“Karthik, I don’t think I can do this.”
Karthik sighed. He and his friend had been through this many times before already.
“Of course you can, Prasanth,” he said. “All you have to do is talk to Lavanya for five minutes. Five minutes. I’m not asking you to marry her or anything.”
“But…” Prasanth persisted.
“I assure you, she won’t bite.”
“But what if…”
“No ifs and buts about it,” Karthik snapped. “Just go and do it!”
“Uh, can you come with me? Please?”
“Prasanth, what part of ‘No’ don’t you understand? Now go!”
And with that, he gave his timid friend a helpful little shove in the right direction.
Startled, Prasanth nearly fell flat on his face. Fortunately, he managed to recover his balance in time. He swallowed and started walking hesitantly toward Lavanya, looking back at his friend for encouragement from time to time.
“Go,” Karthik said. “I believe in you!”
Prasanth murmured a prayer to the gods, steeled himself and continued walking.
His “target” sat by herself on the school bench. She was reading the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”
Prasanth’s face flushed crimson. By the gods, he thought. She’s beautiful…
He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. It was now or never.
“Uh, hi,” he managed.
From his hiding place, Karthik let out a discreet whoop of joy.
Lavanya looked up from her book and smiled at him, which only caused his cheeks to redden further. “Oh, hello,” she said. “I’m sorry. I was so busy reading that I didn’t notice you there. Have we met before?”
“Uh, not really. I just see you around school sometimes, that’s all.”
“I see,” Lavanya said. “Come to think of it, I think I’ve seen you in the school hallway before.” She blinked. “Are you all right? Your face is all red.”
Beads of sweat ran down Prasanth’s forehead. He hurriedly wiped them away. “I…uh…it’s just an allergy. Pollen or something. It’s nothing.”
“You’re a strange one,” she beamed, showing him the book she’d been reading. “Have you read this book by John Gray?”
“Uh, no. What’s it about?”
“Here,” she gestured. “Please have a seat. I’ll tell you all about it.”
He only too happily obliged. Once seated, he let out a sigh of relief and risked a glance at his friend.
From his hiding place, Karthik gave his friend a thumbs-up sign.
Prasanth smiled. You were right. Thanks.