The Millennium Batch

By Piyush Roy

Part 9 / Series 1

“It’s as cozy as you,” she said pretty innocently, sending my raucous mind on a major reading between the line trip! That was Tammy’s first visit to my room, and she lived up to see me out of that room too. An immediate fancy she took to the place, straightening it out of its bachelorhood mess, as I sipped through yet another cuppa of her trademark ginger tea, prepared ‘with love’. The kitchen of my room had been a major attraction to the few and far between visitors I enjoyed. Its mini-dining set-up between the cabinets and the stove more than adequately compensating for my bare cooking accessories.

A week’s introduction and Tammy meticulously gave it a householder’s makeover. We even celebrated her room¬mate, Rosemary’s birthday there. Tammy had eagerly done up the do, which came as a pleasant surprise for me as well. Her landlords were too strict, to even allow a male guest to prance around their house. So, we shortlisted mine for that mandatory cake cutting over 21 candles ritual; though Rosemary’s late arrival on the designated evening, would have nearly made the ceremony go kaput falling prey to Tammy’s retreating enthusiasm. Volatile emotions were another of Tammy’s dangerous discrepancies, for she couldn’t help jumping to conclusions, which were generally far from reason. A cure to that I thankfully had soon stumbled upon, lay in her ‘lost to the world’ kind of engagement with cooking. Playing her humble aide in the kitchen, I successfully managed to hold still her impatience, till Rosemary trooped in, brimming with herself, and beaming with no regrets. We even did an impromptu ball dance to The Godfather’s waltz, as Tammy tried a few strains with my abandoned guitar, quite a contrast to her till now agitated self.

A decent performance we managed, vouched forth by both Tammy and Manish, who joined in with a yellow rose and a P.G. Wodehouse classic for the birthday girl. He was Rosemary’s surprise; also, her only guest for the event. Not that it bothered me any much, but it did get Tammy charged enough to work overtime at the when and how of another gossip in the making. “All along, I have been with Rosemary like a shadow, and yet didn’t get a hint…” she rued. I couldn’t help pity Rosemary’s fate, who was being pretty well complimented in a jig with Manish to Bollywood’s most danced song of the year-to-be, a wanderlust’s ode to ‘living in the moment’, essayed on Indian cinema’s first heartthrob of the new millennium,a Desi-boy with Greek-god looks, in a young romance re-exploring an old assurance, Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai (Say It… You Love Me!).

Looking at ‘our’ Hrithik Roshan and Ameesha Patel; rather Manish and Rosemary, I could feel a rush of unexplainable contentment that comes when you are a bearer of joys unsolicited. It seemed like playing host to a happy family, of a brother, his adopted sister and her inseparable roommate, who seemed on the verge of boarding the romantic bandwagon with the brother. One hell of a confusing concoction, I could go pounding on, hadn’t Rosemary dismissed the happy family picture, even before it could be framed by explaining that Manish was the only guy in the class to remember and wish her on her special day, and hence an exclusive owner of that invitation to her ‘very exclusive and private’ birthday bash.

As an aside, she revealed, to me only, later with a rider, “To not totally deny your and Tammy’s guessing games, I am indeed in love, but with a senior, whose identity will be revealed at the right time. But please don’t tell Tammy anything about it.”

“There flies another chicken into the seniors’ lap,” I rued silently for all the single and available guys in my class, wishing her all the luck and an anytime you need I am there kind of assurance, we all love to distribute during such joyous occasions.

Though Tammy never forgot that impromptu savior act of mine at the disc post Rahul’s abrupt abandoning; fondly remembering it through all our deliberations on the past, which often ended up drenching me in a shower of platitudes of gratitude. I got many more chances and opportunities for bigger mercies, as slowly and steadily she went on to becoming a close friend. She was always there, by my side, in the canteen, or the class, through our now favourite bitching sessions, to the point of stalking my shadow to even the entry of the gent’s toilet.

Did I resent that? Well, which normal guy with a right balance of hormones wouldn’t love to be pampered by a gorgeous female, and even if for a second, I assumethat I didn’t resent her presence, Rahul still hated her from the core of his heart. Thus, began an unenviable balancing act, my evolving relationships would condemn me to through the rest of my life, for who would have imagined then of Rahul becoming so integral a part of me? Never Tammy, neither me!

The writer is a national film award winning critic and has authored three published works of fiction and non-fiction. For further details, visit: www.piyushroy.com

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