This post continues the story of Chandraketu and his bubbly, bouncy heart. Read the first part here.
The next morning, Chandraketu reached his tuition-class with a card that had a single rose on it. He had literally poured his heart out in it and placed it tidily between an I and a U. To ensure that Rekha knew exactly who her admirer was, he had also signed the card tumhara Chandu (Your Chandu). He was ready to announce his love to his dream girl. All he had to do now was find an opportunity to give it to her. Rekha lived with her Grandma and she belonged to one of the elite and affluent families in the town, which meant that she wasn’t allowed to go anywhere unescorted. Usually their family-servant, an upper-middle-aged man of about sixty years of age, accompanied her to and from the tuition.
That morning it had been raining, so after the class, Chandraketu was the first one out. He stuck that card into the handle of Rekha’s umbrella – the only umbrella in the whole town that could make his heart beat faster. Then he stood in a corner a few steps away waiting for Rekha to come out along with the other two girls, hoping and praying that the rain would keep the servant away. Chandraketu usually followed her on his bicycle, and if the servant weren’t there, he could get closer!
He watched and waited, until he saw her. She was talking to her friends, her hand reached out for the umbrella but before she could pick it, gnarled fingers with chipped and yellowed nails closed over its handle. Before Chandraketu could figure it out, the servant had opened the umbrella and was holding it over Rekha’s head. Chandraketu waited for the duo to leave, then frantically searched the area for his card. He couldn’t find it. It was still stuck in the handle of the umbrella.
Chandraketu hopped upon his bicycle and followed them at a safe distance. The rain-drops splattered upon his glasses rendering him nearly blind. As he pedaled behind them, trying to stay on course, his bike hit something and he somersaulted twice before landing safely on his butt. He suffered nothing worse than a few scratches, not even a bruised ego because nobody was there to witness his plight.
Chandraketu wasn’t someone who’d give up easily, so he picked up his bike, aligned its handle, and got on it again. He was going to Rekha’s house. Who knew, she might be in the window, looking out, waiting for him?
Outside her house, he slowed down. He straightened his glasses and started checking out the windows. He had just checked the third window when he saw her. Clad in a white sari with a green border, her hair white as snow, she had three leashes in her hand. The leashes signaled something ominous. He checked out the yard until he saw them. Unleashed, the three dogs stood lined up against the gate, waiting for it to be thrown open.
Chandraketu acted swiftly. Half-a-second before he heard the voice of Rekha’s Grandmother, he was already pedaling away!
“Tiger, Don, Power! Attack!” she shouted. The gates swung open and they sprang out – barking and snapping, they rushed at him. Chandraketu pumped away at the pedals, as fast as he could. Finally, when he had lost them, he stopped to check his own losses.
- The heel of his left shoe was gone.
- The cuff of his school-trousers was in tatters.
- But what broke his heart was that his dream of winning over Rekha’s affections was destroyed.
Moral and Disclaimer:
For many young Indian men, even today the symbol of heart equals the symbol of hazard/danger. Chandraketu’s story is a case in point. The fact that Chandraketu is just a few years away from becoming the CEO of an American infotech giant that’s headed by another Indian today, is something that prevents me from revealing his identity. I don’t want this story to impact his chances…once again.
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