They had first met in class sixth at DTEA Mandir Marg, and after overcoming the initial repellent tenacity and sexual differences caused by culture, proceeded to become thick friends. They had bloomed together, she first and him later. He is the innocent one of the two and she was smarter. He was naive and brash while she was mature. He was poor and directionless in academics whereas she remained a hardworking topper. He was a boy and she was a woman. He was a lame rogue and she was the school’s sweetheart, but between them they were the best of friends.
Boys fell over in a heap when she smiled. They worked hard for her attention. When they failed they spat venoms of boyhood jealousy on Joe, Keerthi’s object of affection. They loved hanging out together and delighted on each other’s lunch boxes. They were possessive about each other and were upset when the other one was punished in school. She helped him in academics and he bought her favourite ice creams.
She always wanted to be a doctor. She said she dreamt of curing people and relieving people of their distress. Her parents supported her completely and motivated her towards achieving it. He wanted to be many things. A pilot, a lawyer, a cricketer, a tennis player, and at one point a porn star and later a porn movie director.
It was in class eleven that they decided to call it love. They both felt the peer pressure to have a boyfriend and a girlfriend. After he expressed his fancy for a few girls, she thought it was best for them to be a couple. Joe was happy and confused; it was all new for him. He trusted his best friend and went on. In love, she showed him the most beautiful things that he ever wanted to see. She thought she was madly in love with him. She also made him think that he was madly in love with her. He was then truly in love with Keerthi.
Steadily in love and companionship, Keerthi inculcated in Joe a desire to choose medicine as a career. He decided to become a Doctor. He had never been a diligent student all his life. This sudden introduction to hard work and commitment in love was taking a toll on him but he was enjoying it. The sudden rise of focus and a clear aim in life thrilled him. Alas, Joe’s results were mediocre. His efforts weren’t bearing fruit and this distressed him. He was just not good enough to hit the MBBS grade. That didn’t stop him from dreaming about going to his favourite medical school along with Keerthi.
The exams and the exhaustive coaching meant very little time together for both of them. She was perfectly engrossed in it whereas he was growing into a man and exploring it. He was feeling the need, the desire for his completion, the closeness, the subtlety, the security, the poise and he felt the urge more and more by each passing day.
In their moments of closeness as a man and a woman, Joe pleasured in blowing away Keerthi’s falling locks off her face. He pleased himself when she gave out a full smile, full of happiness, adorned by her sensuous lips. He held her palm in his and got lost in dream land during the lectures. On one occasion he nodded off into the shoulders of another girl seated next to him only to be awakened by Keerthi’s laughter. He loved it. He loved to see her laugh. Those made him feel manly. She was a figurine full of focus and concentration during the lectures.
Towards the end of class twelve, Keerthi was moving away from Joe. Joe was puzzled by Keerthi’s behaviour. Joe’s poor results and apathy from Keerthi pushed him further down in his academic pursuit. He fared poorly in the boards and failed the medical entrance examinations. Keerthi topped the school and secured a seat at Lady Harding medical college. She remained the star that she was at school and everyone was proud of her. Joe was proud too. Joe gifted her with a stethoscope.
Joe felt that something was wrong. He deciphered that there was more than exam stress and career competition in percolation between him and Keerthi. All this while, his growth as a man had multiplied manifold and he was missing Keerthi. He desired her all the more as she moved away from him. His male friends’ company was driving him more and more towards losing his moral uprightness and he was inclined to do it with Keerthi. He resorted to dreaming about her to forget about the academic muck that he was breathing in.
One evening after the showers had given
Back at the friend’s place Joe was itching to get closer to Keerthi. It had been ages since their bodies have touched one another. He wanted to experience it fully now. Although Keerthi’s indifferent behaviour angered him, her presence in his vicinity annihilated every iota of negativity that his mind ever mustered to brew. He was crazily in love.
In a moment of solitude Joe went near Keerthi and blew her hair apart. She gave him a sour smile. Joe knew instantly that it was not the Keerthi that he loved. He felt her breathing and went closer to her lips. She realised the situation and sternly said, “No Joe, Please stay away.” In his truly mad mind, Keerthi was all his. He went ahead and kissed her lips. She pushed him back and promptly shouted for help.
Joe fell back on the ground. He was blank and numb. All he could see was darkness as he lay there, devoured, on the floor. He felt some hard muscle power as he was bashed out of the house. He lay there on the door and then the gate, speechless and expressionless. He was staring at the impossible and rolling on the black floors of love, hatred, anger and deception.
It took him more than a year to recuperate partly from this emotional mishap. He then went ahead to study biotechnology at a faraway land. He was trying his best to clobber the anger that he felt for her. In his moments of weakness and disgrace, he wrote to her seeking an explanation for her behaviour and the history that they had in union. He didn’t get a reply. He didn’t want to knock at her residence because her parents had threatened to file a case against him for molesting their daughter.
Joe thought on. He wondered about the reasons that probably led Keerthi to behave like that. He wondered,'Was she in love?', 'Was the whole episode of love and affection a farce?', 'Can human beings be trusted?', 'Was she hiding something from me?', 'Were her parents behind all this?'. He hated human beings. He hated her. He felt angered by his own innocence and meekness. He was frustrated by her memories that haunted him. He was furious at the negative thoughts that pulled his confidence down. Eventually, Joe was healed by time and he moved on. He decided to build his life anew and enjoy every moment of it.
One day, lying on his bed in his hostel room, a thought crossed Joe’s mind. “She has a mind of her own”.