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They all decided to have some gol gappas (pani puri). While Rajesh was counting the number of people Shaan spoke up,
"Mere liye rehne de."
"Kyun?" asked Khanak.
Their eyes locked for a few seconds. Hers seemed inquisitive and interested, his seemed distant and aloof. He shrugged and looked towards Raj, "Dil nai kar raha."
Since they were a big group, the vendor showed them to a few benches facing each other so that they could all sit facing each other in two lines. As soon as Rajesh tasted the first gol gappa he exclaimed,
"Wait guys! These gol gappas are fantastic…kon competition karey ga mere saath?"
Everyone shook their heads and declined.
"Oh come guys…it's fun na."
"Di. Aap kyun nai karti? You love gol gappas!" shrieked Manya at the sudden thought.
Khanak nearly dropped the gappa she was about to have at Manya's loud voice.
"Mein…?" Khanak spoke hesitantly, and was about to decline when her eyes met Shaantanu's. He still seemed distant. The brief eye lock was broken as he shifted his indifferent gaze.
What happened to him? He was the one so eager to go out and now that we're out he's acting all moody and frustrated! Akru na ho kaheen ke! Mou tou iss tarhaan pheir rahey hein jaise mein in ki ijazat ka wait kar rahi houn.
It was then that something impulsive struck inside Khanak.
"Haan sure!" she smiled.
As the whole group cheered for Raj and Khanak, the two shook hands before declaring war. Among all the hustle bustle, no one noticed Shaan. But perhaps that doesn't matter. Because even if someone had noticed him, they wouldn't have been able to decipher this thoughts. With a taunt jaw and penetrating gaze which was fixed on Khanak he saw her eat one gol gappa after another. He noticed some sour water dripping down her chin after a few gappas and how she wiped it off from the back of her index finger in one go.
The claps had started by now. Both Raj and Khanak had had ten gol gappas each. Raj wiped his chin from this cuffs while Khanak closed her eyes as if it would help her swallow the sour water more easily.
She looked adorable, Shaan noted.
"Chal na Raj kya larki se haar raha," someone said.
And that brought Shaan back to Raj. The smiling idiot! Seriously, he should be focused on the competition and not grinning like that at his competitor!
As Khanak took another gol gappa in her hand, Raj held her wrist. Shaan's rolled his hand into a fist, about to be launched any minute as he boiled over Raj's audacity.
"Bas Khanak. Can't have more…khatam karte hein!" pleaded Raj.
"How many did you have?" she asked.
"20," she smiled before eating the gol gappa in her hand.
"Yayyy…Di wins!!" cheered Harsh while Raj smiled and clapped.
In an effort to not spoil the mood of the whole group in case he punched that grin out of Rajesh's face, Shaan got up and went for a walk along the road. No one noticed him getting up except Khanak.
When everyone had had their gol gappas and had been talking for a while, someone suggested that they move along and do something else rather than just sit here. It was then that they noticed Shaan's absence. Rajesh tried calling Shaan but couldn't get through.
"I think I saw Shaantanu walk in that direction, mein unhein bula lati houn," Khanak volunteered.
"Arrey nai sit. I'll go get him," said Rajesh.
"But agar wo doosri direction mein gaya ho?" worried Priyanka.
"Raj, why don't you go in the other direction and I'll go in the direction I think I saw Shaantanu take. Whoever reaches him first will call the other person, theek?" suggested Khanak.
They both took off in opposite directions. Khanak had been walking for about five minutes when she started to worry about Shaantanu.
Burthal! Raat ko koi youn bina bataye tehelney jata hai kya? Wo bhi sarak pe? Upar se shaam se nakhrey dikha rahey hein. Milein tou poochti houn masla kya hai!
She worked herself up for a conversation with Shaan as soon as she would see him. Little did she notice a shadow creep up behind her.
As the shadow got bigger, Khanak noticed it. She involuntarily smiled. Trying to scare me, huh Shaantanu?
She was just about to turn when she thought she should compose her expressions and look annoyed before confronting him. Accidentally, she gave a sideways glance and got a look at her follower- a twenty-something guy dressed in jeans, taking deliberate steps towards her while smirking!!!
She closed her eyes as her heart beat faster.
Shoot! Kya karoun?
Should I run?
Nai. Kahan jaoun gi? Whichever way I go he'll catch up.
Should I turn around and quietly go back?
Nai idiot! Tab tou he'll surely catch you!
Should I call Rajesh or someone?
Duffer, he'll snatch the phone from you!
Soch Khanak soch!
And while she deliberated in her head and fiddled with her dupatta in her hand, her wrist was caught and tugged hard by someone in front. Someone who instantly pulled Khanak behind him. Him! It was a man.
Dreading the worst, Khanak opened her eyes and saw Shaantanu shielding her from the man who was following her. The man had now stopped and was probably contemplating his next move. Khanak grabbed Shaan's shoulders for support. She was petrified!
She tried to hold him back while Shaan took a few steps in the direction of the man who had intended to harass her. Shaan clenched his jaw tight and spoke menacingly, "Koi masla hai be?"
The guy smiled, "Tu masla na khara kar shiyaney. Ghar ja."
Shaan raised his eyebrow, "Aisa kar…tu apni jaan bacha aur bhag le yahan se."
"Teri kuch lagti hai kya? Daffa kar larki ke peechay panga na le. Ek gai tou doosri mil jae gi," the rascal grinned.
Without a warning, Shaan punched him in the face. As the man staggered, obviously caught off guard, Shaan held him by his collar and said "Aakhri baar keh raha houn. Chal bhag." Shaan pushed him on the road. Coincidentally, an oncoming car honked as the man on the road sat there paralyzed by fear.
Thanks guys. Loved reading your comments. Can reply since laptop's battery is running out. Will probably have to make a blog or shift to the Fan Fic forum. Which would you guys prefer?
Joined: 24 April 2011
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