Oh! Today is the book renewal date! bhOndOO exclaimed looking at the Yahoo! reminder.
bhOndOO set such reminders because he did not like getting fined for such petty reasons. He was the only student in the CSA department not to have spoilt his name with library fine. All earlier books he took from library were returned within two days of issue, since bhOndOO hardly understood anything from them. Not that he got a lot from the current one, but BenJi had taken it from him for some days. He decided: I will go to the library in the evening and renew the book. The issue counter is open till 23:00.
“Hi.”, a pleasing voice came from behind.
bhOndOO smiled, turned his head and greeted, “Hello.”.
Shami settled at a nearby computer. Within seconds bhOndOO realized that there was nobody else in the lab. This is such a rare chance! bhOndOO thought of taking advantage of the Kabab me no huddy situation. He checked his pocket which contained enough money.
bhOndOO looked at Shami and tried to speak, but could not. His pulse rate started increasing. He opened his mouth, but no voice came out. Finally, he told himself, Be brave, man dies only once.
“… Ca… Coffee?”, bhOndOO managed.
Shami smiled, “Where?”.
bhOndOO was thunderstruck by the question. What does she mean? Is she asking me to take her out? Is it a hint? He tried to regain his breath with “In tea-board!”.
“Tea-board is closed; it is a holiday today.”.
“Oh!” Silly me.
bhOndOO kept silent. The pulse rate started reducing. When it came to normal, bhOndOO realized, Oh! On holidays, the issue counter is open only until 16:00. bhOndOO looked at his watch: 15:15. Man! I need to hurry.
bhOndOO did not have the book, but he knew that he could renew it with his ID card. And, importantly, he was carrying his ID card. bhOndOO logged out and got up.
“Going to hostel?”, Shami asked.
“To the library.”.
“Wait, I will also come.”.
bhOndOO was overjoyed. They both left the lab.
“Wait, I will take my bicycle.”, Shami said.
bhOndOO tried to show his good manner, “Oh! You can go ahead then, I will come walking.”.
“Not a problem, bhOndOO.”, Shami smiled and took out her bicycle from the parking lot. bhOndOO was on the seventh sky to have got the pleasure of a romantic walk with Shami. bhOndOO even thought of taking Shami double-seat on the bicycle — but himself felt shy. We will save that for some other day, he told himself. They started walking.
“bhOndOO?”, someone shouted from behind.
They both turned to see Gullu running towards them.
“Going towards hostel?”, Gullu asked looking at bhOndOO.
“Yes.”, Shami answered.
Gullu handed over two books to bhOndOO, “Hey, please give these books to BenJi. He is leaving for his home in next 15 min. He needs these books badly. I will SMS him that you are bringing the books. I am going to Cauvery Theatre for God Tussi Great Ho. Okay, bye, I am in a hurry.”.
Gullu ran away before bhOndOO could speak. “Keep those in the container.”, Shami said. bhOndOO kept the books in the container attached to the handle in front of the bicycle. They continued walking.
They reached in front of the library and bhOndOO saw it open. It was 15:30. bhOndOO was feeling accomplished.
For crossing the road to the library, they looked back to check any vehicles and saw Lili from BioChemistry Department. Lili was holding her left hand with the right one. The left hand was bleeding.
“Oh! What happened, Lili?”, Shami asked.
“A bottle broke in the lab and there was a cut. I am going to the Health Center.”.
“bhOndOO, can you take Lili to the Heath Center?”, Shami said and without waiting for an answer, continued, “Take this bicycle, you will reach faster.”, and handed over the bicycle to bhOndOO.
bhOndOO had no choice. Stout Lili grabbed the back seat and fat bhOndOO, with full effort, started paddling. The cycle started with a zig-zag path, and Shami felt that she would witness a triple-fall. But bhOndOO managed the balance. He himself cycled past the library, feeling like someone stealing 1000-rupee notes from his wallet in front of his eyes and he could not do anything.
“Thanks, bhOndOO.”, Lili bid adieu in front of the Health Center.
You are not welcome, bhOndOO thought and uttered, “No problem.”.
bhOndOO thought: BenJi can wait for 15 more min. I will go to the library first and then go to him, and bhOndOO almost rushed towards the library. It was 15:45.
bhOndOO was cycling very fast. He knew that he was going to make it. His pulse rate had increased and he had started sweating (in Bangalore!). bhOndOO was also about to keep his record unbroken. He felt good and increased the speed.
Finally, he reached the library. He looked at the watch: 15:50. He felt relieved. He parked the bicycle. As he was crossing the road to enter the library, a fast bike almost hit him. bhOndOO felt shocked thinking of meeting with an accident. The bike stopped and Chunna shouted, “bhOndOO, where are you roaming yaar! BenJi is waiting for his books. Come on, lets go to the hostel.”.
“See, Chunna. I have to renew my books.”.
“He is already late. He will miss the train. Come.”, Chunna was amongst the students who felt that anything related to library was non-critical.
“Okay, you take these books.”.
“How will I carry them while driving, you idiot! Now don’t give foolish reasons. Just get on.”.
“I have to return Shami’s bicycle.”.
“You can return it later, man!”.
“But listen to me…”.
Chunna’s look made bhOndOO keep silent and get seated on the bike. While Chunna turned the bike, bhOndOO kept looking at the library passing by.
While handing over the books to BenJi, bhOndOO got to listen to a lot of cursing. But bhOndOO was not listening. He knew that it was already 16:00 and he had lost the battle. He felt depressed, went to the hostel and slept.
In the evening, he walked to the library, took Shami’s bicycle and went to her hostel to return it.
You have broken my record, bhOndOO sighed looking at the one-rupee coin in his hand. He went to the library and stood at the counter. The lady at the counter checked his ID and told him, “One rupee fine, Sir.”. bhOndOO handed over the coin to her. While she was writing the receipt, bhOndOO kept feeling bad of yesterday’s incident.
“Why don’t you keep the issue counter open till 23:00 on holidays also?”, frustrated bhOndOO finally spoke.
“We do, Sir.”.