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It was around noon time and Dev was keenly looking at the newly sprouting ferns from the slightly wet mud. He focused his camera to get the curl up really well.
"Dev beta, if you go near the meadow area you may find more..'
Dev looked at the voice, but found a man walking away with a big bundle of grass in his head, that covered the person's face. Dev stood there looking at the man thinking how he can walk that faster without showing up his face clearly.. But then the man's voice echoed in his head that he may be able to see more near the medow.. He paced his steps towards the meadow. He saw the river , still flowing with force, but really calm down from the day he arrived. He went near and the scenes of unconscious Radhika flashed in his mind.. Loooking at the clearing water, he walked along the bank for few distance and then again with faster steps he ran towards the meadow.
The grass was all looking healthy, but the flower petals shattered here and there, but the new buds were swaying with the wind.. he moved more near to the wood area and found different types of ferns.. but as he focused to the ground he saw the crawly worms.. he moved little back.. but the beauty of green was mesmerizing his passion for photography. He took few pictures and slowly started walking into the woods'
His attention caught by kids giggles from a short distance .. he turned his face towards the giggles... and found a group of 6 to 8 kids, all standing in circle in a little crowded manner.. he took his steps towards them..
"this one is good'
'No this is good.'
'mine came better.."
He recognised one girl from the griup.. he remembered her tear filled eyes the other day. But he didn't get what the kids where arguing in a very calm manner. He further approached them and heard the familiar voice of a girl..
"now don't argue, whoever wants the stamp , show their forearm.." Dev smiled as he saw Radhika sitting over a small rock with a long fern leaf in her hand. He watched her as she was stamping the forearms a kid with the nice big fern leaves.. and he saw her hands full of its pattern.. He focused his camera and clicked. Radhika got starteled and she looked up and found smiling Dev standing just behind one of the kids.
"so, photographer is on duty?'.. she asked in a normal tone..
'Dev bhayya.. can you take our picture too.."
Dev looked at the face of an enthusiastic kid..
"ha, why not.., stay closer..' kids with a smile posed for the picture.. he loved to see their innocent smile. He took pictures of the kids with Radhika.. she tried to smile nice too.. he loved it.. but then they heard the voice of Birju'
"How many times I need to tell you not to step out from the house.. see, if Babuji comes to know about this na, he scold me only.., come let's go home..'.. but then his eyes fell on Dev who was standing little behind with the camera in his hand..
"acha acha aha.. so you two planned to meet here..?' Birju asked with a caught smile on his lips..
Radhika suddenly: Birju bhayya, I came with Nandini only, she still not believing that I am feeling better, and daadima agreed' she saw me coming with Nandini and her friends..'
Birju: now don't try to cover my eyes Radhika and you don't need to give me big explanations.. ok..
Radhika stood from the stone and looked at Dev.." tell him na"
Radhika looked at him widening her eyes..
Radhika: let's go bhayya.. Nandini , I will see you later, ok..
Birju: no actually I got concerned because everything is getting back to normal only. I want you to be safe. So when daadi told me that you left with kids, I got curious.. so..
Radhika walking near to Birju: Is Rahul is back?
Birju: no.. he went with Babuji na.. may come later this evening only..
Radhika: then I have more time.. bhayya please..
Birju: No Radhika.. maaji is getting anxious too.. better come home.. she is really worried, especially after that incident..
Radhika looked at Dev with a blank face and then started walking passing Birju..
Birju: You also come..
Dev: ha.. but..
Birju: daadi will be really happy to see you.. come..
Dev: actually I didn't tell at home, buva may be waiting for me..
Birju: I heard Maaji talking to Suchi ma, and they are actually coming to our house only..
Suddenly Radhika: lechu coming too!.. with an ear to ear smile
Dev noticed that' wow, what a smile, and when she saw me, what she said 'photographer on duty'.. as if she called the photographer to take snaps..
Birju: ha, I think she was feeling bored there, and wanted to come, that is the main reason maaji send me now itself.. then looking at Dev.. come, they are coming there too..
Dev said with little disappointment: ha.. coming..
They walked back to Radhika's house. Radhika was looking around at the plants and then showing the white prints on her arms and saying only Chandenpur has all this and praising herself on Chandenput beauty.. swirling with the wind,as if it came to touch her.. agreeing with her..
Dev seeing all her actions.. said in mind.. how long you will stay away from me Radhika like this. Trying to hide your happiness from me.. let me see how long you will resist my presence.. because I saw clearly your uneasiness yesterday, so don't try to act in front of me.. I know your inner mind is happy to see me, you are feeling the same just like me.. but doesn't want to give up with your words' but for how long' his teasy eyes smiled with that thought'
Birju was asking something seriously about U.S. and dev got involved with the talk.. Radhika listened to him actively catching on his talk.. as they neared home , lechu came in running towards Radhika.. and got surprised to see Dev along with them.
Lechu: Bro, you went to meet Radhika di !, but you said you are going to take pictures..
Dev: ha Lechu, I was taking pictures only and on the way I met them..
Lechu: is that true di.. or he ...
Radhik alooked at Dev and then said: ha Lechu, he is telling the truth.. I was actually walking around with my friends'
But then lechu's attention fell on the white prints on Radhika's arm and they started talking about it.. Suchi and Sushma was munching on some peanuts as they all entered inside the house.. The gang just used the time to tease Dev and Radhika and Birju joined them too saying how he found them.. Dev looked at Radhika who was sitiing with a big face defending everyone's talk.. She called lchu and went to her room..
Dev: Mom, I need to check my emails..
Rohini: ha Beta.. you go upstairs, they are also there na..
Daadi: um.. finding one or the other reason..
Dev walked away normally as if he didn't hear daad's talk...
Dev left the camera on the table and climbed the stairs. He heard the ladies teasing loud laugh along with birju's . Surprisingly he didn't see the girls in Radhika's room. He went in and turned the system on and waited. Meanwhile his eyes lingered inside her room.. and he found few drawings , kept near the wall.. he got curious and checked on it.. he looked at each picture keenly'
By then the girls came in..
Radhika: what are doing in my room..?
Dev just smiled.. instead of giving her answer he asked: can I ask you something.. I found some interesting thing in these pictures'
Radhika looking at the picture: what?
Lechu started exploring the pictures too..
Dev moving near to the window: I saw the piture of a warrior in Rahul's room the other day. With all the gears including face mask.. but his yes were learly shown in that.' but when I check on all these' why you are not completeing these pictures?..
Radhika with a chuckled throat: what?
Dev: why you are masking the full face of the Prince or the warrior who ever you want to show up to the world..
Radhika: I never ntoticed anything like that.. she acted very innocent..
Dev: No Radhika, you know it thoroughly well, beause you only draw these pictures.. ebut you left them incomeplete' so I want to believe that the picture is still not complete in your mind.. you drawn it from your imagination' but still it is vague..
Radhika tried to control her smile.. Dev looked at her enthusiastically.. but then
Lechu: deedi, let me show this to mom.. one second and she ran down the stairs with a picture in her hand..
Dev felt the relief as he got the freedom to ask her now..
Dev: why you are laughing?
Radhika: no I was just thinking that you were getting irritated earlier when he heard about the Prince stories.. but now you are asking about it..
Dev: no Radhika, I am serious..
Radhika taking back the pictures from his hand:' you are crazy and tried to walk away..
Radhika's heart pounded loud. She wanted to hide from the truth.. controlling herself really hard she asked: what are you saying..? I didn't get it..
Dev looked deep into her eyes and so did Radhika with her innocent smile.. as the time ticked, she saw the sparkling in his eyes that were just trying to read her mind.. she felt her heart fluttering badly..
But then the foot steps of Lechu coming back to room,made him to release her hand.. and Radhika went and kept the pictures on the side corner wall. She tried to act normal..
Lechu: Di, Mom is seeing an album.. you look really beautiful in that dance costume.. I wish I also should have listened to mom and continued learning it..
Then the new mail notifications started poping up.. he got annoyed seeing so many on the list..
Dev: why don't you check your mails on time .. in an irriated tone..
Radhika looked at Dev: who told you to turn the system on.. so when you done that, you should accept whatever pop there ok..
Suddenly his eyes read the sender's name and it was poping one after other' same name.. Arjun..
Dev with little irritated tone: so you given your email id to your classmates..
Lechu: Oh Bro.. don't be so unfriendly..
Dev looked at Lechu: what?
Lechu: what is it.. as if Di can't give her id to anyone else..
Radhika got up and moved towards her system: Lechu, one second, actually I didn't check my mails for weeks, didn't even opened this. I didn't get any time.. since Dev has opened it, let me check quick.. may be some news from college..
She went and peek from the side..
Dev: Radhika, I need to check on something very important..
Radhika moved more closer to the system by his side..: one second. Please..
She tried to take the mouse control, but her hands fell on Dev's hand.
Radhika looked at him pleading: please.. just one minute..
Dev denied the request with his facial expression and said: no.. this is my time..
Radhika: ok fine, no problem.. I need only one minute.. she forced her hands on his and clicked on her mail icon and it opened for a long list.. her eyes scanned through the sender's list , so did Dev's.
He looked at her face to see the expression, suddenly her face beamed up..
Dev got irritated and loosely held onto the mouse with her hands still resting over his.. Radhika forced the mouse to open a mail send by Heena..
Radhika looking at Dev: one second.. let me just read this..
Dev looked at it and found Radhika quickly reading on Heena's note with a smile on her face' his eyes also fell on the letters that Heena send her..unknowingly he felt the irritation reading Heena's notes but his heart felt happy as he read the last sentence asking about Dev..
Radhika: move back .. please.. let me send a quick reply..
Dev: no' he doesn't know why he said that..
Radhika: how can you say that.. move ...and she tried to push the chair little back..and Dev moved the chair back as she applied the force on the chair.. she sat on her knee in front of him facing the monitor and started typing faster.. More than her, he was curious to know her reply. He keenly looked at each letter . she just wrote three sentences and ended with all are good here.. and send it.
"Radhika turned her face to him: there that is it.. now it is all yours'.. hse said with a smile on her face..
Sushma's voice came up calling for Radhika.. Radhika stood quick on her feet and said.. 'coming'
Lechu and Radhika was about to go away..
Radhika: no, those are junk.. just sign me out ok.. please..
Dev smiled and watched them disappearing from his sight..
Dev looked back at the monitor and just looked at the sender list.. so many from Arjun.. why she didn't open any. May be because she got the news from Heena. He opened Heena's note one more time and read Radhika's reply.. and then signed her off from the system and soon he got into his own world..
Lechu was watching her favorite program on TV. Daadi, rohini, and Suchi were making pakoras and chitchatting'
Suchi: where did they go?
Rohini: they may be here around. It is always like that.. a special bond sharing between Radhika and Sushma. They are like friends.. I mean like friends they always have something to hide from all of us. I have no clue what they talk about, but I let them, otherwise I never seen Sushma opening her mind with anyone else and Radhika never shared anything about their talk. So it is just between them. First time I am seeing Sushma calling her like this when everybody around, usually it is a private meeting..
Dev stood from the chair and walked towards the window which was opening to the backyard.. little far away he saw Radhika and Sushma standing.. his eyes looked at them curiously..
Sushma: then why you are playing this hide and seek?
Radhika: Sushu, you know me well..
Sushma: um. But I am happy that you saw the sparkling..
Radhika: Ok now no more talk on that.. anyway I cleared your mind , right.. so ' when I shared everything with you, why this concern now. You know my mind better than anyone, you know me better than anyone.. without telling you, you understand my heart, my words, my pace' then why this?
Sushma looked at her with a smiley face..: that is because'''.
Their talk continued'. Dev saw Sushma hugging Radhika and Radhika hugging back with a smile on her face'.And later he clearly saw Radhika wiping Sushma's cheek.. and then they were walking back towards the house..
Dev went back and sat on the chair and looked into the monitor blindly. All of a sudden he felt ike his mind is getting clouded'wanted to clear something.. wants to know more.. may be ..may be Radhika has the answer for him.
He was picking on his thumbnail with the middle finger and then was rubbing it tips together.. he looked at the door side as he heard the foot steps. He saw Radhika coming in with hot tea..
She placed that near the table for him.. and turned to go down again..
Dev: Radhika, one minute, I need to ask you something..
Radhika looked at him..
Radhika in a normal tone: watching her favorite Tv show.. and she was about to turn away..
Dev: Radhika.. I didn't ask you what I thought of asking you..
Radhika turned , tightening her forhead: what?
Dev: vo.. I need to ask you something..
Radhika: I will be right back.. let me grab the pakoras.. if not Mom will call me now..
Dev: no I don't need pakoras.. be here, I need to ask you something serious'.. before he could finish he heard Rohini's voice.. RADHIKAAaaaaaaaaa..
Radhika smiled: meine kaha na' bas ek minute..
She went down quick and within few minutes she brought the hot pakora plate..
Radhika: for you'. Special from Rohini Mom' have it.. she was about to turn away..
Dev held her hand by stretching out..
Radhika looked at his concernend face and she saw a shadow of worry in his look..
Radhika looked at him concernly: what happened? Is everything OK?
Dev: ha.. Radhika..but, can I ask you something?
Radhika: why you have to say the same thing again and again.. ask me na.. saying that she went and sat on the edge of the bed..
Dev moved his chair near to her' but then he don't know how to ask her? He don't know how to word it? He felt the lump down his throat first time while talking to her.. Radhika looked at him patiently as she realized his uneasiness..
Radhika: what is it? looks like you are struggling hard...
Dev realized that he can't word it that easily in front of her.. but then he saw her curious eyes looking at him. For a second he thought why he asked her to stay? He wished someone to call her right then'
Dev: no.. if you have any urgent work , then you can go..
Radhika sat more comfortably folding her knew in a criss cross posture and took a pillow and wrapped her arms around it : no I don't have anything else.. ask me.. what is it?
Dev thought to self.. now I need to ask her something.. but what? What?.... suddenly his eyes beamed..
Dev: why did you replied like that to Heena?
Radhika: what reply?.. as if she expected him to ask something else, other than this.. that she saw in his eyes, the tsruggle... but he is aksing something else.. she sensed....
Dev: no .. what happened to the seniors exam this time..
Radhika: Oh That.. as usual question paper leak.. three exams got cancelled.. and I am glad that they are finishing up that next week. Its better to get it over with than taking tension for an additional day.
Dev: so the farewell got postponded..
Radhika: ha.. and Jinuors are giving them a big party..
Dev: so why you are refusing to participate..
Radhika: because I don't want to..
Radhika: then I need to go early and practice with everyone.. and truly I am not interested. I am happy here..
Dev: but it doesn't sounds like that hard for you..
Radhika in a soft voie: yes it is.. for me.. I love dancing.. but they are planning on a bollywood number.. with Arjun and me at the center. I know that is why he is keep on sending me all that mails asking when I can join , saying they will do all steps and all..
Dev with a tinge of jelous: so is he a dancer too?
Radhika: I don't know. I don't care. Do you know he is the cricket team captian now. All girls are drooling over him now.. then with a thought.. so now I know how you might have enjoyed your days..
Dev: what? Why?
Radhika; He always comes and call Heena and me to watch his tournaments.. Neither Heena is interested nor me.. but he kept on calling us many times. Now I know he is bothering her that is why she send that mail..
Dev: why he needs to call you when you are not interested..
Radhika in a normal tone: I don't know.. and most of the time it is on weekends and all, by the time they set the pitch , I may be on my way to Chandenpur.
Dev smiled seeing her smiley eyes when she said her trip back..
Radhika: so do you were the same like him?
Dev : what same like?
Radhika: keep on calling your classmates for watch you hitting the ball..
Dev: no I don't , I was cared about the game and getting the team win than thinking who is watching me..
Radhika: I know.. Heena told me that..
Dev: so , does Heena knows me..
Radhika: ha, she used to tell about your college time.. she did her degree at the same college..
Dev: oh.. then how did I miss her ?
Radhika quickly: WHAT?
Dev loved that quick response: I mean why I am not recognizing her..
Radhika: I will show her picture.. one minute
Radhika stood from the bed and went and opened her cupboard and brought a picture: here this is Heena. I brought it to show Mom and daadi.. and next time she is coming with me to chandenpur, for a weekend..
Dev looked at the picture and said: may be I have seen her.
Radhika kept the picture on the table and noticed the tea getting cold..
Radhika: drink your tea, otherwise it may get cold.
Dev picked the tea cup: hum' but then taking a sip: but Radhika, then why can't you perform a solo one..
Rahika: solo , me , over there' No way..
Dev: so you never did one..
Radhika: yes , many times. Here.. but then mom, daadi, birju bhayya , rahul.. all were there to watch me.. so I was happy to do it.. but there they can't come na.
Dev: but I am there na' in a soft voice he mumbled.
Dev: I mean, there we all are there na.. Mom, dad, Lechu.. and and then me..
Dev: no but .. I will tell mom..
Dev: yes you are.
Radhika: no , I won't
Dev kept the tea cup on the table: Radhika Please.. mom will really feel happy.. You don't know how much she wished to see Lechu dancing..
Radhika: I know..but..
Dev : please..
Radhika looked at his pleading eyes..
Dev: so you are going to dance.. send the mail now itself to Heena.
Dev faced the monitor: ok I can..
Radhika moved towards him.: no you won't..
Dev: what was your id?
Radhika with a smile: ok you send..
Dev: good good' tell me your id..
Radhika folded her arms at her chest level with a winning smile: I don't know..
Dev: your id?
Radhika: I said I don't know.
Radhika: you said, you are going to send, right? Go ahead.. send it.. she rolled her eyes and leaned over to the wall..
Dev: please Radhika..
Radhika: I told you that I will dance.. so now send it..
Dev looked at her posture.. few seconds ticked by.. he got an idea as he notied the winning smile on her face.. with a normal smile he looked back into the monitor.. she looked at him keenly.. time was passing by , but he was totally into the monitor and she saw his fingers moving faster on the keyboard.. her forehead tightened, she draw her brows to the center suspeciauosly.. she moved quickly towards him.. and found him typing the last sentene saying thanks and he saw her face on his right side, moving forward trying to read the mail with her widened eyes.. he clicked onto the send button..
Radhika tried to stop him: dev sat back relaxing his back onto the chair..
Radhika again checked on the monitor.. but then she realized it is not her mail..
Radhika: what you were doing?
Dev: just send the conformation that you are performing?
Radhika smiled : how ? to whom? are you trying to make me a fool?
Dev with a smile and streching out his hand s up: nope.. it has been send directly to the coordinator and you are going to perform..
Radhika sat on her knee near to him: what? How did you do that?
Dev: easy.. I went to the college site and I updated there , going into your college page..
Radhika with a losing tone: what?
Dev: Radhika, I pass out from the same college recently only.. then what you think of me..
Radhika: what did you say?
Dev: I said, that you won't be able to perform the group one , but can definitely can do a solo.
Dev: just a second..
He refreshed the monitor and found the lecture's note saying thanks to Radhika..
Dev: oh yes, your lecturer is so prompt, see looks like she is desperately looking for the programs.. they need people Radhika.. also there should be some variety na.. Now a days anywhere every where you look, its all Bollywood numbers.. so definitely welcome changes..
Radhika stepping back towards her bed: but then nobody will be interested in these classical programs..
Dev stood from the seat and wentnear her: but we will be there na..
Radhika with a confusing tone: but.. I don't think I can.. I didn't practice recently.. and I don't know what to perform there..
Dev held her hand: Radhika.. you will and you can' please, atleast for me.. I will be going back soon and have very few days here.. so I just want to make all these days memorable.. I can carry only these memories with me now..
Radhika looked at him.. she was totally unaware of his hands holding hers' but then her faical expression changed: who told you to go.. it was all your dream , right?
Radhika with an angry tone: ha.. you don't know how much Suchi mom, and papa is missing you.. and you yourself decided to go away, right?
Dev smiled: so you are angry because I am away from you..
'ha".. the quick response came out from her mouth' Dev tightened his grip on her hand..
Rahdika: ha.. because I can't see Suchi mom's gloomy face.. she loves you so much..
Dev: and you too'
Radhika with an innocent tone replied: ha' but
Dev pulled on her arm and forced her to come closer. Radhika's body moved with the force as she never expected that force on her.., she looked at his face and her eyeballs just moved corner to corner, trying to read his smiley eyes'.
Dev's hand went behind her body along with her's, bending her arm at the elbow towards her back.. leaving a slight slit for the air to move around their body.. Radhika saw his eyes looking deeply into hers ..
Dev with a teasy smile in his eyes: I know it Radhika.. I saw that in your eyes.. I still remember the way you looked at me the first day when we met. Your eyes widened with surprise as you fallen into my arms and as we rolled down, your eyes were looking at mine, eventhough I was in a state of delema at that fraction of time.. you tried to cover your face as you stood on the land looking at me.. but I saw those unbelievable eyes and I saw the smile on your lips underneath that wet yellow transparent duppatta' that picture of you is always in my mind.. that image of you flashed into my mind many times.. and I could easily see that payal hugged ankles' but why did you run away' why? ' his voice softened again..: why Radhika?
Radhika listened to him, looking into his eyes that were still wanting to hear from her more.. about her mind? About her longing for him' but then her free hand came with a force towards his chest and she tried to push him away, while struggling to get her other hand free ..
Dev: no, I won't' first you tell me.
Radhika with a force turned her body away and he released her hand lose to let her go with her force.. but held her closer to him by tightening his grip on her wrist and drawing her back more closer to him....
Radhika's chest was raising harder and her breathing was going uneven.. and she pleaded: chotiyena..
Dev loosened his grip but still held her wrist: bethavona Radhika.. why did you run away?
Radhika: I don't know.. I don't remember..
Dev: oh ya.. you told me that I need to ask you then and there itself , right.. ok then tell me.. what did you just said to me..
Radhika: I didn't say anything..
Dev: yes you said, you said that you don't want me to go..
Radhika: I said it for mom..
Dev: but you said your mind out too..
Radhika: no.. I need to go down.. daadi may be looking for me..
Dev: Daaadi knows you are here.. with me.. so
Radhika: mom may need me..
Dev's face neared her ears: nope.
She felt the tickling.. she moved her face away to the other side..
Dev was enjoying her unesiness being loseer to him.: bethavona'
Dev: will you dance?
Radhika was loosing her control over her as he was forcing his presence over her.. the unseen form of energy was circling around them.. that gave up on her mind control.. she said in trance: ha..
Dev: for me'
Radhika in trance: ha''
Dev felt his heart beating with joy.. the unknown pleasure he never experienced before.. Radhika's cheeks turned pink.. her heartbeat incrased with her weaker body..
"Radhikaaaaaaaa''the sound of Daadi brought them back to reality.. she shook her body in reflex, but he tried to grip on her wrist more.. she didn't say anything and she consciously avoid facing him, where Dev's eyes were thristing to see her face.. her reaction..
The nearing voice forced Dev to release her hand he moved few steps back. Radhika feeling the freedom, smiled once looking at the floor, then turned towards the door and ran away.. Dev looked at her with ahope to see her face, her reaction.. but she didn't give him any chance'
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