RUSH 1 _PROLOGUE

Sipping over his coffee, he couldn’t help but smile looking at the couple before him. The two were obviously much in love with each other and enjoying every moment of it while they laughed and chatted away on coffee. This was something he wished to be a part of with some one special for a long time. The trouble was that that special person did not seem to be that much interested in him and that he couldn’t think of how to make his moves. This was his third coffee. Insomnia and an addiction to caffeine do not go well together. It was eleven in the night and he was surprisingly still there.

This was one of those new cyber dens that sprung up. Apart from housing the latest games, consoles and equipment these new dens also served as a café with varieties of drinks and thing to munch on. His vacations were going on, having just cleared his higher secondary schooling. Getting a job at Zodiac was the best thing that had happened to him. Not only was he paid great here, but he got a chance to demonstrate his avid gaming skills to others and get some decent competition if it came around. One such person that he was attracted to for the past few months was a woman named Sharon. The two had been introduced by the owner of the den once when there was a casual frag session going on. He was used to lurk around her to get her attention but it all was not enough. In spite of his prodigious skill and his liking for here all they were was acquaintances. How much this was going to change.

His phone rang and it was Simone. His Bhabhie (elder brother’s wife) was one of his best friends. Just six years older to him at twenty three, she had married his elder brother Sid only six months ago. The two got along so well that people would think that if it hadn’t been for their age difference and his brother they would have been married for sure now. Life however is just like that.

He grudgingly answered.

“Yeah, I am coming.”

“No, No what’s the need to come? Why don’t you ask Mr. Sen to give some quarters there? This will be very comforting for you.” She was angry on him at him coming late at night to home. She was being sarcastic too. Not a good thing. He had a bad feeling about this.

“Come on honey, you’re sounding like mum.”

“Don’t you dare get that started on me. Get your self back here fast or I’ll behave like her too.”

And the phone line went dead. He got up to pay for his coffees, but it was Mrs. Sen at the counter today. She treated him like a son. “Come on San dear, you know I don’t charge you for this. The least I can do to help you get her.” She smiled. She was one of the few persons along with Simone and his sister who new about his intentions.

“You’re spoiling me Auntyji. What will happen of the time when I do not work here any more? It’s only six weeks till the admissions begin.”

“That will dealt with then sweetheart. Now run off or Simone will be after my head.”

It paid real well in life to have such great company around you. He soon left for home only a kilo meter away, stopping only to buy some dark chocolates. Simone was a sucker for them. She however it seemed had different plans. Nidhi, his elder sister was to come from the United States the next day. This was her bi-annual trip back home and her husband and two girls would come along too. Harry, her husband ran a business that dealt whit the sales of computers, their peripherals and other new coming products. The two had been introduced to each other through common family friends and it was an arranged marriage. A marriage that was now a successful and would be a long lasting one. Their two little girls Mira and Rima were the apple of everyone’s eyes. Things had to be in order by the time they would arrive. San didn’t like all this. He thought that since they were all part of the family it didn’t matter much. He was none the less missing his favorite person. The two were close; she was like a mother to him. A soul mate who he could turn to for advice and a shoulder. A position he was wanting to share with some else too.

He opened the door with his own set of keys. Simone was waiting there for him in the hall. Sid gave him a look which meant that he was in deep trouble

“Late again. What new story are you spinning now?” She knew why, what was the point of asking?

“I was held up at the Zodiac. I was getting some work done.”

“Even when it was supposed to be over by eight?”

“See, when you know certain things then what’s the point in going over these matters?”

“What matters, and what does she know?” Sid interrupted.

“None that concerns you!” he replied with some bite.

“But what concerns me is that I asked you to do some thing” Simone was not to be drawn away.

“Here, I got the ingredients that you asked for. I had bought them in the evening it self.”

“So you want me to stay up all night, getting the cake right?”

“Come on, there’s still twenty four hours till they come. Besides all you need to do is decorate the cake. I can smell that you’ve already baked it. Here and I got some chocolates for you to add in it and share some of it with us.”
She noticed that he had bought her favorite brand.

“No more of your antics now. GO to your room, and we’ll not be having this chocolate. You sure know how to keep us all waiting for your honored presence my lord”

“Come on now, I’ve told you all to not wait for me”

“No more of this, do what she said” Sid was getting bored.

Evidently outnumbered, San retreated to his room. An insomniac, he still had hours before falling asleep. SO he turned his lights off to give the impression and started solving some Sudoku puzzles on his cell phone. He wanted to switch on the television too but that would attract the wrong kind of attention. He just changed to some other game. Some sessions and hours later, he heard some noise from the hall. Putting his spectacles on and arming himself with a bat he made his way to the hall, wondering who it could be. The dim lights were on, and some noises were coming. Sounded like there was more than one person. As he sneaked in he saw that the chocolates were being devoured.

“So, did you plan to leave some for me or hog it all up alone? And you bro, her partner in crime against your own brother! What has this world come to?”

“Stop being so noisy, and shove them down your throat. You’ll wake mum up.”

“That’ll be trouble for sure.” Simone chirped in.

“Why do you keep doing this? You know I don’t like your staying out and up late. IF you so want then I’ll speak to her. You know I can try and convince her.”

“I’ve told you before; I don’t want you to do it. I want it done on my terms, my efforts.”

Sid was getting the drift of it.

“So whom are we talking about? Is it that girl what was her name, Kavita?”

Kavita was the girl whom San had once been going out with. They decided to take it to the next level and got very physical. But then it seemed that that was there was there between them. He had decided to break up and done so with a Dear Jane letter. That brought back memories how mum was mad when she came to know of the details.

Both of them had taken it a bit getting used to. But there was no bad blood between them, and were just friends now. She had moved on to another person while he had troubles doing so. It was not because he wasn’t over her but for the fact that he still couldn’t approach the one he wanted.

Sharon was a friend of Simone’s. He didn’t know much about what she did, where she was and all but he knew that she was a great person and much like the one he would dream of. After all he had been lurking around her for some time now. Simone was aware of all this. Having done psychology she could read his mind. He was none the less happier to confide in her. She had offered to help him by giving a better introduction and give him her numbers and all. He on the other hand wanted it to be on his own.

“So, you’ll be going alone this time too I presume?” Sid asked.

“But obvious, I am her favorite brother.” He replied with a grin.

“I don’t get it. Nobody is making an arrangement to receive Nidhi Didi and it seems unanimous that he’ll go to receive her. He who has not done anything either.” Simone commented.

“You’ll see that when he goes to receive her. He won’t be able to sleep till then. He’s even got the rooms for her and the kids ready this morning.”

“Hhhmmmnn… I am impressed, and surprised that you do some work. How do you bully the entire family into your plans? Besides you don’t even have a driving license. What if some cop catches you?”

“Hey there is more to me than what you can read. College can only get you so far. Besides I can drive pretty well and there are ways around cops and their patrols.”

“Well, thank you for the chocolates then and next time onwards you better not be late. Not unless you bring chocolates and can go around mum.” She got up, gave him a tight hug and a small peck on the cheek before she started to leave for her room.

Sid said, “Lucky you.”

“Don’t lucky me. You get a whole lot more from her.” San said after he left for his room. It was good that the lights were dim, he had been blushing.

RUSH 2 _ 2 YEARS LATER

Two years had passed and a lot had changed during those two years. Much to his shock San had found that Sharon was a teacher at the college he had joined and she had proceeded to take some of their subjects. She seemed a totally different person when ever she taught. At times he’d think whether he had made the right choice in falling for her and there were times outside her professional life that he would feel affirmed that she was the one. Meanwhile Sid had gotten a job in a soft skills development company and was constantly on company tours. Simone had decided it was better if they shift to near San’s college as she would be getting a job there as a counselor. He didn’t know that if this was good news or bad. His personal and professional lives were getting all mixed up.

It was the second year of his college and the work load was ever increasing. The students decided to perform a mass absence from the college to take an unofficial break. Rumors were abound that the authorities were aware of it. They didn’t care much. If they had been so studious this event wouldn’t have been planned in the first place. San was in the canteen having some iced tea and a burger when Edina came and hit him on the back.

They were school mates and had come to the same college.

“Damn you man, why’d you have to hit so hard?”

“Why did you have to bunk the lecture in the first place? It’s the second one you’ve bunked this week. Keep this rate on you’ll surely be detained or get library hours.” An eighty percent attendance was compulsory to attend the exams.

“As if I care a shit. Math was never so boring. I was even out of the coffee beans today. It takes an effort just to stay awake there”
“What ever, buy me a diet coke”

“What the hell do you drink the diet stuff for? It tastes so bland. You are so in shape too”

“Well got to keep the shape. Am going to meet him tonight”

“You and your taste in men. I’ll get you your coke, but you’ll be drinking it alone I guess.”

“Why, what happened?”

San handed her a can, “Well Simone’s coming this way and if she finds out that I am bunking lectures again I am in for it big time then. Gotta run off to the library before it stops renewing the books. Not here one whole week aren’t we?”

“I don’t get it, you don’t let her find out that you bunk lectures and yet you are gonna participate in the mass bunk for the whole week?”

“The mind works in mysterious ways my friend. I’ll deal with her later.”

The rest of the day in college went as uneventful as possible. He managed to stay awake in the lectures that had followed. Well it was also due to the fact the last one was Sharon’s. He was more interested in looking at her than what she had to teach. He knew what she was teaching anyways so it didn’t matter much. She was in a good mood to teach without having to tell off some one for not paying attention or not answering to questions. He went home once his lectures were over. He was alone though as his mother had gone to some friend’s place and Sid was off to some tour. Simone still had two more hours to come home to so he decided to change in to something more comfortable and put on some of his favorite music. As time passed he began to feel the pangs of hunger. Simone was late today. He thought that she would have been held up due to some staff meeting and so he decided to make some snacks himself. He made some sandwiches and opened a new bottle of cola. Just then there were some noises from the gate. So she had finally come. It was a good thing he had prepared some extra ones. When the door opened he found that she was not alone but Sharon had accompanied her home.

“Good, you brought company. I prepared some extra ones.”

“Well, she’s your professor; give her some respect.”

“So are you, I am not wishing you Good evening.” He replied tongue in cheek.

“It’s ok Simone; we know each other from times before this.” Sharon said. He smiled.

“Ok, I surrender. Just wait for me I’ll change and come. Make your self at home”

“So what’s the latest thing you’ve done? I am so out of touch with the digital world now.”
“Nothing big just created some new skins for the game models. And then there’s your assignment to do too.”

“The one you made last week was real good. Pity they thought that it was out of course.”

“What can I say? We have a good teacher in class.”

“Stop flattering me. You never need my lectures there. You know all that is being taught anyways”

“He knows a lot of things; it would better if he put his brains to better use.” Simone came in as Sharon helped her self to some sandwiches.

“What’s better than this?”

“Well you could stop bunking lectures for one.”
“So you noticed me leaving the canteen today. Well I have enough attendance to appear for the exams.”

“And for the mass bunk too?”

“So you people know?”

“Yes, and so does the principal. You guys better watch your steps” Sharon said

“We shall see. Principal or no we are going to bunk. Period. I’ll leave you all to your selves. Mum’s come back anyways. It’s her at the gate. Better set my hair or she’ll be after that too. The principal calling home is all I need to have her madder at me”

Just then his mother entered.

“Good evening Auntyji.” Sharon wished her.

“Good evening dear. Why don’t you all make it compulsory at the college to have a proper haircut? This boy has no sense of dressing.”

San got up and left for his room. “Here we go again. Some other time ma”

RUSH 3 _ AT HOME

San was sitting in his room when Simone came in.

“You ought to be studying right now you know.”

“Studies are boring”

“Nothing new coming from you. Come down dinner’s ready. There are a few surprises for you.”

“Ooh, is mom not going to get mad at me?”

“Well that and some thing else too. Get ready and come quick.”

Well he didn’t know what the other surprise was, but got ready none the less, although that didn’t involve much except putting on a t shirt. He liked his hair ruffled anyways. He got up and followed Simone to the dining room.

“Do you stay this fashionable all the time?”

He didn’t expect to find Sharon there so it took him be surprise.

“I didn’t know you were going to stay back.”

“In your hurry to go back to your room you failed to notice that I had brought my bag along.”

“Sorry, my bad”

“Well he’s always in such a hurry that he forgets to comb his hair properly too.” His mom cut in. “You might as well sit down to eat.”

He sat down across Sharon, next to Simone where Sid ought to have been sitting. However as Sid was away for the weekend he took the opportunity of observing Sharon from apart. The food was prepared as usual today too. Rice, pulses, fried potatoes, salad and papad.

“Lovely potatoes ma, you’ve added garlic just the way I like it. Although I guess you should gone for some thing grander going by the company we’re having over for the night.”

“Oh don’t worry about me, there’s no food like home cooked food. No special arrangements required for me. Besides what makes you think that I am here only for the night? I plan to make my stay here till this Friday. As it is you guys will not be coming for the lectures so Simone thought I should come over for the week.” Sharon replied.

“Yup, at least this way we’ll be able to keep an eye on him for the week. You’ll get a first hand view of how much he studies and how much he slacks.” Simone joined in. Evidently this was going to be an eventful week for him.

“Thank you Aunty that was an awesome dinner.”

“Now how about some awesome dessert too? I had some Ice cream to be set in the refrigerator last night, it should be done by now. Dark Chocolate with cookies.”

“I didn’t know until today that you are good at so many things apart from computers.”

“Why, thank you”

“Well I’ll pass,” Mom interjected, “I can’t bear that bitter taste. I don’t know how the two of them manage to enjoy it. Simone, have you made arrangements in the guest’s room?”

“Sharon’s sleeping with me tonight. Sid isn’t here any way so there won’t be any trouble.”

“Good, at least this way San won’t stay up late and bother you if Sharon’s there with you. You lot have fun, I’ll turn in.”

After a chorus of good night, the three of them were left to themselves in the hall to eat ice cream. It was decided that they’d watch a movie before the sand man would get to his work. A romantic movie was on, and normally San wouldn’t be sitting there watching it and be playing on his computer instead but some how today he didn’t seem to mind. After the movie ended they sat there discussing what they’d be doing the next day. From the yawns coming from the two women he realized that it was soon time for them to sleep. Simone asked Sharon to go up to her room and get changed while she finished her last bit of chores. San exchanged a good night with her. After turning off the television, putting the pillows in their place and tiding up the table Simone decided to join Sharon. With a smile and peck on her cheek San went up to his room. He found it hard to sleep, and about an hour later he sent a text message to Simone:

I get it that you planned this all on purpose. Thank you. It was a pleasant surprise. It means a whole lot.

Little did he know that there were more surprises waiting for him.

RUSH 4 _ THE BREAKFAST BEFORE THE SURPRISE

The alarm rang at six am on Saturday morning, but he was already awake by then. To be true he had hardly slept at all. He brushed his teeth, washed his face, put on his shoes turned on the music on his cell phone, and went for his daily early morning jog. The fragrance of the early morning was scintillating and served as an excellent getaway from the emotions building in him. About an hour later he was back home, hoping that what had come to happen last night was not a dream. He picked up the newspaper and read his forecast for the day, ‘You are feeling scared of the emotions building inside you. The stars however are clearing the deck for a new phase in your life.’ That felt good. His mum came out following the daily ritual of morning prayers. He bowed his head a little, and she stroked his head as a sign of blessing.

“You’re up early today”

“Didn’t sleep that well last night. Here read the paper, I’ll make some breakfast. Will some egg sandwich and juice be fine with you?”

“Don’t why you like eggs so much. Just let the eggs boil properly “

Boiled egg sandwich was one of his personal favorite. He started to wash and peel off the fruits to make the juice while he had put some eggs to boil. He took the time the eggs took to boil to get a shower, and get ready. After saying his daily prayers he came back to the kitchen to find Simone and Sharon already present there, breaking open the boiled eggs from their shells.

“Good morning, if you don’t mind I like to make the sandwiches my self Simone, it’s not that you get the morning off always.”

She smiled, “You’re such a sweet heart, what’s mum doing?”

“Reading the newspaper. By the way ma’am would you like your juice sweetened or sugarless?”

“You don’t have to call me Ma’am here San, Sharon is fine. Just like I said yesterday, you and I know each other from times before. A bit of sugar will do for me.”

He almost blushed at this mention. Simone and Sharon were busy talking amongst themselves. Meanwhile he sliced the eggs, and prepared the sandwiches, poured the juice from the juicer in the glasses, and took out the ketchup.

“Sharon, why don’t you go out to the garden and sit with mum while I help him bring out the breakfast?”

The moment Sharon was out of the kitchen, San gave a big hug to Simone.

“Thank you, thank you, and thank you for bringing her here.”

“I’d rather have your hugs than receiving messages on my cell phone right in the middle of the night.” He grinned. “You might as well do your bit if you want to impress her. The cooking and fitness part go real well.”

“Well, apart from the fact that I have good brains too.”

“That’s my boy.”

The breakfast went on pretty well. He was managing to get her attention and it seemed that if the stars were really going to do their work, a new phase was about to begin after all.

RUSH 5 _ THE SURPRISE

“That was a nice breakfast you’ve made San”
“ Glad to know you liked it Sharon.”
“Well wish he’d put in as much effort in preparing for exams. Don’t know what is with this boy, not that he doesn’t know anything or his brains don’t work. He’s got ample amount of that and they seem to be working in places they shouldn’t.”
“Maybe he is just not interested enough.” Great now even Simone was pointing guns at him.

“Oh he’s is interested all right, I’ve taught him and I can tell that. He does have good brains but he doesn’t commit them properly. He knows more that half his seniors and if I were to give him a problem I can bet that he’ll come up with a solution to it. His assignments and projects are wonderful too but when it comes to exams I don’t what happens to him.”

“Nobody know what happens to him then. Such a brilliant lad, and one would think he would be fare off better.”

“Sigh, this is why I don’t like parent teacher meetings. Everyone seems to be pointing their guns over here.”

“You could do well to improve your grades a little. We know that you know your stuff, but when it comes to getting a job they follow the grades. They don’t know how much you know. For them grades are all that matter.” Mothers always tend to worry about their children he thought.

“Besides what’s the point of being gifted if you can’t make good of it. It’s as good as letting it go waste.”
”Aha, so you agree that I am gifted.”

“But what’s the point of having a lot of potential if you can’t get some definitive results from it.”

Things weren’t going exactly as he had planned, but a call from on the phone saved him. Simone got up and answered the call. She seemed to be talking to some one she knew as she was smiling all the way through her conversation. She came back some time later and asked, “Are you free today noon mom? There’s a good movie on.”

“Movies are no longer my cup of tea dear; I find it hard to stay awake through most of these new movies. You and Sharon have a go at it.”

“You talk as if they don’t make any quality movies now mum.” San interjected, after all he was getting to speak for once.

“You might as well take him along, don’t know what he’ll do over here if left alone. Mind you boy, don’t be worrying them.”

“What? Me and worry them? I am such an obedient and sincere boy.”

Everyone laughed.

“Ooh, and can I drive? Please, pretty please? I’ve even got my license now. Swear I won’t drive rashly.”

“Ok if that’s what it takes to keep you down. Mind you, drive safely.”

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