A Mid Summer's Day Dream
On the way out of the workshop, Chutti looked at his image in a window pane - shyly, self-consciously. One of the many things Chutti liked about workshop days was being in uniform. Khaki shirt and pant and leather shoes. Chutti thought he looked good in uniforms.
His hands and clothes were soiled with fine iron powder. His shirt was wet at the armpits and collar. His forehead was moist; he did not wipe it dry - he also liked his 'workman' look.
Chutti had spent the last two and half hours in 'filing' workshop, filing away at a rectangular piece of iron. The objective (of nearly half the course) was to reduce the the width of the piece to a certain smaller dimension, by (only) filing it. It was strange that such training should also contribute towards an engineering degree. It was hard work, the continuous to and fro movement of the arms, and one had to be careful and file straight, checking often, with a try-square, that the right angles were all still correct. But it was otherwise a no-brainer allowing the mind to drift here and there like a bird. Chutti loved these meditative two and half hours twice weekly.
The rest of his class had already dispersed, having set off on bicycles to different hostels. Chutti now got to his bicycle and started out, with a song in his heart, if not on his lips - feeling a bit like Devanand from some Hindi movie.
He circled the roudabout near the library, and just as he crossed the central lecture hall, as usual, he saw her at the head of a bunch of giggly girls, all his seniors. She looked pretty as usual, fresh, bright and cool - as if they were all at summer vacation on a hill station - not doing college in sultry Chennai. Chutti's workshop day routine was complete.
Chutti had been a reluctant participator in elocution contests while at school, participating only because his teachers expected him to. Something he had once tried from Shakespeare, came back to him now. For the first time there seemed to be more to the words than poetry.
What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection
Except I be by Silvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale;
Unless I look on Silvia in the day,
There is no day for me to look upon;
Renee, for it was her, was ofcourse not unfamiliar with guys giving her the glad eye. But in Chutti's case her amusement was tinged with sympathy. "Poor kid," she might have thought "I am so out of his league".