April and Her Friends Ch. 09

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Melody first noticed Rohit Banerjee in her European History class.

It was a huge class, mostly for freshmen and sophomores. Melody had wanted to take it during freshman year, but there were too many other classes she wanted (or needed) to take. It covered the major points of European history from the medieval age all the way up through the Vietnam War, and was scheduled to last all year—a full three quarters. The class literally had hundreds of students. There would be a big lecture on Monday, and then much smaller sessions—with about twenty or so students—run by some really smart graduate students on Wednesday and Friday. It was at one of these sessions that she noticed the guy sneaking peeks at her.

She wondered why he even bothered. There were several really gorgeous women in the class—and they were definitely women, with big boobs, painted faces, and clouds of perfume wafting all around them (kind of like Pigpen in the Peanuts cartoon, Melody noted with a bit of malicious humor—she wore perfume not at all or very sparingly). And yet, Rohit seemed to have eyes only for her. Well, there’s at least one guy who shows some good taste!

She had overheard someone say his first name, and that’s about all she knew about him.

Aside from the fact, of course, that he was Indian.

She desperately tried to convince herself that her interest in him—which, at the moment, really wasn’t anything but a kind of flattered reflection of his apparent interest in her—had nothing at all to do with the fact that he was the same nationality as Kumar. In fact, he looked nothing—or not much—like her former lover. He was pretty tall, maybe five foot ten, but quite thin, having nothing of the muscular frame of Kumar. But that made him a bit more human and accessible, Melody thought. He was quite dark, too: whereas Kumar had a kind of milk chocolate complexion, Rohit was definitely dark chocolate.

And she admitted that there were times when she couldn’t get enough of him—at least, some parts of him. The features on his face were so soft and gentle that they were actually beautiful—like an Indian demigod, with deep brown eyes, somewhat large but exquisitely sculpted nose, smooth jawline, and best of all, rich, full lips that just begged to be kissed. She frequently had to chastise herself for thinking such impure thoughts during the class sessions.

But she also noticed that he didn’t participate much in those sessions, and at times he looked confused and bewildered. It certainly wasn’t that he was stupid: there were times when he could rattle off dates and facts with impressive but seemingly effortless memory. But he somehow didn’t seem entirely comfortable in class.

This was second quarter, and they were all struggling with the turbulent events they were reading about—both the English Civil War of the late seventeenth century and the momentous French Revolution at the end of the next century. Discussions in the sessions were lively, and Melody participated fully in them—perhaps at times being a little more dogmatic and vehement than she should have been. But Rohit remained largely silent.

She really wanted to meet the guy, but he had a tendency to dash out of the session as soon as it was over. But then came the time when she was getting some coffee in one of the shops in the Hub (the University of Washington student center) and saw him sitting all by himself with his own paper cup of coffee and a big cookie. His nose was buried in a book.

She slid into the seat across from his and said, “Hi there.”

He hadn’t noticed her, and he gazed up at her with the look of a startled rabbit. His eyes got wide and his mouth hung open, but he said nothing.

“Sorry if I startled you,” Melody said.

As he continued to remain silent, she went on. “You’re in my European History session, I think.”

“Yes,” he managed to croak while looking away from her.

Ah, he speaks! I guess he’s a bit shy.

“Your name’s Rohit, isn’t it?”

“Yes.”

“I’m Melody.”

He broke into a wide smile that somehow sent a little dagger through Melody’s heart. “What a pretty name!”

“Thank you.”

She tended to her coffee, dumping a few packets of sugar into it. Rohit seemed almost frozen stiff, that startled look still spread across his face.

“What do you think of the history class?” she said, trying to bring him out.

He suddenly frowned. “It’s hard.”

“Hard? Well, I guess it is—but I think it’s fun! I mean, all the interesting stuff that was going on then!” She noted he was now almost scowling. “But maybe history’s not your thing?”

He shook his head. “I want to be a math major. Math and physics.”

“My God!” she said. “That’s impressive!”

If it was possible for such a dark-skinned man to blush, Rohit was blushing.

“I’m just a silly old humanities major,” Melody said self-deprecatingly.

Rohit’s frown deepened. “Don’t say you’re silly. You’re not.” He seemed casino oyna almost angry.

“I guess I didn’t mean that. But math, and most of the other sciences, have always been pretty tough for me.”

“I did calculus in high school,” he said without the least hint of immodesty.

“Calculus? Wow! I barely managed to get through trigonometry! In fact, I’m kind of struggling with a math class right now.”

“Are you?”

“Yeah.”

And with that, Melody dug out a big textbook out of her backpack and dumped it on the table. She flipped through the pages and pointed to a particularly complex-looking diagram. “What do you make of that?” she cried.

“Oh, yeah, that,” he said, as if he was talking about a longtime neighbor.

“You know what that is?” she said incredulously.

“Of course,” he said, again without immodesty. It was just that he couldn’t believe anyone didn’t know what the diagram signified.

“Can you help me?” Melody cried urgently. “God, this class is a bear! And I have to take it—it’s required!”

“I’ll be happy to.”

“That’s great!” She added slyly: “I could help you with history—if you need help.”

“I do,” he said sadly.

“Well, that’s fine. You scratch my back, and I scratch yours!”

Even the very mild double entendre of that remark seemed to make Rohit uncomfortable, and he again looked away.

“How about right now?” he said.

“Um, no,” she said. “I have another class in about fifteen minutes. Why don’t we have some pizza or something, and then we can study afterwards?”

“Okay,” he said, but he didn’t sound so sure about the prospect.

But Melody didn’t give him a chance to change his mind.

“Let’s meet here at six, and we can go to the library or somewhere and study later. Bye!”

And she scooped up her things and bolted.

I guess I just asked a guy out for a date—a study date, true enough, but still a date!

She hadn’t gone out on a single date in her short college career, so this would be her first.

*

Over their slices of pizza, Melody learned something more about Rohit. He was born in India but, like Kumar, came over to the United States when he was a child. And yet, he retained an even thicker (and more musical) Indian accent than Kumar, and Melody found herself so entranced by listening to him that she almost forgot to eat her meal.

“Where are your parents from?” she asked.

“Mysore,” he said.

“Where is that? I’ve not heard of it.”

“It’s sort of near Bangalore. That’s our Silicon Valley, you know.”

“Yeah, I know. So that’s in the South.”

“Yes, very far south.”

“You’re a little darker than most Indians I’ve seen.” Well, one in particular. “I hope you don’t mind my saying that.”

“Not at all. The farther south you go, the darker the people get. Closer to the equator, you know.”

“Yes, I know. You have a lovely face.”

She said that deliberately, just to see what a response it would elicit. Sure enough, Rohit froze in utter embarrassment.

“Oh, Rohit, you’re so funny!” she couldn’t help exclaiming.

He scowled, gazing down at his plate.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “I didn’t mean to tease you.”

When he remained with his head down, she boldly took him by the chin and made him look at her. “Hey, come on. I said I was sorry.”

At last he broke into that smile that already made her get goosebumps. “It’s okay.”

They finished the meal quickly, then headed over to the library for their study session. They made a lot of progress—at least, Melody made a lot of progress in her math homework, as Rohit proved to be an excellent teacher, leading her step by step through the problems and exhibiting almost superhuman patience on the numerous occasions when Melody almost exploded with frustration at her apparent inability to figure out what was going on. But by the end of an hour she’d made real progress.

She had a little more trouble teaching history to Rohit. He was obviously smart, even brilliant; but he had so focused on the sciences that in a discipline like history he seemed a fish out of water. It was one thing to memorize names and dates; it was another thing entirely to study the complex interplay of political, social, cultural, and other forces that were the root causes of historical events.

But Melody persevered—and believed that she had accomplished something.

It was the first of what became regular study sessions with them. Both the math class and the history class were entering into pretty involved and difficult subjects, and they required a lot of work. After a while Melody suggested that they take their studies either to her rooming house or his. Rohit, it turned out, was in a house not all that far from the one she and April occupied, and it was a little closer to campus. So they started meeting there after dinner, usually every other day.

It was a chilly Thursday night in February canlı casino when the two students—already exhausted with their work on other classes, and perhaps affected by the cheerless weather—experienced the first strains in their “relationship,” if it could be called that. Melody was by this time getting a little impatient with what she thought was Rohit’s almost mulish refusal to bend his mind in a different direction from what he was used to with the sciences. She had said over and over again, “Rohit, in history there aren’t any ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers, unless you’re just talking about something basic like who was king or president in any given year.” But that kind of inconclusiveness—where everything became a matter of interpretation rather than cold, hard facts—seemed to be driving him crazy, and at times he seemed actively resistant to making an attempt to figure things out.

And that’s when Melody, reaching the limits of her tolerance, snapped her book closed and cried, “Oh, Rohit, you’re not even trying!”

It was an unkind thing to say. Most of the time Rohit was trying, but there were moments when he seemed to reach the end of his rope. But Melody never expected his reaction to her harsh words.

He again froze like a statue. Then he started to cry.

Rohit was sitting cross-legged on his bed, while Melody was on the floor, with books and papers spread out all around her. As she looked on in amazement, she saw tears fall silently down his cheeks, his face a mask of misery.

Melody was horrified—and not because Rohit’s tears somehow signaled a lack of “manliness” on his part. If anything, she was moved by how this young man could be so in touch with his emotions that he could weep unaffectedly, especially in the presence of a female. No, she was stricken by her own cruelty and insensitivity.

Rohit had slumped down to a half-lying position on the bed, his face buried in the blanket. Leaping up from the floor, Melody rushed to the bed and clumsily took Rohit in her arms. His head landed by accident between her breasts, but this allowed her to soothe him by gentle strokes on his back and little kisses on his head while she cooed, “It’s okay, dear, it’s okay.” That endearment slipped out without her realizing it. Rohit, for his part, clung tightly to Melody as if hanging on for dear life to a piece of driftwood in a deep expanse of ocean.

As Rohit continued to cry, she sensed that it wasn’t merely her harsh remark that was triggering his sadness. It seemed he was letting out other torments that had perhaps afflicted him for months or years—and she found some minimal relief in thinking that she was acting as a kind of release for his pent-up feelings, whatever they might have been.

His head felt nice nestled at her chest, and she could feel the wetness of his tears soaking into the thin fabric of her blouse. After some moments, when his crying seemed to be coming to an end, she lifted his head up and gave him a long, tender kiss on the mouth.

That act—intended just as a gesture of kindness, although perhaps there was more in it than Melody herself was aware of—seemed to stun him, and he gazed up at her with a look of astonishment on his face.

Sniffling, he said, “That’s the first time a girl has ever kissed me.”

Melody was incredulous. “Oh, I don’t believe that for a minute! You’re telling me a smart, handsome guy like you has never . . .?”

But his continued look of amazement convinced her that he was speaking the truth.

“Well,” she said matter-of-factly, “it may be the first, but it won’t be the last.”

So she kissed him again.

This time she took occasion to brush away the tears from his face with some swift sweeps of her fingers, and she held his face with both hands so that he couldn’t budge. You’re going to kiss me, and you’re going to like it! But he seemed to have no objections to what Melody was doing—and in fact he started to pucker his lips so stiffly that kissing them was becoming difficult.

“Hey, hey,” she chided, “ease up—no puckering! Just let the kiss happen.” This guy definitely needs some tutoring in the art of smooching!

He relaxed his lips at her command, and the kisses tasted a lot better for both parties.

Melody allowed herself to lean back on the bed, taking Rohit with her. He continued to rest his head on her chest and hold her tight around the waist.

But she wasn’t ready for anything more. Nice as this cuddling session was, she felt it was time to put a stop to it.

She pried herself out of his grasp, got up from the bed, and said, “I think I’d better go.”

Rohit, still lying on the bed, gave her such a plangent look of longing and disappointment that she almost reversed her decision right then and there. Oh, God, I really want him!—and I guess he wants me. But she felt some compulsion to take things a little slower.

As she gathered up her various things and stuffed them into her backpack, she said, kaçak casino as she was about to leave the room: “You free tomorrow night?”

“Yes,” he said huskily.

“Okay,” she said in a businesslike fashion. “We’ll see what we can do. No more studying! We’ve done enough of that.”

Melody gave a lot of thought as to what to do with Rohit as Friday dawned. She knew she would meet him again at the European History session that afternoon, but she was determined not to tip her hand. At that class he fixed his gaze continually on her—although she also noticed that, for once, he was contributing to the discussion in a fairly interesting way. She suspected, though, that he was trying to impress her more than the teaching assistant. She refused his offer to get some coffee after class, saying:

“We’ll meet for dinner, okay? And who knows what after that.”

Their dinner wasn’t a lavish affair—just some nice comfort food at an Irish pub, where of course they were too young to imbibe any alcohol. Rohit was looking at her so intensely that Melody was becoming a little uncomfortable—but she couldn’t help be flattered at his attentions.

Afterward, she debated whether to go to her place or his—but felt that his would offer more privacy. God knows what new boy April will be bringing over for the night—or the weekend! I don’t need that kind of noise coming from her room while I’m trying to . . . She wasn’t sure what she was going to do with Rohit, but she had a pretty good idea.

As they entered his rooming house and walked a bit stiffly into his room, both had a premonition that something significant was going to happen. Melody felt a tingling sensation all over her body. As they doffed their coats and flung them heedlessly on the floor, they both stood looking almost expressionlessly at each other.

“I’m a little tired,” she said after an awkward pause. “Can I lie down for a bit?”

Without waiting for him to answer, she lowered herself gently on his bed. It was full-size, barely big enough to accommodate two people. Rohit didn’t seem to know what was expected of him, so he stood irresolute next to the bed, staring down at her.

She patted the empty space on the bed next to herself, saying, “You lie down too.”

He did so; but unlike Melody, who was lying flat on her back, he propped himself on one elbow and peered down at her with the most intense expression she had ever seen in him. It made her a little nervous.

More to distract him—and herself—than anything else, she reached out to him, took his head in both hands, and lowered it to her face. Then she kissed him.

Letting her hands drop to her sides, she relished the unusual sensation of only their lips touching—no other part of their bodies were in contact. He was a quick learner, and his kiss was soft, gentle, but nonetheless firm—and he had somehow learned how to communicate his swirl of emotions through his lips, for she could feel his barely controlled emotions embodied in that kiss.

The kiss was at first close-mouthed, but after a while she opened her lips, and he was compelled to do the same. Still later, she flicked her tongue against his teeth, and then deeper into his mouth. She could hear his sudden intake of breath as she did so, and he soon responded with a little tongue action of his own.

She pulled back, breaking off the kiss but gazing deep into his eyes. After a pregnant silence she said:

“Will you unbutton my blouse?”

His eyes became wide as saucers at the very idea. He peered down at her chest as if he had never heard of the word “blouse” before. Then, with tentative fingers, he began undoing one button at a time—sometimes smoothly, sometimes a bit clumsily. After the blouse was entirely unbuttoned, he separated it and let her chest and midsection be exposed.

She shimmied her arms out of it and tossed it aside.

“Now the bra.”

Rohit seemed irresolute, and she took pity on him and rolled over onto her stomach. “There are three clasps there—do you see?”

He seemed to understand, and she felt him undo the clasps in sequence. But he made no move to remove the garment from her. She did the job herself, sliding out of it and letting it join the blouse on the floor. Then she rolled over onto her back again and let him see her topless.

He let out an enormous gasp at the sight of her exposed breasts. He licked his lips and swallowed hard.

“They’re a bit small,” she said.

Between irregular breaths he said, “They’re the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.”

The sincerity of the sentiment, however extravagant it may have been, touched her deeply, and she felt tears filling her eyes. “You’re a sweetheart,” she said in a choked voice.

Getting control of herself, she said, “You might as well take the skirt off.”

Rohit again seemed puzzled as to what exactly he was supposed to do, so she said, “There’s a button here on the side, and then a zipper.” The button was on the far side of her body as she was lying next to him, so he had to bend over her to reach it and the zipper. After he had undone them, he reverently slid the skirt down over her legs and flung it to the floor.

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