I reach the exam centre five minutes late. My bicycle got punctured. Papa lectured me all the way to the centre. I get checked by the police as I wait impatiently. I sweat profusely as I run up two floors of stairs with a heavy satchel. I check my card. Yes. I am on the correct floor. I enter the exam room.
The question paper has already been distributed. I rush to my seat and start drawing the margins on my answer sheet.
A little less than three hours later the invigilator collects the answer sheets. I am in a hurry to attempt all questions when he snatches away my answer sheet.
I rest my head on the desk. It went terribly.
I reach the exam hall on time. People keep trickling in till the last bell. The bell rings and suddenly the invigilators come to life, distributing question papers with the efficiency of well-oiled machines.
I spend the next three hours writing, revising and improving my answers. The exam goes better than I expected. I should score pretty well in this.
I get up and look around at the others. Most faces are dejected. My eyes land on a particularly sad face.
Her gray eyes are fixed on the question paper on the desk. Her golden hair is tied up in a perfect ponytail. Her uniform is perfectly pressed. The blue skirt and the slim white shirt suits her body perfectly. She looks solemn in her acceptance of defeat. She looks up at me and I suddenly look away. I dash out the room without looking back.
The third exam is mathematics. I reach early. Her seat is empty. I wait for her.
She enters the hall her golden hair disheveled and a heavy hand of kajal on her beautiful eyes. The bell rings and breaks my train of thought.
I keep catching myself looking at her. The sight of her calms my mind. I notice the invigilator looking at her too. This happens a few more times. I’m tempted to get up and sock the face of the sick bastard, but I control myself. The paper is crucial.
He does it again. I take my compass and aim at his knee from behind. I hit. He jumps up screaming in pain. The whole exam hall starts to laugh as I struggle to collect the compass from floor. I apologize, still smiling inside.
She must have been one of those laughing. I feel the weight of her eyes on me. I can’t stop smiling. I look down.
It’s Sanskrit. It’s a different exam hall. I miss her.
She comes to the exam hall on time. I’m already waiting. She looks at me. Our eyes meet. She smiles at me. It feels as if I have known her all my life. I just keep staring. She looks away and sits at her desk.
The whole exam passes in a flash as I keep looking at her and back at the paper.
After the exam she leaves in a hurry. I reach back home and can’t stop thinking about it.
I’m late today. She’s already at her desk. I look at her as I enter. I smile. She smiles back and pushes a tuft of hair behind her ear.
I wait after the exam to talk to her. She is surrounded by her friends. She smiles at me, but doesn’t move. I leave after a couple of minutes.
This is the last exam. I don’t even know her name yet. I wait for the exam to get over.
I approach her. She is alone. She sees me and walks towards me, smiling. Her golden hair is beautifully arranged in a bun.
“Hi”, she says, smiling.
“Hi”, I say self consciously, smiling.
“I met you at lata didi’s marriage. I recognized you at the maths exam but didn’t get a chance to talk to you.”
I draw a blank
“Two years back. Lata Didi’s marriage in Bengaluru. I am your Kalpesh kaka’s daughter. We just moved to the city this year. Recognize me?”
“Yes sister. I recognize you. How’s everyone at home?” I blurt out something and leave before the complete disgust of cousin-love descends on me.
Written by Pawan Hegde who loves tinkering with code. If you want to know more about him, maybe you should visit his website