I am Annu, a more than homely housewife, started living in Bangalore since last 4 weeks. In fact got married few weeks and moved to Bangalore as my husband works here. I happened to meet Vanni, in the next door apartment few days back. She such a beautiful and nascent teenager staying with her parents in the same apartment as that of ours. Before I will go further on her, I need to talk about Nikhil, my sweet Brother. This is his story; I could hardly leave him in Coimbatore railway station – he was weeping like a child – made me as well ran into tears. Vaani came into his life 6 months back, and just left him without any contact details. All he knows is she is in Bangalore.
It was a Feb 2007, education year is going to come to an end in a months’ time and exams are soon going to start. Nikhil is still in his lazy – lazy mode sleeping till 0800. Ever since he went into High school, he asked for a separate room and Papa has converted his office room as a room for him. Papa moved his work desk to his bedroom. I continued in our old kids’ bedroom. Marriage alliances were coming on a high note during those days.
Alarm rang in the morning repeatedly for some time; Nikhil kept on snoozing it every time. Finally moms had to force enter to wake him up.
Mom: “Nikhil, wake up boy –its time for your school, wake up, lad.
Nikhil opened the blanket and begged – ‘hmm, just 2 more minutes’.
Mom’s voice gone further loud: “Son, todays is last day of your school before year-end exams; at least don’t get punished today again”.
Whether its last day or first day, this has been the case almost every day at home. Because of 6 years age difference, I have gone to school when he was very small. Next will be another hour in the bath room.
Mom – continued her ranting – “I don’t why this boy take so much of time – he is just like a girl in getting ready”.
By the time mother again went back to him, he came out of the bathroom – in school dress, hairs combed to make spikes in front. He nodded to me in action asking “if Jassu has come or not“?
Jasra is another mischievous kid in the neighbourhood. Nikhil’s close friend. There will always be a stake from him for whatever mischief Nikhil would do. Both will cycle away daily to school. I went to the balcony to check. There is he is already downstairs. Nikhil started grabbing his breakfast while I was nodding him that Jassu is already reached. I looked down to Jassu. He showed the watch to indicate they are already late. I looked back to room to ask Nikhil to hurry up, by the time he took his bag went out. I could see the door banging.
“Bye deedi“, both of them shouted from ground floor and cycled away. I could hear them talking.
Nikhil: “Brother, today also we will be late …”
Jassu: “Last day to hang around with girls. Lets not miss more time. Pedal fast”
*** *** *** *** ***
And evenings – Both will come home like swift and will get into the basketball shorts and goes back to the playground. Everyday mom try to beg to him to eat something; Most of the time he drinks something and grabs the sandwich and run. Evening time Nikhil will always be first as Jassu will ensure fill his stomach and come.Good part is basketball court is in the centre courtyard of the apartment complex and mom can see them play if she comes to kitchen balcony. She will start calling him to come back from 0600 onwards and he ends up in reaching home by 7. That day was no different, both went down. I picked up a chair and book and went to the kitchen balcony, started reading the book – also watching the boys playing time to time. I noticed a new girl cycling around in the road surrounding the court. She must be in her early teenage, she is so cute and beautiful will long hairs. Whitish in complexion, was wearing a salwar and kurtha. I have not seen her in the apartment before; must be someone newly moved in. Nikhil is trying to balance the basketball in one finger and Jassu is trying to time it. They were taking the turns in doing it. Next is again Nikhil’s turn and he took back the ball from Jassu;I, ignored them and went back to my book. Suddenly I heard a sound and looked down. The girl in the cycle fell down; both Nikhil and Jassu running towards her.
Nikhil tries to pick her up, she get up her own; Jassu goes and takes the ball.
Nikhil (to Jassu): “ I have told several times to you to hold the ball properly. Say sorry now, hah?”
Jassu: “But, I have not ..”
Nikhil (to Jassu): “Why cant you just be little careful?”.
Nikhil (to the girl): “Sorry huh?(pretending to be innocent)”.
Nikhil (to Jassu): “what are you waiting for – say sorry man”
The Girls: “Its okay”
Nikhil (to the girl): “Did it hurt much, shall I help you to reach home?”.
The Girls: “I am fine, you carry own with your game”. She picked her cycle and walked away. I was little amazed with my Brother’s presence of mind. Jassu was deadly angry on Nikhil; As soon as she left the scene, Jassu started running behind Nikhil to hit with the ball. I could hear him running to home. I followed him to his room. As expected he was in the bed; looking at the mirror, and trying to play with his hair. I barged in and asked – “Is everything all right?”
“Yes Deedi, all is fine“– he replied without even looking at me. I was about to move out of the room, he caught my hand from behind.
“Do you know, if anyone has newly moved to our apartment complex?” he questioned?
“Don’t know, Mom was telling something like that” – I tried adding more fuel to the matter.
*** *** *** *** ***
Days runs fast – Nikhil seemed to restless for past few days; I could sense the reason. Both the friends are not on a basketball spree for past two days, just cycle around all the over the place – looks like in search of some one. Like yesterday, came back home today as well to the room. Mom asked to both if they want to eat something. Actually he is not eating properly also for past 2 days. I went to check in their room. Jassu was running with Nikhil’s underwear and he almost banged me. I tried to stop him, he made his way out to the balcony and the cloth slipped out his hands to the road next the balcony. Nikhil came out of the bathroom in the towel by this time. “So that you Jassu? “ I asked Jassraj.
“Sorry deedi, I was about hide from her to making fun of him, I didn’t though it will fall down under the balcony” – Jassu mumbled.
“OK now – go get it, Nikhil put on your Barmooda and go and get it from downstairs” – I ordered.
Nikhils changed himself and went down the pick the underwear, I walked into the balcony. As he walked towards the underwear, Nikhil realized that the girl that was hit by his basketball, the same girl that they were searching for past 2 days is sitting on the bench on the other side of road, near to the basketball court. Her cycle is parked next to her. She is fully immersed into the book that she was reading.
Nikhil do not what to do? He got some mental strength and started walking towards the cloth to pick – she shouted.
The girl: “Hey, Hi”
Nikhil”:(looks towards the underwear and then towards her)“Hi,,uhh are you okay now?”
The girl: (with bright smile on her face) “I am fine“
Nikhil: “ I have not seen you here before?”
The girl: “Yes, I am from Bangalore – My name is Vaani. My uncle stays here, came to visit him”
Nikhil: “I am Nikhil, I stay there (pointing towards his home in the 2nd floor)”..
Myself and Jassu acknowledge the talk from Balcony. She smiled at us as well.
Nikhil: (looking at here book) “Uhh, you like read is it ?”
Vaani : “Yup, A lot –in fact I want to buy some books?”
Nikhil: “Hey, why you want to buy books, I have many books at home?”(again pointing towards home). Jassu is missing in the balcony. I still kept to listening to their talk.
Vaani : “Really, what all you have?”
Nikhil: “Come home, I will show you”.
Vaani got up picks her cycle. Both start walking toward the home. They seeJassu on the way.
“Jassu, she is Vaani” says Nikhil,both greets each other. All the three start walking. Nikhil stops and asked to Jassu – “Hey brother, at least pick up your underwear from the road?”.
There was an outburst of laugh. I could not stop myself as well. I moved into room to open the door for them. Vaani is in a pink jogging suit open hair. She looked more beautiful from a closer look.
“Son, new girlfriend?”Mom asked– as soon as they entered the room.
“No, mom – just friend, new friend – She is Vaani” – he replied. I have shown my face to mom to keep shut.
*** *** *** *** ***
Days passed, Vaani has become a best friend of Nikhil and Jassu in a short period of time. The trio had hanged around every possible place in the apartment complex, library, club house, etc etc. Finally she had left for Bangalore after 2 weeks. My little brother has become like a Devdas after exit. His sole problem was he didn’t ask any of her contact details, during the entire course 2 weeks friendship – he didn’t even asked her which apartment did her uncle stayed, nor did he ask his name. Everyday morning, he just kept on dreaming of the beautiful moments that he spent with her, till the time Mom kicked him from the Bed.
“At least do some study, now – you have exams after 2 weeks. It is final exams and you are high school – you won’t be able to do any study next week during the marriage functions” – mother shouted in the morning.
I went to his room and consoled him. I have convinced him to study for his exams; He was also worried that I will move out of the home after one week post marriage. I said, “Anyways I am going to stay in Bangalore after marriage; You come over to bangalore after exams – we will do Vaani hunting together in Bangalore?”. Next few days gone by marriage preparations, exam preparation for Nikhil etc. Time flew fast. Now I am moved to Bangalore with my husband. Ever since I came to Bangalore, my eyes were wandering for one face. Yes I was looking for Vaani. Everywhere I go, I kept on looking on to teenage girls to see if she is Vaani or not.My entire search comes to an end yesterday when I entered in the lift and I saw Vani joined in the lift. I could not believe my eyes and sheer coincidence that she lives in the same Apartment floor in Bangalore. I enquired about her whereabouts. Though it was almost 2 months, she could recollect me. She asked me about Nikhil and Jassu. The first thing I have done is to call up home asked Mom and Nikhil to come Bangalore. I met her couple of times after that. Her mom-dad will go early to office, she leave to school by 0930am. I see that her parents come early from work wait for her in the main gate. I see the pattern for few days now.
*** *** *** *** ***
As they arrived to the apartment complex, the security called me from the main gate and gave the Phone to Nikhil. I though let me play a little bit here. I gave Vaani’s flat number instead of mine; I looked at the time, its around 0928am, its time for her to goto school. I opened my door little bit and waited for them to arrive to the floor. Vaani’s flat was diagonally opposite to ours. I could see Nikhil walking in front with Bag and Mom behind him.I observed him carefully as he walked to the door. I knew that time was running out but suppressed the urge to check my watch. I took a deep breath and started counting in reverse under my breath. “Ten, nine, eight, seven”.He was about knock the door, I could hear someone opening the door-lash. Vaani opened the door. I couldn’t see Nikhil’s face. But he immediately turned around with a BIG smile to see me standing opposite door behind Mom. He just couldn’t believe himself. He was speechless. He just sat on the floor, I moved towards him and hugged him… Mom was really clueless what was going on in the scene.
*** All characters are fictional, Author (Anu) is male writer, changed in the story as female to fit in the story line ***