Saturday, 22 March 2014

Deju gets a beau – II

The lights decided to come back just as the taxi veered out of sight. The old man turned to Deju.
“I don’t know what to say, my dear lady. I understand you were trying to be helpful, but you really were off the mark. These three are students and we are all used to their odd ways,” he told her.
“Can’t blame you, though. We must all thank you, in fact. At least you were alert to a potentially dangerous situation,” a languid voice spoke up from the back of the crowd.
Deju and her beau by the lamp post.
Digital sketch: Harjeet
The gathering parted to make way for a good-looking guy in his late 30s who ambled up to Deju. “I salute you, ma’am. Few of us would have done this. You are truly brave.”
He walked up to her nonchalantly, and pinned her against the lamp post to see her face more clearly. “Did you sometime in college create a similar scene?”
Deju was almost furious, struggling to get free. “What may you be suggesting, sir, if I may ask?”
“I am suggesting that you are the same girl because of whom I got caught in a women’s hostel one night,” he said, grinning. “I can’t believe you still pry on people, that too at night!”
“I don’t like to let thieves get away,” she snapped.
“I assure you I share the sentiment,” he replied, loosening his hold nevertheless.
Then he addressed his neighbours who, curious at this turn of events, were still hovering around without wanting to look intrusive

He was only too happy to explain: “Some of you have asked me why I did not marry. Behold the reason for my bachelorhood. She exposed my affair with her classmate, but we broke up soon after. Why? Because I kept thinking of the girl who had had the guts to raise a hue and cry at finding a stranger where there should have been none.”

He could see some nods and a general sense of approval on the faces of the people he had been living among for some years now.
“I was confused. By the time I realised I was in love, you had left college. You stole my heart, and I can’t let you off, now that I have found you. Umm, I hope you are single too, or I’ll insist you get a divorce,” her smitten beau was speaking to her again.

An appreciative murmur rippled through the crowd. The sleepy boy was now wide awake. He could sniff a romance, a live one, the very first he would witness first-hand, perhaps. No, she shifted here alone, he said helpfully.
Deju made a half-hearted attempt to fend off the man. “Aren’t you giving your imagination too much rein? How do you know I’m the same one? I haven’t said so myself. And I don’t know you from Adam.”
“Have you heard of signature tunes? You have a signature yell that trapped me then, and again today. So don’t you play games with me, my lady,” he purred.
It is not a yell. Hoot, I call it a hoot, she corrected him weakly.

“Call it by whatever name you wish, but it has been haunting me ever since, he breathed into her ear.

It was an intense moment. The old man quietly motioned to the rest to disperse.
Then he turned to Deju. “From what little that I have seen of you, let me assure you, ma’am, he is a man after your heart. And I’ve known him long enough.”
“Oh-ho, if you needed credentials, you have them now, but I assure you I am after your heart, pun intended. I have waited long enough, and I won’t rest till I have it,” Deju’s admirer said with determination.
The crease on Deju’s brow cleared. “Then you shall have it,” she said in a low voice, overcome by uncharacteristic shyness.
The old man decided it was time to exit the scene, wondering at yet another of the mysterious ways of the One above.


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