Chapter 3

“Siya… Siya…”, she heard him call out again and turned around to look towards him. He was still trying to cross the busy downtown Manhattan street. Some other people were helping her up now. He was halfway across now, and was running towards her. “Are you OK?”, he asked panting heavily, “Aunty ne meri jan le leni thi, can’t you watch before you start crossing the road”. He paused for a moment, “Are you ok? Why aren’t you saying something?”. She looked up at him – Arnie was still talking. She realized she had been very quiet. 

“I am fine”, she said brushing her clothes. It wasn’t like Arnie had stopped talking. He was still on. “Did he ever shut up?”, she thought to herself and smiled a little.

“And where is that dude who saved you?”, he asked looking around.

”Raj”, she thought and turned around to look for him. He wasn’t there. He had disappeared, just like he had earlier. As she brushed the dirt off her arms, she glanced at the time – 8:50. It didn’t register with her. Arnie was now pushing her towards the direction of the class. Something was wrong. She felt this nagging feeling that something was missing. She kept looking around, as if she would find him. Then it suddenly hit her – 8:50. She was already 20 minutes late. 

They ran to the class, reaching their just in time to see another two students entering late. They hurried so they could enter. The other two stopped when they saw Siya and Arnie coming. For some reason, it was always ok to walk in when their were more people entering late. It almost felt like the class got less disturbance when more people entered because the focus of eyes got distributed. She wondered about how it felt if it had been only her walking in alone, late by 20 minutes. There was this uneasy heat that the staring eyes inflicted on the person walking in alone. She had read something about it in a book. The concept that said that human emotions and feelings have energy –something about Noetic Sciences. 

Her classroom was designed in one of those parliamentary styles. Divided into the left and right sides of the whiteboard, five rows of joint curved tables with chairs stacked in the cement of the stair like floor of the room. She looked around to find a seat available somewhere. It was the unsaid rule of Business School, if you’re late you will find a seat somewhere in the middle where you will have to carefully walk through a maze of bags and clothes on the floor. She found hers in the third row on the left side of the white board – smack in the middle of the row. She made her way to the seat, without taking her eyes off it, as if she would get lost if she blinked. It helped sometimes in ignoring the eyes on her, even though there weren’t any. ‘The Flying Dutchman’ had started talking again. He was explaining CAPM – the Capital asset pricing model and drawing some lines on a graph. This was the part about this class that she didn’t find so much fun. Finance wasn’t easy, but she had to go through it – it was a mandatory course. 

“so you see… the CAPM helps in predicting the risk with respect to the returns that you expect..”, she realized she was zoning off. She had started doing what she usually knew as a sign – repeating everything the professor was saying, back in her head one second behind him. She looked around, people were taking notes. She looked to the guy on her left, German exchange student, he wasn’t writing much. Tall and blonde, he made the perfect European stereotype. Except that he wasn’t rude, obnoxious or high-headed. He winked at her, and pushed his noted towards her. She leaned over to see. He had been making a doodle which had converted into a pretty decent caricature of a robot, and he had been noting down the formulae that the prof had been writing on the board in a queue on the edge of the page. She made a mental note that this was a good thing to do, to keep a track of all the formulae – the list, not the caricature. She smiled at him, and leaned away into her own chair. She started looking at the board again and found herself thinking about the near miss that she’d had a few minutes ago, and the man who had shown up from nowhere to save her again. And had disappeared mysteriously, again.

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