I remember seeing Nandini for the first time. On the very first day, I remember she was late. The professor looked at her and didn’t say anything.
The entire class was quiet. For some vague reason, that one minute felt terrible.
Nandini had a subtle smile on her face.
The professor didn’t say a word and continued to teach. She was still standing there. Nobody bothered about her but I couldn’t stop myself from looking at Nandini.
She ran away immediately.
For the entire first week, the same thing happened. It was damn weird. She used to never enter the class. Professors ignored her.
My first conversation with her was after a week, since college started. That day both of us were late and weren’t allowed to sit in class. I used to wonder if she even had friends to take notes from.
I remember feeling very embarrassed when the professor didn’t let me in, while Nandini seemed pretty okay about it.
“Don’t feel so bad about it. Happens!” she said.
I smiled and said, “Yeah.”
She smiled and left.
The next day, she was late again. I waved at her from where I was sitting. But, she didn’t wave back. She just looked at me. Nandini had a very blank expression, and she looked scared.
My professor yelled at me when he saw me waving.
“Where the hell is your attention Mr. Veer?”
I took a deep breath and looked down.
The professor continued to explain what he was talking about. By the time I looked up, Nandini had already left.
I decided to look for her after class, and ask her about notes. When the class got over, I quickly went out and started looking for her. I saw her in the college garden, walking.
I went up to her and said,
“Hi, forgot to tell you my name that day. Veer. You have missed lectures for almost two weeks now. Do you want me to mail them to you or something?”
She smiled, took a page from her notebook and wrote her email address on it.
I went home and quickly mailed her everything that was covered in class for the first two weeks. I was expecting her to reply but she didn’t.
She must have not checked her email, I thought.
The next day, I saw her entering college before time. I was happy. I thought, I’ll get to attend lectures with her. But, I didn’t approach her before class because I was feeling awkward. Nandini walked without looking behind or anything. She just walked straight towards the building.
There were still good 20 minutes for the lecture. I went to class early to catch a decent place. I was constantly looking towards the door, waiting for her.
The lecture started. Nandini didn’t come. I was disappointed.
Why would she deliberately not come on time? I wondered.
I kept checking the time again and again. After 15 minutes, I saw Nandini outside class. She was late, again. She stood there for good ten minutes, but didn’t say a word.
The professor didn’t even look at her.
I was feeling bad. I decided to talk to her about it. If this habit of hers continued, she wouldn’t be allowed to sit for exams.
Once, I saw her in the library reading some notes. At least she was studying, I was glad.
Though she never acknowledged my mails, I kept sending her notes regularly with the hope that one day she will reply or at least say ‘Thank you.’
A month passed by, and Nandini had still not attended a single lecture.
Exams were going to start in about two weeks. I was sure about the fact that she wouldn’t be allowed to write the exams.
A day before the study break, I decided to check the register for her name, to check her seat and exam hall number. I asked the professor to let me check the register. Luckily, he allowed me to do that.
I quickly went through all the names to find ‘Nandini’, but her name wasn’t there.
The college didn’t even consider her a student.
Our college had kept some annual ceremony just two days before the exams started. I was annoyed to be honest. That wasn’t the right time.
I was sitting with one of my seniors, and talking about college and how it has been so far.
While talking to him, I mentioned to him about Nandini. But, I didn’t tell him the name.
“Dude, that’s sad. You know there was a girl in our college 2 years back. She was very intelligent. Ranker and shit. During the term end exams, she couldn’t make it on time. And the professor didn’t allow her to enter the class.”
“Yeah, you know what’s more terrible? Poor girl committed suicide that night.”
I got depressed listening to the incident and got worried about Nandini. I was secretly hoping that she makes it on time at least during the exams.
“Do you remember her name?”
“No, I don’t. I’ll find out and tell you. That incident was very bad though.”
The exam day arrived. I was worried more about her than the exams. I remember getting late and being in a hurry. There was a text message from my senior which I didn’t check.
I was running towards my classroom. When I reached my floor, the entire floor was empty.
I slowed down, and quickly checked my phone for the time. The exam was going to start at 12 pm, and it was 11:59 am.
I slowly walked towards my classroom and thought of checking my phone before entering.
I clicked on it, and walked towards the door.
The entire class was empty. Shockingly, only Nandini was there. She smiled at me.
I smiled and looked down to read the message,
“Nandini Srivastav dude. Nandini was her name.”