June 25th 1995
“Damn I missed it!” he groaned in frustration as he saw the Beach Tambaram local pull out of the station as he ran from the staircase in Nungambakkam suburban station. “Why did the egomaniac choose today to have the discussion on the project?” he rued. The egomaniac was the de facto HOD of his department, The Computer Science Department in the self- financing Stream of Loyola College. A stream that had an odd timing that ensured its students never fit in with the other students, coming in when the Day College ended and going out nearly the time when the Evening College ended. It also ensured that the return trips from college were always in the peak hour with the office crowd for the students taking the train like Rajesh. The highs of getting into one of the most prestigious colleges in the country waned soon for Rajesh when he realized that he and his classmates felt like misfits since they simply could not fit in.
He walked up to the coin operated public phone on the wall looking for coins in his pocket. His frustration increased when he saw the large “Out of order” in chalk scribbled on the wall. “Damn! Damn! Damn!” he exclaimed. That was the only expletive permitted by Iniya who frowned her beautiful face each time his favourite words inadvertently came out and it took a lot of practice to restrain himself these days.
“I really must get one of those pagers. Actually I need to get pagers for both of us” he thought wistfully. “How do I tell Iniya that I am late?” he kept wondering looking at the station clock. It was 7.40 PM and the chance of meeting Iniya looked very bleak today. As he looked around in frustration he saw the telephone in the station master’s room and the room unattended. He looked around furtively and crept into the room and picked up the mouthpiece. He quickly dialled the number and kept an eye out for the station master. He heard the phone ring at the other end and he promptly cut the line. Then he counted 5 and dialled again, he let it ring again. This was their code and if she was there she will pick it up instantly. It was promptly picked up and an angry voice said, “Idiot! later”
A big smile covered his face as he heard the term of endearment and then the station master walked in.