Niku <3 Jyotsna
It didn't seem like so many years ago when Nikhil found himself on the long dining table, filled with distant relatives, his parents and his grandfather. He had to make quick amends after the damage his sister created at that table. 'Niku loves Jyotsna!' she declared, paying no heed of remorse or even think about the consequences that would follow. It was known to everyone at home and in school that Nikhil had a thing for Jyotsna, this pretty girl who won his heart in kindergarten. It was school where everyone started teasing first. Thanks to Rahul, one of his first best friends, even the teachers knew of Nikhil's affection for her. All it took was a bit of chalk and Rahul's crooked mind to write both their names on the classroom blackboard, just a few seconds before the next lecture started. He was even mindful to hide the duster away, so it would give considerable time for the students to settle down and notice the two names inscribed within the heart shaped drawing. The word went to Nikhil's parents as well, which he bluntly denied being true. But the discussion at home was overheard by Pooja, his younger sister, who took this piece of gossip to entertain the rest of the family. 'Niku loves Jyotsna' this topic made its way to the dining table, packed with over a dozen people. The maids stopped serving the rotis, and asked what Pooja meant, and so it was politely translated in Marathi. The maid gasped, balked and paced back to the kitchen to reveal this to the rest of the servants. Nikhil's dad smirked in amusement. There was no shade of grey in school. Either acknowledge you love her, or you say you don't. His family would often make plans of meeting Jyotsna's family for a movie or dinner. Nikhil chose the latter to avoid facing any awkward situation. Well, things were different now. He was in college, he grew out of his baby fat and found himself in a field full of roses where everyone were openly proclaiming their love to one another. Nipun gave him enough advise, "Just look calm, and don't, DON'T push the red rose in front. Let her take her time. But don't give her too much time, else she'll say No"
Those butterflies in his stomach had now turned to demons, adding weight to every breath Nikhil took. The ornaments on her neck distracted him, so he did his best to maintain firm eye contact. He tried keeping his emotions in check and said exactly what he had rehearsed in front of his bathroom mirror. This wasn't a time to experiment with words. Just say what was planned. “Can I speak to you for a minute?” he muttered slowly. Jyotsna happily said "Sure!" and they walked a few steps away from the horde of other girls who were falling over each other to eavesdrop on their conversation. “What is it??” she asked, and Nikhil presented her with the colored stems in each hand. So nervous he was that he held the roses straight up, looking like a salesman trying to sell them to her. “Nikhil? What are you doing?” Jyotsna began hinting that he was about to make a mistake. His forehead profusely wept as he tried explaining himself; “Jyotsna, I have been thinking that….” he tried recollecting the lines he rehearsed at home that were to follow. However, the next words that came out almost too suddenly were “I love you..” The roses seemed to be getting heavier by the second. By now he felt the entire college had come to a standstill, watching him self destruct. He continued to speak, “Take the red rose if you love me too. Take the yellow one for friendship.” Jyotsna looked at him in the eye and questioned again “Why are you doing this?? Don’t do this.” This was not how it appeared in any of his dreams. How could he not see this coming? As a last act of desperation, he pushed himself to say it one more time “I love you. That’s why I’m doing this. I really do!” But all he could hear from her end was “No Nikhil. don’t do this.” and he helplessly saw her take the yellow rose from his hand and he kept muttering to himself "Are you sure? Are you sure?".
He felt trapped standing there, as she left him alone and walked back to her friends who were waiting to get a scoop of what just happened. Every time he blinked, he could feel his wet eyelashes batter drops of sweat over his cheeks. He wasn't sure if it was sweat, they could have been tears. Nikhil turned around not knowing where to go. He made his way through the crowd of others who still had roses in hand. He couldn't bare to see another red rose. Nipun and Swanand came up to him with a solemn look on their faces. They knew. Now a wounded soldier, they asked him to hop on to one of their Kinetic bikes. They pushed the square red 'START' button to rev the engines, and the bikes began coughing out some smoke. Nikhil glanced back at her one more time, and found her smiling as if it were just another day. The yellow rose she took from him wasn't to be seen in her hand anymore. There’s an unspoken list that any college going kid would dread to have his name on. A list of all the unfortunate guys who were turned down by girls. Nikhil was now on it, on Rose Day. He shuddered to think of the potential headlines for the coming few weeks, “Jyotsna dumped Nikhil”.