She picked up on the fifth ring. Every single time, he chuckled to himself. Call it a crazy coincidence but she always picked up on the fifth ring.  How was that even possible,he wondered ? I mean, sure, he could hear the number of rings from his end of the phone but she would be hearing that tacky ringtone of hers, right ? Tum to Tehre Pardesi... Of all the songs in the world, she had to choose Altaf Raja !! The tragedy king of tragedy songs !! Heck, he thought, Altaf Raja himself probably had Bappi Lahiri as his ringtone.

"Hello?" he could hear the sound of traffic behind her. She was travelling somewhere. "Ankit Sir? Ankit Sir ? I can't hear you."

He smiled. He found himself smiling a lot around her these days. Nine months ago, he'd been the senior in charge of 'welcoming' her batch to the college. Of all the girls around in that batch of freshers, he never thought he'd develop a crush on her. I mean, there were prettier girls, there were richer girls... but as he had come to realise over the last month or so, there was only one Navya. Of all the girls in that batch, she was the only one who he felt truly comfortable with. They both shared the same taste in music and movies. She loved talking about any topic under the sun ( admittedly, not a unique feature but it was more fun with her ) . She was smart, yet knew not to be oversmart like some of her batchmates. Over the last month or so, they'd ended up going out in the same gang frequently as her cousin Dhanya was going around with his pal, Suresh. Still, today was different. Today was THE day. He wished he'd prepared better instead of banking on his own spontaneity to carry him through.

"Hi Navya. Can you hear me ?"
"Ya. I'm in the bus right now, Sir. But you tell..."
"Navya, listen."
"Ya ?"
"The new Abhishek Bachchan picture is releasing this week." He knew she liked Abhishek. He preferred Hrithik Roshan's new movie himself but for some weird reason, she liked Abhishek better.
"I know."
"I'd gotten tickets for it for Friday noon and I was wondering..."
"What ? I can't hear you ?"
"I said I have tickets for the new Abhishek Bachchan movie. Friday noon show. I was wondering if you wanted to come... "
"Sure. I'd love that. Awesome,sir."
"There is one problem. You'll have to bunk class. I know how important attendance is to you girls... after all, if you don't get 100% attendance, what will mummy pappa say ? Who will marry a girl with 80% attendance, na ?" he teased.
"Kya sir. That's not a problem. Priya will give proxy as usual, sir." 
"Call me Ankit, no."
"Ok sir" She giggled.
"Great"
"I'll come with Dhanya and meet you guys there then, ok ?"
"Uh..." 

He bit his lip. This was gonna be awkward."Uh, Navya ? They're not coming."
"Why is that, sir ?"
"See, I only got two tickets and I was thinking maybe you and I ..." his voice trailed off, letting her see the full implications of his statement. He waited a few seconds as the sounds of traffic invaded his ears through the phone.
"Navya ? You there ?"
"Sir... "
"Ya.."
"Don't think bad of me sir but I may have other plans on that day." 
"Oh. No. Not at all."
"I forgot all about it till just now. I have to meet a friend for some stuff."
"Ya ya.. of course. Stuff. Of course. I understand."
"In fact, I was going to meet him for that only now." Him. HIM ?
"Not a problem at all ya. I just had an extra ticket so I simply asked like that."
"Okay sir... Uh. I've to get down from the bus sir. I'll talk to you later."
"Ya, sure. Okay. Bye."

Dammit, he screamed inside his head. He'd made a complete ass of himself there. He should have found a more subtle way to ask her out. Now she knew and it would be really embarrassing when they next met. Damn !! What if she told Dhanya ? Dhanya would tell Suresh. Everyone would know he'd asked her out and she'd turned him down. Oh man. And who was this "him" she was talking about ? Had somebody already asked her out before him ? That would be just like his luck. To finally find a girl worth asking out and then find out some other jackass had asked her out the day before. 
What ya, God ? I don't even bug you during exam times nowadays. Just for this one thing I asked your help and you screwed it up. As it is, it looks like you have no idea what you're doing. Sachin isn't scoring his 100th century. All the good singers and artists you're taking and politicians you're leaving behind here. Anna Hazare isn't eating but his gang is growing fatter. Small small things like this also you can't manage to do. Kuch tho sharam kar... Do something right in the world.

The doorbell rang, interrupting his personal monologue. He looked at his watch. Wow. Had it already been 30 minutes since he'd called her up ? Time sure flew when you were in a rotten mood. He stayed in his bed, making no move to get up. 
The bell rang again. He already knew who it was. Mr Gupta had told he'd come by in the evening to collect the flat rent. At the third ring, he realised that he wasn't leaving and got up. Another long ring. 
"OK OK. Stop ! I'm coming." he called out.
Just as he reached the door, the bell rang again. "I SAID I'M COMING" he bellowed. 
Five rings.  Ironic. Very funny, God. He opened the door. "I'm sorry Mr Gupta, I really don't have the rent right now..." his voice trailed off.

She stood in front of him smiling. "Sir. I have two tickets for the Hrithik Roshan movie. Friday noon show."
He smiled , his mouth wide open. She continued.
"There is one problem. You'll have to bunk class... I know how important attendance is to you boys... after all, if you don't get 100% attendance, what will mummy pappa say , na ? Which girl will come for boys with 50 % attendance ?"
His smile had now broken out into a full fledged grin, but still his voice failed him.
"Arrey Sir. Tell fast. Just now, I got a call from a college mate also asking me to come with him for that chuk-aduuu Abhishek's movie. If you don't want to come, I'll call him and say yes."

The grin finally gave way to a laugh. She laughed with him. 
And just like that, all was well with the world again.

Well, except for Mr Gupta, who didn't get his rent money that weekend. 
He didn't return empty-handed though. He did learn a new fact that Friday. Apparently, the price of a tub of caramel popcorn, two ice cream sundaes and two large Pepsis was practically a quarter of his rent, he was reliably informed. 







 
 

22 Comments

Oh! If only God now turned his glance from him and her to me and him. :p

really nice :) :) *superlike*
Rohan said…
Awesome as always! And nice way of putting the sarcastic talk with God in between!
sumukh bansal said…
even the imagination of some incidents leave you with a smile..
nice one... :)
Varsha said…
Simple yet so nice....
Prats said…
A nice warm story, though predictable but brilliantly told... surfaced nostalgic engineering days feeling inside me :-)
Anonymous said…
Good one!!!! Nice to start a New Year with warm feelings!!!

Happy New Year Rosh!!!!
Sunitha said…
nice one, only I think you got 2 time periods mixed up... In the altaf Raja, Hrithik, Abhi era, which was at a height during the time I was in engg college,Anna Hazare didn't exist and Vice versa. But the story is nice and cute and timeless.
Dr Roshan R said…
Jalpari.. I can think of many people who feel the same way :)

Rohan, you know me.. I always find a way.

Sumukh, thanks.
Dr Roshan R said…
Varsha, thanks.

Prats, definitely guilty of being predictable.. this is meant for the "slice of everyday life" category for sure.

Nilu, Happy New Year :)

Sunitha, actually I havent. The Hrithik/ Abhishek era is this week - Agneepath vs Players. I've just had 'em use old ringtones :)
Arunima said…
nice... thnx for reminding me tht happy endings do happen
Sumana said…
As always..good:)
U know how to bring smiles :D
maithili said…
sweet story :) But Altaf raja really?? :D reminded me of my childhood days when I used to play "tum toh tehre pardesi" on loop :D :D
Harman said…
nice story :)
love the punches! is it so?..gurls get 100% attendance to get married to a nice boy!!
:))
simply me said…
Guess i have lost the innocence to enjoy this post .... Cute post btw :)
Red Handed said…
wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww..LUCKY GUY!!!
Hahhahaha this was sooo unexpected! oved it~~
Roohani said…
awww.. Its was very nice..
nice post ...n 100% attendence for girls was a nice punch..
Nirvana said…
Loved the nahppy ending!! and a happy new year to you too! Hope 2012 gives you many many lovely memories!
Nagalakshmi V said…
ah i feel so good now :) thanks for that!
Anonymous said…
Nice Rosh... comparing this to a similar situation, but in my case I was arguing to God for a house-maid!

Sharni.
Illeen said…
Haha.. good old romance..loved it!!
:)
Unknown said…
Nice one :-)