Nipun took the rickshaw home, and planned to spend a few quality minutes with his Mom. Later this evening, he had plans to meet his girlfriend Dipti, at this new pizza place she kept talking about. To his dismay, he found his father's Honda City parked in the compound. He sneaked into his room to look for his bike keys and found it hanging behind the door bearing a 'Dennis the Menace' poster. Now came the tough part; having to face the whole ordeal of his parents asking how college went. He would have to lie, tell them how interesting his lectures were and give them no hint of diffraction. Instead, he had been on the streets of Pune for over a week now, biding his time every morning until it was time to get back home. How would a son be able to confess to his parents that he was suspended from college for the whole year? Nipun knew better than to foolishly admit the truth. He hung desperately in balance to avoid the parental thrashing of the decade.
He sat at the table to join his Dad for lunch as his Mom prepared buttered aalu parathas in the kitchen. “Nipun beta college kaisa tha?” and there came that question flying out of her mouth. Nipun closed his eyes for a second before he stepped into his role again “College was fine, Maa. I got home early because I didn’t want to sit for that last lecture!” His Dad churned the bud of his cigarette into the ashtray and studied his son's casual response. “Son, your Life is not a toy. Don’t play with it.” Nipun looked at him in vain “Paapa, please don’t start now. It was only a German lecture”. But out of nowhere, the short tempered man slammed his fist hard over the table and blast at a bamboozled Nipun “I don’t care if its German or Russian! I will NOT tolerate you bunking any more lectures! If you ever think about bunking, just pray that I don’t find out about it” A bead of sweat developed behind Nipun’s ear. Let alone attending lectures, he couldn’t even remember what his college gate looked like. The worst part was that he had to face this every single day. Only a week had passed since he was let off from Loyola’s. How would he carry on this way for the entire year? Only his close friends knew of this peril he was in, and they encouraged him to take each day as it came. Today was time well spent at playing pool and eating at Vaishali. Tomorrow would be Rose Day. He thought of Nikhil, and about what he was going to do in front of all those people in Jyotsna's company. He thought of what he'd say in his own defense if Nikhil ever blamed him if things went wrong. But what if things went right? What if Jyotsna took the red rose? Would that mean him having to see less of Nikhil? Where would he go every morning, and how long would he be able to pretend that he's still going to college?
“Chodo na, let him eat properly” his mom came out of the kitchen to serve them fresh parathas. Nipun wasn't hungry, especially with that Masala Dosa in his stomach which he hogged not too long ago. He had a bite of his mother's love and tried to gather a few words to say. His father- a former IIT graduate, was still woeful at the failure of training his child to take studies more seriously, “Ever once did Rohan shamelessly say that he bunked a lecture?" He pointed towards Rohan, his elder brother. Rohan was a sure bet of a hard working engineer committed to completing college in time, apply for a Masters degree and earn in dollars in the years to come: The living dream of any middle class Indian family. Nipun realized he had been staring blankly at the television that played a Wimbledon match, as his father continued to besiege him with study-centric taunts. He thought this would be a lazy afternoon with his mom. A plateful of his mom's parathas would rest over his stomach as he'd lie horizontally on the sofa, watching The Simpsons until it was time to meet Dipti. He frowned at his dad, who had now turned angrily towards the TV, watching the tennis match, cigarette in hand.
Only then did he decide to wash his hands and make that all important call on his cellphone. He had to find his way out of this dilemma soon before it got any worse. Nipun whispered into the mouthpiece to the mysterious person at the other end “It is going out of hand. You said you knew that guy who can help me get back into college. Did you get his number as yet?” Nipun found a piece of paper and scribbled a number on it “Thanks, is it ok If I called him right now?” On confirming the number, he dialed his cell and waited for a few rings until a hoarse voice answered his call. Nipun stuttered at first and tried to sound confident with the guy he was speaking with. “Farooq? This is Nipun. I got your number from Swanand?”