"Hello Mom, how are you doing?" Ishant said. He had spent the last ten days packing for his stay in a hostel. He had no idea what was important and what wasn't. He had packed in a couple of jeans, a few t-shirts and a couple of shirts.
"I am fine. How are things at your end? Are you all packed and ready for stay in a hostel? It is going to the best 4 years of your life."
"Somehow, I am not sure. That place stinks, I want to be back here in Delhi." Ishant said as he packed in a couple of bedsheets and a light blanket.
"Don't act like a petulant child Ishant. Living in a hostel will make you a better person, you will learn to appreciate the smaller things in life. Besides, we will save a lot of money if you study at KIT. This way we will be able to fund your applications for higher studies, if you ever decide to pursue it."
"Come on mom. This is really unfair. How can you make me suffer in the hope that I MIGHT some day want to do a masters. I don't want to leave Delhi." Ishant complained.
"Ishant! Stop complaining. You should have thought about all this when you were writing your exams and managed better grades. In any case, double check to make sure that vacation special to Chennai is at 7:00 P.M the day after tomorrow. Your uncle will be waiting for you at Chennai Central station. He will help you get settled at Kumbakonam. I will talk to you tomorrow, I need to go now. B-bye."
Ishant booted up his laptop and logged into his IM client. She was online.
"Hey Ishu....kya haal hai? Haven't heard from you since Monday....I was starting to look forward to our lunches."
"Ya, me too"
"So you coming to my place tomorrow? btw, I have a surprise for you"
"Hey! What is it? Can't you tell me right now? Come on yaar....you know I dont like surprises right?" Ishant really wanted to know.
"Well....if you really wanna know, lunch at my place as usual...be there!"
Ishant didn't know what to say. He had a lot of things to take care of, he had to make sure he had everything he needed. He had to tell her that he was going to KIT and that he wouldn't be back for 6 months until the semester break. The IM window flashed again...
"Hey Ishu...dinner time, gotta run...chi u tomo? SMS me tonite?"
" Sure, will msg u after 11, don't fall asleep :P" he replied, but she had already logged out.
Later that night, he was lying in bed thinking about how life would be like in a hostel when he remembered, he picked up the phone and started typing a message "Hey! u awke? wats the surprise? tell me now no, pls." A few minutes later his phone buzzed to life "Nope...u cme hre 4 lunch with me tomo & I will tell u. u comin?"
"Hmmm...alrite i'l come..bt atleast tel me wat its abt na?"
"Nope ishu..its a surprise na...u come here and i'll tell u."
"btw, i need 2 tell u something 2. i'll tell u tomo at lunch"
"No way ishu...tel me nw...im the only one allowed to give surprised. u wont tel me? :( "
"Nope...same rule applies to u...wil tel u tomo at lunch. chalo, me tired now, gonna sleep...wil cal u tomo morn wen i start frm hre." He put the phone down and went to sleep.
The next day, he got into a bus heading to Dhaula Kaun and called her to let her know that he was on his way. When he rang the door bell, she opened the door dressed in a white salwar with her hair tied in a bun. she seemed a little frazzled. "Hey ishu, sorry yaar, I was in the kitchen making rotis and alu baingan. Give me a few minutes to finish cooking and take a shower. Here's my laptop, feel free to use it until I come back."
20 minutes later, she stepped into her room looking like an angel. He dreamt of hugging her close to his body.
"Hey ishu....kya soch raha hai yaar?" He suddenly slipped back into reality "Kuch nahin...nothing..." She sat down next to him on the diwan and they talked about how his preparations for hostel life were coming along. He knew it was now or never, he had to tell her how he felt.
"I need to tell you something Pallu" he said
"What is it yaar ishu?"
"I guess you know, I really like you"
"I know, I like you too yaar" she said, matter of factly.
"No Pallavi! I don't think you understand. I love you!" he said looking into her eyes.
She looked stunned for a moment. She was blushing so much that her face turned completely red. She almost hid her face from him as if in agreement.
"I need to tell you this too Pallu, I am leaving for KIT day after tomo by the summer vacation special to Chennai."
When she heard this, she almost started laughing. He did not understand why she was laughing. She moved closer to him, almost holding him in an embrace and whispered in his ear "Ishu honey, I love you too....I've been waiting for months now for you to say this. I'm so happy" She planted a soft kiss on his cheek, it was his turn now to turn red. "After you told me about your decision to move to KIT, I called my cousins in Chennai and found out about Tanjore Medical College. They had a few seats open and I talked to the dean of admissions yesterday over the phone, I had faxed my grade-sheets and other documents to him earlier, he took a look at the documents and told me that he would be more than willing to offer me a formal admit in 2 weeks time."
Ishant was wide-eyed, he did not know what to say.
"Yes, Ishu honey, I will be in Tanjore, which is an hour from Kumbakonam. I don't want to be 1000 miles away from you, I want to give our relationship a real shot."
"I don't know what to say Pallu, I am shocked....."
Ishant couldn't have been happier, lunch was long forgotten and they settled into each others arms.
3 days later, Ishant got down from the bus and turned around to see the huge KIT main gate. There were so many others like him walking around, most of them with mattresses on their back and parents by their side. "Ready to go inside Ishant?" his uncle asked. Ishant nodded in agreement, he was going to start a new chapter of his life and he couldn't have been happier. New place, new environment and best of all she was near him, yes, this is the train journey that changed his destiny.
Posted by Balaji at 2:17 PM