This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Part 1 - 15th Dec 2013
‘Hey, happy birthday’, she screamed loud enough so that I can hear it. The loud DJ was making it really hard to start a conversation. She said dancing to ’Party abhi baaki hai’ and slightly lifted her right hand upwards. I thought it was meant for a handshake.
‘Thanks you’. I said getting confused in midway whether to stick with “thanks” or go for “thank you”. Nevertheless I also extended my right hand towards her; just then she raised her left hand also, running both of them through her swinging hair.
’Idiot’, I mentally scolded myself.
I mean really what’s so great about grooving like that. Anyway for girls it’s a cool move so I guess it is indeed. How would a wimp like me know about such stuff?
Dancing in a circle, I started looking around from left to check if anyone has caught me embarrassed with my hand hanging midair. Now all the girls- Muskan, Avni and Kavya were actually busy dancing.
Then came boys starting from Tushar; Muskan’s boyfriend who was busy in holding hands with her, up next Manas and Prajval engaged in staring at the girls, then as I glanced further, I saw Sarvesh tittering, dancing right next to me.
He gave me a smirk ’Dude, you are so stupid’ look. One could see on his face the struggle to control a guffaw as to not officially embarrass me in front of the girls.
One guy who didn’t need to control it was Prateek, sitting in the corner, keeping an eye on us. Now he was too proud to come and get imposed on a group in which he officially didn’t know the girls (his version). Actually, he was too shy to dance with any girl no matter if the girl knew him or even if she had a crush on him, the chances of which being slim to none. Frankly most of the times I also used the same excuse; thanks to Sarvesh who pulled me and dragged me to the dance floor that night,
The special occasion was the informal farewell where we were biding ‘good-byes’ to seniors.
Now this occasion held different relevance for different people. For the seniors;
Obviously, it was a once in a lifetime memory for them. For the ones who organized the whole farewell it meant a great stage to add onto their popularity. For others either it was about spending some time with their girlfriends or with seniors with whom they shared a great bond. Girls; well they don’t need any reason to be in the party, their presence is the party itself.
We were there for only one purpose, obviously apart from girls; Food.
The function was held at ‘O2’-a high class air conditioned pub cum restaurant. Its great interior and the impeccable service seemed promising that we will succeed in our goal that was delicious non- veg food. Well the starters; they guaranteed it.
Now we were just a mere physical presence out there, we were not given any importance and frankly we didn’t even deserve it.
Somehow the embarrassment was overcome by the joy and happiness of dancing around her. She looked extremely gorgeous in yellow top and black jeans. To accompany them she applied a small but effective amount of red lipstick on her lips which matched with her nail polish. She didn’t over accessorize herself and wore only a gold plated watch which impressed me the most (not the watch, the less accessorizing part)
She looked simple, elegant and adorable. She seemed cute. Also to mention, that before dance started and we were checking out the girls she was unanimously elected as the face of the farewell by our group.
It was the first time when I actually noticed her. Even though Tushar and my other friends had shown her to me before but I never took interest in looking at her. Probably I should have.
Tushar was smart, cool, and extremely good looking but apart from that he had nothing unique or interesting about him.
Going by the fact that looks is all what Tushar had; I earlier assumed Muskan to be one of those girls for whom ‘looks come first’. I hated those types of girls. One, how could someone give preference to looks over nature and way of living? Two, I wasn’t good looking.
My nose was too big; pimples seemed to have developed affinity towards me, adding to my average- height were my frayed eyebrows, not so fair complexioned—basically all the facial imparities known to humans were present in me. My dusty uncombed hair contrasted perfectly with my round face. Only good thing in my whole body were my clothes. I wore as good of them as I can; an attempt to hide my bad looks. But no matter how attractive clothes one wears, face can’t be hidden.
Add to that, my ignorance. My fashion sense was disgusting. One could catch me wandering around in shorts and tight t-shirts stretched over my bulging belly.
Wait! Maybe I forgot to introduce myself. Dhruv Tare. Now I would make it quick, because there really isn’t anything remotely interesting about me. I was not exceptionally good in studies, or in sports. I lacked looks which you already know about, so basically there was nothing unique.
I was weird and unimaginably shy. It’s not that I lacked confidence; I was friendly and our group was famous for its escapades. But it’s easy being friend with a guy-all you need to do is puff some cigarettes and crack some dirty jokes. We enjoy even nonsensical humor but girls are so moody, so unexpected.
I was extremely awkward around them. I would get sweaty in palms, turn mute basically lose all my senses. And if you haven’t met any guy who is that frightened of girls you’ll find the start boring and perhaps painfully slow.
The rest of my group was no different. All were shy, awkward around girls. For better part of my life I thought maybe that’s how all boys are but as I grew up I figured out we were in minority, we were the exceptional ones.
I envied those guys who wooed girls easily, who had a way around them, who could take them out on dates, who could sit next to them without wobbly knees, who could talk to them without stammering, who could even breathe around them. I could not, I would simply go blank.
Prateek had decent looks, he was always presentable. I couldn’t fathom his fear.
Sarvesh was the ultimate king of jokes in our group, his sense of humor was amazing. At any moment, on any occasion he had a sarcastic comment or humiliating banter ready.
Sahaj was exceptionally good at studies, but I guess his heart was always attracted towards enjoyment and being close to my neighborhood, we were close.
I was funny too; in my own way, if anyone ever needed a dirty joke, I was the one to come to. I never lacked normal basic humor, but my interest, my thoughts, my dreams and even my jokes revolved around girls. I was too deprived of them!!
Anyways coming back…
‘Chocolate?’ she grinned sheepishly. True to my nature, I went blank and simply shook my head.
All I cared about was how sweetly she asked, with childlike innocence.
Maybe deep inside; she is like me, who yearns to be a kid. And yes I also over think mostly over stupid things like this one and start talking to myself, so you’ll have to put up with it too.
‘Yeah bro, what about the party?’ Tushar asked and winked at me. We had already planned where we would go to ‘drink’ after the party where I was to treat them and myself too!
Why is he always trying to be cool? He doesn’t need to try too hard; he already has what usually matters most to the girls; good looks.
After that no one spoke, everyone just kept on dancing. I didn’t know how to start talk with her and she had already finished with the formality of wishing me. I felt a little disheartened. In ‘our’ whole group (or the group to which I and Sarvesh imposed) she was the only girl who wished me. Rest; ignored me like I wasn’t even there. But I don’t blame them. I wasn’t popular; probably it was the first time they came to know about my existence!
The only way everyone came to know about my birthday was because my overexcited group of friends made a circle around me and started cheering and singing in middle of the party. Most of the girls looked shocked, noticing me for the first time ever in their life, of course unaware of the fact that I also studied with them in the same school!
Even though I was popular amongst boys I never enjoyed the spotlight which most of the other guys did. The only reason some girls might have known me was because I belonged to a group in school which got punished a lot!!
Well my dance moves like my looks sucked, but she danced totally carefree and pretty well, at least by my standards.
I just wanted to be in her sight that’s why I never left her group. Although others joined in, Karun started dancing like a maniac.
All the girls broke into titter. Even though it was embarrassing, he did manage to put up a smile on her face. And that’s when I did something stupid. As the song changed to Salman’s ’humka peeni hai’ I mimicked his signature move. All other laughed, but what mattered to me was her euphoric reaction.
I just gave a sheepish grin. For some stupid inexplicable reason, I found myself blushing. Now thinking about it, I understand she wasn’t as much smiling for me as much as laughing on me.
Eventually girls started feeling little awkward, few of them even left and joined others along with their classy moves. I was sure Muskan would too; in the whole room our group seemed like a bunch of idiots jumping up and down hysterically, something which generally doesn’t go down well with a girl’s reputation.
But as the song changed to ’badtameez dil’ she pulled her hair back in a bun, clenched her lips in the teeth, enthusiastically gesturing us to join in.
Now even if I hadn’t bored you with all these details, it would’ve still made no difference to this story but that moment held special value for me because I found her reflecting what I always wanted to be, bold and carefree, around anyone and everyone.
I looked around just to compare her with rest of the girls. Almost all were wearing skimpy clothes, non-existing shorts; flaunting their assets, trying to win attention, totally faking it with their over-rated accessories, not that I am complaining.
Soon hunger clouded our senses and we headed for dinner. Meanwhile I kept staring at her with a side glance. She was sitting just two seats to my left, accompanied by Tushar. My eyes followed her; I couldn’t let her out of my sight. As always Sarvesh and Prateek caught me in the act.
‘That’s Tushar’s girlfriend. For God’s sake, eat your food.’ Prateek taunted. I had nothing to say to them and nor did I feel like I owe them a reply.
Soon the party ended.
We went for our drinks to get my money’s worth. I gave them the treat I owed.
Again our group unanimously declared that as my best birthday ever! Indeed it was; for two reasons.
The second being arrival of Muskan into my life….
The first; I tasted beer for first time.
The after effects…
There are days in one’s life which are remembered for lifetime.
My birthday was one such day. I got stuck to it. I even started having dreams about that day, imagining it in every possible scenario.
How I could have talked more to her on the dance floor or how I could have offered her a party and she would have been kind to accept it or how I could have gathered courage and sat near her during dinner.
I was hoping that I had left enough impression to be imprinted in her memory. Even if not by mane, I was wishing that she atleast remember me by name
But however important that event might have been to me, I doubt she would’ve have given any thought to it.
I was getting curious to get in touch. Her thoughts just kept on coming.
So I opened her account. Her account was simple, infact her timeline was pretty empty.
Past: Indus Public School, Indore.
Friends: 202 (a low figure by facebook standards because she didn’t generally accept friend requests; almost 415 pending requests, as Tushar once told me)
Relationship status: Single.
Fuck, why do pretty girls have to do this? Why can’t they just admit about their love life in open? I felt sympathetic for those 415 desperate requests and wondered how many of them would have backed off seeing that she is already committed, umm I guess no one. We boys are not manufactured in a way to back off from a pretty girl even if she has a boyfriend, or sometimes even a husband.
Languages known: Hindi, English and Marathi.
I felt happy. We shared the same caste. Who knows it might give me an edge while starting conversation with her, I read somewhere that people belonging to same caste have same likes-dislikes.
Birthday: September 19, 1996.
Family: Ayesha Ranade; sister.
I started surfing through Muskan’s photos. As expected she hadn’t uploaded many. But even then it took me an hour to go through all of them as I was checking out each one carefully. She looked absolutely gorgeous in every single one of them.
No pout, no edit, no ‘alien-font’ caption, no tags, just pure simple photo. She looked absolutely charming and mesmerizing. One’s finger would stop clicking as heart won’t stop looking at her, that magnetic was her beauty; one wouldn’t want to let go. There will be confusion as to whether listen to mind and move onto next photo or listen to heart and drown in her beauty.
The first thing noticeable in her face was her sweet, natural smile; a smile so relieving, so calming that one could forget all stress in just a snap. With the smile as radiant as the sun, she could light up anyone’s day. You’d wish to God that you were the reason behind that priceless smile.
She had a tiny mole on her right cheek; centered slightly towards the nose. The mole was just the perfect size; a mole on such a fair complexioned face was making the face shine even more.
Then her eyes; my god they seemed so innocent, so bright; it was hypnotizing. One couldn’t resist looking at them. They would dare you to stare at them. Her eyes oozed certain brightness, a spark.
And then those long silky smooth black curly hair. I can’t describe them properly but that tangled design of strands of hair one after the other were the sight to watch. You would want to get lost in them, feel them, and caress them.
Surprisingly my hands started trembling when I placed the cursor on ‘add friends’ button, my fingers paralyzed. How did that happen? When did I start thinking so much about it?
I didn’t move my cursor, my heart started beating faster. And my head loudly screamed ‘no’. Every part of me knew that I couldn’t handle rejection. I don’t know why but this was different, special. Maybe because there was a competitive feeling as well because each and every single friend of mine was on her friend list and being rejected would have meant losing to my friends but it would have meant something much more.
It meant losing out on my crush. It would have meant her not remembering me. Me just being a ‘stranger’ who passed by, a feeling I wouldn’t have handled well. I couldn’t do it.
For days she was the talk of the group, mainly because I brought her up every single time. My friends would tease me with “chocolate” all for fun, but each time I think a visible shy broad smile appeared on my face.
I don’t think there was anything of more interest to me apart from her.
If there were a couple jokes, it would be on them. I created a big scene stupidly announcing her as my “true love”. Well it was an old habit for me to make fun of others using their girlfriend as a tool.
Now our school was an institution of tyranny. I blame my shyness, my inferiorities on it. It was a building of torture, where boys were made to suffer. A living hell! I have seen no place as brutal and vicious as that, we felt like prisoners there.
Ours was a semi-coed school where high school girls and boys would sit in separate classrooms. Ironically sometimes even that seemed to be a blessing in itself, because until high school boys and girls had different shifts.
Now their classes were on 2nd floor and ours on 3rd. We could not meet them; talk to them, even leering was prohibited - as if that was going to stop us.
But watching such beauty would hurt our heart even more, because we would finally realize what we were missing on.
There was only one period we used to wait for- recess because at that time girls used to roam in their corridor and we used to come over to railings and stare them. It was well “IPS culture”
One of the parameters of a school’s popularity is figured out on the basis of “quality” of girls in the school; the bigger school, the better girls. And our school was no less; it was a buffet of beauty. Most of them looked gorgeous even in the school uniform which was really a big deal. It was a real treat to eyes to look at so many charming faces talking, laughing, and some staring back too.
I still remember the enthusiasm, the hyperventilation of first few opening days of junior year. I would jump around, excited by so many pretty faces.
Surprisingly, it was only me and my friends for whom it turned to be such a big event. Most guys were already good friends with girls. They had talked to them, dated them, been in relation and then there were rumors of physical intimacy too. Curiosity and social network brought them closer.
And here I was who didn’t even know the names.
Well after few days, I finally seeped in the fact of seeing so many girls together. I was finally paying attention to their faces, till then I had stared at only body shapes and there were some which fulfilled every boy’s fantasies.
Now I know this does not account for normal behavior, it crosses certain social and ethical limits but it wasn’t my mistake. As long as I could remember, I couldn’t recall ever being in the company of a girl. I was desperate to know, to experience what it feels like sitting next to them, what they sound like, what they smell like…
I could only imagine the pleasure of a woman’s warmth. They say you develop longing and deep craving for things you are utterly deprived of.
I had been with sweaty, hairy, muscled, ragged boys for long. I was keen to see what it feels to touch those bare soft arms, to have a feel of the porcelain texture of their smooth body. Passion (read-lust) suppressed for years was coming forth unleashed.
But I knew I had no chance with them, so I learnt how to drown those feelings.
It doesn’t mean I stopped leering. As a boy, I considered it my prerogative and eyes never get enough of attractive faces.
But ever since the farewell my eyes were transfixed on only one girl. As soon as the bell would ring I would run out of class teasing Tushar, exclaiming “MY Muskan would be there”.
And she looked sorely cute in her school dress with her hair pulled back in a pony. Mostly she used to mind her own business in the classroom but whenever she was out in the corridor for some reason, she would search for Tushar, wave at him and pass him a smile.
“See, now she’s smiling for me”. I would mock Tushar; deeply praying that some day it will be true.
“Fuck off”- that would be his usual reply.
But even a better scene would be at the time of departure. Our playground only was our parking stop. It was the only place and time where a boy and girl could actually talk with each other. Our group had a fixed place which was just in front of the door so that we miss not even a single girl.
And each day I waited for that moment when Muskan used to walk through those doors towards her van. Her group usually assembled there. Though they never used the ’golden moment’ like most couples did as they wanted their relationship to be private (Stupid really as everyone already knew about it) but they used to have those moments of stolen glances which made more sense than unnecessary blabbering.
That stolen glances, that meeting of eyes, and that smile. Ohh! How I desperately wish to have that.
I would keep on staring at her, and every time she would look at our group, a stupid smile would creep up on my face.
But my stupid actions to catch her attention were backfiring…
One could observe the uneasiness she felt from being constantly stared. The last thing I wanted for myself was to be in the category of desperate wannabes.
I developed stalker instincts; no day went without me crossing her house at least twice, just in hope that I would see her.
Prateek warned me several times, that such actions would ultimately lead to a wrong impression in front of Muskan. I had doubts that Tushar might have created an image of a fool falling insanely in love with a girl way out of his reach in her head.
Thing about Prateek was; however harsh his relationship ‘theories’ were, he was always right. I could see in Tushar’s actions his lack of confidence in me as a friend.
He lost his trust in me. Earlier he would come up and tell all sorts of stuff happening between him and Muskan. But now, he somehow always avoided the topic. Even if something had happened; I would be the last one to know.
Now this sign was bad. He was indeed the common link between me and her. I completely relied on him for befriending me with Muskan.
Even though we remained good friends as I was no competition to him, I was suspicious that my actions could lead to something bad. Something I least wanted but that’s exactly what happened.
More than a crush…
‘What? You sure? Please don’t joke with me on this matter’. I shouted at Prateek, disappointed.
‘Yes, I am not kidding. Come for yourself and read our chat; I talked with her yesterday only’. He said in a serious tone.
I knew if he was saying it that confidently and seriously, it must be true; he didn’t have a habit of kidding on such ’special’ issues. My face dropped.
My heart hurt. My most dreaded nightmare came true.
She didn’t accept my friend request. This couldn’t have been happening to me. What wrong could I have possibly done?
Oh wait! Prateek…shit man he was right again.
My incessant irksome actions must have made Tushar furious and he for sure would have plotted wrong ideas about me in her head.
I didn’t even know why I was feeling so dejected. I just thought it to be an infatuation, but I was getting more emotionally involved than I wanted to.
I had sent her request two days before and each second seemed like a lifetime. Every time I would log into facebook I wished of only one notification. “Muskan Ranade has accepted your friend request”. And each time I would not see that, I would console my heart that she hasn’t come online.
I managed to live for one day somehow. But on the second day I could not resist. I had an intuition that something is wrong. When I lost control, I called Prateek and asked if she had been online and he confirmed that she had, for both days.
I knew that she had been more active on facebook. It’s pretty easy to know about a person’s online activity when you open that person’s account thrice a day!!
Well I would have never dared to send her request had she not looked so gorgeous two days before.
24th Feb 2014
This time the event was our formal farewell-an official “goodbye” to 12thies, as usual our matter of interest revolved around food and girls. Boys and girls sat on different sides of the assembly ground.
Pretty stupid, right?
Well junior boys were told to dress up in traditional outfit- Kurta-pajama in which almost all of us looked stupid. And again our group had no role whatsoever in the event, neither in dance, nor in songs. Though I remember I begged our vice principal for giving me a chance in compere team as it gave perfect opportunity to get in eyes of all the girls at once but I was rejected giving the same old reason of being undisciplined.
The girls were told to come up in salwar-kameez and believe me each one of them looked extremely beautiful.
And the one whom my eyes were searching from the beginning looked like an angel. She wore sleeveless violet-white Kurta on a violet salwar paired with white sandal, again no excessive jewellery just simple ear rings and the same wrist watch. Simple, elegant, cute….
Apart from her the only other attraction for me was this one girl in senior year who came tattooed a butterfly just above her blouse; a blouse which she worn so loose that it provided a perfect view of her cleavage. Such fascinating outfit invited attention and boys welcomed it with leering eyes and drooling tongues. Later I found out her name, Priya it was. I sent her the request, and funnily she accepted it.
I didn’t pay heed to other seniors; it was odd to see them in saree.
Those who would sure have looked extremely gorgeous in saree; junior class teachers- the cute pretty ones weren’t invited being it a senior class event. We were stuck with middle-aged, gruesome, grumpy teachers.
Only our principal looked appealing in her dark black saree, but it was a usual sight for us.
At the end when our whole group was busy at food counter I saw at a distance Tushar and Muskan together, clicking selfies. She looked so amazing and I felt like a loser. How can I not have such a girl in my life? At that particular instance I decided that this is one girl I want in my life even if as a friend and I decided to send her the friend request.
At the end of each day my anxiety would kill me, it was nauseating. I was constantly restless; the thought of her not being in my life drove me crazy. “Will I ever get to talk to her? Will we ever be friends, will my dream come true? And it was killing me; I started doubting my own sanity. I had crush before too but this time this one was just too precious. I planned each step, I thought of being careful, of not rushing into anything but as it turned out I was too late, I had missed the opportunity and I couldn’t handle it.
This was definitely more than a crush…
For once, I was a boy, sane and wise
Now, insane, for I am lost in her eyes
Crossing her house, day and night
For I might; catch her sight….
She’s all that I can think about,
Us together, holding hands, which even I strongly doubt
Just met once, talked to her never,
Still I think I have known her forever
Even though our hearts are separated by mile
She has trapped me in her smile…
Those innocent eyes, soft cheek, smooth hair
I want her in my life, but asking her out, I can’t dare
My heart exploding from feelings I can’t share
As I imagine for us to be world’s cutest pair
The thought of remaining a stranger increases my tension
And I start doing stupid things to catch her attention.
She must laugh;
‘Look at him; he’s out of his mind’
I don’t care as long as I am reason behind
To have someone so special, I am not that blessed
And she’s with someone who is equally obsessed.
My hopes get crush with each passing day as it seems
The ‘dream world’ now really seems like a dream
Even if as a friend, I want her in my life
For her, not being is like my heart stabbed with a knife
For now, all I wish to be
To let her know, how special she is for me….
Giuliana Cassetta: My face is full of tears, I never cried like now with a book or even a movie. I loved every single chapter. I truly don't know what to say, I'm out of words and my eyes hurt from crying. Such an bittersweet story, it's so wonderful. One of my favorites for sure. Keep it up!
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263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
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Alex Rushmer: Chapter One: Not much is happening in this chapter, but I was absolutely fascinated by the depth of your character development. I love how you just sat there with the reader and explored Eddward. Usually, that sort of thing gets boring very fast, but this was actually really cool! He's so unique ...
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Alani Foreigner: I absolutely loved how you created this story. It isn't like the other cliché stories I've ever read. I had just started reading it yesterday and just had to finish it. The main characters are grotesquely awesome and I fell in love with them. If you're into fantasy and stuff I can guarantee that ...