Aarti felt her cheeks burn out of embarrassment. She was so silly!
How could she not watch where she was going... what would Yash Scindhia think
about her now?
She bent down to pick up her books, unable to meet his eyes. She hadn't
realize that he had reached down for the books too. "Ouch," she said out loud, once her head collided with Yash's.
"Sorry," he muttered, grabbing her books and handing them to her.
She stood up and straightened out the pleats of her skirt.
"Thanks," she mumbled, clutching her books tightly.
She didn't talk to Yash at all. In fact, this was her first ever
interaction with him so she felt kind of self conscious.
"No problem," he told her, with an expressionless tone.
Suddenly, an idea came to her mind that she considered to be genius! She wondered if she ought to do it... if she should try to test her luck and ask Yash about Arpita. Would he tell
her? Maybe if she could do it sneakily. She was extremely interested to know
whether something was really going on between them.
She decided to go for it. After all, she
had nothing to lose... right?
Aarti took a deep breath in, and went for it. "Have you seen Arpita?"
she asked as casually as she could.
He looked alarmed by her question... maybe he was surprised that she
knew Arpita. Aarti felt her heart sink a little at the possibility that Arpita didn't
mention their friendship to Yash.
"Uh... she's inside," he responded, referring to the library in a
serious tone. "She's studying."
It made sense that Arpita hadn't completed her exams yet since she was
in the medical field.
"So it wouldn't be an ideal time to talk to her?" Aarti asked him, nonchalantly.
Of course, she had to maintain her composure. She couldn't give him the
slightest hint that she was interested in his relationship status.
"No," he replied flatly.
Then Yash turned to leave.
No, no! This was not going as she had planned.
She wasn't getting anything out of this. She wouldn't let him go yet!
"Wait Yashji," she called
out, adding the ji for his attention.
He turned back around to face her. He looked at her with a "what do
you want" expression on his face. She could tell that he found her very peculiar...
and not in a good way.
"Yes?" he asked her, raising an eyebrow.
Aarti knew that he was probably surprised that she called him Yashji.
It was a very formal way to address someone.
"I... was wondering if there was any chance of her coming to the
party tomorrow?" she asked him, trying to sound relaxed.
He shook his head, clearly uncomfortable.
"Why do you want to know?" he asked. His tone gave away that he was
"Because I uh... was bored?" she said quickly. Then she realized how
stupid that sounded, and spoke up again. "I meant... I will be bored at tomorrow night's party."
Aarti felt her heart start to beat faster with every word she
uttered. He must have thought that she was such a creep.
"How does that relate to Arpita?" he asked defensively.
"She's my friend," Aarti replied calmly.
"Really? What's your name?" he asked her in a challenging manner.
Ouch. This one stung even more than Arpita not telling Yash about their friendship. He didn't even
know her name? Underneath the pain though, there was a glimmer of hope that
maybe Arpita did tell Yash about her
after all, but he just didn't know who she was. This hope caused her to turn
"Aarti!" she said enthusiastically.
Surely now he'd be able to clear all of his misconceptions of her
trying to stalk Arpita or something.
"Never heard of that name," Yash told her, looking perplexed.
She glared at him, feeling an even stronger ache inside her chest
this time. Not only did Yash not know her name, Arpita didn't tell him about
her. And the icing on the cake was
that he thought she was an absolute creep. A complete stalker. After all, she knew his
name. How would she explain that? And what was her fault? All she wanted to do
was find out about his relationship with Arpita.
"Oh you hang out with that Prashant right?" Yash asked
condescendingly, seeming to remember her. "Tell him to stop sending spies to
get information about Arpita."
Aarti's mouth dropped open. He misunderstood her Prashant too? How dare he?
That, she was not going to take.
"Don't you dare talk about
Prashant like that! He's a really nice guy... and trust me, he doesn't dream about your
girlfriend," she said rudely, feeling her eyes start to sting.
"Aww you're jealous?" Yash asked, smirking. "He friendzoned you didn't
Aarti felt her face turn red out of anger this time.
"Shut the hell up Yash. Don't talk about people you don't even know!"
she snapped at him and then stomped off into the library without giving him a chance to react.
How could someone be so insensitive and rude? What did Arpita even
see in him? He was a good for nothing jerk.
She picked up her phone and dialed
"Prashant?" she whispered, once he picked up the phone. "I need you."
They went to a quiet corner of the library and she told him what
happened. As she recalled her encounter with Yash, she felt irrepressible tears
fall from her eyes. Prashant wiped her cheeks dry. "Don't cry Aarti," he told
She sniffled and rested her head on his chest. He wrapped his arms
around her right away.
"Aarti, why didn't you directly ask Arpita? What was the need to talk
to Yash about it?" he asked her softly.
She squeezed her eyes shut and held on to Prashant's shirt tightly.
She didn't know why she asked Yash. She had made an impulsive decision and now
she was regretting it. She was better off not talking to Yash, than meeting him
"I don't know Prashant," she whispered.
She removed her head from his chest and looked into his eyes.
"Promise me Prashant that you'll never leave me," she whispered
She needed to hear it from him. She was always insecure about having
those she loved leave her. And Yash's words today just made her feel horrible
about the only relationships she had left.
Her parents died when she was a small child, and after spending
several years in many different foster homes, she was finally able to join
university and live in a hostel by herself. She had been so excited. Her
excitement had grown when she met Prashant in her first year. They became the
best of friends immediately... and now, two years later, they had grown so
close that they couldn't bear seeing the other one in pain.
He took both of her hands in his and looked into her eyes.
"I promise," he replied and then kissed her hands.
Aarti smiled and rested her head on his chest again.
"Do you want me to talk to Yash?" Prashant asked her.
Aarti shook her head. "No Prashant, just leave it."
Prashant smiled at her lovingly and Aarti's heart fluttered with his
"But Aarti, Yash is not that kind of guy. I'm really shocked that he
said all of this to you."
Prashant and Yash were both one year older than her. Since they were
in the same year, they knew each other pretty well.
"He is like that Prashant!"
Aarti warned him grumpily, "Don't be misguided by his innocent face!"
Prashant chuckled and wrapped his arms around her again.
Aarti spent the whole day drawing designs in her sketchbook at the library.
She was very passionate about art. It was her favourite pastime. Today, like every other day, she was so
involved in her artwork that she hadn't noticed the time. It was already eight
in the evening and it was getting late. She had to return to the hostel quickly
otherwise it would get very dark and it would be unsafe for her.
She quickly packed up her belongings and left the building. To her
dismay, it was already dark outside and quite cold. She looked towards the sky
and noticed it was very cloudy. It seemed like a big storm was about to arrive.
She positioned her bag on her shoulder and started to walk towards
her hostel in the nearly deserted area. It was a twenty minute walk from the university.
She really hoped that the rain would hold up until then.
After walking for about two minutes, she felt like she was being
followed, but when she turned around there was nobody. Her heart beating fast, she
started to walk faster until she heard footsteps behind her.
Without turning around, she started to run, reaching desperately
inside her bag for her cellphone. Where
was it? She could feel her lipgloss, her wallet, random cards... where was her
"Wait!" she heard a familiar voice yell.
She stopped in her tracks and turned around to face Yash Scindhia
again. Why was she so cursed that she had to encounter him for the second time
in one day?
"What?" she asked coldly.
She was strangely relieved that it was only Yash and nobody worse,
but she was not going to tell him that.
"You left this in the library," he told her, handing her the
cellphone she had just been looking for.
She grabbed it from him and glared at him accusatorially.
"I didn't steal it, you left
it," he said defensively, reading the expression on her face.
She scrunched her eyebrows in frustration. Why did he of all people
have to be the one to return her phone to her?
"Okay, bye," she said, and
started to walk towards her hostel again.
"Aartiji, wait!" he called out.
Ji? Why did he say ji? She turned around and frowned at him.
"What do you want now?" she asked impatiently.
"I'll drop you off, it's dark," he offered.
Who did he think he was to drop her off? She didn't need such a bad-mannered
person to drop her to her hostel.
"You're the type of person I need to stay away from," she told him through
gritted teeth. "So if you will excuse me, I have to go."
He folded his arms across his chest and looked slightly annoyed.
"You may think I'm an ass, but I'm not so much of a jerk to let a
woman walk by herself at night," he said defensively.
"Oh my God... go to Arpita!" she moaned. "Leave me alone!"
Why was he pestering her? Why did he love to annoy her so much? Couldn't
he stay away?
"What do you have against Arpita? Are you just jealous that everyone
falls for her and nobody loves you?" he asked her, instigating her.
She felt the tears from earlier return to her eyes at that statement.
According to him nobody loved her...
if someone she didn't even know could make such a statement, then how in the
world could anyone actually love her? She tried to dismiss the thought from her mind, but it was eating up her insides. What was wrong with him? What was wrong with her?
"Y... Yash!" she shrieked, trying to compose herself. She squeezed her
eyes shut, not wanting to fall weak in front of him. She couldn't let him win. She
felt her breathing get heavier. This was not going to work out.
She made a fist with both of her hands, digging her nails deep into
her palms, trying to calm herself down. It's
okay Aarti, Prashant loves you, she told herself. What does Yash Scindhia know about you
It didn't help. As soon as she felt a tear fall from her eye, she
heard thunder rumble from above and it suddenly started pouring. She breathed a
sigh of relief. She wouldn't come off as weak in front of Yash. Not today.
"I... I have to go. I'm getting late," she said painfully and turned
around to start walking.
He started to walk beside her, causing her to feel a tinge of annoyance. He was so shameless!
kept walking, pretending that he wasn't there. He wasn't going to
listen after all... what kind of man had Arpita chosen for herself?
She decided that she needed to have a talk with Arpita, and she would speak to her once she got home.
She didn't know why, but underneath all the hatred, she felt a
strange kind of warmth when he walked beside her... maybe it was because she felt
safe beside him.
She snuck a glance at him and was surprised to see that he was
looking straight ahead with a pained expression on his own face. She felt her heart
reach out to him despite everything that went on between them today.
"Is everything okay?" she asked him genially.
He looked at her as if she was asking a stupid question.
"Everything's fine. Mind your own business," he replied impolitely.
She bit her tongue from saying anything distasteful to him. Why had she softened herself up to him just now? He really
thought that he was more than he was. She
had never seen such a big ego on anyone before. Was he really like this? Or was
he only like this in front of her? It was bizarre, but she wanted to unravel
the mystery behind Yash Scindhia.