The Manipulator.

After winning Kiran’s friendship, I would hangout with, he would chew gutka and abuse Jagannath with choicest of swear words and he was love lorn. On the other hand Jagannath would do the same, their rivalry was turning more intense. Occasionally, when Jagannath finds Kiran lurking around our tutorials he would get into verbal argument and sometimes it would turn physical, I would intervene inbetween, to calm them down. Spandana would be embarrassed and sometimes leave the place in a hurry disturbed.

Darshan started to get annoyed with Kiran coming everyday and irritating our batchmates, he called to me the side and asked me not to side with Kiran as he was an outsider, I replied “all of us will be outsiders in few months, there’s no guarantee that we will join same college”, he lost his cool and angrily pointed his palm in disgust towards me shouted “you are an asshole, just to get your personal benefit you are fucking your own classmates” , I responded “what is it to you ?, I love her, want to spend my life with her and these two are a nuisance”, Darshan further added, “bastard, be practical, do you think you will ever end up with her, look at her , she’s brilliant and really nice girl, you are a moron, no body takes you seriously and I doubt even if you will take yourself seriously”, I lost my cool, swore at him and peddalled away.

I met Kiran and mentioned about Jagannath’s plan of coming near his college to beat him up, but he found funny and with all macho bravado just uttered “let him come”, I knew I was manipulating both of them to fight against each other.

Looking back I feel nothing but ashamed of myself, for being such a jerk.

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Ride to Dandiganahalli!

After having a regular Saturday evening with hookah, ice tea and pizzas, a friend highlighted the monotony of our lives and suggested on going on a ride the next day. Woke up early on the Sunday morning and three of us met near Ramakrishna ashram in Basavanagudi, as per our discussion the previous evening. One of the trio, who was a regular biker suggested a place called Dandiganahalli, about 98 km from Bengaluru.

3 bikes, Mahindra mojo, Honda Hornet and Honda twister, we started from Ramakrishna ashram in Basavanagudi at around 5:30 am, we rode continuously for another hour and stopped for a photo break near Devanahalli, carried my Nikon 3300 but I am not a passionate photographer, as a compulsion captured few images of clouds and the above photo.

We rode for another hour and stopped for tea break near the highway tea stall. After returning to our ride, we took a deviation and entered the road towards Dandiganahalli, on the way we spotted a lake and I captured the bird on my 70-300 mm lens,

A panaroma shot from my then mobile phone,

Official selfies,

The location amidst hills and the reservoir,

We spent time till 1 pm and captured a couple of mandatory selfies and returned to the best city on the face of earth we call our home, totally rejuvenated.

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The Mastermind

After receiving Kiran’s warnings, I was tensed as I did not have proper resources to fight a person like him, he had contacts with with few good for nothing morons, but posed like henchmen of Don Corleone. I was in fact more scared of the possibility of him coming to my house and informing about my misadventures to my parents. I thought of various solutions and finally came to a plan of befriending the devil himself. Around the same time, there another classmate of mine, named Jagannath, also had a crush on Spandana, he was bold enough to confess it directly to her. He was one of the chief troublemakers of our school and would pose like he was one of the heir to the seat of Don Corleone, he did have contacts too, after his confession he got into a verbal tiff with Kiran and it lit a rivalry among them.

“Two birds with one stone ” I thought and approached Kiran and informed him of my intention of being his friend and assured him that I did not have any such feelings towards Spandana, he was convinced of my words and we all started hanging out together, but I had to be careful enough to not hangout with Kiran in front of Jagannath, as they both were bitter rivals at that point of time. Jagannath would always behave in a way that Basavanagudi high school boys should stay united no matter what and nothing mattered to him more than loyalty, he probably thought he was a King. Slowly, I started manipulating Kiran to hate Jagannath more and vice versa, they would fight like street dogs after tuitions everyday, I somehow made sure Spandana would notice their fight and feel a sense of disgust towards them, in fact I succeeded partially.

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The backstabber

After receiving threats from Kiran, the gutka chewing senior, I was wondering who would have told him about my crush on Spandana, I told Darshan about Kiran ‘s warning, as he was the only one whom I could trust blindly, upon hearing that he got mad and wanted to beat the crap out of Kiran, I cooled him down somehow. He said ‘I am damn sure Raghunath would have told to him’, ‘what makes you think that?’ I added, ‘do you remember 8th standard, bastard fucked us and joined with that asshole Sashwath’, it made me ponder if he was the one, but also realised he didn’t know Kiran. 

After the warning I toned down a bit and was not monkeying around to impress Spandana for few days, but one day after class I saw Sashwath talking with Kiran outside our school gate, they both were laughing and high fived each other, I pointed this to Darshan who was walking along with me, he exclaimed “son of a bitch! ” And then gave surprised expression to me, I muttered under my breath “backstabbing asshole!”. Darshan replied ” we gotta teach him a lesson he ll never forget”, I responded “yes we have to, I went soft on him”. To be honest, Sashwath did what was in his capacity, he could not take on me directly verbally and Darshan physically, so he used this technique to get back at us. 

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    Announcement aftershocks!

    Darshan by announcing my feeling in front of the entire class, had opened the Pandora’s box of troubles, or so, I thought. Back then it was huge,  you may be made to bring your parents to the school, even her parents to my school, which was a possibility, I knew my headmaster would call her headmaster and make her parents and her to our school, obviously I tend to overthink, worst repercussion which i thought was that she may end her friendship with me and I would never get to talk to her. 

    I went to tuitions the next morning, sat silently in the last avoiding anyone who were close to me, my class teacher noticed me sit in the back and made me sit in the front, he wanted to avoid any kind of “danger” that may spring up by allowing me to stay away from the reach of his scale, of course he never punished me severely with his ruler, he would lightly hold my hair and spin my head in a light-hearted way, he loved us dearly.

    I could not hold my gaze away from Spandana, my eyes moved in the direction where she sat, over eyes met, she giggled and tears came out of her eyes as usual. I did not know how to react, I just smiled. At the end of the class Darshan came towards me, I punched him hard, made sure Spandana noticed it, I wanted her to think I was angry with Darshan’s action.  He started to laughing hard, afterall we were brothers, we can each take a beating from each other, it was tough love.  

    Now, she behaved like she usually behaves, I thought she would be upset and wouldn’t talk, gave me mixed ideas. It was cool, so I moved towards my home, feeling unusually happy, but it turned to horror when a tall guy with athletic built was waiting on his purple Honda Activa, it was Kiran, the same guy who had tormented Suresh few weeks earlier. He followed me closely and asked me to stop and said “are you Bhaskar?”, “Yes” I responded. “Asshole are you behind Spandana?” He added, I felt scandalized but replied “no”. To which he added, ” look you asshole, if I hear any such nonsense you will have it nicely from me, go away now”. I left without saying anything, but having one question , who was Kiran’s  arse licker in our group.

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    Announcement!

    Darshan asked me how did my attempt to ask Spandana on a date go, I explained him everything and he started laughing.  ‘bloody loser’ he exclaimed. I just gave an expression of a fallen hero. He said he would go and express my feelings to her if I did not act soon, I forbade him in doing any such nonsense, “listen you asshole, I will give you time till next Sunday, if you do not tell it to her , you will face the consequences”, he warned me, I knew he would do something dangerous if I did not act soon and also he wouldn’t listen to anyone. 

    Everyday after tutorials, I would chat with Spandana , usually pulling her leg and she mock me back.  She picked up few Kannada swear words from me and that sounded adorable in her coastal Kannada accent, I did try to pick up her accent but sounded fake. We would discuss about tests, I was kind of physics geek in those days, I would help her clear her doubts in physics and she would help me with me with Sanskrit grammar. That proceeded for entire week with no further action from me. On the consequent Sunday evening Darshan came to my place and asked me for an update, when I said j didn’t ask, “you are fucked, for sure wait till tomorrow” he responded. I pleaded him not to anything, “nothing doing” he replied and went out.

    Next day during tutorials, I was anxious that he would do something nonsense in front of her in the class, luckily he did not do or say anything. After tutorials we were in our school, first four periods proceeded normally, immediately after teacher left the class before lunch break, Darshan ran towards the dias and announced ” hold on boys and girls, our Holla, the famous Bhaskar Holla is in love and her name is Spandana Kamat from Digvijaya High school”, “Bastard !!” I swore at him and ran to shut him down. I was involuntarily blushing and pretending to be angry. I pulled him outside the class. 

    The news reached Shravya in adjoining class, after school that day she pedalled near Digvijaya High school and informed Spandana everything. As usual I was waiting near a Iyengar bakery, on the route which Spandana took to reach her home, I saw Spandana and Shravya coming together, I got nervous, not wanting to face her I took a different route and reached home. That evening we had Sanskrit class, I left home with the pretext of attending the class but went to BDA complex near my home. I did not take bicycle to avoid the risk of it being spotted by my brother  at the parking lot.

    Later that night Darshan called my landline and used the codeword to speak privately, I picked up the cordless, muttering few equation went into my room and asked him to blurt out, “Spandana asked me why you were absent, looks like she knows” he answered, I asked further “did she sound angry?”. On the other I heard him laugh and disconnected tone.

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    Decision.

    I had decided that I wanted to ask Spandana out, but how? Was the big question. I expressed this to Darshan, after the mokery, he gave one brilliant idea just go and ask boldly. I decided that I will go and ask boldly, at the most what would happen I asked myself and knew  she would decline at the most.  Getting slapped for asking out would happen only in movies and people were mature enough to say no in a dignified manner. On a Saturday evening, prior to commencement of the class, I called out Spandana and said “hey, I need to ask you something, can you please be available after the class?”, She smiled and said ” sure, why can’t you ask now?”,  I replied “kinda personal and it’s gonna be long” to which she added “alright see you then” and gave a toothy grin, she had a twinkle in her eyes. I felt like, I was floating in air with joy. 

    That day during class I was over excited and caused more nuisance than I normally used to. Every now and then her’s and my eyes met and we both blushed, perhaps she had a hint that I was having a huge crush on her. Everyone were looking at me weirdly, I continued my buffoonery   totally oblivious of the surroundings. Class was about to end and she made a silent gesture where to meet, I pointed my thumb towards the street behind, she gave a thumbs up and we all exited the door of our class teacher’s residence.

    I informed Darshan about my intent and asked him wait at our usual place. Spandana sent Shravya and other friends away and came to that street. I was casually waiting on my cycle was having a packet of areca nuts, I don’t chew paan or gutka, but I had just to appear cool. She came near and asked “tell me now”, she appeared cool , I gazed at her eyes, couldn’t muster courage to ask what I actually wanted to ask, but asked “are you having a crush on someone?”, She laughed hard and said “no dude “tears rolled out as usual and she continued “you wanted to ask this only is it ?”, My voice got lowered involuntarily and said “no, but ,” I stopped midway , she made confidant eye contact and asked “but, what?” , I mumbled ” can I have your algebra notes from your school?”, “That’s all huh? Sure come with me, I will give you now only” she replied and we both walked till her home two blocks away, I tried hard to muster courage to come directly to the point but failed. We went near her residence and she asked me to come in and I insisted that I wait outside as it was getting late, she went in came back within few minutes and handed me the book, I glanced at few pages and said “lovely handwriting!” “Thanks and I want it back before Monday” she said. “Sure, I ll return it during tomorrow’s class” I replied and rode away. To be frank, I never glanced a single page or solve a single problem from her notes, I returned it promptly the next day.

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