I've always been obsessed with my stationery.
I NEVER lent an extra crayon to classmates in primary school, and if you were granted the honour of being spared a pencil, God forbid you return it in less-than-stellar shape.
By college, I learnt to mellow down. Case in point: I had given Sheila my new ball point and she was chewing on it and I didn't utter a word. I made a mental note to douse the thing in hand sanitizer the second I got to my room. (Hopefully, the bitter taste of Lifebuoy would discourage future lendees from befouling my property)
The bell rang signaling the end of morning classes and Sheila dropped the pen on my desk with a tired grin on her reddened face. I guess she was leaving early because she felt sick or something.
Half an hour later, I sat alone inside the Algorithms lab, frowning. The course instructor was missing, and the ominous words 'Sit according to the roll call' were on the board. This could only mean one thing - surprise quiz. Unlike the rest of our professors, Gupta sir didn't seem to have understood that surprise quizzes weren't actually supposed to take the students by surprise.
Was I supposed to text everyone in class about this unexpected development? Did I have the required two thousand rupees to pay as ransom to the tyrannical Head of my Department in case my phone was confiscated by a sycophantical TA? Just as I was debating the merits of Being A Good Classmate Is More Important Than Having Money To Buy Trigger Warning (non-existent) a saviour came to me in the form of Vikram. He took one look at the blackboard and pulled out his phone to message his friends.
Five minutes later, the classroom was full, and Vikram was in his assigned seat. Iwatched as he frantically emptied his pockets. But why? Hadn't I just seen him put his phone in the TAs desk? (How could I have forgotten that Archana is the most understanding of all Masters students?)
I realised he wanted a pen and I thought about pretending that I hadn't noticed him looking around hopefully but I realised I would be making progress with my New Years' resolution of Being A Nice Person if I lent him a pen. I reluctantly passed my biro along and started off on my quiz.
After I finished, I looked up to check if he was done and he was chewing on my pen. Thank the gods my roommate is a chemical engineer - she would have access to some HCl in which I could clean the pen.
I guess he he saw me looking or something because he looked up and handed the pen to me. I considered telling him off but it was the weekend so I decided to leave him alone.
Sweet, sweet freedom.
The next Monday, I walked into class and turned on the fan. I was immediately met with protests from Sheila - I guess that pesky cold still hadn't left her - but what surprised me was Vikram supported her. Those two did not get along at all- anytime the two of them were together, everyone left the room because their fights got messy.
I looked at him, confused. Why was he in a sweater in the middle of summer? He had a cold, he informed me sourly.
I was surprised - he boasted about how he was immune to all diseases, and it was mid-April so how was he sick?
I pulled out my pencil case as Maya ma'am began to lecture and I saw it. The diseased black pen.
I giggled as I realised the Universe had conspired to extract my revenge for me. But more importantly, I had a new One True Pair.