Someone Somewhere Is Made For You

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#20 He is avoiding me

Ella.

Nisha met me in the canteen after the class. Apparently, she has been busy with the college magazine and working in the library the whole time. She is the sub-editor and it looks like it is a big deal.

I stirred the coffee absentminded as my thoughts ran back to what Michael said. It’s still hurting me every time I think of it.

“What is it?” Nisha asked me after a while. “Why do you look so down?”

Even I don’t know why I feel so depressed like this. I felt like Michael is deliberately keeping away from me and I feel that it is somehow my fault.

He looked cold and indicated that he regrets taking me back. Is he worried that I will ruin his project?

But I am only attending the conference with the team; I am not the one who is presenting it...

“I wish I had paid attention in the class,” I said slowly.

“What are you talking about?” Nisha looked confused.

“It’s not because I am stupid, Nisha, I was not at all interested in the IT field, That’s why I didn’t want to learn it...” I said. “I don’t know...maybe I am a bit stupid too.”

“You are not!” Nisha said. “I know you from school days, you give everything to the things you love, be it the music or anything else, you are very good at it,” she said. “And you always never cared about things you don’t have any interest in,”

“Maybe I should have cared...” I said slowly. “Then I won’t feel so useless like now,”

“Is it about Michael again?” Nisha looked angry. “If he’s making you feel awful about yourself, then he’s not the one for you, Ella,”

“He didn’t do anything, it’s just me,”

“Yeah, keep on defending him,”

“It’s true!”

“How long are you going to chase him like this? Why not just let him know about your feelings?”

“Then what if he doesn’t even talk to me anymore?”

“So what’s your plan?”

“If I stay by him, He might notice me eventually,”

“So you are just planning to stay by him forever?” She looked at me. “It’s the last semester for him,”

I shut up.

I can’t bring myself to say that he is not even allowing me to stay by him now.

He had told me that we should not meet anywhere else other than the project room.

I got up abruptly. Nisha has a way with putting the hard and cold truths inside my head and I don’t want that now.

“Nisha, I...I need to go now, Jiji and Jinu are waiting for me.” I said.

Nisha gave me a look.

“This is not over, Ella; we will talk about this later.”

...............

Even though I waited for a long time at Jenni’s house, he didn’t appear after his part-time job and I confirmed that Michael is somehow trying to keep away from me.

“He is very busy recently,” Jenni said.

I nodded sadly.

“The tech-fest is only a few weeks away and we only have a couple of project classes.”

I am scared that Michael won’t see me once the project is over.

Jenni looked at me.

“Did something happen?” She looked at me.

I looked down and shook my head.

“There is! You are hiding something, Ella,”

“It’s nothing,”

“Tell me,”

“I...I feel like...Michael is avoiding me,” I said.

“Why?” She asked me.

“Um...nothing,”

“Ella, I want you to tell me everything now.”

“It’s nothing...really-”

“Don’t lie to me, Ella, I can see it,” she said sternly.

And yes, she squeezed everything out of me.

“That jerk hugged you and he must’ve realised his feelings for you, that’s why he is hiding now,”

“He doesn’t have any feelings for me, Jenni; He made it sure the last time we talked.”

“Michael never ran away from anything before,” Jenni said. “I am pretty sure that he is shocked and doesn’t know how to deal with this sudden emotional thing,” she looked at me. “You know...He cannot solve it in a logical way,” she said. “We are talking about feelings here.”

“But...he said...”

“I warned you before, Michael may be a genius, but he is very closed and reserved when it comes to relationships. He even refused to get adopted by my dad, but look at him, he considers himself as my legal guardian and treats us like family.” Jenni told me.

“That’s right,” I said slowly. “But you are family, so-”

“The more he cares about someone, the more he will try to put a distance with that person.” Jenni explained. “It’s kind of a self-protective instinct he developed after getting abused by one of the families who adopted him before.”

My heart tugged at that. I couldn’t even imagine how much he had gone through.

“Michael treats me as his sister and he is very protective of the family.” Jenni continued. “But he didn’t accept our surname and always paid the rental money every month.”

I looked at Jenni when she laughed.

“It’s a secret, Ella, so keep it yourself now,” she said. “Michael worked hard and wanted to pay my dad back for bringing him home and taking care of him. He worked part-time and contributed all of his scholarship amounts too. My dad knew he won’t stay otherwise and accepted the money. What Mike doesn’t know is the fact that my dad had saved every penny of his money in a bank account for his future.” She smiled sadly. “Dad had entrusted me with this secret before he died. Mike doesn’t know about it and he is still depositing the amount to his account.”

My eyes filled slightly. I am really touched by this gesture.

“I am planning to tell him this after his graduation,” Jenni said.

I smiled.

“Thank...you, Jenni. I feel better now.” I said slowly. “I really don’t want to give up on him.”

“Ella,” Jenni looked at me seriously. “I watched him behaving around you. He has feelings for you.” She said. “And I am sure that he is scared and he will do everything to stay away from you, but hang on there, I am sure that he will come around.” She said confidently.

“I am...not very sure,” I said slowly. “He is the genius in our college and I am the-”

“Nonsense, Ella.” Jenni scolded me. “You wouldn’t say this if you were conscious that day you had the attack,” Jenni said. “Your “genius” senior Michael nearly lost his mind as he grabbed you and ran to the hospital.”

“It’s normal to help-”

“Trust me when I tell you this, Ella. There was nothing normal about the way he behaved that day. He was really, really worried.” She looked at me. “My brother might help people in need, that’s true, but he will not go after the guys who attacked you and get them locked up otherwise. It was a totally strange move from a person who usually didn’t get involved in other people’s business.”

I could only stare at Jenni’s reassuring face.

“Why?” I asked slowly. “Why are you helping me?”

“I am helping my brother, Ella. I know that he will regret it if he pushes you away.”

By the time I was back home. I had slightly calmed down. What Jenni said did make sense.

Okay...I will just focus on the project for now. I have promised him that I won’t let him down for voting for me.

Michael.

I get off the bike and took the helmet off. I walked to the main door of the house.

I was in the middle of opening the door when I heard Jenni.

“Too busy, huh?”

I whirled around to see her.

“What are you doing here at this time?” I looked at the watch. “It’s going to be 12,”

“I was waiting for you,” she said. “You seemed too busy this couple of days that I couldn’t even see you properly,”

“What are you talking about?”

“Ella waited for you till 8,” she looked at me accusingly and I stilled for a moment.

“Oh...” I said after a while.

“Oh!?” She looked at me incredulously. “That’s it? Oh?”

“Did she want to talk to me about something important?”

“Go ask her yourself,” Jenni looked angry now. “And stop avoiding her,”

“I didn’t, I was just busy,”

“You are avoiding her,”

I sighed.

“What do you want, Jenni?”

“I know that you like her.” she stated.

Both of us looked at each other. She raised her chin slightly, challenging me to deny it.

The silence stretched between us for a few seconds.

Fine...looks like I can no longer evade it.

“That’s right,” I said. “I like her, what about that?”

“Then stop behaving like a teenager and face it,”

“I am doing that. I am behaving in a logical way,”

“Who in their right mind will use logic to solve the matters of heart!?” Jenni exclaimed.

“We are people from different worlds...” I said, “And Cinderella is the most eccentric person I have ever seen,”

“That makes the two of you,”

“Hey, I am a normal person with very high IQ, how can you call me eccentric?”

“Because you are different from others, Just like Ella, you too are different from others.”

“Cinderella is an impulsive and over-enthusiastic person and I am a calm and logical one,”

“You compliment each other perfectly.” She didn’t back down.

“You know what?” I looked at her sternly. “I don’t know why I am having this meaningless conversation with you here,” I turned back to the door. “I will just leave you to your own exaggerated thoughts,”

I turned the key and opened the door.

“Michael!”

I entered the house.

“You are acting like a coward, Michael!”

I looked at her straight in the eyes. “I don’t live in a dream world,” I told her sternly. “I am not stupid enough to start something that has no future,”

“How can you know that it has no future if you don’t try it?”

“I have brains, Jenni.” I said sternly.

“You are an idiot,”

“Good night.” I closed the door in her face.

I have already thought it through. The visit of her Mama helped me to take a clear decision and I have already reached a conclusion.

But her Mama said that Cinderella told her that we are dating...That means...

My heart started to speed up even at the thought of it.

And Jenni said she waited for me...

It all indicated one thing but I don’t dare to face this situation.

If Cinderella really has feelings for me, then-

No! I cannot go there. Nothing is going to change even if it’s true.

I just have to stay away from her.

..................................

Ella.

On Monday, I was at the edge of my seat, revising my portions and memorising everything while the project room opened.

“Hello everyone,”

I was taken aback while Abraham sir smiled at us. Everyone looked confused too.

“Where’s Senior Michael?” Alex asked as soon as the class settled down.

“Ah...your senior is talking to the HOD regarding the tech-fest, He asked me a favour this time,” he smiled while the whole class started to speak at once.

“But we are in the middle of an assessment!”

“We are halfway through the project presentation.”

“Don’t worry, it’s only this time,” he said. “He will be here for the next class,”

“But we don’t have a lot of classes; we have only a couple remaining.”

“I know,” Abraham sir said. “I will start now,” he looked at the clipboard and back to us.

“It’s Shreya next,” he looked at her. “Are you ready to present?” He asked and she nodded.

What the heck! I thought it’s going to start with mine.

I raised my hand in the air.

“Yeah? Cinderella?”

“Um...I thought it’s me next? Senior Michael asked me to prepare well.” I said.

Abraham sir looked at the clipboard once again.

“Cinderella, you have already been marked here, the last class ended with you.” he said.

“But...he clearly asked me to...” I dragged off slowly.

That’s right, he just asked me to prepare well! He didn’t ask me to present today.

Crap!

Did I just go through hell all for nothing!?

“Cinderella?”

I was snapped to the present by Alex’s voice.

“Yeah...I thought he asked me to present today,” I said slowly. “Sorry,” I looked at Abraham sir.

“The three of you are already banned from presentation during the tech-fest, there is no need for us to waste our time on you.” Angela commented.

Grrr...She really knows how to talk in an offensive way!

I gave her a glare and turned around.

Ella...just wait a few more minutes...she didn’t present it in the last class... let’s wait for it...

That’s right; I am going to crush her when her Q/A session come. I have a bundle of difficult and ‘impossible-to-answer-questions’ here that I practised.

“Can we continue then?” Abraham sir asked and I nodded.

Soon Shreya was on the podium and we listened.

Her question and answer session was difficult too, but she did well.

Then came one of the geniuses, Gokul, who was exceptional as usual.

The Q/A was more like a heated debate between Angela and him while the rest of us watched.

“They are the main competitors today,” Vipin said and I nodded.

As for me, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the content doesn’t feel like Latin to me anymore. I could actually understand what the nerds were talking about.

Soon, after what it seems to be an eternity, it was Angela’s turn.

From the way her presentation started to the very end, it was clear that she has done her work well and it was visible from her presentation.

I huffed and refused to clap like everyone else after the presentation.

Alex chuckled at my glare.

“Admit it,” He whispered, “she’s doing well.”

I pursed my lips and turned away.

Doing well, yeah...

I have some difficult and practical questions my tutor asked me to work out.

Let’s see how this goes...

The Q/A started and Angela started to answer literally everything. Halfway through her session, I raised my hand in the air.

Everyone including Angela and Abraham sir looked surprised at my action.

“Cinderella, your turn,” Abraham sir said and I started.

“Whoa, I am surprised that you actually asked me this, princess.” Angela smiled while the class chuckled.

And then she proceeded to answer my question.

I learnt another thing today; that no matter whatever we do, things won’t always go our way.

It had taken a hell lot of time and effort for me to be here, asking these questions, but Angela was managing to answer every one of them.

Even though I came at her harder and harder, she was managing to answer decently.

I even got back up from the nerd Gokul to back Angela to the corner, but she bounced back each time, surprising me.

Well...now I know why Michael insisted on keeping her in the group when she faced expulsion!

I admitted defeat and sat there while Abraham sir praised her.

“That was a good presentation, Angela, Good work,” he said.

Angela thanked everyone and walked back.

I was surprised when she proceeded to stop near me on the front raw.

“Thank you, princess.” she smiled.

“What for?”

“For helping me to secure the spot,” she said. “I wouldn’t have done well if it was not for your questions. You actually helped me to outshine Gokul.”

“Take a very tight grip on that seat then,” I said. “You don’t want me to drag you down from there.”

“You wish.” she said and walked back to her seat.

“What? Do you have a plan to corner her, Ella?” Alex asked as soon as she was out of earshot.

“No,” I admitted. “I just didn’t want to let her have the last word.”

Alex and Vipin chuckled at that.

“But cheer up, you did pretty well today, we were amazed.” he said.

“What use is that?” I said. “I couldn’t even present today...”

And I couldn’t even see Senior Michael today...

“Relax, you can always see “him” in the next class,” Vipin said with a smile.

“Um...I guess- What do you mean!?” I jumped at that and Alex and Vipin looked like they were having a hard time trying to keep down their laughter.

I looked at them.

“We are supposed to be the best students in this college, Ella, do you really think that we couldn’t see it?” Alex smiled sympathetically.

“Right, you didn’t want to join any other groups but Senior Michael’s,” Vipin said. “And you sit here in the front row first seat and look at him dreamily.”

My face flamed.

“Is...Is it that obvious?” I lowered my voice and asked them.

“I think everyone in this room already knows,” Alex told me. “Apart from Senior Michael, of course.” he chuckled.

Great! Looks like everyone in this college already knows about my love except for Michael himself.

What happened to him anyway?

-------------

Michael.

I went through the assessment result sent by Professor Abraham yesterday.

I had to take care of some paperwork regarding the tech-fest. The HOD asked me specifically to deal with and I wanted some time before meeting ‘her’, so it was a good chance for me.

I have settled my heart now and I won’t be swayed anymore-

“Michael,”

I turned around at that voice. It was my batchmate.

“Ruhi,” I looked at her.

“Um...I want help,” she said hesitantly. “You are the only person who can help me,” she added.

I just looked at her.

“Be my date for the year-end party,” she blurted out. “I am sorry to do this to you, but you are the only one without a date and everyone else-”

“What about Praveen?” I asked her and she looked down.

“We had a fight and...He is not talking to me,” she said slowly. “He is going with someone else...”

“I don’t have any interest in your love story, Ruhi, nor do I wish to be dragged into it,” I told her. “If you want anything else, you can ask me.” I turned around to walk.

“But I helped you before!” She exclaimed and I stopped. “During the inter-college meet, I stayed with you to...um...avoid unwanted attention,” she said.

“I didn’t ask you to,” I told her. “And you left as soon as Praveen came back,” I said.

It’s true that she did that, but I know that it was to finish with the paper presentation quickly so that she could hang out with Praveen after that.

“This is why people call you “head-weight” behind your back,” she told me. “We were batchmates for the past four years, Michael, do this favour for me.”

Ella.

I was preparing to leave after the class when Angela started to talk in an abnormally loud voice.

“That’s right, Senior Michael is going to the party with Senior Ruhi,” she said.

I looked up at that. Angela had a group of friends around her.

“No way! Senior Ruhi and Senior Praveen are together, how can she go with senior Michael?”

Exactly...

And Michael said he was not interested in attending the functions.

I reminded myself and got up.

“It’s true,” Someone else said. “I too heard it,” she added.

“Senior Michael is not attending the party.” I said firmly.

Sam has already told me that Michael might skip the party.

All the eyes turned to me.

“He told you that!?” Angela looked at me in challenge.

“Um...I heard it.”

“It was Senior Ruhi who asked him out and he accepted,” someone said. “For him to accept her there must be really something.”

“That’s right, we all know Senior Michael, he won’t date someone without a reason,” Angela said. “And Senior Ruhi won the Miss.CSE contest the last year,” she turned to me. “They will look lovely together, don’t you think so?” She asked me pleasantly.

I stared at her.

The bloody bitch really knows how to rub salt on the wound. She knows me well too...She has even realised that I like him.

“I don’t think they are compatible,” I got up. “She’s more compatible with Senior Praveen,” I walked out angrily.

Is Michael really going out with Senior Ruhi?

I reached the project room in a bad mood.

Michael.

I reached the podium and looked around the room.

To my surprise, Cinderella who always sat at the first seat in the front row was sitting with Alex and Vipin in the very back.

“Your assessment result is here with me,” I looked at them. “Professor Abraham said that all of you did very well,” I took out the paper given by him. “The people who will be presenting the project with me will be...” I looked at the class.

Most of them looked disinterested as if they are already aware of the result.

I guess it’s not a surprise.

“Angela and Gokul,” I said and everyone went to reluctant cheering.

Angela looked happy while Gokul just nodded like he has anticipated it already.

The three musketeers at the back of the class simply sat there, not even bothering to congratulate the winners.

I discussed the topic and at last, it was time to dismiss the class.

“That’s for today.” I announced. “I am sure that all of you are looking forward to the year-end party, but don’t forget about our project; prepare well and do your best, let’s get the tech-fest award once again,” I said and everyone cheered- everyone except her.

Whoa, she’s unusually quiet today!

“Okay, the project meetings are over, the next class will be our last to discuss preparation. I will let you know the time and place,” I nodded. “Class dismissed then,”

“Senior Michael,” I heard Angela’s voice and turned around. “Are you attending the party this year?” She asked me.

I let out a frustrated sigh.

It’s not the first time I am encountering this question today. Ever since Ruhi asked me to be her date, I am bombarded by this.

I just didn’t want to owe her anything and just now I am rethinking my decision.

But you had your own selfish reason to do this, Michael, you wanted to prove to Cinderella that the little incident at the restaurant didn’t mean anything.

“That’s right,” I said and Cinderella asked me the very first thing that day.

“Are you going with Senior Ruhi?”

------------------------

Q: Do you think Michael will attend the party with Ruhi?

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