So another challenge completed for BWW (Bangalore Writers Workshop). This could either just languish here on my blog or actually be narrated on a radio station here in Bangalore but we will have to find. Until then, enjoy!
WRITING CHALLENGE: Indigo 91.9 has this new show on air called Pillow Talk. The premise of the show is love stories with love songs.
It was Tina’s first day at the new school. Being at a new school wasn’t new to her but she’d never studied in a boarding school before. This would be her fourth new school but her first boarding school. At the age of 15 (she would turn 16 in two months), it was a terrifying experience to live with your classmates when you don’t even know if they like listening to Coldplay on loop. She entered the auditorium tentatively and searched for a friendly face. It was orientation (for the students only) and although her father and sister were in the vicinity, she couldn’t help but feel scared and alone.
“Hi! My name is Adarsh. And you?”
“Cool. Nice name. So where are you from?”
“Cool. Awesome. I love Bangalore. It’s amazing! The weather, the roads, the food.”
Tina nodded but didn’t respond. The boy had just come out of nowhere and she wanted him to go away because she didn’t know what to say.
“I’ve been here since 9th standard. It’s pretty cool and you’ll get used to it. Come sit with us.”
“Why do you have orientation if you’re an old student?”
“To get to know our new classmates. Duh.”
“Haha! Don’t apologize. Seems obvious to me. So here’s Kevin, that’s Anita, that’s Karan, that’s Pooja and that’s Vanitha. Guys, this is Tina.”
Tina waved slowly and took a seat. She didn’t try to join in the discussion and instead took her time in sizing Adarsh up. He was tall, with spiky hair and brown eyes. But what interested her the most was his aura – everyone was cheerful the moment they stepped into his range. He had this magnetic personality and Tina knew she wouldn’t be able to escape it for long.
“Oh come on Tina! It was a joke! I’m sorry. I said I’m sorry like a million times. Don’t overreact.”
“Don’t overreact? You pinched my cheeks so hard! It hurt and I cried. How is that overreacting?”
“Cuz you overreact for everything. You’re so sensitive. Ugh!”
“Adarsh, you’re an idiot and possibly the worst person I’ve ever met in my life.”
“Well then why are we friends?”
“HA! Who said we were?”
6 months into 11th grade and fights between Adarsh and Tina had become as common as someone faking a headache to get out of games period. Everyone knew the signs and how to avoid them if they were in a fight.
“Fine. From now onwards, don’t ever speak to me again. EVER!”
“Fine by me. Then don’t ask me for my help in Economics or English again. EVER!”
They stomped off in different directions only to realize they had class together.
It had been 5 years since they graduated and this was the first time Adarsh had seen Tina since that awkward goodbye at school. She looked good. Her hair had grown long, past her shoulders and her natural curls were adorable. They were tinted with golden highlights that bloomed in the sunlight and her cheeks were as rosy as the first day they met. She hadn’t seen him yet and he wondered if he should go over and say hi. She made the choice for him, as always.
“How’s it going?”
“Really? That’s what you’re gonna ask me the first time we meet after 5 years?”
“Well.” Scratching of the back of his head, mumbling to cover the awkward silence, rolling of the eyes. Yes, nothing had changed.
“Yes please. White wine. You?”
“Coke with ice.”
“No poison to go with that Coke?”
“Not for the last three years.” And suddenly things became serious.
Tina had heard rumours about Adarsh’s struggles with alcohol but she didn’t think it to be true. Seeing his reaction to her forced joke made her want to hug him tightly but she held her arms back.
“So lobbing the ‘How’s it going’ question back at you…”
“Moving back home. Dad’s been wanting me to come back since Dada passed away.” He fiddled with the watch that his grandfather had given him.
“I’m sorry. I heard.”
“Couldn’t call, could you?”
“What would I say?”
“That you’re sorry. That you missed me. Same as I did.”
The waiter interrupted Adarsh’s plea and Tina didn’t know what to feel. She hadn’t felt so confused, standing in front of Adarsh since the first time they had met.
“So can I have your number now then?”
Adarsh smiled but it didn’t reach his eyes.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are gathered here on this fine occasion to celebrate the colossal mistake Vandana is about to make – marrying Adarsh.” Laughter punctuated Tina’s toast and she grinned at the groom.
“Yes yes. Not the time to joke but come on, we all know how tough it can be living with Adarsh. But this is all in jest and we love you, Adarsh and we like you Vandana,” laughter again and then a round of sighs as Adarsh and Vandana smiled and leaned in together, “If Adarsh loves you, then it is enough for us. So let’s raise our glasses to the happy couple and wish them years of stupid fights, great make-up sessions and endless happiness.”
Tina fought to hold back her tears. It warmed her heart to see Adarsh so happy. That’s what she wanted for him, happiness. Even if it wasn’t with her. She was happy without him, as happy as she could be.