The rain has just stopped, the evening sunshine is just perfect, the cuckoo has restarted singing, warm pleasant weather is just as bright as happiness, and bhOndOO is alone in his room, looking outside the window, whistling — Wo ladki hai kahan… The romantic atmosphere keeps hinting at bhOndOO. Shall I? he wonders, No, no. It sounds too romantic!, he restrains himself. But not for long. Another cuckoo joins its partner and they both start singing alternatively. bhOndOO keeps looking at the pair, and this time, he cannot restrain himself. He dials Shami’s mobile number.
Silence for two seconds. bhOndOO breaks it.
With the hint of a smile, from her balcony, Shami responds, “It’s wonderful.”.
bhOndOO does not understand whether she is appreciating the weather, him talking about rains, or his call. But he does understand that this is not the time to ask for clarifications. He continues in his romantic mood.
“Umm… I was wondering… whether… we… can go to… Nandi Hills… this weekend?”.
Silence for another two seconds, and this time, bhOndOO’s pessimism breaks it.
“Umm… No problem… No issues at all… I just… asked… Never mind…”.
“No, … actually I am leaving for my native tomorrow morning. Won’t be here over the weekend…”.
bhOndOO does not understand whether the connotation is positive or negative. But what follows makes him feel the former.
“… I am sorry.”.
“No problem. I was simply…” and for lack of any proper verbs in English, he continues with a new sentence, “For how many days are you going home?”.
Shami’s silence followed by the question allows the words to echo back in bhOndOO’s ears, and he feels that he is asking something very personal. He wants to clarify by saying sorry, but a sweet voice from the other end stops him.
“bhOndOO, … I will be back in a week.”.
The parser of his mind stops at the first word in the sentence. His name uttered over the digital signals makes his day. He feels that it was uttered at the most unexpected place in the conversation and he tries to convince himself that it was deliberate.
The parser of his mind finally moves ahead onto other words and it extracts meaning out of the sentence. bhOndOO’s ever-confused mind plays the double game: it makes him happy that she is not going to be away for long, and it makes him sad that she is away.
The confusion makes the silence last for another two seconds. bhOndOO breaks it again.
“Sure… See you then… Bye”.
bhOndOO looks at the mobile-screen and allows Shami to end the call. He looks up on the tree branch and sees the two cuckoos playing with each other. He finds the sun beyond the tree to be mocking at him. He feels restless.
I must tell her my mind today. Today is a nice day. Even today’s fortune for Libra in the newspaper suggested it to be a lucky day. I must tell her my mind today. I must.
bhOndOO makes up his mind. He stands in front of his companion in all matters related to speaking in his life: the mirror. He looks at himself and orders, “You have to do it today.”.
bhOndOO starts with alternatives.
“Shami, I love you.”. No, it’s too direct. This should be at the end.
“Shami, if you ask, I will bring stars for you.”. No, it’s too poetic. And what if she actually asks for one?
“Shami, you are my Queen.”. What if she doesn’t consider me to be a King?
“Shami, we are made for each other.”. Good one, but should not be at the start.
“Shami, my mind-pointer points to you and its dereference set contains only one element.”. Too technical.
“Shami, I want to say something.”. Wonderful start.
bhOndOO starts repeating, “Shami, I want to say something. We are made for each other. I love you. Shami, I want to say something. We are made …”.
After practising the mantra for an hour, bhOndOO realizes that it is dark outside.
“Oh! She must have gone for dinner.”, bhOndOO tells his alter-ego in the mirror. And then as if asking a friend to accompany, he joyously shouts, “Let’s go.”. Both of them run towards mess.
bhOndOO spots Shami in a group seated at a table in the mess. bhOndOO is not hungry. Poor phenomenon like hunger cannot really stop our hero who is on an important mission of proposing. He waits outside the mess, keeping both his eyes on Shami through a window.
He witnesses Shami looking around time-to-time. Is she looking for me? bhOndOO’s alter ego is too shy to answer in affirmation.
The group at the table stands up and bhOndOO sees Shami keeping her plate in the shelf, going to wash her hands, waiting for her friends to finish washing hands and coming out with them wiping hands with her handkerchief. What he does not see is she forgetting to wipe hands when she sees bhOndOO.
“Umm… Would you like to go for a walk?”
Shami’s silence makes bhOndOO’s pessimism come to life, but before the pessimist researcher can do anything, Shami takes control. She turns to her friends and asks, “Can you all go ahead? I will come later.”.
The friends bid her Happy Journey and leave. The two cuckoos leave for a walk. They pass by Shami’s hostel. Shami keeps greeting acquaintances on the way. bhOndOO is looking down, reciting the statements in mind, Shami, I want to say something. We are made for each other. I love you. Shami, I want to say something. We are made …
They reach the Main Building. They walk up to the J N Tata statue. The security guard keeps looking suspiciously at them, but bhOndOO is not bothered — he has bigger issues to tackle.
Shami and bhOndOO are now standing below the statue, facing each other. The situation looks similar to a Christian wedding with J N Tata as the Father. The sole spectator in the wedding hall is suspicious.
bhOndOO does not know but Shami knows that bhOndOO never utters her name. Shami is looking straight into the eyes of bhOndOO now. bhOndOO’s blood pressure is on the rise, he has forgotten what all he wants to say.
“… I just… wanted to say that… you are… I mean I… I…”.
bhOndOO’s pulse rate is at its ultimatum. He is looking at Shami with wide open eyes, wide open mouth, and Shami is just… well, silent.
“… I just… wanted to ask… whether… whether you have confirmed ticket.”.
Shami looks down, smiling.
bhOndOO curses himself, and continues, not to disclose his intentions, “No, it’s important. This is a holiday season. The train will be overcrowded.”.
Shami continues smiling, nodding her head in negation.
“You must have a berth. It is a long journey. You… you have a berth no?”.
“Yes, I have.”, Shami says, softly.
“That’s good. That’s very good. You will have a comfortable journey. I just wanted to ask that.”.
“Sure?”, Shami gives him a mocking look.
bhOndOO dreads and finds himself saying, “Sure… Sure… No. Actually, there is something else I wanted to say.”.
Shami continues looking at him, expectantly.
“I wanted to say that… we are… we are made… no… we are friends. Yes, we are friends for each other…”.
Shami nods, leaving her hope, still smiling.
“And all friends must travel by train with confirmed berths.”.
Shami keeps looking.
“And all friends will have a comfortable journey.”.
The look continues.
“… I just… I just wanted to say that much…”.
“Sure. Is that all?”.
“Yes, that’s pretty much… everything.”.
“Shall we now go back?”
“Yes, of course… of course…”.
While going back, bhOndOO, continues looking down, without speaking a word. Shami keeps smiling.
As they reach Shami’s hostel, bhOndOO turns towards Shami and, “Happy journey.”.
Shami nods. bhOndOO, with a heavy heart, “Bye.”.
Their eyes meet. They talk of separating from each other. bhOndOO turns to leave.
He turns back, surprised.
“Shall we go to Nandi Hills next weekend?”.