pretty oppressive here?” she suggested. I affirmed and we walked side by side, chatting like we have known each other for ages.
We went around the campus of the test centre, discovering iron bars to walk and soil mounds to climb. In her company even the afternoon blaze seemed bearable. Giving her a hand to help whenever she needed it and she accepted them graciously. When suddenly I glanced at my watch, time had flown like anything; more than an hour had passed even without my realizing. During the whole episode even the mere thought of the imminent test hadn’t crossed my mind. Einstein was right about relativity.
Coming back to reality, I asked her to accompany me inside to revise some formulas. I started revising the formulas while giving her some tips on number theory in between. She was not very good at mathematics but I surprised myself with the patient effort I put in. She looked on with her twinkling eyes full of admiration and I wished those half an hour never ended.
The test started with the influx of students and the invigilators. Frankly speaking during the test her thought never crossed my mind. The subjective paper lived up to its revered name and I was engrossed in tackling it. After the test she introduced me to her friend and her dad. She asked me to come to visit her if ever I go to Dhanbad. She even gave her number and asked me to call. I don’t remember if I gave mine. I don’t remember if I noted her number or how I lost it. I sometime think that if it would have happened during these times when almost every one has a mobile or there is Orkut we would have met again. I have even forgotten her name. Why it happened? Maybe I was too young to understand something important was occurring or maybe because at that time I had a crush on some one else. The reason is not important. The only thing after so many years perplexes me is why did the whole episode take place. If I was not to meet her again; why such an intense encounter? What was the supreme master trying to teach me? This question has to be answered by you.
She left after shaking my hand and a sweet good bye, with her eyes still sparkling and an angelic smile.