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The fateful joke

Valentine's Day sucks!' declared Pritha as she flopped down into her seat. Shehab wondered what had happened.
'What's wrong? Can't get a date for Valentine's Day again?' he asked, smirking.

'Oh shut up!' cried Pritha in frustration as she tried to hit Shehab with her physics book. 'The same thing happens to me every year!' she whined loudly 'I thought Salman was really interested in me. Could I have been wrong?'

'Not only were you wrong, but you are also delusional' said Shehab sarcastically as he lowered his lean body into the seat beside her. 'Just because a guy asks to copy the notes he missed from you, does not mean he likes you'.

'How would you know? You never even go to The Valentine Day Party!'
'I've just been waiting for the right time. I've got the perfect girl in mind to ask. She's…' Before he could finish Mr Hossain entered the class room.

After class, just as the two were about to leave, Pritha nearly bumped into Salman. 'Oh hey…Pritha?' he asked as he brushed his hand through his thick dark brown hair. 'Uh…yeah…' trailed off Pritha as she gazed into his hazel eyes. 'Going to the V-day party?'

'Huh? Oh yea, definitely. Count me in!' she replied cheerily as Shehab rolled his eyes. 'Did you see that?!' cried Pritha ecstatically, her wavy hair bouncing around. 'He noticed me!'

'Yea, long enough to barely remember your name' replied Shehab 'Whatever!' said Pritha happily as she tuned around to her next class. But Shehab still stood in the hallway, scowling, and not liking what he thought was in store for the person whom he wanted to be more than best friends with…

February 14th arrived, bringing along with it the usual amount of suspense, romance and secret desires. That night, the customary Valentine's Day party was outside the Oakton School, on the grounds, entirely arranged and paid for by all the students of the school. Shehab wore black slacks and an open throated black shirt with an expensive zipper jacket.

'Hey, handsome', somebody said behind him. He turned to see that it was Shehana.
'Care for a dance?' she asked, angling her body so that he could see her tight pink dress. 'Erm…not right now, I'm waiting for Pritha'

'Hmph! That's all you talk about isn't it? Pritha, Pritha, Pritha!' Saying so, Shehana belligerently walked off. Just then, Shehab felt a hand on his shoulder.
'Hi Shehab, you look great.'

'So do you' he said honestly as he surveyed Pritha's red blouse and stylishly cut red skirt. Pritha never tried to overdo herself by applying layers of makeup or decking herself with loads of jewellery. Yet she always managed to look gorgeous. 'You'll never guess what!' Her face was flushed making her cheeks pink and eyes bright with excitement. 'Look!' She brandished a red card for him to see. On further inspection, Shehab found it to be signed by Salman.

'You mean…?'
'Yes! He actually sent me this Valentine card asking me to be his date! Isn't that great?!'
'I don't know' said Shehab uneasily. 'You sure it's him?' ''Course I am!' she said indignantly. 'It's signed by him isn't it?'

'Yeah but…' Before he could finish, Pritha snatched the card from him and said breathlessly 'God, there he is! I hope I look alright' Shehab felt tempted to say that she'd look beautiful no matter what but she was already making her way towards Salman and his 'cool' group of friends.

'Hi' she said shyly. Salman turned around and smiled.
'Hey. Happy V-day.'
'You too. I was surprised to get your card, well maybe not that surprised but my answer is yes anyway.'

'Hold up. What card?' he asked bemusedly. 'The Valentine card you sent me of course!' she replied holding it up. Salman took it while shaking his head.

'You must be mistaken. I didn't send you any card. I don't even know you…my date's Shehana.' As he said this, Shehana sidled up to him and looked at Pritha slyly. 'Something wrong Pritha?' she asked sweetly. 'Did you actually think a guy like Salman would be interested in you? You poor disillusioned geek. I doubt anyone would ever…'

'That's' enough' said Shehab firmly, appearing behind Pritha, who was already in tears. 'Nice joke, Shehana. I don't understand what you've got against her.' He put a protective arm around Pritha. 'Maybe it's because she's sweet, innocent and kind…qualities you wish you had. So why don't you just take your pretty boy and get lost huh? And you were wrong bout nobody ever being interested in her. 'Cause you know what? I love her.'

He turned around to face Pritha and took her hands in his. She looked up at him in surprise with tear filled eyes. 'Shh…its okay now Angel…will you…would you be my Valentine?' Pritha smiled.
'Yes' she whispered.

By Nisma Elias

The “rejection”

It had been the fresh, new days for them in college, when life seemed perfect everyday, and yet incomplete without the particular other. They had everything a normal 19 year-old could want. The style, the magnetic attitude, the best and most popular gang, drowning grades (something they considered cool!), and well…they had all that the too-kool-4-school type guys could want. Most had the chick bikes, a lot had admirable girlfriends, the rest just had the spirit and sporty nature to be in this perfect gang of the27. That was their batch number, as well as the number of gang members. So…let's fast forward our story to…One nice, summer evening.

So, one summer evening, he sat there, with the typical half-finished bottle of coke in front of him, in the coolest of outfits, the moodiest of attitudes, but the worst of tempers, because of the lengthy, unfinished project summary he had to submit the next morning. It was actually supposed to be done by everyone individually, so now even his best friends and gang members were unable to help him. He sat there, so annoyed, so angry that he was ready to kick his own butt for having forgotten this. If only he could get a sort of outline, he could stay up the night and finish the edges, but now, who would give him these itty-bitty pieces of work?

He sat there, looking around at the groups of people finishing off their evening meals or snacks, in the cafeteria, some of them gathering their finished projects. Then, his eyes wandered onto the one he had actually been looking for. The NEW GIRL, as she was still called though it had been quite a few weeks since she had joined. But then, who cares?

He had had his try, and had been turned down before anything else. It had been a plain, simply cut 'no'. Looking at her made the situation even worse. Since that "rejection", he had hoped he would be able to show her how much he didn't care, how it just didn't matter to him, getting sort of dumped by such an ordinary, new, dorky girl.

If she noticed him now, she would probably think she had been able to hurt him, she had a hand in the state he was in. She rose with her pile of books, copies, and papers, and walked towards the café exit. She only stopped once, to talk with Walid, a common friend of theirs. Then she left. But just then, just there he thought he saw something. Did she stop there, to look at him? One tiny glance? A single glance lasting a fraction of a second? Maybe, maybe not.

It was past 8:00 p.m., and he had to go home. His mom would have started having nightmares of him in a car accident, or being carried away by members of the RAB (something new for moms to have nightmares about). He paid the bill, and was about to walk right out the door, when Walid called to him. "Hey man! This is for you. Tania said that you could take a look at her papers, then maybe you would get a clear idea about the entire thing you are supposed to write. She told me to give you this…."

Okay, so every cloud might just have a silver lining.
He rushed out and she was just about to enter her car. There was nobody in there except for the driver, so he took the chance. He held up the papers to eyelevel, and said, "Hey, um…thanks". Not even bothering to acknowledge it…she left.

"Huh! GIRLS!" that was the only comment that escaped him.
So, that certain project went down the drain. Since she never said "It's okay", his ego hurt to take a look at the papers.

So, it was another nice, summer evening, and our hero was once again slumped there, abandoned by his faithful gang, to mourn his failing marks in the section A of the terms exams. But this time, she was right there beside him, accompanied by a few other classmates. She calmly asked if he would be able to give her an hour of his most valuable after-university time. The answer was a shrugging 'okay'.

The days passed, everyday in the café, after classes, they studied. Or better said, she taught and he stared on.
Another day, when rain splashed on the glass windows of the university, the warm and cozy café was filled with fluttering students. There, they sat side by side and he sipped his coke a bit more cheerfully, with his A+ marks in the term's exams.

"So, as I said….you are not the everyday idiot. If one hour a day with me could get you this just think what one hour without me could do to your results."
"And what if I don't want to study without you??"
"Well then, I expect I will just have to take up the habit of being stared at all the time."

By Faria Ahmed

Valentine's day

As if running was not hard enough! Only two minutes to go before class begins! Oh my God, what will happen? My t-shirt and jeans were wet and splattered with mud. Guess why? Because it was raining, for heaven's sake. And there were no CNGs and rickshaws available. Nature sure couldn't find another day to show off. I had to walk, jog and then practically run from Dhanmondi to the DU campus. 'Well, there goes my end-of-year clean and spotless record.' I admit, I am rather proud of my record. Throughout my years, I had never been late A SINGLE DAY! Sure, there were detentions, fail marks but the on-time attendance was like polished steel. Today, though it would get its first touch of rust. Cursing, I saw the gates open in front of me. I ran in and ran up to my class.

Sure enough, class was over.
There was no other option other than to mope around and wait for my next class. I sat down on one of the benches lining the corridor wall-windows, and watched as my friends came around, some teasing and some sympathizing about my mysterious absence from class. Then the bell for next class rang and we had to run.

When we got to class, we noticed that there was a student sitting among the desks and benches. She had long straight hair, tied up in a ponytail, was of medium height, fair and wore thin, stylish glasses. Most of my friends, specifically the guys, wanted to go and talk to her, but they stopped when they saw the crutches leaning against the chair she was sitting on.

Ma'am came in and gave a fair introduction. She was Ayantha, a transfer student, from some private university. Maybe she came because she couldn't afford the fees, I thought. Private universities were damn expensive.

When class ended, few were ready to go and be friends with her. I however decided to try. I walked up to her and said, 'Hi. My name's Farhad. What's yours?”
She looked up at me with a most irritated look. ' Didn't you hear my name when Ma'am called it out?” Sharp girl.

'I am sorry.' And I started to walk away. My friends were snickering. When I looked back, she had left.
As the days wore on, I became increasingly flustered to see her everyday. I mean, we didn't talk after that day, but it just felt nice to see her face daily. Don't ask me why.

Everyday, she would come tap-tapping to the same bench and sit alone. There was a strange respect, I think, that was growing in my heart for her. Along with a definite fondness. At times I would see her, sitting alone, reading Tolkien. How boring it must be, even for her. I felt dreadfully sorry. Or was there some thing else mixed with that?

I would often look at her, but she would never look at me. Nor at anybody else. Funny, that thought used to make me feel good. There had been not a single day or moment, when I, or anybody else had seen her being mean or rude to anybody. She seemed to be, strangely, a very self-absorbed person. Soon, I couldn't spend a day without looking at her. And why the hell was I seeing her in my dreams?

You might think it weird, how the hell is this guy falling for a girl with whom he has talked only ONCE? That to was not really talking. But every time I would see her, I would feel that I knew each and every secret of her heart. Some people may call it hormones. I call it…something else.

After some days, I decided to go and tell her the truth. Yes, I was going to tell her the truth. There were to be no roses, no mushy words, no rings. Just the simple truth. Stop making it so hard for me!

I waited till class was over. Then before she could disappear as usual, I was beside her at her bench.
'Hey Ayantha, er, got to tell you some thing.'
'Yeah, what?”
'I love you.'
There was shocked silence for some time. I could hear my watch ticking and my heart beating.
'Would you help me with my crutches, man?”

I knew it. It was a yes. Sure we did not know much about each other but it was a start. Could words describe how happy I was? Of course not. I helped her out and as she stepped out, she leaned on me. Paradise found. As we walked out together, I happened to notice the calendar on the wall. It was 14th February. Valentine's Day.

By Nadia Tuki Chowdhur


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