~ Part 1 ~
"Wait to cry Malik," he hissed, his eyes narrowed.
"Abhi..." Atul said, jaded.
"Lets go champ!"
exclaimed in response with a sudden contrasting smile of spirit. At
this, Atul became instantly wary. Modi in foul mood was safer showcasing
his emotions than not.
to?" he asked suspiciously. Abhi looked at him, then throwing an arm
around Atul's shoulder he gave a scheming smile and tugged him to turn
started to apologize then stopped. A the girl stood before him. An
attractive girl. And she brushed the back of her hand rapidly over the
length of her hair and tossed them back over shoulder, looked at the
half spilled glass of coke, then at the white, miraculously unstained,
shimmery georgette of her designer gown and finally up at him, and
"You are?" she said with a single raised brow, demanding the completion of what he owed her.
"Your senior." He replied smoothly, changing his mind so effortlessly that it took her a second to register.
jerked his head back, then raised a hand to rub his ear lightly as the
question from the girl was resounded by Atul on his side,
said giving Atul more than a hint of a smile to not interrupt. Atul
looked back at him unfazed by the warning in his tone, then briefly at
the girl, recognizing immediately the yellow of the ID she wore around
her neck as one of those for the participants from guest colleges, and
without further thought he knew what to expect. He could have offered a
word of cautionary advice to his mate, but it was bound to fall on deaf
ears, and so he withdrew, disinterested in the rest, already back to his
search for the other two.
having expected a cooperation no less from Atul turned back to the
girl, who now stood, pouting in displeasure. Inwardly he grinned. On the
outside he wore an air of arrogant poise and shocked her grabbing the
glass from her hand.
tsk..." he feigned his disapproval, "Only half a glass?" then looking
her in the eye as her face balanced expressions of anger and confusion
at the same time he completed, "Didn't we teach you fuchas better
discipline than that when serving your seniors?"
"What the hell are you talking?" she spat back, finding her tongue at last.
her question as if he heard nothing he raised the glass to his lips and
drained it in a sip. She stared at him her mouth falling open,
astounded before turning livid, and for a second, Atul, turning over his
shoulder, felt almost sorry for the girl.
reminding himself mentally that his interference would do no good he
rolled his eyes and turned back fishing his cell out of his pocket to
try and reach Armaan one more time. Perhaps, this time he would actually
bother to answer the call; what a fool would not have it on a vibration
when it was obvious no ringtone could be heard over this din of the
thousands who were buzzing all over the campus like bees about honey. It
would be, he hoped, an iota percent better if he showed up while
Abhimanyu was occupied with this new distraction and maybe, just maybe,
Nilgiri could be saved from witnessing the ritual between them two this
one night and they could all actually manage to get some precious hours
of sleep instead?
heard the indignation in the girl's voice and expecting a scene coming
on, moved a little distance away, the phone ringing into one ear while
he covered the other firmly in his attempt to muffle the outside noise.
who would this 'me' be, " Abhimanyu replied, unperturbed, as he bent
forward and before the girl could take a step back he flipped her ID
higher and read off it, "Nikita Malhotra." She snatched it out of his
hand and Abhimanyu continued before she could speak, "I would make a
terrible example sweetheart, if I 'excused you'."
"I'm neither your sweetheart nor your ... "
"Petty difference we can sort out... at dinner tomorrow maybe? For now, you're going to go get me a new coke."
wish, Mr. Nose-too-high-for-his-own-good!" she told him, her tone
highlighting the sarcasm. And as she turned to walk away, he blocked her
way, his built overbearing against her petite frame, and she raised an
eye at him, making it evident she was not the one to be affected.
so soon Miss Needs-to-learn-her-etiquettes! No fucha on this campus
passes onto the second semester without paying due regards to the bigs
"For the last time I'm NOT a... "
"There you are Babe... "
Abhimanyu and Nikita turned around at the sound of a third, who also
stopped mid sentence, scrutinizing the scene presented. Abhimanyu almost
sniggered at the owner of the voice, ended up with a low whistle which
earned him a glare from Nikita, only to be ignored by him as he focused
on the new attraction.
boy no match physically, his appearance obsolete as if from the days of
Shakespeare. Must be his costume, he mused in his mind giving him that
one benefit of doubt. But past that, he was most amused at the irony of
the pair- the girl was easily a sassy Delhite, the guy could have been a
cute picture in his childhood given his sharp facial features
especially that rare tinge of grey-green in his eyes; Abhi knew only one
other person with an equally unusual pair of Indian eyes.
then, for all he knew they could be mere contacts; for now the boy
needed some serious work out to build the male side to him. His dressing
was immaculate, and yet... perhaps it was the stage make up which made
his face look almost too smooth to have ever been shaved or his hair
which seemed too slick from the gell or maybe it was just the absence of
a real macho something. He would have still passed as decent from a
distance, but up close it felt almost unfair that he would have a chick
like her to show off. A yellow colored sling peeped from the pocket of
his waist coat, and Abhimanyu knew an ID similar to the one the girl
wore was attached to its other end; they were participants from another
the lady has a lover! AH! What a heartbreak!" He said with a mocking
act of regret. "Dude!" he exclaimed giving his shoulder a pat, which was
apparently more forceful than the boy expected as it shook his steady
footing for a second before he held himself back to it. Abhimanyu saw
him give the girl, Nikita a side look, while she simply folded her arms
across her chest, in a give-no-damn way.
boys it seems, have all the luck in the world," he shared in a supposed
voice of conspiracy, not missing Nikita's range of disgusted
expressions from the corner of his eye. How he wanted to laugh out loud,
for now, he told himself, it would have to wait or half the fun would
be lost. And he straightened himself like before.
I was telling your 'babe' here," Abhi resumed and the boy looked back
at him, with no display of being offended, "Its time for some action.
The term has kept me busy so far and I reckon theres still a bunch of
you fuchas I haven't had a chance to be acquainted with." He smiled in
the way of a superior, and after a quiet moment of simply looking back
at him, the boy spoke at last.
voice, almost as if to not overshadow the appearance, was like that of
boys from junior school. Beyond that it revealed nothing, except that,
unexpectedly it was actually calm.
smirked in approval, concealing his surprise for the boy to have agreed
with such ease to what all three of them knew was a ridiculous act on
his part. For neither were they from his college, nor, consequently, his
junior first years or 'fuchas' in the Delhi slang. In that moment he
almost forgot the beauty in white he was meant to score with. He would
have passed it off as having intimidated the boy, given the situation,
the comparison, and his obvious spot of disadvantage. But the boy, for
all his peaceful acceptance of unreasonable demands was no part of
gullible or submissive. In fact, Abhi concluded, it was impossible to
read his mind.
he said in a tone which revealed none of his reservations, "So you
wouldn't mind getting me a coke," he said, then taking a step towards
Nikita he said, "Actually make that two for us. She spilled hers most
unfortunately. Meanwhile I can get to know her better?"
"Ignore him Rid... " Nikita started, only to be cut off by the boy.
of course!" While Abhi, this time did not bother with masking his
surprise, Nikita narrowed her eyes in thought. The boy smiled, calm as
his voice. "She will be delighted to know you better, wouldn't you be
the look which passed between them was not lost on Abhi, its intention
however, remained mysterious. Before he could analyze further the boy
turned back to him and said,
"I'm such a huge fan of you, 'sir'..."
slightest of frown made appearance on Abhi's face as he mused over the
added emphasis to the last word and the boy continued, in an
unbelievably shy voice, with what, Abhi uneasily observed, was a
definite blush creeping into his cheeks. Then to his shock the boy stuck
out his arm towards him and said in a timid whisper,
"Can I have your autograph, please?"
he managed to utter, at this turn of events. His eyes fell on wrist and
the hand, slender and white, and much to his horror hairless.
Unknowingly he took a step away from the guy, with a sudden creepy
autograph 'sir' ... " the boy repeated in an anxious voice. Then he
smacked his hand on his forehead and Abhi wondered, grim, if it was his
imagination or the whole body language of this boy was ... very... weird
need a pen of course, how dumb of me," he continued with a nervous
little laugh, oblivious to Abhimanyu's obvious rising discomfort.
situation got no better, as he did find a marker in his pocket and
extended his hand towards Abhi again, who this time, took a definite
step back. He stared at the marker, and noticed that even the nails were
manicured. Was he ... could he be ... gay? Abhi could think of no other
explanation, and this particular one anything but appealed to him.
his gaze back at the two of them he saw the girl had an expression of
enjoying the scene, while the boy looked solemn. Snubbing himself to
have faltered he changed his mind again.
it. It was just a prank." He said with a grazing smile, checking his
caution to peep from beneath his easy going tone, "No hard feelings,
eh?" he finished turning to Nikita. And while the smile now playing
positively on her lips was like a loud alarm in his head, he shuddered
at the cold touch on his arm, and the boy, with soulful eyes said,
mean... I can't have your autograph?" The crestfallen look on his face
was so real, Abhi wished he could be any other place on the planet. It
was getting... far too disgraceful, to be approached by guys who fancied
on..." he said with a complete transformation in his tone, "I said the
joke is over." Turning to Nikki he said hopefully, "So what college are
to play his cards with her along a completely different tangent, as, he
kicked himself mentally, he should have to begin with; instead of
trying to impose and impress with his position. Well, he thought almost
miserably, he hadn't expected it to backfire 'this' particular way.
depends on where you go for undergrad 'sir'?" She shot back in a sickly
sweet voice, not forgetting the last emphasis, which had Abhi squirm
inwardly. "Since we are all but your juniors, and can all but follow
suit." She flashed him a sunny smile, he returned a watery one himself.
is it then," Atul said rejoining the group at this point. Despite his
obvious treachery, Abhi was so relieved to have him back, he could have
kissed him. Ewww, he thought, cringing at the very idea. "And you are?"
Atul continued, looking at the boy.
"My lover," Nikita chirped happily, sticking her tongue to the cheek.
in the quickest of inspection took in the most evident features of the
boy's appearance. And raised both eyes in the 'oh-I-see' way,
simultaneously risked mouthing a 'congrats' to Abhi at his mighty
conquest, then without waiting for either of the sides to react, he went
nameless lover? How romantic! Like those Superman, Batman, Spiderman
guys? Playing the enigmatic heros are we? So what's your costume when
you save the world Mr. Superhero?"
"This is it." the boy said with an amiable grin at Atul. Who, still smiling, raised a brow in question.
"What is what?" Abhi, despite himself, was not the man to observe silence, not even to save his own skin.
"My costume, to save damsels in distress," the boy responded casually, "and the name is Rom... "
the boy completed turning around at the call. They saw a girl with long
beautiful brown curls walking towards them, also dressed in white,
though distinctly less designer, and a similar yellow string wrapped
around her wrist.
"The troupe wont go in to get the trophy without you Missy," she informed the boy, with hands on her hip.
boys shot both at once, the latter coming from Atul. Who repeated only
with a change of tone after another second, "Ridhima Gupta!" and a smile
much wider than before crept on his lips as if in comprehension and he
shook his head slightly. Abhimanyu missed all of his reaction, baffled
and awaiting some explanation. The whole escapade would go down as a
nail in his coffin he had figured a while ago, a fact which robbed him
of the potential to think.
Nikita exclaimed catching his attention as if in earnest apology for a
blunder, batting her eye lids rapidly, "Did I forget to mention? My
lover... Ridhima Gupta... " she said her grin becoming unbearably sly
and victorious as she moved towards the boy and in one swift move tugged
at her hair, "Is a girl... 'sir'..." !
hollered into a fresh bout of laughter clutching his stomach, rolling
into a ball then curling out to fall flat on his back upon the green
softness of the grounds.
ahahaha... Gu-pta..." he managed incoherently between the
uncontrollable laughter, "MODI! AHAHAHAHA!" he shook his head wiping the
tears off with back of his hand, "AAAH! I can't... stop... ahaha..."
And he gasped for air then breaking into laughter again at the murderous
look from Abhi, "I'm... going... to die!" he said trying hard to deep
breathe and stop.
me if you need help with THAT Maa-lick," Abhi shot back rolling his
tongue at the end in a lewd note, while Armaan still attempting to
stifle his laugh, raised a 'V' to call truce.
he started, clearing his throat at last, "Alright, peace!" And pushing
himself up partially, he plopped sideways upon his elbow, in a half
lying posture, facing Abhi, flashing at him a wide dimpled smile
painfully pleasurable. Then in a snap of a second a new straight look
Modi!" he exclaimed, in a professional sophistication contrasting his
leisurely posture as he modeled his free hand to a feigned mike speaking
into it, looking him in the eye like a zealous interviewer would, "We
sympathize with what a blow it must be to have lost two potential
dates," and he wore a grieving look momentarily wiping off his cocky
smile as he cast his baritone into deep dramatics, "But behold you o
mighty! Upon the sanctity of the brotherhood we share, tell us lesser
mortals, which of the two did you think was hot? The one that way gay,
or ..." Armaan paused pretending to look around in circumspection, then
in a hushed whisper he completed, "The one who was ... erm... bi?" Sumit
snorted in an attempt to not laugh as Abhi flexed his knuckles looking
at him, in response to which he indicated to be zipped even as the grin
refused to be wiped off.
bi," Atul offered indifferently without looking up from the screen of
his cell, as he jabbed away furiously to beat the last level of the
"I reckon the gay would have been too much of a compromise, eh?" Armaan faked his understanding.
hi-fived Armaan at Abhi's thundering tone in the exclamation. Atul
looked up finally, irritated, apparently at having lost the round. Then
as if in revenge for the same he said,
don't you show them that expression Abhi, the one you wore when Romeo
finally let lose his... eh... her... long, silky tresses?"
Armaan and Sumit looked up at Abhi expectantly for the possibility of
yet another exploit, while the latter threw a dirty look in Atul's
direction, who merely shrugged before restarting the game.
"Shut the hell up will you now?" Abhi said in a deflated voice.
"Although Armaan, I think the gay was kinda cute," Atul said off handedly after a thought.
"You mean the lover with an indeterminate gender?"
mean the cat eyed superhero in the Romeo guise," Atul explained the
intricacies as if it was a complex differential equation.
"O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?!" Armaan recited with a dignity that put his debauch teasers to shame. Abhi scowled, then got up abruptly.
"Where to?" Atul asked an inkling of interest flickering in his expression at last.
dinner, I'm starving," Sumit chimed in before Abhi could reply, getting
up himself. To this, Atul nodded his consent readily.
"I second," he said.
wins," Armaan mumbled his support, yawning as he stretched luxuriously,
then extended his hand towards Abhi standing by his side. "Please," he
said cheekily. Abhi rolled his eyes and gripping his hand had him up to
his feet in one swift pull.
"Thank you... 'sir'..." Armaan winked and moved himself safely out of Abhi's physically threatening radius.
"MALIK! You son of a... "
Armaan cut him off posing horror at being subjected to such obscenity.
Then before Abhi could resort to means lower and more crass to get back
he went on, "The grand opening of RDX tonight is an hour from now. Move
your lazy bones unless you plan to be gobbling dinner in the middle of
the dance floor."
would have disputed if he could, grudgingly however, he had to agree
there was a point. Sumit looked at Atul who was taking his own sweet
time getting up as he frowned at the screen which was starting to glow
with the dusk crawling in a darker shade of the night.
"Its tonight Atul, in 60 cross 60 seconds, is it possible for you to transport yourself places in such harsh time constrains?"
said dismissively, then got up anyways, and with a last look at it
saved his game for until later. Food was a call he had no intention to
miss. As if in consent, his stomach made a low growling sound which had
them all laughing lightly, presently even the grouchy Abhimanyu.
"Who's the DJ, Malik?" Atul asked.
"Its the new guy, the war of DJ's winner from last night. That was the prime, winning the RDX stage for tonight."
That's what I call indigenous. Save cash on hiring a pro, and save cash
on giving an actual prize to the winner." Atul mused, "What about the
bucks from the sponsors?"
whistled fiddling with his cell, and Abhi coughed suddenly, then
cleared his throat; both Atul and Sumit looked from one to the other and
back, then at each other.
"What?" Sumit asked finally.
They both started simultaneously, then stopped. And grinned looking away.
"You guys didn't spend it on yourselves... ?" Atul asked with a strong warning in his tone.
They replied simultaneously again and this time they shared the look as
if over a private joke. "We realized the Nilgiri mess needs
improvisation, " Armaan started.
it seemed reasonable to ask for desert after dinner at least 5 days out
of 7. Once a week is rather unfair," Abhi continued. "So we..."
"Bribed them. How much was it?" Atul asked cutting him off.
"Enough to last the remainder of the term."
"No kidding!" Sumit quipped rubbing his hands in wishful glee.
"That's all you did with it?" Atul went on, not as easily convinced.
"Well..." Abhi said with a sheepish look at Armaan.
"So you did spend it on personal luxuries?" Atul stated more than asking.
Armaan said faking a hurt ego, "We got new gear for the IITD footers.
The old studs were like rotten now, and the jerseys are worn out and... "
Atul said and Armaan did, running a tongue inside his mouth, looked
away and pushed the unruly hair off his eyes. Abhi gave him the lightest
nod of approval then quipped.
"So that winning DJ from the event last night..."
"Oh yeh, something Grewal is it?" Summit asked catching the cue.
was, for everything else, a dogmatist in his principles. Anything even
seemingly off records never met his consent, and though he was in
general the back stage spectator for things, when he held an opinion, no
one could keep him from voicing it; it was always best then to quit the
topic and move on. The only times of exception when he had agreed
contrary to his own beliefs were those when Armaan reasoned things out
with him. It was the way the four of them were. While Abhi and Armaan
were undoubtedly thick as glue, Armaan and Atul had the unspoken
understanding. When no one or nothing else could change things for one,
the other would. However, that was the rule, this power was exerted most
sparingly, only in times of absolute crisis, or of course it would,
like everything over used, wear off its impact. And hence it remained,
the rare side of their bonding to be witnessed. Abhi and Atul were the
kind of buddies who grow into the comfort of a warm bonding when each
has his closest friend in the same guy, for them it was Armaan. Sumit
was the convenient peacemaker, stay out of trouble as far as he could
part of the group. Of the entire gang, his goodwill was their best bet
and had saved them several detentions from the hostel warden.
"Yeh, Rahul I think. Hes an Ex Stephanite." Abhi furnished the complete information.
"Impressive!" Atul said with a half shrug.
was his sister, on the LSR team tonight," Abhi went on, "The one we
never got around to watching perform on stage." he completed with a
nasty look in Armaan's direction who yawned again.
be a whim Modi," he said, "If you can't find one girl to walk in with
you into the RDX, I suggest you cut down on your monthly gym expense and
start paying the mess bills in time." Abhi snarled at Armaan when Atul
"So its couple entry again?"
"Who cares? That's the whole point of volunteering, we enter whenever, wherever." Sumit said.
"Enter RDX without a date?" Armaan said incredulously. "Psst!" And brushed of the idea as improbable.
"You found a date?" Abhi asked him genuinely curious. Armaan grinned.
"I didn't," he replied easily and Abhi scoffed, "I'm still a step up. I didn't get rejected yet."
did NOT get rejected. I never asked her out," he lied through his
teeth, hoping Atul wouldn't remember any more details he had
'overheard'. Luckily for him, Sumit interrupted at this point.
"I don't care what you guys say. I'm not skipping RDX simply cause we found no dates."
You disappoint me!" Armaan said, his tone never leaving its easy drawl.
"Anyways, talk for yourself. If you're suggesting I go dancing without a
date, that upon my home ground, never! Armaan Malik has a reputation to
"Surprise surprise!" Abhi mocked, his tone wry.
"Time out guys!" Atul announced with a finality. "Get some grub into yourselves before the bull fight ensues."
saying so he walked off towards the Chinese stall. The greasy noodles
with a blend of green, red, black sauces and veggies chopped and mixed
beyond distinction were being fried in oil which had been reused in
circulation all day. The aroma was heavenly and irresistible. Armaan,
Abhimanyu and Sumit followed him closely to grab themselves a paper
was freaking crazy Ridzi, I can't believe you pulled off 'that' act."
Muskaan said in an awe struck voice which stood a contradiction to her
words of reproach. Nikki giggled.
woman is a pro. You had to watch her blush, if I didn't have the urge
to box that jerk black and blue I would almost feel bad for him,"
chirped away delighted to be sharing the details of the escapade they
had returned victorious from. Tossing the bare stick of her candy floss
into the dumpster they were passing by, she eyed the one in Muskaan's
hand, more than half remaining; then with a deft move plucked a handful
of it for herself before Muskaan realized and pulled it away.
"Heyyy!" she said making a face and looking at how much was gone.
just sorry it ended too soon." Ridhima stated, blowing at the bang of
hair falling over her eye, "If only you had given me a few more minutes
Muski... " she let the sentence hang wishfully mid air as her eyes shone
with mischief. Nikki chuckled keeping a side eye on Muskaan's candy
floss for the right chance to grab some more.
second guy sounds a tad bit better," Anjali said biting into an apple.
Ridhima shrugged making a face at the mouthful of the soiled remains of a
samosa she had just consumed, and washed it down with a large sip of
coke. "Its best where it ended Ridzi. What if he had been one of the
demented psychos?" Anjali continued reasonably.
do you mean by 'IF' he had been... he WAS a demented psycho Anj!" Nikki
informed her with a conviction she expected to not be challenged.
meant the desperate unsafe kind," Anjali persisted, but when Nikki
threw her hands up into the air in response she rolled her eyes biting
into the apple again.
wasn't," Ridhima replied, "I would have given him some credit for how
reasonable he looked," she paused as Nikki shot her an incredulous look
and added hastily, "Despite his bully act I mean... But when he said it
was a prank and called it off I knew we could burn his ego on a pyre and
walk out unscathed ourselves." she finished triumphantly. Anjali shook
her head with a reluctant grin- if something became Ridhima Gupta's
business she would see it to the very end; Nikki on her part gave her a
we really plan to make appearance at RDX tonight I say we leave, unless
of course, its next year's Rendezvous we were busy planing for."
Muskaan reminded them.
the abrupt change of topic, it was a fairly regular remark to be coming
from Muskaan, she was born with a set of two feet which had never
managed to accomplish the simple task of remaining still. Dancing was
her absolute passion, and without a doubt, her skill like everything
else about her was a class of its own. The hint of impatience in her
tone however, to Ridhima at least, still held a greater meaning.
"Its an all nighter Muski," Nikki said casually.
fun will it be to have to fight for breathing space? Remember what the
place looks like in under an hour of open house?" Anjali reasoned her
have the VIP passes Anj." Ridhima stated carefully observant of
Muskaan's reaction to her words, "Bhai said that part has exclusive
entry only." Then as if to nail the kill she added, "Right Muski?"
"You were with me when Bhai gave the passes, didn't he say that?"
course Muskaan had been there, she had been in the common room with him
earlier that day even before Ridhima had walked in herself, in a
conversation which seemed rather engaging, and Ridhima had been
surprised. The number of times those two had previously met, Ridhima
could count off her fingers and they were, at the best cordial
acquaintainces. She had further sensed the air sort of taut between the
two of them, the kind which produced strong vibrations at the lightest
it could have still passed her unnoticed, but in her presence, Muskaan
had been so quiet, and her brother had spoken of things completely
irrelevant to the conversation they had. He did that, Ridhima had known
from the years of growing up together, only when he was trying to cover
his tracks up over something he would rather keep to himself; Muskaan
and silence happened when there were things she didn't want to just
blurt out. The co-existence of those two equally unusual circumstances
had intrigued her.
I was." she said now and Ridhima brought herself to focus upon what she
had say. "But... I mean, its only fair if we go in time Ridzi. Its
rather rude to go late when we know hes the performing DJ tonight, that
after he arranged passes for all of us." Mentally, Ridhima applauded
Muskaan's effort at having come clean so simply, if something was indeed
brewing as she suspected. Before she could think or say anything, Nikki
and I are yet to change out of the costumes." To her eyes lingering
upon Muskaan's face, the slight fall of expression at this was like a
don't Anj and you move along and we will join you in a bit?" she
suggested, and smirked as Muskaan rose to the bait before she could undo
she said and then hastily, especially noticing Ridhima's raised brow,
she added, "No! No I meant, we... we'll wait for you both... of course."
Ridhima had a hard time to keep her amusement to herself; speaking
again she said,
You guys go, we, Nikki and I, don't want to be cursed in your dreams to
have wasted a single minute of the time you could spend on the dance
floor with Bhai," Ridhima paused for effect on the pretext taking
another sip of her coke before continuing, "Playing DJ."
saw the red gushing to Muskaan's cheeks at the suggestive statement,
then the sigh of relief which escaped her involuntarily as Ridhima
completed her sentence. It wasn't baseless, intuition told her and
evidence supported, her doubts about Rahul and Muskaan. Something was
definitely up. And she was going to find it out sooner than they were
expecting her to, after all, wasn't that the whole point of being a
younger sister and such a close friend?
"I can't believe we forgot to take the passes from them two,"
complained, as her call went unanswered for the nth time in the last 15
minutes. Ridhima looked at the long queue and the snail pace with which
it was progressing ahead and sighed, irritated. To have had those damn
VIP passes and still be standing in the regular line, that without any
passes at all now, was annoying. And the costume- the whole
Shakespearean look with the white ruffled blouse and waist coat et al
was, despite the cool October evening, beginning to feel stuffy, with
the swarming crowds and the post performance heat which wasn't
completely dealt with by the 'freshening up'. It was all she could do to
not be cringing at her own appearance. And yet, it had to be kept so,
as Nikki had kept hers.
in this line of commoners, the couple entry was a rule with no
exceptions. Furthermore, she knew, as two girls they could gain 'favor
entry' which would involve sweet talking the guys at the check point,
which was the least favorite of her options. Their only hope, other than
the miracle that Muskaan or Anjali might actually check their cell
phones and see the countless missed calls, was for the 'Romeo' guise to
save them a second time that evening. It was a plan for now, the only
alternate possible, and they had to make it work.
an after thought Ridhima rose taller up on her toes trying to look over
the people still ahead of her in the line to the point where passes
were being checked. And instantly, a bright beam from a flood light in a
distance blinded her vision at that angle. Reflexively, falling back to
her feet, she held up her hand as a shield to block it out and then on
her toes again through half shut eyes she saw the profile of a guy. Who
threw his head back and laughed, his hands stuffed into the front
pockets of his semi baggy regular blue denims... a grey shirt loosely
tucked with sleeves rolled high and a sleeveless black jacket.
Inevitably, her frown of thought eased into a seeming smile, perhaps at
the ease of his gesture, the delight of whatever had caused it, was
smile continued to tug on her lips, as she narrowed her eyes further in
an unconscious effort to observe with greater attention. The laugh,
within seconds subsided into a grin, and he high fived a guy she only
just saw standing next to him, as he proceeded to pull him into a loose
half hug. The second guy she realized was the one collecting the passes
and letting the couples in. The guy she was meant to study in the
minutes before the remaining handful of people ahead of them went
through and it was their turn; to present some excuse Nikki and she
would have to decide upon and narrate and gain 'unfair' admission.
her eyes involuntarily went back to the first guy- he bent slightly,
she saw, to say something to the second guy in his ear and they both
broke into grins much wider than before. The second guy nodded and first
guy seemed pleased with whatever had transpired between them; casually
he ran a hand through his hair which, she noticed, in their untidy way
of falling back nonetheless gave his overall well groomed appearance the
appeal of a spirited boy.
saw him glance at his wrist next, and speak some more to the other guy,
then as he turned around she caught a glimpse of his complete front
view before he half turned the other way. And as he cupped his mouth she
realized he was yelling out to someone in a distance; someone, as she
followed his line of sight, who she could not identify in the crowd.
When she looked back at him she saw him point to his watch and raise an
open hand up high indicating, what she guessed was five minutes. She
turned again to see who it was, but could not; instead she saw this guy
say something to the guy next to him one last time before turning around
to walk away.
following him with her eyes till he was lost in the crowd, found a tiny
thing inside her wishing he had stayed on; it would have been, she
justified, only fair to have been allowed a closer look at him who had
caught her eye so randomly. Another few minutes and it would be their
chance to present the passes anyways. Thinking of which, she reminded
herself, the absence of passes still had to be taken care of.
"Where are you lost? Did you think? How to get inside?" Nikki demanded, flustered, her hands on her hips.
I'm... thinking," she answered not meeting her eye and raising herself
to her toes again to observe the guy collecting passes, praying he would
not be hard to talk into things. Bespectacled, dark, short...
serious... and very South Indian... hmmm...
"Modi my boy, what in the world could you be up to, hiding behind the crowds when all the action is..."
"Armaan!" Abhi interrupted and Armaan rasied a brow automatically. 'Armaan'? Something was up.
"Those two, they're here."
Romeo Juliet girls..." he said meaningfully, and after a couple of
seconds Armaan gave a slow nod of comprehension. They looked at him in
question. Abhi turned him around holding his his shoulder and pointed.
that girl in the white shimmery dress? Some ten to twelve people down
the line? That's her, Juliet... erm Nikita... Malhotra... I think she
was..." It took him several seconds, despite the precise pointing to
locate the target. Target, he grinned at the thought.
"What?" Abhi asked curiously. Armaan grinned wider, and then broke out laughing. "Malik?" Abhi persisted, impatiently this time.
"The Romeo... erm... Ri-dhi-ma?" And he chuckled shaking his head.
"Seriously, the joke got stale a lifetime ago." Abhi told him making a face. "Find something new to tickle your humor Malik."
we'll save for Nilgiri. For now... " Armaan paused and looked back at
Abhi in the eye, meaningfully, his grin curved in glee, "We just found
our dates, yours and mine!"
(CHAP 2 - Pg 13)
Edited by spln - 23 September 2011 at 2:47am