The Yellow Dove
The water in the lake seemed to be abnormally calm today. The otherwise mischievous layers of water conversing with each other, sliding, raising and razing seemed to be mourning the long departure of the summer and waiting for the monsoon. The dead leaves guarded the northern, eastern and southern boundaries, along the walkway, of the lake with yellow, golden and brown leaves fallen from the bordering trees. Some of them, especially at the edges of the boundaries, were so rustic and curved that they almost seemed carefully crafted and placed on the water to float by an artist passionate about death. The western surface of the lake was claimed by a spread of green algae.
Danish loved this warm, soft and picturesque scattering of the elements of nature. It was this warmth he was seeking before he attends his first lecture of the new academic year. He was sitting on a bench, at the North-Eastern end of the lake under a big tree with two of its branches so bent that they almost touched the water surface, and was listening to music on his headphones, the volume so adjudged that it was neither too high nor too low. He could enjoy the music while still being able to listen to the stream of water rising up and falling down back into the lake and the quacking ducks running around on one of the platforms in the lake which get submerged in the lake water during the rainy season. He enjoyed watching the fountains, the rainbow, the ducks and sometimes people offering the last respects to their recently deceased elders by the Pinda daana. People stood at the edge of a rock cluster, packed with mesh to offer grip, mutter inaudible slokas, verses, and set afloat some rice balls, coconuts and ashes wrapped in cloth. Some times people would leave a duck into the lake. Danish notice that the water level today was lower than it was the last time he had been there. He pulled his phone to change the song to repeat the song he was listening to and he saw the time, 08:45. He decides to leave. He could easily reach the college by 9.
Danish was walking towards the Chemistry lab after the first Physics lecture of the third semester. That was the first time is eyes first got shut due to the aura around a slim statue of a girl. He couldn’t see her face as she was on her side near the flag pole with her careless air flirting with the gentle gush of air passing through them. But he was convinced that it was due to the brilliance of her red-blue aura he thought. He could only see her nose ring, proud of its seat. Then he saw the metallic frame with purple plastic ends resting on her right ear. Her earrings were of two diamond shapes entangled with each other. The lower one had a yellow bead suspending, matching her dress. After a few more seconds of dallying and capering, she finally placed her frolic hair behind her ear. It was now that he noticed some other students standing around the pole and a few descending the stairs. One of them walked towards Danish and asked “Bro, can you tell where the Math department is?”
A distracted Danish pointed him towards the chemistry lab and indicated him to take a right and then another right, the third room after the NCC storeroom was the Math department. He asked him if he and the other students were the new students in the first year. The boy nodded. Danish realized that the girl with red-blue aura dressed in yellow was now looking at him. He saw her face. He was trying to figure out the colour of her eyes when the boy interrupted him saying “Are you our senior then?”
“Yes,” he said as he watched her walk from him along with all the other girls.
“My name is Abhilash. You can call me Abhi. He is Tauheed”, he said pointing to a guy walking towards them. He offered his hand for a handshake. Danish introduced himself to him and three more freshers.
“The Math prof. doesn’t like latecomers”, Danish said with a grin.
Everyone suddenly seemed nervous and almost ready for a sprint. He chuckled and said, “Relax. Just kidding. She is in fact in the Physic lab right now collecting your attendance list”.
“Anyway, I don’t want to start another year with chemistry on a bad note. I’ll see you around” he said waving at the group. The group accompanied him to the chemistry lab and then took the right turn and Danish entered the lab and was shocked to see four of his batch mates already present! They had bunked Physics class.
A week had passed since the commencement of the new academic year. Danish didn’t get to see her for three days that week, but on the days she attended the classes, he managed to steal glances at her. But he still didn’t know her name. He called her ‘the yellow dove’ mixing his muses with Shakespeare’s description of Juliet through a smitten Romeo. He had kept this a secret, like most things. However, his eyes glowing and finger dancing in her presence gave it away to his close friend Badal. Badal knew her name, he knew everybody’s name already. But Danish refused to get it from him. He wanted to hear her name for the first time in her voice. Her loud voice conveyed her presence even before her aura did, he had learnt. He also learnt that she was his exact opposite. He was an introvert who always seemed lost; she was always surrounded by her friends and very present. He was calm and silent; she was brisk and loud.
Danish was on his way to the Hindi department when he heard the Hindi lecturer calling his name. She was surrounded by a bunch of first-year students, including the yellow dove. As he walked towards the lecturer, the students dispersed. His yellow dove, with an amplifier in her voice box, turned around and smiled at him before walking down the stairs. The Hindi department had a tradition of visiting orphanages as a part of extensive activities. The same was scheduled for the next Saturday. And just like last year, he was to accompany her and a few more students to buy the books, stationery, chocolate etc. for the kids they were to spend a day with. But the trip had to be preponed to the next day! It was decided that they would go shopping on the same afternoon. The lecturer, Bani ma’am, and four of her students, including Danish, left to the famous Avenue road.
While they were busy negotiating the right price for bulk order, the teacher was busy informing all the other students about the change in schedule. Danish and Kavya were tasked to pick the gifts for the children who would win in the games. Kavya got busy checking out the seemingly fascinating tiaras for kids and was trying them on her as if she were a 4-year-old. Danish clicked her pictures, reluctantly, first with her glasses and then without. Just then Baani madam walked in and handed her phone to Danish asking him to keep it in his pocket and went towards Kavya. Now even she was a 4 year old. A few minutes later her phone rang. “Seema B.A” it read. Looking at the screen she asked Danish to inform her about the new schedule and she again disappeared behind an aisle.
“Hello ma’am”, said an unfamiliar voice.
“Hi, Umm.. ma’am is busy actually, It’s Danish from B.Sc.” he replied. He hated talking on the phone.
“Oh” was her response. Then there was some whispering. But Danish could make out that she was telling someone ‘Some Danish from B.Sc., you talk to him.
“Hello! Are you there?”
“Hello” came the response.
But not from the first voice. The blood in his heart seemed to warm up suddenly and his heartbeat increased. It was the same loud voice he had heard many times in the corridors and stairwells and even in the library. It was her. His yellow dove.
“Danish? Are you there?” The voice caught his attention before he could zoom out.
“Huh yes.. I’m here.. I mean I can hear you” he was nervous.
“Hi! It’s Simran. From B.Sc. I had called to confirm if the trip is preponed. Seema received a text from Kavya di”
“Yes. Yes. It’s tomorrow.” He rushed through.
“Cool! Thank you. I’ll inform others. Bye.”
She cut the call.
He stood there with a half nervous half-true smile as if she stood right before him.
“Simran,” he said to himself as he placed the phone back in his pocket with a wide smile and gleaming eyes.