Mansi saw him lazily wake up and make his way towards her. Pulling out the chair, he sat beside her, not before slightly caressing her cheek with the back of his forefinger. He liked the softness of her skin against his.
” You are early up today.. How’s that?”
“I don’t know how. May be it’s the bed. its not like the one at home”.
Tej looked at his wife. No matter where they are, how they are, his gaze always found her. They have been together for quite sometime – 3 years of dating, two years of marriage. And this woman has not been an easy one to deal with. An independent and driven woman, who knows what she wants and who gets what she wants. He found that extremely attractive. But even with her very shrewd personality, she is surprising a very sensitive woman adding a softness to her otherwise hard exterior.
He remembered the first time he saw her. She was actually hard to miss – a pretty girl with baggy clothes and dishevelled hair, sitting just across him, alone, in the bench staring into oblivion. He remembers the day vividly. It was the day when he submitted his final dissertation papers, it was also the day when his neighbour bought Moby, the brown lab and it was also the day when his friend Rit made the first move on his long term crush. No, he wasn’t a know – it – all. He just could never forget the most beautiful day of his life.
He saw her brows cringe, eyes squinted, as if she was thinking hard. She quickly glanced in his direction but just not him in particular. She searched the crowd and found her subject of interest in Sid, who was sitting just a few seats to the right of Tej. Looking at him for which seemed like just a few second, she gritted her teeth, and turned her head back to the bunch of papers in her lap.
Soon after, she started counting the no of pages. Once done he saw her look slightly upwards and her mouth murmur something as if she was mentally making a calculation. She rummaged through her bag to bring out her purse, he saw her counting a few 500 rupee notes and take them out,roll them into a bunch and put in her trouser pocket. Now her face was relaxed. Her problem was solved it seemed.
Then she waited. He found it difficult to take his eyes off her. But not wanting to be branded as a creep, he made an effort to indulge in a casual talk to this guy Raj beside him. He found her occasionally still checking Sid with fleeting glances. And then after good 20 minutes just after the final bell when the crowd dispersed, he noticed her hurriedly gather her books and bag and walk towards Sid. It was difficult to make out their topic of discussion. From the distance at which he was, all he could make out was her stoic and calm face and a very no nonsense look. Sid’s displeasure at whatever was suggested was clearly noticeable. She passed on some photostated copies to him for which Sid handed her over a few fresh pink bills. She re-calculated them and put in her side bag and took out the bunch from her front pocket of her trousers and handed them over to Sid as change,so it seemed. She then extended her hand to shake his hands closing whatever their deal was.
Tej couldn’t help wondering what sort of deal could a 21 year old college girl make with this guy. He found her interesting and wanted to know more.
He approached Sid and casually asked,
“What’s the deal man?”
“You know with the girl just now”
“Oh, Mansi! Well nothing .. just exchanging notes. It’s her thing. She prepares study notes – scans through the class notes, and then goes over last year question papers, analyses the most common ones and then prepares the answers and distributes them in exchange of money. Well people say she has got quite a good record of making people convert exams. So I decided to try out.”
Tej wasn’t expecting this. His face involuntarily spread into a grin. This tiny girl was a business woman.
“Well – ”
“Ya, I know man. That’s mean. Who takes money for helping out fellow mates!”, Sid complained.
Tej let out a chuckle.
“Well I am sure you don’t mind doing business with a pretty face like that”.
Sid turned towards Tej and looked at him as if he had grown two heads.
” Are you blind?”, blurted out Sid with an incredulous look.
Tej was taken aback, quite surprised.
He realised people surely didn’t see what he saw in her. He didn’t know what their idea of beauty was, but his surely was this tiny business woman.