Love is in the air. Some try to shut it out, some fling open the window and welcome it with arms wide open. But love is capricious.
Ranjit parked his motorcycle and walked to the entrance of the university, carrying the bag with sweets his mother had sent for his sister. His jeans kept trying to sneak away from the entrapment of his belly. It would have been best to wear the belt, he thought.
Visiting his sister there brought back memories from his days in college. The fervid, frantic, melancholic, and purposeful faces made him smile wistfully. The faces outside the gates resembled those within, but in there, there was a most refreshing guilelessness about them.
While Vipin had been invited to a house party for New Year’s Eve, Ranjit spent it with relatives. He tried protesting, but his mother was too persuasive, and his father too domineering. Playing Antakshari with family until the clock struck 12 wasn’t his idea of spending the last day of the year. But his sister tried lifting his spirits, and his uncle pitched in with a few pitchers of local ale, inserting spirits into him. In time, Ranjit forgot his sullen mood and most everything else.
It was the last auspicious day of the wedding season, and the first day Ranjit wore his new suit. One of his friends was getting married, which gave him the opportunity he was waiting for. The garment was of a hue of grey more suited for old people, but his innocent face and clueless eyes conquered that minor obstacle. He had approved of what the mirror reflected, and so had Vipin, his roommate. But the moment he entered the traffic-laden areas of outer-Delhi, his mood soured.
The alarm clock jolted Ranjit out of sleep. He smacked the ringer and grunted, fuming at his failure to switch it off for Sunday morning. After turning in his bed for a few minutes, he gave up. He picked his pack of cigarettes and walked to the balcony, muttering curses at the alarm clock all the while.
Ranjit was driving home on his Bajaj motorcycle. It had been a long day repairing computers in south-west Delhi. It wasn’t his job anymore to go fix faulty machines, but their chief repair person had gone to his village, leaving Ranjit as the only one capable enough for the job.
Mia’s time and effort in painting for the district competition are rewarded, but it’s her words that fill her family with warmth.
Jimmy came running up to her house the morning the result was declared in the newspaper. He had the Art section of the paper in his hand, with his finger clutching the part that had Mia’s name as the winner.