Prantik lost his cool when his friends started insisting ceaselessly to come with them for fishing. They didn’t want to leave him alone.
‘Leave me alone, man’, he shrugged his shoulders and went back to his room, leaving behind three worried and bewildered faces.
Eventually, they went away when Prantik busied himself with painting the wooden house which he had made all night. His friends picked up the fishing rods, bamboo jakoi, earthworms all and sundry and quietly went away unwilling to risk another pointless argument with Prantik about his break up.
Prantik dripped the brush in the nauseous spirit based paint and started applying vigorous brush strokes. His eyes were red with sleepiness but kept on staring at the wooden house without flinching once.
The canteen was filled to the brim. It was Saraswati Puja. Why did she have to wear that blue saree, now both of us are wearing the same color. Even the same damn shade. Damn, she could have told me beforehand. Nice. Now we have become the joke of the day and We aren’t even together. Even on this day, she has the same sad face. Does she ever smile? She looks pretty when she smiles. Do we want to stay here all day looking at each other? God says something. We ordered something to eat and began eating. What did you wish to Maa Saraswati? I asked. I know stupid question. She smiled and said something about my hair. That it suited me. I complimented her polished nails and how dark her eyes were. Heads were turning now. Sunit, Abirup, and Amlan had followed us to the canteen. Bastards. We walked away shortly. The canteen was getting crowded anyway.
‘Hey, where the hell is the blue color?’ Prantik called up Sunit, one of the three who had gone for fishing.
‘How the hell would I know?’ Sunit said irritated, ’You’re the one who has been playing around with the colors all day.’
‘I swear I saw it in your room. Where did you leave your keys?’ Prantik said, pacing up and down the room.
‘I brought it with me. Listen it’s not in my room. Go search somewhere else. I am a little busy right now.’ Sunit said and hung up the phone.
‘Bloody bastard,’ Prantik snarled and went outside his room. Looking out from the balcony he shouted out some profane words. The hostel was as empty as a graveyard and given that it was a Sunday, not a soul could be seen. Sunit’s room was three doors away. Prantik picked up a long steel rod from a corner and began hammering viciously on the lock on Sunit’s door. After the tenth bludgeon, the large eight lever lock split open. Prantik opened the door and began rummaging obsessively through Sunit’s belongings as if searching for some prized possession. Soon the contents of the room were turned upside down. Beds, tables, and chairs were overturned, wardrobes ruffled through. There was no blue paint. Prantik sidled against a wall and sat down with his face in his hands.
31st January. It was her birthday. We had a fight that very day. I forgot to wish her. I fell asleep at ten o’clock. Should have woken up at twelve. Damn another fight. The third in a week. Over things that don’t even matter. A heart-shaped chocolate cake. Her favorite. Her roommate was at the girl’s hostel gates. Dripping in rain I reached there on my bike. The cake is ruined now. Great. Everything went down the drain. Nothing, nada can save me now. Nada nada nada. Her roommate cringed under her umbrella seeing the mushed up cake. She took the cake and left hurriedly. I splashed onto a mud puddle. Could have spread some mud on the cake. She wouldn’t have noticed.
It was getting dark outside. Prantik was lying on the ground in the fetus position. One of the juniors peeped inside the room and gasped in horror at the plundered room.
‘Prantikda. Are you alright?’ the junior said leaning forward over the immobile body.
‘Prantikda. Prantikda.’, the junior’s voice was filled with terror and anxiety. He rushed out and called some others into the room. The others poked their head forward as if examining a new species.
Prantik slowly got up and glanced around at the bewildered faces with hazy eyes.
‘Has any of you got any blue paint?’ Prantik asked.
The poor devils looked at each other in confusion.
‘Do I have to ask you again?’ Prantik barked out like a drill instructor.
‘I have some in my room.’ One of the boys said sheepishly.
‘There. Was it so hard? You come with me.’ Prantik said putting an arm around the boy’s shoulders,’The rest of you. Move your asses and clean the damn room.’
Prantik left the room with the boy. When a final year senior asks you to do something you do it. The boys cursed this bloody nuisance of a senior in hushed tones and started putting the room back to how it was before.
Nothing seems to work now. We went to see the movie ‘Raam Leela’. I sidled against her and when the going was good I passed my hand around her shoulders. It was midway through the awful movie. She was comfortable until now. We were holding hands. The perspiration around her fingers too felt nice. Dark theatre, sparsely filled. Perfect. Finally some alone time. She was absorbed in the stupid movie. I passed my hands gently around her breasts. She was fine for a moment and then she got upset quickly. It got escalated to the point when she was about to leave the theatre and I had calm her down. The rest of the movie we spent keeping one seat distance away from each other. I looked at her, her eyes were teary and she sat turning her body away from me. That and the bloody awful movie. Felt like vomiting after coming out of the theatre. A bad taste in my mouth as if a fly got stuck under my tongue.
Prantik took the paint from the junior and took him, almost dragged him back to his room. The junior took the brush in his hands and started brushing perfunctorily. Prantik cut a small wooden piece and engraved something on it with a large army knife.
‘What the hell are you waiting for? Do it quickly.’ Prantik said not looking up. The boy sat straight up and started brushing vigorously. After fifteen minutes the painting of the house was done. The boy dropped the brush and came forward to see what Prantik was doing so enthusiastically. Prantik blew the sawdust of the wood piece and glued the piece carefully over the door of the wooden house. The engraving on it read-
‘Prantik and Namrata.’
‘Are you planning on giving this house to Namrata ba on Valentine’s day’ the junior asked adjusting his spectacles. Prantik smiled and sent him away to his room.
What happened these past days? Doesn’t she love me anymore? That guy I am going to kill him. what-is-his-name. I am going to kill her too. She doesn’t know me if she thinks I am not going to do anything. I am going to kill him. if he hadn’t been talking to her all this complication between us would have been avoided. She loves ME I know that. I am going to fucking kill Jyotish with this fucking army knife.
The evening turned to night. Sunit, Amlan, and Abhirup came back with two big fishes slung from the mouth end on a stick. They were covered in mud from head to toe.
‘You idiot, What the hell happened to your phone?’ Amlan said.
‘I don’t know,’ Prantik said looking around for his phone.
‘Namrata has been calling you all day. Where the hell were you?’
‘Really. Call her number man, please,’ Prantik said, humbled and elated.
Amlan called her number and the next thing that caught his eye was a leaping figure that swooped down like an eagle and tore away the cell phone from his hand and was off to the corridor, loafing around without a care in the world.
‘This guy’s a real piece of art, man.’ Amlan said confounded.
‘Fit to be placed in a museum.’ Abhirup smiled and hunched down to examine the artwork.
‘Hey someone broke my lock.’Sunit said dashing into the room holding the broken padlock.
Amlan and Abhirup looked at his pathetic face and laughed their hearts out.
‘Where the hell is he?’ Sunit said angrily and yanked his head out of the door. Prantik had gone to the terrace and was sitting precariously on the wide concrete railing talking on the phone.
‘What happened to that fool?’ Sunit asked incredulously.
‘A crazy little thing called love,’ Amlan said and chuckled.
They quietly enjoyed their bohemian friend’s irascibility. After that, all of them huddled around the wooden house taking pictures on their phones. It was a sight to behold.