[fiction] Seeing Red

Everything was red about that day.

Their college was celebrating Rose Day. It was the 14th of February, but Valentine’s Day was something that the administration weren’t comfortable promoting. Rose Day, it was, hence.

Tarun had come prepared. He sat on his bike, amid a world of fellow youngsters giving and receiving red roses. He waited. He saw one of his classmates shyly accept a red rose and a heart-shaped greeting card from a guy he didn’t know. He held a similar-looking card in his hand, but with it, he had a bunch of red roses to give. Not one, a bunch. That made him smile. He looked towards the college gates once again, and waited.

Mansi had made Tarun see red on the first day of college. She had sauntered into the classroom; a red top complimenting red sandals, blue denims amidst them. Mansi had bowled Tarun over in that first moment itself. In a cartoon equivalent of that moment, red hearts would’ve flown out of Tarun’s eyes.

But what flew by were the months. Every time Tarun saw Mansi, and he made sure he saw her a lot, he fell in love more and more. The red colour of love took over his being. The new bike he bought, he bought it in red; he wore a red shirt for the first time in his adult life; he even bought a pair of red sneakers. Everywhere he looked, he saw red. The exact shade of red Mansi had worn on the first day of college had become his favourite colour.

But despite his ever-growing love for her, Tarun couldn’t muster up the courage to tell her he loved her. That day, he planned to change that.

He waited for her a while longer; when she didn’t show up, Tarun decided to see if she was in the college canteen. With the card in one hand, the bunch of roses in the other, Tarun walked towards the canteen. She was there; he saw Mansi from a distance and quickened his pace.

She was wearing red; it was the same top she was wearing when he had first seen her. He smiled, maybe that was a sign. But before he could think about that any more, what he saw made him stop in his tracks. Just as he entered the canteen, Mansi hugged the guy she’d been talking with. She held in her a hand a bunch of roses, similar to what Tarun had brought to give her. She had a big smile on her face. Tarun watched, anguished, as that guy held onto Mansi for a little longer than a simple friend would hug another friend.

Once again, Mansi had made Tarun see red.

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