I still remember the first day I saw her. I was advising some junior prefects. I usually did not do that in evenings. But I think it was the destiny which made me stay after school to do that. It was a pleasant evening in June. Whole school premises were covered with newly bloomed flowers. I told newly elected junior prefects about the way they should handle the students at morning assembly and how to let them go in a queue. These were very simple matters but as the head prefect it was my duty to educate them about their responsibilities.
A car stopped while I was standing just in front of principal’s office talking to a dozen of junior prefects. A gentleman with a graying beard got down from the vehicle and walked to me.
“Where is the principal’s office son?’ He questioned with a faint smile.
“Walk directly through this corridor sir, and then you come across it.” I pointed and said.
I turned around to see how he follows my instructions. Instead of entering to the corridor he walked back to the car. He bent near the rare seat and told something.
It was an amazing moment in my life. A pretty girl got down from the car. Her hair which was in a plate shined in gold colour along with setting sun rays. She was wearing a skirt and a white long sleeved blouse but her thin long fingers were visible even at a distance. She had a small round face which reminded me an angel in fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson. Dumfounded and rooted on the spot I waited being charmed by her beauty and elegance.
I wanted to smile with her. But unfortunately she didn’t notice me. I guessed that the gentleman was her father. Both of them headed to principal’s office.
Within few seconds I felt shy about myself. I was the head prefect of the school; someone respectable and someone who is supposed to be smart and decent. But at that moment I stared at her forgetting where and who I was. I blamed myself for that childish behavior and switched back to the tough role of the head prefect.
When I finished my work as usual I had to keep the key of prefects’ room in principal’s office. The car was still there so I knew that they must be talking with the principal yet. I sat on the bench outside the office waiting until their conversation ended. I had no intension of listening it though I overhead what they told.
‘It is the middle of the term. Are you sure that you can catch up the things?” It was principal’s voice.
“Yes sir” Her voice was calm and soft.
“Because of my job we have to change our residence as well as Divya’s school. When she was in Delhi she was the topper in the class.”
“That’s great. Even though this is a school in outstation we maintain a high academic level and a good discipline among the students”
“ That’s why I selected this school” Divya’s dad replied.
“ It’s an honor for us to have police commissioner’s daughter in our school” Principal replied.
Her name echoed in my ears. Her name perfectly suited her divine nature, the innocence she portrayed and the kindness outpouring from her blue eyes as two ponds filled with pure waters. She was too cute to be a human. Her first sight made me explore an untrodden path in my soul. I felt that she had stolen my heart as no one had ever done before.
Amidst parents wishes for me to pass grade twelve exam well and the reputation gained as the head prefect made me close the doors of love and become totally academic oriented. During last few years I did not feel any kind of romantic feeling on any one. Loneliness did not bother me either because of my busy daily routine. All who fell in love, all who talked about love, and all who begged love seemed to be fools to me. But my heart whispered me that I was deeply in love with her at the first sight.
My brain argued with the heart. I knew nothing about her. What I only knew was that her name is Divya and her father was a police commissioner. She was totally a stranger to Chandigarh. Along with all these unknown information I didn’t know why I started to love her all of sudden. How can such a deep feeling arouse this much fast? I couldn’t comprehend that. I wondered how strange the love is. It makes your life upside down as if you have been caught to a whirlwind. My brain warned me over and over again that this was mere attraction, something like a crush but not love which people call sacred. But my heart did not accept that.
She didn’t even know me. I did not know what kind of an impression she would create on me. What it she hates my company? I knew that it was really useless to love someone who does not know you. But I was sure that I would get a chance to meet her though I didn’t know that it was destined to get closer to her very early.
“Arun come in” Principal called me. He had noticed me sitting on the bench near the office.
“Excuse me sir” I entered and hung the key of prefects’ room in the usual place.
When I turned back to leave the shirt entangled with a new nail fixed on the wall. I patiently released my shirt with fingers because I was not pleased to see my school uniform being torn.
“This is our head prefect” Principal introduced me to Divya and her father.
For no reason I felt embarrassing. I hid it and smiled friendly with both of them.
She had a mesmerizing smile which made a warm sensation in my heart. It was impossible for me to maintain my normal behavior. Her sparkling eyes were speaking. They had a timid look half hidden from glamour. I remembered that principal was watching me and her dad too. She was like a dazzling diamond for her sallow dress, surrounded by a king cobra and a demon with principal and dad around. So I took the wise precaution of pretending to be normal and not to show my emotional excitement in the mind.
“This is Divya, our new police commissioner’s daughter. From Monday she will join your class. She is new to the school so help when she needs a support” Principal advised me.
I nodded obediently.
Principal considers me as her care taker but I was falling love with her. I was wondering how to win her heart. How bad I was?
I lived in Chandigarh; the city beautiful. My dad was a land owner who owned half of the fields in the village. My mom was a caring house wife. She had learnt well. If she tried she could have found a good job. But papa considered his wife doing a job as a disgrace. He was such a conservative thinker. In weekends there was no school, so I used to visit vast lands belonged to papa. That was what most of the wealthy villagers expected from their grown up sons. But in papa’s case he never forced me to visit our property. I did it because it was an utmost pleasure for me to help him in his work whenever possible. Anyway papa had clearly understood the value of studying too.
When I saw his face I felt guilty about having romantic feelings on Divya. That weekend was the hardest weekend for me to end up. I was day dreaming about her with my chin rested on palm. Mom noticed it and asked me whether I was ok. I replied yes, fixing my eyes on the ground.
Like the tender paddy plants a tender love was growing in my heart. Her smile and beauty were like sunshine and pure water which kept my newly born love alive. I could do anything for the sake of her. As the blooming sun above the golden temple in Amritsar my love for her was certain. I had no idea about the future how she will respond me. The only thing I knew was that I love her so much.
The weekend passed. Somehow or the other I was waiting eagerly waiting to see her. I went to the school early in the morning. Usually I stand near the main entrance and check the uniforms of boys while the head girl checks the uniforms of girls. That day I was so delighted that this duty was assigned to me. Every student had to enter to the school from the main gate and there were no optional ways. So I was pretty sure that I will catch the first sight of her. A soft pride and contentment rose in my mind. It was the first day on which I did not do my prefect duty properly. When I focus much attention on checking the uniforms I feared that I would miss the opportunity of seeing her. My eyes were fixed on the gate.
There was a more spare time for the school to start. I was impatient to see her, but there was a little possibility for her to come to the school so earlier.
Accidentally I saw a boy of sixth grade wearing fashionable ankle boots which were not permitted in Chandigarh high school.
“Hey don’t you know that this type of shoes is not allowed in our school?” I asked him in a tough voice.
“Dad had sent them from abroad for me not knowing about the regulations. That’s why I…………….” He hesitated with a scornful face.
“It’s ok for today but hereafter, don’t wear this pair” I advised him.
I sighed and looked at the main gate. There was a hustle and bustle in the girls’ queue.
“You can’t come to the school with all these hair styles. Look how many strands of hair fall on your forehead?” Head girl was shouting.
I walked there to see what the matter was. I couldn’t believe my eyes. She was Divya! The head girl had caught her.
“What’s going on Roshini?”
“Arun, look at her hair, strands falling all over the forehead like of a modeler. Even she has not oiled her hair properly. The uniform is against the disciplinary code” Head girl complained me.
This time I had a chance to see a close up of her. What Roshini said was true. Really she had a stubborn , silky hair which cannot be tamed by hair oil, pins or whatever. But I did not want Divya to be humiliated because she did not deserve these cheap insults. She is a genius as I have heard. After all she is the daughter of the police commissioner.
I was in a dilemma that what Roshini would think if I gave her string-pulling.
“Yeah! what you say is true Roshini, I too noticed that. But you know, she is new to our school. Today is her first day here. So let’s forgive her only for today. Today she will get to know about the disciplinary code, rules and regulations here. So she can correct them when she comes on the next day.” I said with a complicated look on my face.
“Oh I didn’t know that she is a new comer. O.k then” Roshini said.
I felt irritated, I didn’t understand why this much power and importance were given to the prefects in our school. Sometimes prefects misused their powers to harass the enemies. Divya’s uniform was not in to the way of the school. But Roshini was overacting on that. What made her so angry? May be other girls are jealous on Divya because she is so pretty.
Sometimes god does very strange things. I was longing to see her. God has noticed that I truly love her. On the first day he made me her savior and gave her an unforgettable memory. This was never expected. Something made me feel that both of us are going to be lovers.
Chandigarh, known as the city of beautiful was more enchanting after the arrival of Divya. The school seemed as a nicer painting with Divya roaming in it. My lifeless soul which never had a touch of this kind of love felt vital with her glimpses and sight.
I was in the first row of the class. It was the place registered for brilliant students. Unfortunately Divya who was a new comer had to take a seat in the last row. I hardly got a chance to see her. I couldn’t be that cheap to turn back every time and gaze at her.
Sometimes god blesses you by giving everything you wish, continuously.
Radhika who used to sit in the first row was absent that day. I heard that she was down with fever. So there was one vacant seat in the first row.
“You , the new girl please come and sit here” Our chemistry teacher told Divya. She took her satchel and the pile of the books and sat in the first row, in a place which was parallel to me, where I could observe each and every moment of her without being noticed to any other.
It did not take a long time for us to realize that our new comer was genius. I, who used to be the topper of the class felt totally helpless amidst her radiance and intelligent nature. When the teachers came to know that she was a new comer, they asked many questions from her. Divya’s answers were superb and clear.
Most of the good looking girls are not gifted with good brains. That was a common logic in schools. But for Divya this theory did not apply. She was really an extraordinary case. That nature charmed me more and more.
When so many unexpected things happen continuously you must understand that the phase of your life is going to have a big change. That day I had to take the bus to the home. Dad had taken the vehicle away from Chandigarh. I walked to the bus stand lost in the thoughts of Divya.
“Arun!” It was a sweet voice with a familiarity.
That was Divya. She even remembers my name. My bliss was outpouring. I halted and smiled with her. She came running to me.
“Thanks a lot for the help in the morning. I was scared that they will take me to the principal”
“Oh it’s ok. Don’t be scared. Just do as the disciplinary code says then no issues” I said.
“How cute she is, how well mannered?”I thought.
“But if you were not there I would have fallen in a big trouble. I will never forget this”
That’s what I too badly needed. I wanted to reside in her heart and live there forever. But I did not know how the things were meant to be.
Days passed. I became a close friend of her. Really it was not the friendship I expected from her. I wanted to be her lover, not an ordinary friend. But I did not have guts to tell her what my heart was urging for.
The greatest fear I had was her dad. He was a great police commissioner who was not shaken by the influences of politicians and he was a person who valued bravery and truthfulness than any other. I didn’t know what kind of a boy Divya expected as her lover. To my greatest pleasure I came to know that she is single. Some school girls had boyfriends. So that was indeed good news for me. One day our conversation turned to that subject.
“Divya, have you ever had a boy friend?”
I petrified. She noticed my change.
“No no I was kidding, I have a dream guy in my mind” She smiled. I felt a little relief and tried to be funny.
“Aha! that’s nice to have a dream guy. So tell me how he looks like?”
“Mmmm look? Yes his appearance is quite similar to you, tall and strong”
My heart skipped a beat. I laughed to hide my excitement.
“He must be honest, decent and intelligent” I analyzed myself.
“I like him to be someone outstanding, someone very brave like my dad who would risk his life to do something great for the betterment of the society”
“So if you come across such a guy will you marry him?”
“Of course! How can I let such a great guy go? Even my dad will be pleased to see that. Anyway there is more time ahead to think about that nonsense” She giggled.
“It won’t be easy for you to find a man with all these requirements” I warned her in a tone of sarcasm.
By cause of time her eyes portrayed, she had felt that I am in love with her. I refrained from all the things that would make a bad gossip between Divya and me. Others never doubted that I was in love with her. They teased us because Divya and I were the toppers of the class though she was few marks ahead from me.
Both of us got flying results from the exam qualifying for the engineering college. Yet I was suspicious about one thing. Always my mind said that I was not the brave man Divya is dreaming of. I wasn’t a coward but not a hero either. I could be an engineer, but there were thousands in entire India. I was not sure whether I had enough qualities to win her angelic heart.
It was obvious that she liked me and was fond of my company. But she didn’t tell me that she loves me.
“Someone very brave who would risk his life to do something great” Her words echoed in my heart.
I had her phone number. But I wanted to meet her personally. After refusing several times finally she agreed to meet me at the coffee shop. Her reaction in this matter made me realize that during past time there was nothing in her heart rather than a close friendship with me.
Time had passed; we weren’t school kids any longer. I was in a burning desire to propose her. I couldn’t stand her treating me as a friend anymore. But every time some force deep in my soul prevented me from asking her out.
“I am going to join Air force as a pilot of rescuing unit”
Divya stared at my face in astonishment when I revealed my decision.
“But engineering?” She stammered.
“Someone who would risk his life to do something great, is always better than an ordinary engineer”
I retold her words which she told me a year back.
“Why are you doing all these?” She was in a puzzled mood.
“To make you mine, with the blessings of your papa” I wanted to say. Instead I kept silent looking at the empty cup of coffee.
When I raised my head after a pause my eyes met with hers. They were tear- dimmed and her eye liner was wet.
I didn’t know what made her sad. Did she really love me? Why she cries when I say I am going to leave Chandigarh? Is that just because of missing a good friend? or is that something deeper? Thousands of questions were rising in my mind.
I had a nice time in training period. Every night I phoned Divya and told her every happening of the day. She listened like a kid hearing fairy tales. She was not different from the young girl I met for the first time at the school. Divya was also enjoying with her new friends in the engineering college.
“Early in the morning before my first flight she phoned and wished me.
“I am so proud of you Arun. I wish if I was there to see you flying. I miss you a lot!” Her words touched my soul with an essence of love.
I can recollect that day with yesterday’s resemblance. It was a rainy and gloomy day in September. I was assigned to rescue some flood victims. For the first time of my life I understood how much valuable one’s life is and I felt that great contentment by saving the lives of those helpless people. Even the people who were elder than me worshiped me to pay their gratitude for being their savior.
“Arun Pratap Singh, you have done a great job”
I was admired by the heads. I wanted to shout loudly to say how happy I was.
I became a pilot because of Divya. If not I could have been an engineering student working on a sum at this moment. I dialed Divya’s number to share this news with her.
She did not pick the call till the screen displayed “No Answer”. I tried several times but it was in vain.
Then I tired her land line. Call was picked after two rings.
“Hello could I speak to Miss Divya Agarwal please?”
“Who are you?”The reply was a feeble male voice.
“I am Arun Pratap Singh. Her best friend at school”
“Oh! Didn’t you get the news? she is………no more” his voice was shaky
“What do you mean? Is she in the college right now?”
“No” The reply was weaker.
“Then?” Unknowingly my pitch rose.
“She is not in this world anymore. Unidentified gunman has shot her dead at the college to take revenge from police commissioner”
Phone fell from my hand.
How to believe that she has left me in this thick loneliness forever remaining an ocean of tears, letting me to weep throughout my life?
I became a brave man; a savior on behalf of the girl I truly loved but I couldn’t save her in my arms.
I sat down on the dusty floor with clammy eyes.