A Story A Day#23 The View From the Balcony

We are all so worried about how the world sees us, that we often forget to be true to ourselves. At such times, the view from a balcony comes in handy!  

The word of the day is –  view.

 

The view from the balcony

 

Rishabh had never considered the view from the balcony of his house till Sarika came to stay in the flat opposite. The design of the apartment blocks meant that the two flats had their balconies close together.  Rishabh had perfected the art of ignoring the balcony opposite because of the unpleasant couple who lived there. And that’s why it was several days before he noticed that the flat opposite was empty. He hoped that whoever moved in next would be friendlier than the previous occupants.

A few days later as he was hanging the clothes out to dry, he glanced at the balcony opposite and saw a girl of around his age, hanging over the railing. Wow, thought Rishabh, she was really pretty.

“Bhaiyya! Bhaiyya!” his younger brother Rakesh came running up at that moment and Rishabh panicked. What if the girl looked around and saw him staring?  He stepped into the house, slamming the door to the balcony shut. “Why did you shut the door?” Rakesh wailed. “I want to go out on the balcony!”

“Not now,” Rishabh said and then, when it looked as if seven-year-old Rakesh would burst into tears, he said, “Let’s have a pillow fight!” That distracted Rakesh and he forgot about going on the balcony. But Rishabh couldn’t stop thinking of the girl on the balcony. The next time he saw her, he swore, he would be prepared and impress her with his cool behavior.

He saw her the very next day, dressed in the uniform of his school and waiting for the school bus. Rishabh was so surprised that he had to make an effort to keep his jaw from hanging open. So she was going to join his school! Once he had got used to this idea, Rishabh felt  that nothing else would shock him. So he wasn’t really surprised when the girl walked into his class and was introduced as Sarika. Seen at close quarters she was even prettier. Rishabh sighed to himself and bid her a silent goodbye. If she had lived elsewhere, he thought, he might have had a chance with her. But she lived in the flat opposite his  and already knew a lot about him. Rishabh thought of his pillow fights with Rakesh, the vegetables he chopped for his mother and the other chores he helped with. No girl would be interested in a guy like that; especially not a girl like Sarika. And just like that, without even trying, he gave up any thoughts of winning her.

Of course, he couldn’t avoid going out on the balcony but Rishabh perfected the art of avoiding Sarika.  A couple of times he had seen her, out of the corner of his eye, step out on the balcony but he had simply pretended not to see her. Once he even thought he saw her wave, but that was probably his imagination because why would Sarika, already popular at school, want to talk to him?

And yet, despite her popularity Sarika made attempts to befriend his family. She was Rakesh’s favourite didi and his mother said she was a ‘sweet girl’. Rishabh couldn’t understand why she was doing that. She must have realized that he simply wasn’t the kind of guy she would like. Then why be nice his family?

This was something that puzzled him and if it hadn’t been for the slew of tests and assignments that the teachers bombarded them with, Rishabh would have spent all his time worrying over this. Fortunately he came home exhausted, intent only on preparing for the next test. And once the tests were over, there was the class picnic to look forward to.

There was great excitement on the day of the picnic and intent on getting a good seat, Rishabh reached the school early. He found a seat midway down the bus, childishly glad he had the window. When someone dropped into the seat beside his Rishabh turned and found himself face to face with Sarika.

“Oh!” he said stupidly.

“Hi!” Sarika smiled.

“Why are you here?” Rishabh asked and then, realizing how rude that sounded he amended, “I mean, there are lots of empty seats! There’s an empty seat beside Gautam!” Gautam was the most popular boy in the class and it was no secret that he admired Sarika.

“I know,” Sarika said. “But I want to sit here!”

“But why?” Rishabh asked, wondering wildly what was happening. “I am not… your kind of a guy!”

“You are exactly the kind of boy I like!” Sarika corrected him.

“Really?” Rishabh stared at her, “How do you know anything about me?” he demanded suspiciously.

“I am your neighbour, right?” Sarika said, as if talking to a small child. “So when I stand on my balcony, I can see into your house and hear everything and…”

“Oh no!” Rishabh muttered, horror-stricken.

“Oh yes,” Sarika corrected. “And I like all that I’ve seen of you – the way you play with your brother, the way you help your mother with the chores and best of all the way you hide from me!”

“You do?” Rishabh said, a burst of happiness clouding his thinking for a minute. But even through this he was conscious of a feeling of gratitude for many things, but most of all for the view from the balcony.

 

This story was published in Young Buzz, the children’s pages of Sakal Times.

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