“Mithun, hurry up. You will get late for college”, said his mother, beginning to clear up the breakfast table.
Mithun ignored her and sank lower into his chair, his face as black as he felt. He was miserable, because his father had disconnected his data plan, angry at the high bill Mithun had incurred on browsing. Mithun’s elder sister, Mini, with a wicked glint in her eyes, had contributed her worth wickedly.
“Not browsing, Dad! There is Facebook and WhatsApp and all sorts of things. They are so essential in school, aren’t they Mithun?” she had said sweetly.
“That’s Junior College, not school,” he had retorted back indignantly.
“Dad, I use WhatsApp in doing assignments and the Internet for homework….”
“One person does the assignment and puts it on WhatsApp and the whole group copies it. Ever thought of doing you own work, little brother?” Mini had asked.
“You copy?” his father had roared, now totally annoyed.
“Go to the library and do your assignments, you hear me? No dependence on the Internet or whatever that what-do-you-call it group is.”
”WhatsApp,” his sister had obliged.
“When one person does an assignment and posts it on the group, he is saving the other Internet time,” Mithun had said in his defence.
The result was that his father had taken away his smartphone and now he had only his old one. And his data plan was going to be cut.
“Do you know where the college library is?” his sister had asked, after their father had left.
“I can tell you, if you can’t find it.”
Seeing that their mother was not in sight, Mithun had thrown a cup at her, but his sister had ducked expertly.
“Bye! I will monitor your Wi-Fi time in the evening, as Dad requested,”
she had said leaving.
Mithun reluctantly made his way to college and sat quietly in class.
“What happened to you?” demanded his friend, Akhil, after class was over.
“You were sitting like a zombie in class and actually listened to what that old man was spouting. No messaging, no checking Facebook! What’s wrong with you?”
“No phone,” said Mithun, pushing his way through the crowd of students, to make his way to the college grounds.
“It broke?” asked Akhil.
“I know a place where they repair it within a hour or two.”
Mithun sighed and poured out his sorry tale.
“What I have now is this old box, which I have to carry on the insistence of my mother as she feels that I will come to some harm without a phone,” said Mithun in disgust.
“And even if I get my old phone back, what’s its use without Internet?”
Mithun felt an outcaste since he was not digitally connected. All the rest were busy on their phones.
“Hey guys, I think I will go to the library,” he announced suddenly.
There was pin drop silence at his announcement.
“What's that?” said one of them finally and the rest cracked up with laughter.
“My dad wants me to use the library, so I will first go and find it,” Mithun said, keeping a straight face.
“I can search some information for the Physics project I have to do. I can’t do anything here with you guys.”
”All the best,” said Akhil and the rest of his friends cheered him off.
The college library was on the fifth floor and Mithun felt that he was entering a cavernous place that would swallow him up. To his surprise, it was brightly lit and he found a lot of students there. Many he knew and were definitely not what he and his friends would categorise as geeks or nerds. He nodded at one of them, who raised his eyebrows in surprise on seeing Mithun there. Mithun found his way to the Physics section and started to look for books. He gazed in amazement at the row of Physics books lining the shelves. It took him some time to find the books he thought that would be useful to him and he carried them to a table and gratefully sunk into the chair.
It was then that he happened to look across the table and his heart suddenly beat rapidly. There, sitting right opposite him, was his hearth throb! Not only his, but the heart throb of almost all the boys in his class and more! Meghna! She was right in front of him!
“How can anyone be so perfect!” he sighed, completely forgetting the books in front of him, gazing at her.
Meghna was as elusive as a butterfly. She kept to herself and never interacted much with any one. The goal of all the boys was to become her Facebook friend. But that seemed impossible. Neither did anyone have the slightest hint of her cell phone number.
Suddenly Meghna looked up and Mithun hastily dropped his eyes, while frantically turning the pages of the book in front of him. To his shock, Meghna smiled at him! A real, deep friendly, smile! His heart turned topsy turvy and beat so loudly, surely the librarian could hear it? Meghna went back to reading her book and Mithun gave up trying to read his. He would not be able to make sense of anything now. Not with Meghna in front of him! Wait till he told his friends!
Suddenly, Meghna got up and gathered her books.
“Time for class,” she hissed at him, while Mithun looked at her stupidly.
He glanced at his watch and ran to keep the book back on the shelf, eager to catch his friends and tell them of the latest news before class. To his amazement Meghna was waiting outside the library.
“Hi!” she said.
“Do you come to the library regularly?” she asked.
Mithun didn’t want to lie, but at the same time, he didn’t want to seem as he never frequented the library.
“Sometimes,” he said vaguely and suddenly had a brainwave.
“Like when I have projects to do, like the Physics one.”
“I like going to the library,” she said.
They both began to walk down the stairs to their classroom for the next lecture.
“It is so quiet and I can get a lot of work done. And yes, it does help with the assignments and projects. Unfortunately, most of the people in our class hardly come here.”
She sounded scornful.
“They prefer to use the Internet and then all of them write from the same information which they share. No originality.”
”Yes! I agree,” said Mithun, hoping he sounded sincere.
“I like people who do their own work. How will you learn otherwise?” said Meghna.
“So do I,” Mithun said, nodding his head hard.
“You know Rahul Singh, the college’s cricket captain? He is the hero of the college and has so many fans amongst both girls and boys. But he is a regular in the library and works sincerely before devoting his time to sports! People should idolise him for that too, not only for how he plays cricket. He just entered the library as we were leaving.”
”Wow!” said Mithun, not knowing what to say. Rahul really didn’t seem the kind to haunt a library.
“Would you like to be my partner for the Physics project?” Meghna asked him suddenly.
“We seem to think alike.”
Mithun almost slipped down the steps on hearing what she said. Be her partner? How could she even ask? She just had to command.
“Of course,” he said loudly, in excitement, almost startling her.
“Great!” she said, laughing at his eagerness.
“I will meet you after the last lecture today and we can discuss how we are going to go about it.”
”Sure,” said Mithun.
“I just have to give something to my friend. You go ahead to class.”
She nodded at him and headed across the grounds to the classroom, while Mithun raced to where his friends were standing, looking at him in disbelief.
“Were you talking to Meghna?” asked Akhil in amazement.
“He probably just walked along with her to make us think otherwise,” added another friend, the jealousy obvious in his voice.
“Well, I don’t know about that, but she has asked me to be her partner for the Physics project and we have a date to meet after classes!”
And leaving his friends gaping after him, he made his way to the class. He bumped into his sister, who was avidly discussing something with her friend.
“Watch out, Pipsqueak,” she said to him rudely.
“I swear, I’d do anything to just meet him,” his sister said, continuing to talk to her friend.
“I’d die for one look from him,” she added, sighing deeply.
“Dream on girl,” said her friend laughing.
“People like Rahul Singh are not for mere mortals like us! And even then why would he want to look at you and me, when all the girls in college are swooning after him?”
Mithun could not help over hearing their conversation. He was in a state of euphoria and against his nature, decided to help his sister.
“Mini, listen! I have some information for you,” he said going up to her and pulling her aside.
His sister glared at him, wondering how he dared to accost her in college.
“You want to meet Rahul Singh? Go to the library! And that is a solid tip!”
“What do you mean?” demanded his sister.
“Just go to the library, now!” said Mithun and ran off.
Mithun was back from college and was relaxing in bed, immersed in thoughts of Meghna. He had never imagined that Physics could be so interesting.
“She made even the formulae so fascinating and the way she applied them! Wow!” he thought dreamily.
And she had even given him her cell phone number.
“I am not very fond of Facebook or messaging,” Meghna had confessed.
“But I do check messages. It is important at time to be social. But you can call me,” she had said.
“Won’t the guys be jealous?” thought Mithun, cracking up at the thought.
Just then, his sister came into his room.
“Look buddy, I never thought I’d say this to you, but I owe you one! Your tip worked fine and Rahul actually smiled at me at the library and even talked to me! Things can only go forward from here!”
Mithun grinned. He knew the magic of libraries very well.
“For that, I will persuade Dad not to disconnect your data plan. But, you must not misuse it.”
“Thanks,” he said sincerely and meant it.
Mithun went promptly to dinner, remembering to remove his headphones, lest he annoy his father.
“That thing you kids were talking about today, that what –do-you-call it app,” said Mithun’s father suddenly.
“WhatsApp,” said both Mithun and his sister in chorus.
“Yes! That is used quite commonly in office too, I believe. Departments have created their own groups for project discussions. It seems it helps them to work more efficiently and saves a lot of time.”
“I told you so!” Mithun wanted to say, but held his tongue.
“Yes, Dad. It does help in work. Even college work,” said his sister.
“In the morning you were against it,” he said, looking at her suspiciously. .
“No! I was supporting you in Mithun’s high data usage. But Dad, let him off this time. He will be more careful, won’t you Mithun?”
“Yes, Dad! Promise,” said Mithun hastily, almost swallowing his food the wrong way.
“All right! Anyway, the phone company has not even received my message to disconnect the plan. Come after dinner and take your phone back,” Mithun’s father told him.
“Thanks Dad,” said Mithun.
This month and hopefully in the future, he would be busy with Meghna to waste time WhatsApping is college. Dad would be happy! And so would he. Life was definitely brightening up. He looked at Mini, who winked at him. Even elder sisters were improving!!