Dev was still pleading to the policemen who seemed more like heartless monsters. He was worried about the embarrassment that he and Isha were facing. There was a good probability that they were going to face more of it in the next few hours. Dev looked at Isha who was still crying. Suddenly the jeep stopped in a strange place. The two policemen turned to Dev and one of them asked-“How much do you have?”
“What the hell.”- Dev mumbled. He immediately realized that the policeman was asking for bribe. However he did not have much choice.
“Sir, I have five hundred rupees. Please let us go.” Dev was almost begging now. He took his wallet out and handed five hundred rupees to the policeman.
“Is that all you have? Show me your wallet.” the policeman asked in an acrimonious voice.Dev passed his wallet to him. There were forty rupees left in it but the policeman showed his kindness, whatever he had and did not take that money.
Isha and Dev got down and the jeep paced somewhere else, probably to harass other innocents-Dev thought. Luckily there was no one around who could see them coming out of the police jeep. They sighed a relief. Isha walked few steps and sat on a milestone. Dev looked at her, she appeared pale. He could see few drops of tears on her red cheeks. He wiped the tears with his hands. She did not react at all.
“I am sorry Isha.” Dev said, “It all happened because of me. Please forget all this crap. Now please smile.”
Dev kept looking at her while she was still expressionless. “I will keep staring at you until you smile.” he said.
She smiled and said “thank you” in a low voice. Her hands were shivering.
“Come on. We should probably go home now.” Dev said. Isha responded quickly and stood on her feet. They looked around for an auto-rickshaw but could not find one. None of them was sure how far they had come from Sukhna lake. No one remembers how long was the nightmare, they just wait for it to get over and forget quickly. They started to walk with a pinch of hope they would find an auto-rickshaw on the way.
It was 4pm and the weather was slowly turning pleasant now. They had walked around one kilometer but nothing appeared. This part of the city was isolated and not many people frequently visited here. Suddenly an auto-rickshaw appeared from behind. Dev waved his hand in order to stop that and it did stop.
“How much for Sukhna lake?” Dev asked.
“Sir, sixty rupees for two people.” the auto walah replied.
“I have only forty rupees. Please don’t overcharge us.” Dev tried to bargain as he knew he had forty rupees in his wallet.
“Wait” Isha interrupted, “I have fifty rupees.” She sat on the seat. Dev also joined her.
“He could have agreed for forty.” he whispered in to her ears. She smiled gently.
It took them fifteen minutes to reach Sukhna lake. No conversation took place in those fifteen minutes. They were pissed with the police drama that just happened and therefore wanted to reach home as soon as possible. Dev paid sixty rupees and Isha started to walk towards the place where her bike was parked. Dev was walking behind her. This was a different Isha he was seeing now- so much quiet, so much stable. Isha took the bike key out of her pocket and asked, “Where should i drop you?”
“I will tell you. It’s near sector 35. Let’s just leave from this place.” Dev said.
The bike propelled so fast which really scared Dev. Isha was frustrated and Dev could closely feel that. In fact he was the only victim of her spoiled mood, he thought. The worst part was that he could not even touch her or hold her even when she was riding above 80. At least the bike had given up. They reached sector 35 market in just few minutes.
It was a bittersweet feeling to say good bye. They had had the best and the worst experience in a day. On one side both of them wanted to go home early, on the other- they wanted to stay with each other. Few more minutes, exchange of few more words, few more smiles -those who have been in love would know the meaning of it.
Dev gathered a lot of courage and asked, “Isha can I have your number? It would be great if we could talk once you reach Manali. Isn’t it?”
Isha smiled and said, “I would love to talk.” She gave her number and he saved it in his phone. He was quite excited about it and could barely hide his excitement. This is inherent to all the teenage guys-Once they get a girl’s number they think there’s no one stopping them to impress that girl. Dev waved her good bye and started to walk. Isha shouted, “Will see you again buddy.” He was glad to see her back in her original form.
The night was special for both of them. They had forgot everything about the JEE and had their own memories about the day. Dev was constantly thinking about her and was desperately hoping to see her again. Isha on the other hand had liked him too. She loved his company and was wishing for more of it.
It was 11:30 pm when the Nokia tone rang in Isha’s phone. It was an SMS and as she was hoping, it was from Dev.
to be continued…