“Do you think you can sneak in a signature for me in the attendance register?”
Well, the problem is I am hardly hearing the question. But, I sure can hear my heart do a static search as if it were a broken down radio. Through the fuzz and the fizzle, I realise that I have just been enveloped by a grey zone – a persistent tuning fork in my ears as if I have been knocked cold, my vision clearly out of focus, and the Sardar’s voice seeming to originate from somewhere, very deep down the rabbit-hole.
Sardar pulls me out of the room, moves out of the girl’s earshot, and asks me – “Are you friggin’ nuts? She wants you sign the register for her. And, YOU are so not doing it.”
I am still confused, “Not sign what?” He explains, while the out of focus vision takes its own time, readjusting itself. The Sardar does still sound like he is talking through water, the voice deep and manufactured, just like those interrogators behind one-way mirrors do in movies.
But, today, I am not thinking one bit like Sardar. I can’t be objective like him. He sees my face contort through confusing emotions, and then suddenly, becomes smooth and glowing, as if it has set itself a home course.
Sardar goes, “Oh no, nooo.”
I have my hand clutched around his elbow and I am almost leading him back to the room. And Miss Eyes has that hapless expression on her face, not slackening at all, just gaining in strength every stupid second of my life. I am doing this. Very resolutely.
“Err, what’s your name? College?”. I manage to squeak, the testosterone-deep-throat strategy refusing to cooperate at zero-hour. “Don’t worry.” Now that ‘worry’ part is an after-thought, hoping to make an emotional connection. She blurts out a name plus adds the name of a certain college from Goa. Talk about damsel-in-distress and you couldn’t come across a better example. Sardar instantaneously develops a sagging groan.
I am whispering to him, almost twisting him into the whole plan, eye-balling him viciously, “You got to help me with this one. How do we get the signature on? Pleaseeee, yeah?”. He is still adamant, he can’t believe what I am doing, and looks at me as if I have just let the whole country down. Even the neighbouring ones. He doesn’t reply, instead he walks into the room still shaking his head in disbelief, and tells the assistant, “Time Keeper Sir wants to speak to you in his cabin.” Cool as a cucumber.
The assistant, looks at both of us, develops an apprehensive twitch, but walks out nevertheless, down the corridor. The girl is still outside, looking up at the notice board as if she hasn’t even heard of us.
Sardar is a storm. He opens up the register in the absence of the assistant, goes to the page of the college, and asks me to sign in for the girl. It’s 9.00 am and I sign in her name for the 7.00 am slot. I put my neck out again, she is still at the notice-board, sees my nod, and turns on a smile that is so for me, just me. I am basking majorly, while Sardar pulls me back in, and couple of seconds later, we are out of the room after the check-in. The assistant is charging down the corridor, out of control, possibly having been berated by the Time Keeper for having moved from his desk in an unauthorised fashion. Meanwhile, we have both moved into the adjoining locker-room and, after couple of minutes, when we look outside, the girl is gone.
I don’t see her the rest of the day, though I badly want to. My mind has a million things running through it at processer speed; I am amazed at the fluidity such thoughts can inspire, and I now know what they mean by walking on air.
The Michael Jordan in me indulges in layup shots, three-pointers and wanton fouls the entire day, as I am stretched out on my back on the lawns. There is no trouble from the time-keeper, the food at the canteen seems more edible, and nothing can go wrong with the world. I don’t even need my jacket today. I am warm, flush with fluffy, cotton-candy thoughts.