Fiction Story

When I was in middle school, I developed a huge crush on my class topper Shambhavi. She was soft-spoken, studious, and happened to be the only girl in class who spoke to me, rather reprimanded me - once, because she, being the class monitor(leader), noticed me giggling while she was minding the class. That was the first time ever since I'd gone to middle school that a girl had talked to me. 

My crush intensified with every passing day, I started intentionally giggling more often just to notice my name written in her delicate handwriting on the blackboard, which attracted fatal beatings from our class teacher once in a while, which I forbore just for her. Two weeks into my crush, a disaster happened. Our class teacher appointed a new class monitor(leader), since the coveted position of responsibility seemed to affect Shambhavi's performance in class. Unsurprisingly, the new monitor was none other than me. Our roles had changed. But unlike me, Shambhavi never talked or giggled in between classes. She was way too sincere for me to scribble her name on the board in my illegible handwriting. I missed the old days. And I wanted to speak to her, to get chided by her - but none of that happened. One week into my new responsibility, I could not control my desire to speak to her, but I apprehended that if I went towards the girls row just to specifically talk to her, it would attract jabs from all my friends. Half of my male friends already knew that I liked to catch her attention. It is said that when you desperately want something, universe conspires to make it happen. And it did.

The class teacher called and asked me to count everyone's attendance over the year and report it to him. As soon as I flipped through the pages of the attendance register, my face shone in ecstasy as though I'd found a treasure. Now I had access to all the details about each and every student in the class - from address to the phone number, to even grandparents' name. I noted her phone number, hoping to convey my feelings over phone, in private, without any of my friends getting to know. That evening, at home, when my mother went for an evening walk, I dialed her number, waited for a few seconds until it started ringing. Every subsequent ring pounded my heart until it became so loud that I started wobbling. Shambhavi picked up the phone, her sing-song voice uttered a series of sweet hellos in sync with my heartbeats. No matter what I'd planned, I could not mumble anything. After hearing her four to five hellos, I put the receiver of the phone down and sighed. It took me five minutes to calm myself down. My desperation to convey made me call her again, and this time, with all preparation, the moment she picked it up, I played the song romantic song  (I am in love with only you) on the speakers and let it play for a minute. She didn't cut the phone during this time, which hinted to me that she kind of liked the song, which I understood to be a testimony to the fact that she kind of liked my weird proposal. This time I was not wobbly, this time I was not nervous; the fact that she stayed on the phone all the while was the reason for my sudden confidence.

I stopped the song, a surreal silence followed, and I could hear her breaths. It was the moment - the moment of claiming my crush and before I could say anything, she bombarded me, "Who the hell is this? I have a caller ID, I have noted this number and now I am going to complain to the police right away." I started shivering, beads of sweat rolled down from my head, drenching the phone receiver in it, while my body experienced a full-throttle earthquake. In the hour that followed after the disastrous call, all that I could fearfully imagine was police coming over to my home and arresting my father, for our landline phone belonged to his name. I lost my sanity, having no idea what to do next. A call bell rang just at that moment, while my heartbeats went haywire, for all I could think of was a bunch of police officers with two handcuffs - one small and one big, to tie up both the son and the father - me for flirting with my school crush, him for providing me the mode to do that. I nervously stood in front of the closed door, heard the door bell ring for a couple of times, and then, with utmost caution I opened the door. I saw my father is tired from office standing there, with an extremely annoyed what-took-you-so-long look on his face.

Before he could say anything, I grabbed him by his sleeves, asked him to drive both of us away to as far as he could, but before I could pester him anymore to come along with me, the phone rang. My father rushed in towards the phone, despite my reckless attempts at stopping him, and picked the phone up while I could only sheepishly mutter to myself, "Dad, don't, it must be police." He didn't listen.

"Harsh, it's for you, it's your classmate Shambhavi," my Dad said a moment later, surprised at my receiving a call from a girl for the first time in my life. Embarrassed for two reasons now, I wondered whether Shambhavi figured that it was I who was on the phone that time - whether she, as a class monitor, had noted down my number too. I, frightened and curious, grabbed the receiver and said a mild hello. All I could hear was the song, which says (if chillies burn your tongue, why should I bother?) playing on the other side.

-Harsh Snehanshu

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