Mom always told me that if I made three impossible wishes, the most impossible one would come true.
Here’s how I hacked that process – I keep the wishes interconnected. That way, when one comes true, all come true.
My wishes were simple.
1) For Sahil Mahlotra to kiss me at Graduation.
2) To get a full score on my Accounting exam.
3) To be happy.
Of course they sound ridiculous, they’re supposed to be impossible. Now, if the Sahil Mahlotra wish comes true, it means I’m definitely graduating, which means I’d actually passed Accounting and passed my second year.
For my second wish to work out, I’d have to be brilliantly motivated and totally focused- which couldn’t happen if I was depressed due to my crush snogging someone else. And finally, my third wish is entirely dependent on the first two coming true.
I write these down and shove the paper into my backpack, hoping it would miraculously grant me a new life.
But according to Dad, wishes won’t work if you don’t.
If I want to ace this exam, I need to open the textbook. To do so, I first need to buy the textbook.
A cleaner stands outside the campus bookstore with his broom and bucket of soapy water, scratching his head as he wonders how to remove the posters covering every inch of the brick-lined façade. Splashed across all of them is the boy I’m going to kiss next year. The very Delhi, the very charming, the very “Are you my best friend/Are you my boyfriend” Sahil Mahlotra, whose band covers popular Bollywood songs. Girls who don’t even understand Hindi show up at his gigs, swooning.
I always promise myself I’ll skip the next gig, and yet, I somehow always show up. The bit I always dread is when he chooses the most romantic line from the most romantic song, looks straight at me from the stage and sings it to my very soul – with a wink right at the end as if to reaffirm that “Yes, Arya, ‘Aate jaate jo milta hai tumsa lagta hai’ was really meant for you.”
Tell me that’s not a move?
Everyone in the store turns to see which grand idiot has walked into the very obvious glass doors.
It’s me; it’s me, of course. Just announcing my entry as usual. I quickly scurry in and bury myself in one of the aisles.
Rows and rows of shining books greet me. My top four smells are of freshly baked bread, brewing coffee, warm chocolate and, above all, books. I enter an aisle stacked with glossy, happy, exciting books … which means I’m in the wrong aisle. The books in the next section look solemn and serious. They stand side by side, starched and still, like soldiers ready for a great battle. My great battle. And of course, the book I’m looking for is right on top, where I can’t reach it.
Introduction to Accounting looks down at us peasants from that great height. It’s a 500-page mammoth; why keep it up there? Its contents are already enough to slay any poor student, why test their physical strength too? I try to get the attention of the pimply, gangly store assistant.
“Excuse me, could you help me get that book down please?”
“Are you a second-year student?” he asks seriously.
“Shouldn’t you already have the textbook by now?”
“Would I want another copy of it, if I did?”
That shuts him up. Though, technically, he is right – this textbook was on the mandatory booklist during my first year here. I should have definitely bought it then, but it’s never too late, I suppose.
With a long stick he dislodges the book. We watch it free fall, landing on the ground with a great thump, squashing an ant in the process.
I feel like that poor ant.
The assistant rings it up at the cashier.
“How much do I owe you?”
“Excuse me?” My eyes go wide.
Are you fucking kidding me? 150 pounds? Like 15,000 rupees? For a book I don’t even want to read? For that much, I’d rather rent a house in Goa to hide in for the entire term.
Screw this. I’ll figure out another way.
I stare at the library catalogue on their computer. This giant building has five floors, each as big as a football field, lined with books from floor to ceiling, with eleven copies of Introduction To Accounting – and ALL of them have been lent out?
Why do so many students have their shit together?
My gut instinct tells me I need to find another way out, but my gut tells me to take a detour through the library café first.
“One hot chocolate please.”
“Whipped cream on top?”
“God, yes! I’m not uncultured.”
She gives me a look. She’s pretty. I bet she only drinks green tea.
While gulping down the creamy hot chocolate I try to hunt down a library copy of the textbook. I ask several people and finally succeed at digging one up. Triumphant, I take it to the copier machine.
It’s 25 pence per page. Why?! Copying 500 pages would still total 125 pounds.
Even when I win, I lose.
“One hot chocolate please.”
Piss off, matcha.
I decide to head to Sahil’s room; he must have the book. And since we live in the same dorm building, I can definitely borrow it. To be honest though, it’s just a totally harmless excuse to talk to him.
Knocking at his door always makes me anxious. In that brief moment, right before the door opens, I suddenly try to remember if my hair looks okay, and if my pose is casual yet sexy. Every bloody time I promise myself I won’t get nervous, but how can I not when he answers the door looking like that? Just out of bed, messy hair falling into his brown eyes, and that peppery cologne he always has on. The smell is so comforting and distracting at the same time. He flashes a smile that highlights that gorgeous dimple I’ve been pathetically in love with for the last year.
“Hello! Had hot chocolate?” he asks, leaning against his door, stopping my opening line in my throat.
“How did you know?” I’m genuinely impressed.
He points at my upper lip and I’m mortified. What is more embarrassing, wandering around the library with a whipped-cream moustache or having your crush notice it?
“So, what can I do for you?”
I look at him, reach for his door and slowly shut it on him, leaving me alone in the corridor and him totally perplexed on the other side. I panicked, all right ? How could I continue a conversation after that?
Mind made up, I race towards my room.
Excerpted with permission from Three Impossible Wishes, Anmol Malik, HarperCollins India.
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