He was at his routine yet again as he had been for the past month – or more, he couldn’t tell – to him it seemed like an eternity. Ever since he had set his eyes upon her, he knew he wanted nothing else in life – just her to befriend. So there he was, ten minutes to the hour of seven, waiting on the footpath a few metres from the imposing gates of the intimidating school building. He had never been on the inside of a school before; his was not the types who would be welcome to school – more so the likes of such first-rate institutions as this one appeared to be. Just as his thoughts maundered through fanciful ideation of what lay inside the school, he was jerked to his senses by the pompous rumble of the sleek, opulent, black car which same to a smart halt very close to where he stood. The chauffer, dressed in a crisp, freshly pressed, white uniform, jumped out and held the door on the kerb side open. And out she stepped! She would be, what, all of eight or so? But she had the aura of royalty – those large, deep brown, delightful eyes; the warm, captivating smile as she beamed to her classmates walking by; two, tightly tied, shoulder length, pony tails; immaculate fawn school uniform with a tiny chequered pink napkin pinned gracefully to her left shirt pocket; spotless canvas shoes with laces neatly tied – ahh, perfect! He was rendered immobile, just a dreamy onlooker, as she collected her enormous Cinderella satchel and pink Minnie Mouse water bottle from the chauffer and made her way through the daunting school gates.
He wanted just one chance to meet her, which would be enough for him to introduce himself and cast a good impression on her, he was sure of that. And therein lay the problem. She would arrive and depart by the black chauffeured beast; not that he had not tried to follow it a few times, but it sped away like the wind. She would spend not a spare moment outside those gates and it was near impossible to meet her inside; that too he had tried more than once, but the watchmen were unusually alert and had promptly chased him away. The boundary walls were quite high and had not a breach, neither was there a tree leaning against the walls with a low hanging branch jutting over, which he could climb and jump in. Much brain-racking led to the evident conclusion that the school compound was the only place where he could approach his object of fondness, and, the monstrous school gates were the only way to enter the compound.
He planned his approach to action meticulously. He knew that the school had a tiffin break for about half an hour at the hour of ten and, though no students were allowed outside the gates, he would always hear, beyond the walls behind the school building, a commotion by the boisterous children during that time in what was obviously a playground. He bribed, convinced, and enlisted three of his closest friends to distract the guards by creating a ruckus at the school gates precisely at the time of the break. He would then slip in, with any luck unnoticed, and make his way to the playground and hope he would get lucky still. His only worry was what if she chose not to be on the playground, which probability could not be ruled out. Then, he pondered, he would have to enter the school building itself and try to seek her out, which idea he wholly detested – who knew what lay inside that towering behemoth? Boy, he hate the school now more than he ever had! The last thing he did was to pick up his favourite toy – his prized possession – which he would gift her if everything went well, God willing.
And so the plan was put into action. His friends, true to their word, generated such chaos that both the bewildered watchmen had to run after them, waving their batons threateningly for a few good metres away from the gates. That was the easy part, he thought, as he sneaked in quietly and made his way, using the cover of the neatly trimmed decorative shrubs around the periphery, to the rear of the building. As he turned the building corner, his senses were instantaneously assaulted with a sea of uniforms on the playground; he stood rooted to the spot, his brain unable to comprehend the sight – all the children looked virtually alike! Just as he was wondering how he would be able to seek her out from this buzzing swarm in such a short time, his attention was drawn by a pleasant peal of laughter from beneath the mango tree in the near corner of the ground. He heart skipped a beat and he smiled instantaneously; lady luck was after all with him today because there she was, sitting under the tree amidst a few friends, a playful mood around her.
This was the moment – one which he had waited for, for eternity. What would her reaction be when she saw him – abhorrence or delight? He would soon know. As he approached her, he could see that she had a large pink, plastic tiffin box opened out on her lap. She had just picked up a dainty triangular piece of a cucumber and tomato sandwich and was about to take a bite when he went and stood before her, his large, damp, black eyes scrutinising her face, trying to anticipate her response. His heart leapt with joy as she smiled gently, a twinkle in her eyes, even as she tore off a piece of the bread and held it out to him.
He wagged his fluffy, white tail furiously and, ignoring the proffered food, leapt up into her lap – his pink tongue licking her face zealously as she scratched his furry muzzle squealing with delight. He had suddenly become the cynosure of all eyes around, his back being patted and caressed by many, but his eyes were only on her. The gift – he recalled suddenly! He jumped off her lap and dashed to the shrubs where he had stowed his cherished, tattered, black and red, rubber ball. Dropping the ball at her feet, he gave a short, enthusiastic bark. As she picked up the ball and him into her arms and cuddled him warmly, he knew he had finally found his love – his very own girl friend…
– Narendra Nayak © 2018
“Yours Lovingly…” is my eighth short story as part of the series “Add Salt to Taste”.