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The Birthday Surprise

by Nakshathra Jagannathan
(Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India)

This story is in 3 parts.

Part I

Waiting for a bus can be the most frustrating experience. And that too when you wait for the college bus to arrive on your first day to dental school, it is definitely going to be a mixture of anxiety, frustration, expectation and fear.

It was 7.05 am when the bus arrived and Pushya Raghavan was every bit reluctant to take her first step into it. It was a kind of minivan jam packed with students, umbrellas and rain coats. The month being October it was hardly possible for anyone to step out without an umbrella. 'Keep moving' a voice came from behind along with a great push and finally Pushya managed to find a seat next to a middle aged woman wearing a peacock blue saree. She gave an elegant smile and went back to listening music on her iPod. It took almost an hour to reach the college and Pushya finally got down the bus.

Earlier during the admission procedure she had befriended Manasa and had exchanged numbers with her. So here she waited for her new friend under a big old banyan tree which she had admired earlier, when suddenly she was startled by a bold voice. She turned around and came face to face with a guy,holding a white coat in his hand. He had a charming face with sharp, peculiar brown eyes which just merged with his dark brown skin colour. 'First year?' he asked in a friendly tone and soon Pushya was sure he was a first year too. 'Hai, I’m Kashyap Chander, first year'. Over the next few minutes they had exchanged all the cliched intros and were soon joined by Manasa. A ll the three together reached their class room and managed to find seats in the fourth row. Slowly the seats were getting filled up and soon the students were joined by their Anatomy professor. He was a dark,short man in his fifties with a bald head and silver-white beard. He was rude and didn't care to give a proper introduction to himself and started with a lecture on facial bones. Throughout the day they were slowly introduced to all the other subjects for the first year-Physiology, Biochemistry, Anatomy, and Tooth Morphology.

In the weeks that followed Kashyap, Manasa and Pushya had grown closer. They were very quick in realising that it was going to be a tough year ahead and they had so much to do. Their professors had explained to them that to become a successful dentist, you need not only a good brain, rather a very good hand. i.e hand skills, artistic stuff and all that. In the first year students were expected to carve patterns of the teeth in wax, make cubes out of plasters, take impressions of casts, make moulds and so many other exercises which purely needed patience and perseverance. And all these had deadlines for completion.

At the end of six months, they faced their first assessment exam. When the results came,Pushya was so surprised to see their friend Manasa scoring the highest mark. Kashyap and Pushya however managed to clear the exam with decent marks. Later that night, Pushya was thinking about Manasa. She was the best girlie friend Pushya ever had. She was fun
to be with, was very kind and never refused to help her when it came to practical classes. She never realized however that Manasa was good at academics.

Slowly her thoughts drifted to Kashyap. She liked him the moment she met him. She had developed the liking over the months and now it was almost impossible for her to stop hiding that feeling. Kashyap was cool and he never seemed to express any other feelings for her other than friendship.

The next day they had their anatomy viva examination. Their seniors had warned them that the rude old H.O.D will question them without mercy and will give countless impositions if they fail to answer. Kashyap was explaining the course of facial nerve to Pushya while Manasa was busy texting. Pushya was whispering to Kashyap, 'Do you think she has a boyfriend? She has never said anything before.' Kashyap scowled, 'I dont think it is more important than the CHORDA TYMPANII..' Pushya realized that he was every bit serious in clearing this exam,because if he doesn't,he will never be included in the college foot ball team.

Soon it was Kashyap's turn for viva and he went inside the H.O.D's den. It was very long before he came out of the room and soon he motioned Manasa to hop inside as it was her turn next. Manasa anxiously asked 'Is he in a good mood? Were the questions easy?' Kashyap shrugged his shoulders and carelessly said, 'I don't think I will ever make it to the team.' Manasa went inside and Kashyap started arranging his books. Pushya anxiously bit her nails when she was suddenly distracted by the vibration of Manasa's phone. Out of curiosity she reached for it and unlocked it and was taken back to see the birthday wishes from Manasa's sister. Immediately she was exclaiming to Kashyap. ' Its her birthday today and she dint even tell us. Let us do it her way then.' She carefully placed the mobile back and awaited her turn.

That evening Kashyap waited outside Pushya's home with a huge plastic cover with the delicious blackforest cake. Pushya came running out in a beautiful yellow salwar which enhanced her curves. They both started on bike to Manasa's home. They knew they can celebrate her birthday there with full throttle. Aunty and Uncle were out of station and there would not be a soul to restrict them. They were going to surprise Manasa with the cake and were considering all the possible ways in which she would react.

On reaching her place, Kashyap and Manasa slowly peeped through the main gate. Finding it open they carefully tiptoed and entered the hallway. Manasa was nowhere to be seen. They scanned the place and searched her. Not finding her anywhere,they assumed she would be in the terrace. Quickly they arranged the cake with candles and ran upstairs. Standing in the stairs they slowly raised their heads just enough to have a look over the parapet wall. There she was.. being held at the hip by a man. And he was DARK,SHORT,IN HIS FIFTIES WITH A BALD HEAD AND SILVER-WHITE BEARD. Those were the hands which were teaching them how to trace the course of the FACIAL NERVE in the last Anatomy dissection class.

To be continued ...

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