“Hey Anu, Rohit needs help in Algebra, will you teach him some basics” Said Samira, brushing back her double-colored locks from her fair skin with the tips of her long fingers. Sameera and I would spend most evening together. We would gossip, laugh or simply be in each others company.
I was flattered. Rohit was older to me by 2 years and he wanted to learn Mathematics from me?
“Yes, Of course. Why not?” I was most eager to help.
“Oh! You are a Gem! Rohit will be so happy. You know, he finds Algebra, a boring subject and he really cannot concentrate. Maybe, if you show him some shortcuts and some easy methods, he might show some interest in mathematics and score well. Let us meet in the college library, tomorrow evening. Will that be fine?”
“Yes. That will be fine. Five O’clock then. Meet me in the library.”
“Oh no, you come to my house first then we will go together. Mom does not trust me. She never believes me if I tell her that I am going to the library in the evening. Maybe if she sees that I am going with you, she might not make such a fuss.”
I couldn’t believe that Rohit wanted to learn mathematics from me. Rohit, the handsome young man, I had noticed in the college canteen sometimes, when Samira and I dined in the snack bar. He would often greet us and sometimes have a cup of tea on our table. Always well dressed, he wore a gold wrist watch and branded clothes and behaved like a Hindi film hero. In fact, the girls jokingly referred to him as ‘hero’. I wondered if he had ever noticed me. I mean in that special way? I wondered if he liked me and was just making an excuse to know me.
I stayed up late night to revise my algebra, jotting down some important formulae. I desperately wanted to impress Rohit.
Samira and I waited for Rohit at the far corner table in the library. We were busy browsing through the stack of books when Rohit came and sat next to me and opposite to Samira. The strong smell of men’s perfume tingled my senses. I felt the blood drain though my face as I fumbled to open the algebra book.
“Let’s start from the very beginning.” I stammered as I spread the worksheets and books on the table.
He smiled and looked closely at the worksheets. He stretched his arms across the table and his finger brushed softly against Samira’s arm.
“If x equal 2 and y equals 6, then x plus y equals 8.” I whispered, once again, as I adjusted by gold rimmed specks.
It had been over 15 minutes since I had started my tutorials. I was losing my patience. I was continuously distracted by their restlessness. It started with a soft brush of his fingers against Samira’s arm, then, it had been the locking of their fingers, then, a soft chuckle, and now they were playing footsies! What am I doing here? Teaching algebra to this duffer? Oh Gosh! Sameera had used me to spend some time with her lover? No wonder! Her mom doesn’t trust her! What do I do? I felt the blood drain through my face, again, but this time for a different reason, I was embarrassed. I looked around to see if anybody else was watching me, the escort to this lovey-dovey meeting. What will be their next move? I mentally measured the dimensions of the table. It was big enough to accommodate two people in an uncomfortable position. What if…What if...they lose control? What if…they decide to spread in front of me on this narrow table? Will I have to find my algebra worksheets from the pile of clothes in my lap?.....Damn!
“Sameera! You Idiot! How dare you take advantage of me?” I wanted to shout. I contemplated going behind book shelf to push the shelf from the other side with all my might. Let all the books tumble and fall on them. I will suppress a grin if two bare bodies would rise from the debris of the books and loose sheaf and take a bow from the confused readers in the library. But what if they get hurt? The shelves were made of teak wood. Oh no! I can’t possibly do that!
‘Or maybe, I should sent SMS to Sameera’s mom, and invite her to come to library and witness the scene.’ I thought as I fondled with my cell phone in my pocket. This one time, I would relish the surprised expression of her mom and her loud voice that would resonate within high arcs of the library. Sameera and Rohit would then pledge never to visit the library again. But what if, her mom blames me for deceiving her? I had requested for her permission for Sameera to go with me to the library.
What should I do? Think! Think! I must think before it’s too late!
‘Er..ummph….Rohit… hmmn…listen..Samira….I need to go for a minute….er…. be right back!....okay?” I said, as I faked a forced smile.
I quickly left the library and disappeared from the college grounds into the crowded streets of Mumbai.