#11 She is stalking me
I submitted my final year research work and walked out of the HOD’s room.
I opened my phone and read the message from Cinderella in the Whatsapp group.
And there was a Smiling emoji below that.
“Yay! The princess is finally here, Cheers!”
The comment was followed by the face with rolling eyes emoji.
That was from Angela, of course.
“Looks like it’s your first Whatsapp group.” it was from Meera.
They are really childish!
I didn’t even know that Cinderella was not added in the group until yesterday. I was surprised when Vipin asked the admin to add her. Looks like Angela deliberately avoided her.
My phone beeped indicating a message and I opened it.
Cinderella sent me a message?
I opened it.
It took me a few seconds to finally realise that she is asking me a doubt.
What am I going to do with her? Even her doubt is wrongly put!
I guess I should be relieved that at least she’s trying.
I pursed my lips and rested my head on the table in the library. Alex, Vipin and I were discussing about the web-app before the Project class.
Alex and Vipin gave each other a look.
“What are you doing?”
“I really wonder how the heck we ended up in the same class,” I said sadly. “Why don’t I understand a thing you guys are discussing?”
“Take it easy, both of us used to participate in most of the tech fests,” he said.
“Ooh! That’s why you guys are such geniuses!” I said and got up. “Why do you take this very seriously?” I looked at them curiously.
They looked at each other again.
“Ella, Are you not serious about the project?” Vipin asked me.
Crap! I can’t let them know that this is my way to chase Michael.
“Err...um, yeah, of course,” I said quickly, realising the slip. “It’s understandable since my grades are the worst, but you guys have very good grades,”
“Winning tech fests can add weight to our resumes,” Vipin said. “We will have more opportunities and exposure,”
“Um...” I said.
“That’s why we need to get this work done, Ella, Senior Michael will be leaving college this year and we won’t have this opportunity again,”
“He is a legend in this field,” Alex nodded. “He is pretty famous and has already been approached by many companies,”
“He is even known in the international level, He used to win every single time and the most of the judges knows about him,”
“Yea, he has a large fan base too,” Vipin nodded. “Remember that girl from Singapore who asked for his number,” he turned to Alex and both of them grinned.
“Don’t remind me!”
That got my attention.
“What happened?” I asked them.
“There was this beautiful girl, obviously a genius too, as she got the second place, after Michael,” Alex said. “The first few times, she was very rude and angry with Michael and our college, but her attitude completely changed after the second year, it looked like she had a crush on Michael,” he laughed.
“And?” I asked them.
No, I am not enjoying the story, but I need to know what happened.
“She approached him and asked him his number, the clueless guy gave the number that was used by the team instead of his personal number,” he said.
“She asked him out after the competition,” Vipin had a hard time controlling his laughter now. “And imagine her shock when the whole team turned up at the coffee house!”
“And you know what is worse? Michael was the only one who didn’t turn up, he was obviously busy with some technological thing,”
They laughed at the memory.
“Silence!” The librarian turned to us and Alex and Vipin lowered their voices.
Once they stopped laughing, they turned to me.
“Why do you look like you want to kill someone?”
I am not very happy to hear this. For one, I have just realised that I will have tough competition. Two, as angry as I am, I could totally understand the girl’s feeling when she invited him.
“So you enjoyed making fun of that girl?” I asked them.
“It was an honest mistake! She messaged us; ‘Congratulations, It’s your team again, I should treat you this time,’”
“Right,” Vipin nodded. “We only figured out the things when we reached there and saw her shocked face,” he agreed.
“Did...did Michael came to the party afterwards?” I asked slowly.
“Nope! The guy was fascinated with something he saw at the conference, some technology stuff,” Alex shrugged. “Emma just treated our whole group, 14 members, and left,”
I need to calm down. They are talking about the past and Michael didn’t go there...
“So he won’t have any difficulty in getting placed, then why is he working hard like this?” I tried to change the subject.
“This is his last semester, of course, he won’t give up,” Vipin shrugged. “I heard he is aiming for the best company to work with in India,”
...And he will get in by all means, I know it. He’s a genius anyway.
Alex looked at his watch.
“It’s almost time for the class,” he said. “I need to stop by the department,”
“Then I will meet you guys there,” I nodded at them.
“Here, let me help you,” Ella appeared from nowhere and got some of the reference books from me.
I was on my way to the project room.
“It’s okay, I can manage,” I told her as she tried to take my laptop too.
“I am going the same way,” she smiled brightly. “And I am your personal organiser so it comes under my duty,”
She has been following me around from the day she was made the organiser. I didn’t know she was this passionate about the project. She has perseverance, I give her that.
“Ella, you dropped something,” we heard a voice from behind and turned around.
I was surprised to see the janitor coming towards us with a keychain of some sort.
“Thank you, Uncle Ramesh,” she said. “It’s my favourite mobile hanging,”
He smiled. “Be careful there, you always drop things and ask me to find it,” he said.
Uh... so it’s common knowledge that she’s a forgetful and careless person.
“I know I can depend on you,” she said. “Thank you, Uncle.” she nodded.
We started to walk again.
“How come you know his name?” I asked her.
“Um...I know most of them,” she smiled. “They helped me from time to time,” she added. “Uncle Ramesh is in charge of cleaning the corridors, he helps me to find things. Auntie Sheela works at the canteen, she used to help me to hide in their room to avoid ragging during my first year, so I am very well acquainted with all of them.”
“We have a room for the non-teaching staffs here?” I asked in surprise.
“Yes, and they are very friendly,” She said matter of fact.
Uh...I didn’t take Cinderella as a girl who would mingle with people like this!
We reached the class room. Ella placed the books on the table and moved to her seat; the first seat on the first raw.
Soon everyone came in one by one and I walked to the podium and turned around to look at the class.
To my surprise, Cinderella who always sat alone was accompanied by Alex and Vipin.
She managed to get inside their group!? That’s impressive...
I turned to the class.
“I read all your Proposals for the web-app,” I looked around the class. “I am looking forward to see your works,” I stopped in front of the students.
“Angela, Gokul, and Alex, your team’s ideas were new and refreshing. Gokul has relatively a more practical and safe idea,” I stopped and looked at Angela and Alex, “Your proposals were good but it will take a lot of your time, are you sure you can complete it within the deadline? You only have a week more to present it,”
“Yes, I got that Idea from an international journal, I want to do something similar,” Angela said confidently.
“Alex,” I turned to his team where Alex, Vipin, and Cinderella sat.
“We will finish it by the next week,” Alex said.
I looked at Cinderella who looked very excited.
“A group work is supposed to be done together.” I said.
“I will,” It seems like she is looking forward to it.
“She is really helping us,” Vipin said.
“I am surprised,” Angela commented as her friend snickered.
“Then prepare yourself well to be surprised again, you might faint when our work is ready,” Cinderella retorted and Alex and Vipin chuckled.
I guess a healthy dose of competition won’t do any harm...
“That’s good then,” I turned back to the class. “Let’s see who will win this time,”
“But Senior Michael?” Shreya raised up her hand. “The working model has no relation with our main project, why are you asking us to make it then?” She asked me. “Aren’t we wasting our time?” She said.
I walked back to my desk and turned around. “Do you think it’s easy to get first prize in the tech-fest?” I asked them.
“You always got the first prize,” Gokul said.
“This time it is a group work and I want each of you to be familiar with the basic principles,” I explained. “The best way for you to learn is to create something that uses your technology skill,”
“Mm...That makes sense,” Another one said.
“We will have five web apps from five groups, five models to learn from,” I said. “So don’t slack off and work hard,” I said.
Soon we discussed the topic and at last, it was time to dismiss the class.
“Is everything clear?” I looked around. “Cinderella, Is your doubt clear now?” I looked at her.
She has been asking me a lot of doubts and most of them were baseless.
She nodded brightly, looking happy.
I helped Michael to wind up and switch off the projector. I waited till everyone walked outside.
I turned to Michael who was closing his laptop.
“I want a favour,” I said bravely and he looked at me.
“If you are here for help with the group work-”
“I want to go to Jenni’s place,” I said. “I promised to teach the twins the Violin,”
“What do you want me to do?”
Give me a lift on your bike...
But I know better than to say that.
“I am not sure about the place, last time I got stuck in the river side, Can you accompany me?” I asked him.
...And waited anxiously as a thoughtful expression crossed his face.
My heart hammered inside me as I waited for an answer.
He pulled out his phone and started tapping.
My phone vibrated.
“I just sent you the location, you can take a local auto rickshaw in front of the college and go there, it’s only a few kilometres away,” he said.
I tried not to show my disappointment.
“Thank you,” I nodded.
Well...I can still see him there...
I tried to cheer up.
I was definitely happy to know that he had saved my mobile number though.
The twins clapped as soon as I stopped playing.
“Wow, you are really talented, Ella,” Jenni said. “You are far better than their music teacher,”
“And you are very Pretty,” Jinu said.
Jenni and I laughed.
If only your ‘Uncle Mike’ thinks that...
“Are you really Princess Cinderella?” Jiji looked at me curiously.
“Uh...no, no,” I said quickly. “You can call me Ella,” I smiled at her.
“No, Call her ‘Teacher Ella,’” Jenni said.
“No way, you made it sound like I am some old lady!”
“What about “Sister” Ella then?” Jenni asked. “Or “Auntie” Ella?” She looked at me.
Since they call Michael “Uncle”, I reckon I can be called as” Auntie”.
I laughed sinisterly in my mind as I nodded my head innocently. “I am okay with them calling me “Auntie”.”
Jenny turned to the kids. “This is Auntie Ella, you should listen to her,” she said and both of them nodded.
Jenni turned back to me.
“Ella, you really are a talented Violinist,” Jenni said. “It’s good that Professor Abraham recommended you,”
Needless to say, my heart swelled with pride.
Music is my passion. My life...
“I had my music classes from very early childhood,” I said. “I love it,”
“Then you should pursue it,”
“My mama wants me to learn the IT so that I can help her in the future,” I said.
“Um...” she nodded. “I understand it,”
Jenni was easy to get along with. I adored the twins who were very cute.
I had a nice time and it was the time for me to go back at last.
My eyes reached Michael’s place which was still locked.
“Oh, Mike will be late, he is working part time today,” she told me. “Do you have something to tell him? You were looking at his house,”
I blushed slightly.
“No...No,” I said quickly. “Um...where does he work?”
What the heck Ella, you don’t want to look like a stalker!
“Um...its okay, I was just asking-”
“He moves around,” she said. “He likes to get experience, the software companies are okay with it,” Jenni said. “He works for the cyber police of this area too,”
“What! He works for the police!?”
“Not in the police station, there is a government agency to fight cyber crime. Sometimes they call Michael in case they need assistance with decoding, hacking, or cracking the security passwords,” she said.
Wow! That sounds impressive.
“He will be back by 6 though, do you want to wait?”
I shook my head “no” quickly.
“I was simply asking,” I added quickly.
“I was simply telling you that,” Jenni smiled mischievously. “If you are curious about anything else, I can help you,” she added.
The both of us looked at each other and chuckled.
“Thank you, Jenni, I will leave now,” I said.
She and the twins waved their hands and send me off.
As I got inside the car, my mind was already working.
I will have to come here on 5:30 from the next time...
“Senior Michael,” I heard her voice and turned around. Ella just came towards me and sat opposite to me on the canteen table.
Ella has been following me around all week. She has started to appear at my house to teach the kids Violin also.
It looks like I am bumping to her all the time.
“Is it true that we have a trip together after the project?” She asked me excitedly.
“Most probably,” I said.
“Why didn’t you tell me about such an important thing?” She exclaimed. “I am your personal organiser and I am supposed to know about it!”
I gave her a look.
It’s actually common knowledge that the project group will have an outing together after everything is over.
I guess she has never been a part of a project group before.
How did I even end up selecting her...
“That’s actually a super cool idea,” She was still chirping non-stop.
“It would be rather childish,” I shrugged.
“What do you mean?”
“I have only attended it on the first year,” I said. “And it was totally meaningless thing,”
Her face practically fell. Her smile turned to frown.
Huh! Did she like the outing that much?
“I suppose you can have a good time,” I said.
Uh...why should I say something like this? I am not the kind of person who will console others.
“You won’t be coming with the group?” She asked me and I shook my head.
“I don’t want to waste my day away,” I said.
“Why don’t you get yourself involved in anything?”
Cinderella followed me with her unfinished meal as I got up.
“You said you won’t usually attend the parties too,”
“I don’t like to,” I said simply. “And you should keep your nose out of other people’s business, Cinderella, If you showed this much interest in your academics, At least you won’t be in the last place every year,” I walked to the washroom and she started to follow me.
“Cinderella, this is the men’s room!” I exclaimed and only then did she seem to realise where she is going.
“Uh...Sorry, I will wait for you here,”
I raised my eyes brows at that.
“Err...” She looked at loss of words for a moment, which I should tell you, is a very rare occurrence. “Then I will see you from the house,” she said and walked back.
See me? What for? I am not the one who is learning Violin from her.
I shook my head and walked inside.
I expected the house to be very loud when I returned after my part time. It has always been very loud after Cinderella started visiting. After the Violin class, she will play with the twins before she leaves.
It’s often difficult to believe that she is actually a second year at college. Her level of maturity is as good as the 6 year old twins most of the time.
I opened the gate and drive inside.
“Uncle,” the Twins ran to me as soon as they spotted me.
“Mommy left us here,” Jinu complained.
“Auntie Ella didn’t take us,” Jiji pouted.
“Where did they go?” I asked them.
Both of them shook their heads simultaneously.
“Mommy took the car and went out with Auntie Ella,”
I looked at the porch and sure enough, the car was missing.
Jenni doesn’t always drive the car. Even though she has her license, she is still in a learning phase.
I suppose Ella must’ve given her enough confidence to take the car out.
“They said they need to buy something,” The baby sitter, a teenager from next door told me.
“Don’t worry, they will be back soon,” I told the twins and walked to my house.
As soon as I reached inside, my phone started to ring. I took it out to see Jenni’s number.
“Mike, we met with some trouble here,” she said as soon as I picked up. “Can you please come here? I will sent you the location,”
“Some guys hit our car and now they are asking us compensation, Ella is dealing with them but they are not ready to compromise,” she said.
I should have guessed it.
I turned to the baby sitter.
“Take care of the kids, I will come back now,” I turned around my bike and moved out of the gate.
“It was you who hit the car! How dare you!”
The group of three guys blocked us. It was them who hit us; we were actually going to let it go until they asked for compensation.
It was not about the money, of course, it was their audacity to ask us money that made me angry.
“You are clearly not very familiar with driving, it’s your fault!”
“You guys just came towards us, it’s you,” Jenni supported me. She walked to me and faced the gang.
“We won’t let you pass until you pay us,” The driver guy said.
“I won’t give you any penny-hey!" I shouted as he took my mobile away. “Give that back to me,” I shouted.
“I am going to call the police,” Jenni said and the guys turned towards her.
I blocked him before he took her phone away. He tried to slap away my hand and I blocked it instantly.
Wow...those self defence classes were worth taking after all, seems like I still remember some of it.
The guy looked surprised and attacked me this time. His palm connected with my cheek before I could stop it.
May be not...
I was thrown back to the bonnet of the car and felt the world revolving around me.
“Ella!” Jenni shouted and ran to me. Even the guys looked shocked.
“Come on, let’s go,” one of the guys told the other one and the three of them ran to their bike.
“Hey, you!” I moved forward and tried to grab the guy who was running away with my phone.
He shook away his hand and pushed me away. I was once again thrown backwards with the force.
Jenni supported my fall, but my previously injured leg had twisted and blinding pain shoots up.
It was so terrible that I felt dizzy and weak.
“Oh my God! Ella! What’s wrong?” Jenni shook me as I placed my hand against my chest and tried to breathe.
Inhaler...I want my inhaler...
I was trying hard to speak, but it was difficult for me to.
“Ella!” Jenni shouted and supported me, she was on the verge of crying as I knelt down on the road, still trying to breathe.
“Where’s her bag?” I heard the masculine voice and felt some kind of calmness overcoming me even in that situation.
“The car,” Jenni’s voice trembled.
Michael hurried to the car and Jenni tried to gather me, trying to soothe me.
“Its okay, Ella, hang in there, it’s alright-” Her voice cut off as the wheezing sound started from me, her face morphed to alarm.
“Damn, Cinderella, Don’t tell me that you forgot your inhaler again!” I heard Michael’s curse and realised that I have just changed the bag today again.
I am as good as dead...
“Hurry, Michael! She’s turning blue!” Jenni shouted. She was shouting a lot of things, but I could no longer hear her properly. Her voice started to fade as if she’s talking from very far away.
I heard the worried voice and someone lifting me from the floor.
What a shame...I have to die with my unrequited love.
That was my last thought before the darkness engulfed me.