Joined: 24 February 2008
"I ...I... I juth wanted to thay I like you. I like youl dance, youl ithyle, and the way you cleathe youl folehead when you aale confuthed, the way you tly hating uth.. I love evelithing about you. I know you aale juth like me." Lini, what do you feel?"
As Amar looked up at her expectantly, a hint of a shy smile playing on his lips, Rinni felt heady with a giddy happiness that flowed through her, warming her from inside out. This moment was nothing like what she had visualized in her head ' it was so much more. Amar's hearltfelt proposal, the earnest look in his eyes .. the faint glow emitted by the stage lights' it was all so beautiful 'so surreal .. that she wished that time would stop right there. Just like in the song:
"Ab yeh lamha thehar jaye ...tham jaye .. bass jaye ..hum donon ke darmiyaan'"
But just then a sharp voice from the aisles pierced though the silence.
"I'll tell you what Rinni feels."
It was then when then she realized that they were not alone in the auditorium. As Sharon and the rest of the Dazzlers made their way towards the two of them, Rinni was filled with a sense of foreboding. Something was very wrong.
"Even Rinni feels she's just like you." Sharon made her way through the aisles to the stage where Amar and Rinni were standing, an ominous smile plastered on her face.
Amar first looked at Sharon in utter bewilderment and then back at Rinni who was paralyzed with shock.
"Even though her father owns the biggest cement business in town' and yours' a measly grocery store." Sharon was climbing one stair at a time punctuating every word with her steps.
"She thinks you're just like her' even though she can buy out an entire restaurant in Marine Drive with her pocket money' while you need to work in the college canteen just so that you can afford a decent meal" Sharon was on the stage now' just a few paces away from where they stood. Amar's face hardened with every word Sharon uttered but his gaze was fixed onto Rinni's face, as if silently daring her to speak up.
"You both are so in sync' Rini who can quote Shakespeare and Wordsworth left and right' and you' who can't even take her name properly. Made for each other I must say" Sharon was now circling them like a lioness around her cornered prey. "You guys will make a perfect jodi' hai naa Rini?"
In a moment of folly, forced by the fear of being ostracized by the Dazzlers Rinni uttered the three words she'd come to regret for the rest of her life.
"Why not Sharon" She said sarcastically as she pretended to sing along to Sharon's tune.
Amar took that for Rinni's mocking of his proposal and figured that she too must've been a part of the Dazzlers' conspiracy to flame him in public. He was hurt deeply by her behavior but Amar was too proud a man to say something. The expression on his face however, spoke volumes to Rinni. He hurt, but more than that, he was disappointed in her. With one last look at her, he got of the stage and walked towards the exit.
"Yeh toh acha hua ke Simmi heard him asking you to meet him in the auditorium and we got here in time, warna that bloody weakling ' ! And you Rinni ! How stupid could you be ?! Isss whatever ne kahaa aur tum chali aayi milne ussey ?!"
Sharon's voice trailed off, Rinni stood there, paralyzed. In a split second, her
fairytale moment was shattered into a thousand meaningless pieces ' right
before her eyes. Then Simmi said something and rest of the dazzlers roared with
laughter but their voices were almost inaudible even though they were right
next to her. All she could see was Amar's retreating back. Her eyes were
silently pleading for him to turn around one last time. If only he turned
around one last time, if only...if only ...
Her heart skipped a few beats as he suddenly stopped and turned around. He was looking at her.
She was about to tell him that she didnt care two hoots about no cement factory and what Sharon had said moments earlier was all Sharon's own thoughts and was far from what she, Rinni thought about him. She was just about to take a step towards him when she noticed his eyes. The soft, tender look he always had in them whenever he looked at her was now replaced with a mask of cold, hard steel. As he spoke up, his voice had a tone she'd never heard or imagined him to have used before ' one of utter indifference and poorly veiled distaste:
"You know' theale ith a diffelence between us' I'm fol leal' and you' you aale all fake."
With that ' Amar turned around on his heel and walked out of the auditorium and with every resounding step he took, the truth was hammered deeper and deeper into her ' Amar was walking out of her life, for good. All those stolen moments ' in class when he'd bend down under the pretence of picking up a pen 'just so he could look up to see her face ' and how he'd blush furiously as She'd turn just then, catching him stealing glances at her when he thought she wasn't looking ' in the library'when their eyes would meet across the bookshelves ' exchanging a thousand unspoken words ' In the crowded corridor, how a thousand butterflies would take flight in her stummick when his arm 'accidentally' brushed past hers ' it all came crashing down on her.
She remained still in her spot, frozen in that position, with one step extended, her face blank and expressionless, because she knew, there was nothing she could say to dissuade him. If she knew Amar and his pride, there was nothing, none could say or do to stop him.
"Gimme the beat guys !" Nilesh already had a rap coming on.
"Beat toh uss saaley weakling ko de diya Sharon ne, aur kya beat diya ' kya beat diya ! Woh apne sad pathetic life mein kabhi nahin bhulega, AISA beat diya . Maaan gaye yaar Sharon, you really are something! =D " Vicky doubled over with laughter as he pointed towards the exit of the auditorium.
Had the subject of their ridicule been anyone else, she Rinni would have been the first one to laugh and mock but he wasn't anyone else. He was Amar. Hot, angry tears welled up in her eyes and threatened to spill out anytime now. She wanted to scream and tell Vicky to shut the hell up but when she turned to look at him and the rest of the Dazzlers ' her friends, the ugly truth dawned upon her. THIS was who she was. One of them. Vicky was right , Amar was a weakling. But what Vicky and her friends didn't know was that she was the biggest weakling of all. Because she let the boy she liked being be jeered at, right in front of her eyes and all she could do was stand and watch. She didn't have the guts to speak up. The guts to go against the LOC. She was afraid they would turn on her and desert her. They were her friends since her diaper days and she couldn't risk that. No, She was too much of a coward for that.
"Dude, I'm the star rapper here, tujhe kya lagta hai , tu beat nahin dega toh mai rap nahin kar sakta ?!" Nilesh was at it again.
"Ab tu sunayega bhi RAP ' yaa phir RAPTAA khayega ?! ..Star rapper my ass' humesha toh beat maangta phirta hai mujhse" Vicky gave his friend a good natured shove.
sunata hoon, sunata hoon ' this one is dedicated to Sharon's latest victim '
our dear canteen boy" Nilesh chuckled as he started off with the rap:
"Suna nahin gayaa isse karhwa sach...
Iss liye bhaag gaya saala ' dum dabaa ke ...
Weaklings tha woh, cheap sa chewing gum tha woh...
So Sharon spit him out ' bina chaba ke !"
"Niiice ! Your best one till date" Sharon's high pitched laugher rang through the auditorium and beyond as she hi-fived Nilesh and Simmi simultaneously.
"Hahahahahaha bhai kya rap tha ' dil khush kar diya" Vicky and Nilesh were now engaged in what they liked to call their 'Bro-Hug'. One that never failed to set Simmi's skirt on fire.
"Nilesh, kabhi kabhi toh mujhe tum dono par doubt hota hai ! Rinn, dekh inn dono ko" Rinni was forced to fake a smile as Simmi gestured for her to lend a hand in separating the two boys from their death-embrace.
Yup. This was her life. Her life as a dazzler.
That day Rinni stepped back, bottling her feelings inside her for fear of overstepping the LOC, Even though it meant she had to let go of her first love. Lekin kissmat kahan kisi LOC se darti hai ? Fate had something else chalked out for her and Amar. But until that day, Rinni probably had a lot of growing up to do.
A week had passed since Amar's busted proposal at the auditorium. Rinni found herself inadvertently trying to catch his attention several times during class but she waz snubbed every time. Whereas before during class he spent half the time looking at her with that goofy smile plastered across his face, the new Amar downright refused to even look in her direction. During recess break when Swayam, Bharat and Amar practiced with their team, Rinni walked by the basketball court more than once, hoping to get him to look at her, just once. Even when the Dazzlers went to the canteen to buy lunch, she would be looking intently at his direction, scrutinizing his expression, looking for some sign that he acknowledged her presence. But it was all in vain. Amar went on behaving as if she didn't even exist. When she couldn't take it anymore, she walked upto the counter where Amar was serving under the pretence of treating everyone to coffee but as soon as she got there, Amar silently gestured for the other canteen boy to take over his positions as he himself went inside the kitchen to fetch orders for the other customers. To say that she was heartbroken had to be the understatement of the century.
As days went by, the twinkle was from Rinni's eyes, leaving them gaunt and hollow. The usual rosy-red of her cheeks disappeared only to be replaced with a pale, sickly white. Her laughter no longer had the usual ring to it. And all this did not go unnoticed by her friends. It had never occurred to the Dazzzler's that It was actually Amar's 180 turn in attitude that was behind Rinni's current predicament. They assumed it was due to her elder sister Rimmi's impending marriage to a multi-millionaire NRI businessman and her consequent relocation to New-Zealand. Rinni's mother had died when she was 9 and it was Rimmi di who had raised her. Needless to say, Rinni was very attached to her di. But the truth was that Rinni couldn't be happier for her sister and even though she was going to miss her terribly, she looked forward to her di going away and finally living her own life, free of any burden, rather than playing mother to Rinni and shouldering the responsibilities of the family.
Her friends did everything possible to cheer her up.
Simmi threw all girl's pajama party and even hired a Thai masseuse for the relaxing Oriental massages Rinni loved so much.
Nilesh took them to his family's farmhouse in Ooty for a weeklong trip and with his usual clownish antics made them all laugh till their stummick hurt. Even the seemingly emotionally stunted Vick-Bot took her shopping in Saks Fifth Avenue and refused to let her pay for anything. All Rinni had to do was to look at a purse or shoe and Vicky, the gentleman he was, had the item packed and wrapped, and saw to it that his own Visa-card was charged to it.
And Sharon, who people looked upon as St. Louise's resident bitch ' she was the nicest of them all. She organized a surprise bachelorette's night cum farewell party for Rimmi di at her place and even baked the cake herself. Haan yeh baat alag hai ke the cake resembled (and tasted like) a brick that spent too much time in the furnace but her concern for her friend and her heartfelt efforts to cheer Rinni up made up for any shortcomings whatsoever in her culinary skills.
So touched was Rinni, by her friends' gesture that now she almost felt guilty for betraying their friendship and falling for a Weakling. To the world they might be the cold, indifferent and haughty Dazzlers, but to her 'for her, they were her friends who cared for and loved her unconditionally. For their sakes, Rinni faked a cheerful demeanor in their presence even though the void left by Amar was slowly eating away at her insides. A month had passed by since that fateful incidence without any change in attitude on Amar's part. Maybe it was time Rinni finally resigned herself to the fact that he hated her and whatever feelings he had for her had been permanently erased the day Amar walked out of the auditorium ' and her life.
It was the night before Rimmi di's wedding. The sisters were huddled up in their mother's beige leather hand carved couch, having what would be possibly their last one-on-one conversation as sister's ' at least until a very long time. New Zealand was, afterall 70,000 miles away. Rinni wept silently as her sister stroked her head lovingly.
"Is Run-Jhun shona gonna tell me what's wrong with her or will it take another two boxes of Cadbury to get her to talk?" Rimmi tickled her baby-sister playfully.
"Nope, Run-Jhun is all grown up now. Cadbury isn't gonna do the trick. And Run-Jhun isn't talking until Rim-Jhim promises she's gonna call her everyday" Rinni pouted.
Rinni's mom was Bengali, a descendent of the legendary Tagore himself and had a penchant for finding poetic metaphors even in the most simplest of things. Rimmi was born on a rainy day and Rim-Jhim is the Bengali word for the sound rain makes. Run-Jhun was the sound her chooriyan made when she cuddled baby Rinni, hence the unusal names. When the sisters were alone, they referred to each other by the pet-names their mother had so lovingly given given them - it made them feel closer to her.
"Di ' tell me something ' dad ' did he inherit the business from dada-ji'? Were we always this rich to begin with ?" Rinni looked up at her sister expecting an answer in the affirmative.
"Haha ' don't tell me youre shedding big-fat tears because it had suddenly occurred to you that you have to share your inheritance with me" Rimmi teased her little sister, her eyes twinkling with merry mischief as always.
"Di ! I'm serious ! Please bataao naaa !" Rinni pleaded.
"Ummm ' I was born in this house ' and so was dad ' So I guess' "
"Why the long face???"
"Naah ' bass aise hi '"
"Is there something you want to tell me?"
"Ummm ' di ' you know how we have Dazzlers and Weaklings in our college?"
"Yeah. Woh toh humarey time pe bhi thaa ' Its one of those things every college has I guess '"
"Hmmm ' toh Weaklings mein se ' Ummm ' err' there's this boy '"
"OMG OMG OMG!!! THIS IS ABOUT A BOY???! My baby sister is sitting here shedding big fat tears over a B-O-Y?!!? Tell me more ' NOW!!!" Rimmi was grinning from ear to ear now, her eyes shining with excitement.
"Uh Di ' it's not funny!!!"
"Of course it's not funny. It's ' uber cute. My baby sister has a crushhh." Rimmi pulled her sister's cheeks.
"Yeah he is cute ^^ ' but '" Rinni bit her lower lip as she tried to hold back a tear.
"Rinn? What's wrong??? Did he do anything? Is there another girl?"
"No no no '. Its not him. Its me. He asked me out but I said no"
"You like him ' but you said no?! Why'd you do that?!"
"Uh '. Cuz hez a weakling! And if I went out with him ' I'd lose face as a Dazzler and Sharon ' Simmi ' Nilesh ' Vick ' they'd never talk to me!"
"Rin'look at me." Rimmi lifted her younger sister's chin with a perfectly manicured finger. Tears were streaming down Rinni's face and it broke Rimmi's heart to see her baby sister like this. "You foolish lil gurl ... Now listen to me very carefully "
(To Be Continued )
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