Shruti was his classmate. They had studied together for the last 6 years. She lived in the street next to Ashok’s house. She was beautiful, a wonderful dancer, and matter of fact in her speech. It was this that attracted Ashok the most. Her matter of factliness. Never has a word been out of place if it came from her. They used to go to school and come back together. Swinging their lunch bags and gossiping merrily. He often used to go to her home too. Her mother and father were very jovial and treated him as their own son. One more reason why Ashok didn’t want to break the equilibrium. (He often got reminded of Sivaji’s dialogue with Nagesh in
One day the earth shook for Ashok. Shruti called him aside in school and confided in him that she thought she was in love with
True to his instinct, two months after their Board exams, as Shruti was about to leave for BITS she came home to meet Ashok. She was the pride of his family. They treated her as their own daughter (What was it with parents? Treating their children’s friends as their own children? Don’t they ever understand that this brings in a feeling of brotherliness and sisterliness into the relationship?) They went to the terrace and stood for a long time just viewing the horizon. The Shruti told Ashok, ‘I hate
Even though Ashok felt for Shruti, he couldn’t resist asking, ‘If I tell you did the wrong thing, is it gonna change anything?’ He was quick to add, ‘You have your priorities, he has his own priorities. It is good that you realized this and called it quits rather than continuing this torture’. Shruti didn’t tell anything. They stood in silence. Finally she just hugged him, gave him a peck in his cheeks and said ‘Thank you’. Little did she realize what an emotional turmoil Ashok was going through at that moment. It took a monumental effort from him to resist his instincts. True to his usual self he just laconically said, ‘So is the melodrama over?’ She laughed and punched him. He said ‘Lets go down now’ and climbed down the staircase….wiping the speck of tear that came down his cheeks.
Later that week, Shruti went to BITS, Pilani.
Fortunately, Shruti’s parents too shifted from Jambu Nagar to Mumbai. This almost effectively cut off any further natural communication channel that they had. But Shruti never left Ashok’s sight. That was because she was fast becoming the most sought after model in the ad industry. She went to BITS, alright. But quite fortuitously, she was sighted by one famous cameraman when he had come with his crew to shoot a scene in the campus. From then on, the media industry beckoned. And she took to it like a duck to water. For the initial few months, Ashok’s ears used to twitch and eyes used to bulge whenever he heard her name or came across her face. But slowly, it became so commonplace and he became so..hmm….detached that nothing mattered to him. She too became an ‘object from the past’ (Just like Dhaya, thought Ashok)