I burped. And cursed the cheap whisky. My head was spinning from the carousal last night. It was “cult-fest” time on campus and I was one of the organizers for the same. CV points were hard to come by these days and a man was obliged to sink as low as organizing events called (I kid you not) “Stratagem – the strategy game”.

Participants from all over the country had flown down come down (hehe). I scuttled towards the registration desk with drunken steps resembling those of Jack Sparrow (and one of our professors).

“Umm Excuse me”, a sweet voice called from the crowd.

The voice belonged to a beautiful face, pretty enough to be marked as an outsider from some lesser known college where students have more free time. She was from IIM Calcutta. Dressed in tshirt and a long skirt, she looked like one of those cute girls you see in TV ads.

“Yes”, I managed to say without gaping at her breasts.

She looked at the life size badge around my neck to confirm that I was one of the co-ordinators.

“Please can you show me the way to Classroom 8″, she said and added importantly, “I am one of the shortlisted candidates for the strategy game”

The words “for the strategy game” resounded in my inebriated head. I repeated it again and again and mentally high-fived myself. Making a supreme effort to conceal my happiness, I started walking her towards my room classroom 8

“Hum jo chalne lage,
Chalne lage hai yeh raste,
Ah haan haan, manzil se behtar
lagne lage hai yeh raaste”

(Now that we have started walking,
the roads have started walking with us,
Oh Yeah!, I have started liking these roads now
More than I ever liked the destination)

We exchanged introductions and started chatting. She was Nina, a loquacious arts graduate from a nondescript city, whose dream had come true the day she stepped into IIM Calcutta. Full of strategies for the competition, she unburdened herself of the infinite ideas that were running through her mind. They covered vast expanses including (but not limited to) the way we should maintain our campus.

“There are  lot of dogs around”, she declared

“Don’t you like dogs? I thought girls had a soft corner”. We had reached the classroom. It was empty, as there was still an hour to go before the event started. Other participants were evidently not as enthusiastic.

“No! I hate them. A dog once bit me. Look!”. She sat down and pulled up her skirts to show me the scar.

The exhibit was as unexpected as it was pleasant. Her well formed thighs were as smooth as ivory pillars and their glorious underswell immediately set my blood on fire.

I reached out and touched the scar.

“Bad. Very bad. Did it hurt much ?”

“I cried for two hours” she said rearranging her dress.

For a few seconds, we just looked at each other.

“I dont know why IIMs admit so many engineers”, she asked the ceiling

“You dont like engineers?”

“Ofcourse I dont! All they do is pass cheap vulgar jokes and play video games”

“Whats wrong with that?”

“What do you mean ‘Whats wrong with that?’. Just look at them. Do they ever take out time mean to cultivate themselves”

“I think its a matter of opinion. Do you know that Shakespeare was considered vulgar when he lived? Ofcourse he couldnt play video games, the poor guy”

“Whatever!”, she rolled her pretty eyes and as Salinger would have said: “It killed me!”

Her impatient mouth was about to say something when the phone in her pocket made its presence felt.

“Hiiieee..i am in classroom 8 baba…no..ofcourse not sweetheart”, her eyes asked me to move away. I stood there, just for the fuck of it.

She walked out impatiently, speaking on the phone in an animated voice

“I dont have to tell you everything, you know…”

I sat there with my pensive thoughts. Cultivate myself! What a load of shit!

She came back with a frown on her face and as I looked carefully, with the rudiments of a tear in her eye.

“Boyfriend got you on leash ?”, I asked unable to control my laughter.

“Just shutup okay!”, she croaked in a broken voice and made an abrupt move to walk away as her tears finally found vent.

“Whoa! Okay..wait..just relax okay”, I beseeched pushing her down on a chair. She was sobbing intermittently. An embarrassed sob. I got her a glass of water and smiled as she drank it obediently.

“You know, I’ll look away and you can wipe your nose off. It wont make you look less pretty though”

She smiled and looked at me. The welcome smile on a pretty girl’s tear stricken face.

‘She’s just an ordinary girl’, I thought. The word “common” rang in my head. It was a big turn off.

“I say, i am quite hung up on the ‘cultivating’ thing”, i spoke to change the subject, “and meeting someone who thinks that way is refreshingly sane”

She didnt say anything but smiled a bit more.

“No, seriously”, I prodded, “tell me what you do that has made you”

“Nothing”, she muttered although it was obvious that she was flattered.

“Well on my part, I like to read”, I said after a pause realizing that this might become a long monologue. Bending forward, I added in a slow whisper, “I like to read besides passing cheap vulgar jokes and playing video games and I like doing them very much”

That did it. She smiled decisively and looked at me with an innocent and interested look.

‘What a sorry lamb’, I thought.

“Now if you just sit there and dont say anything, I would have to do all the talking myself and trust me, I am really really bad at that”

“No, you are not bad at all”, she said laughing heartily now, “do you talk so sweet to everyone”

The phrase “only to pretty girls” rang in my head but that was such a cliche. In fact, it was not even a cliche anymore. I hmmed for sometime.

“Do you have a girlfriend ?”, she asked in the most forward manner.

I started. And said slowly, “Are you sure you want to talk about relationships? Dont you think you have had enough for the day?”

“, he’s not that bad you know. Actually, he cares for me very much. And he – “

“I am sure he is a jolly good chap and that you are both deeply in love”, I interrupted to indicate that I had absolutely no interest in listening about ‘him’

“No, its not that..”, she frowned, “but anyways tell me about your girlfriend please. I am very interested”. And indeed she was, judging by the eagerness of her posture.

“I dont have any”

“Oh. Any past relationships?”

“None. I have dated a few girls but just that. No relationships”

“Why?” she blurted involuntarily.

I was completely turned off by then and stood up.

“I dont think any girl can put up with me”

“But you are such a nice guy”

I looked at the puzzled expression on her lovely face and touched her cheeks, gently wiping off the tears with my thumb.

“No I am not”

She just looked at me. I bent down and kissed her forehead. Its surprising what you can do when you are not interested in the girl anymore. She blushed to the roots of her hair

“What the – “, came a voice from the door. It was a guy. She stood up and hurried towards him. So this was ‘him’.

“What the fuck do you think you are doing!” he shouted at her. I was taken aback. Talk about a boyfriend wih a leash!

“Listen, Rahul..please-”, she tried to sooth him as he walked menacingly towards me. “Who the fuck are you..huh..what the fuck were you two doing?”

I laughed aloud. “You shouldnt use so many ‘fucks’ in a sentence. It makes you look very – “

“- very uncultivated”, I finished with a smirk.

“You fucking bastard”, he went on using the word “fuck” liberally as he walked towards me. I braced myself to punch his nose.

But before we could test our muscles, she jerked him around and lashed out at him with a surprising amount of bitter eloquence. It shocked him out of his wits and he just stood staring at her.

The interesting scene would have gone on  for sometime but was interrupted by a host of participants coming in for the competition.

He grunted at her and walked off.

She stood there, breathing heavily and looked at me with a triumphant expression.

“Lets get out of here”, I said and took her arm.

We walked off, leaving a bevy of gaping participants rooted behind us.

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  • Anandh Sundar  On August 14, 2011 at 7:35 am

    The next Chetan Bhagat of IIM-A. Studmaxx post.
    ‘Cultivating yourself’, etc..awesome post..the literary equivalent of Pyar Vyar Aur Casemat

  • vipul  On August 14, 2011 at 7:44 am

    Nice post singhal. I was imagining you saying those witty comments to a pretty girl :)
    Really liked this one.

  • Gaurav Singhal  On August 14, 2011 at 7:49 am

    @ Anandh: Hey thanks a lot bro

    @ Vipul: Just pretty girls ;-)

  • Saagar  On August 14, 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Made for good reading…nice work!

  • Nishanth  On August 21, 2011 at 12:40 am

    Good one Singhal! Liked it :)

  • Mayur Mahrotri  On September 5, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Chetan bhagat in making? No man, for God sakes NO! I think we’ve had enough of it. You are much better off than him.

    Although this is the material that sells the most in india, I think you should concentrate on other things more.

    By the way, its nice to see you write. You should’ve started a long time back. Humanity lost a great deal. :P

  • Aalap Patel  On November 14, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    “Fucking” hell man… When did this happen??

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