Joined: 14 February 2005
~COMPILATION THREAD~ (Thanks to Anushka)
INDIVIDUAL LINKS (Thanks to Nams)
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Joined: 14 February 2005
OSR Part 31
THE SINGH HOUSEHOLD
Opening her eyes, Jodha calmly bowed to the beautiful idols sitting in the temple at front - before stepping away from the mandir and towards her family who were waiting for her to join them. Swiftly touching her parents' feet as a mark of respect, Jodha rose up to greet them with a smile - eagerly awaiting their shower of 'aashirwaad' that morning. After all, she was about to leave in a few minutes to brave her first ever MBA examination!
'May God bless you...' her mother patted her cheek lovingly 'Achi tayyari kar lee na?'
'How can you doubt her, Malti?' her father interrupted, speaking up in support of the apple-of-his-eye 'My intelligent beti will shine through...like she always has...' daddy's steadfast faith in his laadli was by no means unjustified - academically, Jodha had never fallen short.
Having said that; this time around a latent anxiety about maintaining her unbeaten track record did linger at the back of her mind. These were the toughest set of exams she was out to face yet - and a 'crisis' had interrupted her preparations till a week ago! Nevertheless; she'd prepared as well as she could and the determined junior had vowed to take up the challenge on a positive note!
'All the best choti' came Bade Bhaiyya's encouraging voice from behind, as he picked up his office bag
'You'll do well Jodha...I'm certain...' Kranti bhaiyya chipped in affectionately - before nudging the distracted guy standing beside him 'Vishal...wish kar na usko!'
'Yeah... yeah... all the best!' chote bhaiyya mumbled - barely looking up from the video game on his mobile
Noting the lazy display of regard with sisterly annoyance; Jodha was about to get into a mini-tiff with him, but stopped. Her attention was caught by the the familiar ringtone on her mobile that had just gone off.
'Gosh! How careless' she thought - she'd forgotten to switch its silent mode on 'And who could be calling first thing in the morning? Hopefully not Jalal...'
Surveying her family's curious expressions, Jodha subsequently made a swift visual search for her instrument. A second later and she'd spotted it atop the dining table 'Thank God!'
Wasting no time; she stepped forward to get her phone, but alas!
Her mom, who was standing right beside the table - had already picked it up!
Watching her mother inquisitively scan the caller id thereon, Jodha's heart skipped a beat'Please... please let it not be Jalal...warna...it'll be question after question from mamma now...'
'Lo...' her mother handed the phone back in a moment 'It's your friend...Meera...'
Phew! Letting out a hush sigh of relief, Jodha attended the call at once 'Hi yaar... haan... I'm on my way out... yeah...yeah I'm bringing the print outs that you'd wanted... ok... bye... bye...'
No sooner than she'd cut the call and looked up to bid her family adieu, she noticed that the otherwise genial expressions on her mom's face had changed
'What happened mamma?'
'Nothing beta...' the woman folded her hands sceptically 'Just that I've noticed a few changes in you lately... you guard your mobile so closely all the time...why?'
'What!' she tried not to act too taken-aback by the fact that her mother had read into her reactions so well 'No mamma...'
'Is there something you're hiding Jodha?'
'H..hiding? No...' she put on a forced smile in an attempt to cover her tracks - hoping it'd be the last of the questions for then
'Ab kyaa huaa ma?' bade bhaiyya walked towards the mother-daughter duo, observing his sibling with a concerned frown 'Jodha you seem a bit troubled...is there something you're not telling us about...is someone else troubling you?'
'N...no bhaiyya' she protested 'No one's troubling me...' God! She was not very good with this hiding-and-fibbing routine. She'd never done this to her family before and she really wished she didn't have to do it now. Then again, this was not the time to come out with the truth either!
'Look Jodha...' he explained after a short while - since she wasn't saying much 'I understand you're enjoying your post graduate life...I can see that your circle of friends has expanded... you're staying back at college for longer...you're out on weekends too... BUT...' his voice suddenly assumed an icy sternness that wasn't there till a second ago 'The ONLY reason I'm not bringing it up is because I feel this is the time for you to enjoy...once college ends and you get married, you wouldn't get this freedom then...' he paused 'So, I hope you're not misusing our trust or the freedom we're giving you...'
God! Did they really have to send her on a guilt-trip minutes before she was leaving for her semester exams? Silently whining in part-guilt and part-frustration, she nodded with a soft stare 'I understand bhaiyya...'
'Ohooo ...she needs to leave for her college now ...late ho jaayega...' came the welcome respite in the form of her bhabhi's friendly reminder 'She's already tensed about the exams...ye sab questions baad mein pooch lena na...'
Having made her spirited way from the kitchen and through the crowded living room, bhabhi approached Jodha with a small plate and a large smile 'Lo...prasad... and wish you all the best! I Pray that you and your friends do well, ok?'
'Thanks bhabhi' she accepted the prasad and winked at the lady with gratitude - with those sweet words of assurance, the worry lines on her forehead had vanished - at least, for then!
'I can't afford to be so careless anymore...' she reminded herself as she went off to slip on her sandals 'Not if I want the truth to stay concealed till I complete my MBA...mamma is becoming suspicious ... and oh yes...' she suddenly remembered 'I better be careful with the glass painting as well!' she was referring to the latest project that she'd just started - the one of Robbie sitting on Jalal's lap.
If her family found out about it - understandably enough - they were not going to be too pleased with her showering such time and attention upon a picture of her handsome senior and his late pet!
SRI RAMAKRISHNA UNIVERSITY - OUTSIDE THE EXAM HALL
Exams! A necessary evil that simply could not be done without - you just swallowed your grievances, prepared for it, welcomed it, endured it, faced it and then overcame it. Once the ordeal was done with, you mulled over it for a certain period and then tried forgetting about it all - at least, till the next set arrived!
Well, this was the most common pattern across the majority of the lot - and it wasn't very different for HER group either!
'Phew! One paper down' Meera breathed a sigh of relief, as the friends grabbed their handbags from the shelves just outside the exam hall
'I knowww...' Payal let out a vexed murmur
'Yes...' Jodha nodded in agreement, as she dug into her bag to fetch her hairclip 'Waise, the questions were not too tough...I expected worse...'
'Hmmm' Meera mulled - not so sure she agreed with her friend's opinions on the questions 'Anyway... I better leave now...have to prepare for tomorrow...' she rolled her eyes 'Managerial economics ...ufff...'
'Me too...' Payal grumbled 'And you, Jo?'
Jodha paused for a second - aware that they waiting for her to join them 'You girls go ahead... I have to meet him first...'
Needless to say, their 'exam' frowns vanished in no time
'Wow!' Meera winked 'Refreshing yourself for the next subject with some cute classroom romance, haan?'
'Cute? STEAMY more like!' Payal acted surprised 'These two can't stay apart even during exams...'
'Payal, even Maan and you are not this bad!'
'Very funny!' Jodha rebuffed their comments with a mildly-abashed grin. The girls knew perfectly well why she was going to meet him. She hadn't seen him in over a week now. In fact; owing to the ongoing study leave, the pair hadn't met even once since that poignant evening. So, she was going to find out how he was - but her friends had to spin their own tales, of course!
'And Jo... are you planning to go to the farmhouse picnic?'
'Arre...why ask?' Payal nudged her friend 'If HE goes, SHE goes!'
'We'll discuss about the picnic after the exams...ok guys...bye...I better get going...' she abruptly ended the conversation there. She had to, in case they came up with something else to embarrass her
'Ok bye bye...' Payal shook her head sadly
'We're going...we're going... we get the message' Meera wiped a mock-tear 'And tell Jalal we said hi!'
Exchanging a few hush chuckles amongst themselves, the duo began walking away - leaving their friend behind to enjoy her post-exam quiet rendezvous with the boyfriend!
Laughing-off their antics, the upbeat junior decided to get going. It was late and she had a long checklist of things that needed tending to - for starters, taming that wild hair of hers! Fishing her hands into her handbag she made another thorough search for her clip but came up with nothing 'Arre... where is it?' she fretted 'I'm certain I'd put it in this morning...how could it...' she stopped midway. She'd noted something else in one of the inner pockets of her bag - a white envelope!
Wide-eyed, Jodha took it out 'How did this get here?' just then, the face of the most probable culprit came to mind 'JALAL! He slipped it in my handbag after I went into the exam hall...' a slow smile escaped her lips. True, she'd requested him not to get her any gifts or cards - but, now that it was here she couldn't deny how excited she felt viewing his first gift of love!
Jodha examined the envelope - it looked expensive. Sensing a mild fragrance emanating from the scented card, she brought it close 'Wow! It's MY kind of perfume...'
The whole gesture seemed so beautiful - and she hadn't even opened it yet. What a bundle of surprises her guy was! Relishing the warm fuzzy feeling she felt within, the enthused junior prodded open the envelope with care.
The card sported a painting of a young couple passionately making out, in each other's arms. Thankful that her friends weren't nearby, Jodha opened the card with a giggle - wondering what further surprises awaited her
My long wait...
Like the fury of the blazing sun your eyes aglow
Like the turbulence of a savage river your wild tresses flow
Oh! To savour those blissful sights, for how much longer must I wait?
With your skin as soft as layers of fresh snow
With your lips as tender as a red silken bow
Oh! To devour those heavenly tastes, for how much longer must I wait?
She stopped reading 'Hey Ram...' she could feel her cheeks getting hotter - the memories from their last meeting began coming to mind 'Goddd...ye Jalal bhi na...' brushing-off her abashment, she went on to finish the remaining words - hoping they didn't get any saucier than they already had!
A virginal body matched by no other nymph I know
A heart so pure there is none else in this world so
Oh! To ravage you in my arms, for how much longer must I wait?
Your REAL man - not a jerk like Jalal.
The giddy happiness that'd taken over her spirits for the past three minutes came crashing down at once - with a big THUD. She couldn't believe it! The stalker had actually started invading her personal belongings! Leaving behind tokens! Worse, his messages were getting hideously indecent!
Reading the offensive signature again, she winced sympathetically 'Jalal'
She was going to meet him after a whole week. Did she have to plague him with another bad news now - especially since he'd barely come out of a difficult time in his life? This was sooo disturbing!
'Urgh' she let out a quiet scream, as she began making her way to his classroom!
JALAL'S EMPTY CLASSROOM
'Bas***d!' his booming voice resonated within the white walls of the empty room.
Noting a mildly horrified frown emerge on her forehead, he realized he'd been going overboard - it was the tenth 'Bas***d' he'd uttered in two minutes now. He then looked away from her long stares - he didn't want his more composed girlfriend deciphering the violent thoughts still looming in his mind 'F**k... f**k... f**k...' his fingers rolled back and forth into a fist 'I could just wring his neck now and happily walk off with no guilt on my conscience...'
It was taking him longer than expected to get a hold over his rage this time around and he couldn't pinpoint precisely why! Was it because the stalker's lewd message to his girl was more personal than ever? Or was it because the horrible signature mocking him was worse than any other insult he'd come across so far? Maybe it was a combination of both!
Coming away from the wall she'd been leaning against all along, Jodha moved close to the preoccupied senior standing in front. The contours of his jawline looked even more chiselled now - no wonder there, seeing how he was biting down with such hardened fury. She gently turned his face around so he'd HAVE to look at her - having been a quiet witness to his seething responses for the past ten minutes, it made sense to shift the topic for a while 'Jalal...let's forget about this for now... we've gone over this many times...tell me... how did your exam go?'
'Yeah...' he let out a deep breath 'Entrepreneurship...not the toughest subject...it went well...' his eyes finally met hers, mellowing down his attitude for a short spell 'And yours? Financial Accounts ...you would have aced it!'
'Yeah it was not so bad' she nodded her head slightly, trying not to come off as overconfident
'Good...' he'd barely smiled when his glances fell back upon the creases of the awful card that he'd been clutching so long. No signs of purchase, no clues, an unfamiliar handwriting in a standard black pen - how the hell were they supposed to track this stalker down?
'And the AD's not letting us access the college records, either' he eventually admitted on a low note
'What?' this was news to her 'Another dead end?'
'Haan...' he confirmed 'I just paid him a visit at the office on my way here, since he was available...' changing his voice to sound exactly like the Asst Dean, Jalal pursued in annoyance 'STUDENTS-CAN'T-BE-ALLOWED-TO-ACCESS-SUCH-CONFIDENTIAL-INFO was his standard answer to all my queries' he agitatedly ran his fingers through his wavy hair 'Maybe I can ask someone from the office to help us...'
Jodha broke out into a faint grin - she couldn't help but be amused by the humour behind the frustration-induced mimicry of the AD. It was surprising how even in such profound spells of irritation, one of them always seemed to have the ability to entertain the other.
She continued to observe him - he was still ruffling his hair - something he did only when he was super-bothered. After waiting for a minute or so to see if he'd stop, she gave up when he didn't 'Your hairstyle looked lovely ten minutes back... you've ruined it now and it matches my crazy hairstyle...'
'Huh?' It took him a moment to discern her subtle jests - what with his mind being in a different place altogether 'A bad-hair day for both, huh?' he frowned sheepishly - before his attention reverted to the words in the card
'STOP looking at that card!'
Snatching the dreadful thing away from him, Jodha assertively put it down and turned his face around towards her once again. She'd anticipated his exasperation - but, not to this extent and not for this long. Having said that, she wasn't put off. On the contrary, she was finding herself quite intrigued by this 'simmering anger' of his - after all, it was giving her a rare glimpse of his 'jealous' side - something that she'd never truly witnessed!
'Your mind's been on it long enough Mr. Muhammed!' she reminded him softly again
Studying her reactions, Jalal subsequently exhaled in sweet resignation 'You're right...it's just difficult to get over the fact that some basta...' oops, he paused 'That someone else talks of my girlfriend this way... describing her lips, skin and whatnot!'
'Hmmm' Jodha mused. He was really fired-up about this, wasn't he? Remarkably, it was beginning to feel flattering. Who would have thought that even a self-assured independent young lady like herself, could do with such form of attention once in a while?
She didn't know why, but she wanted to hear him say those lines once more. So moving closer, she whispered slowly 'What did you just say...'
'What?' he read her sudden coyness with caution - he still wasn't sure of the intent behind her query and surprisingly, she didn't seem perturbed by the 'card' matter anymore.
'What did you just say...' her eyes twinkled 'That last line...'
'That I don't like someone else talking of MY girl this way?'
Noticing his stunned frowns, she let out a mischievous chuckle!
'Woah!' he was amazed by her responses. He couldn't believe it. While he was busy fretting about the stalker and his message, she was having fun at his expense and catering to her own ego? 'You're really enjoying this, aren't you?' he questioned, giving her a sly look
'And you are REALLY annoyed aren't you?' she came back, making no effort to hide the growing amusement in her manner 'I've never seen you so JEALOUS, Jalal...'
Ouch! That comment stung! 'Nah...' he shook his head 'You've got your words mixed up Jo...one tends to be jealous of someone they're threatened by...' he shrugged nonchalantly 'Why should I be jealous of a spineless creature who doesn't even have the guts to come forward and propose to a girl upfront? He'd rather slander me than approach you honestly... that's disgusting...'
'Baap re!' she teased him, unwilling to appear bowled-over by his fitting reply 'I've never seen you so WORKED-UP before...I wonder why...'
Ouch! Ouch! That stung even more! That was his ego she was taunting 'And you're finding this funny?' he smirked aloud
'Jo bhi ho...' she started playing with the collar of his handsome shirt 'That doesn't answer my question ...'
OKAY! So, the feisty junior wasn't going to give up! 'Yeah...I AM worked-up...' he ultimately confessed 'Since I AM slightly possessive of you...is that what you wanted to hear?' he paused - till a semi-vindictive smile came over his lips 'But come to think of it, I'm still calmer now than a certain someone was once...this young lady I know, actually wanted to stuff tissue paper in one Miss Giggles' mouth...just because she couldn't stand Miss Giggles chattering away with me...'
Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! That stung a lot! He'd given her a taste of her own medicine!
'Ok!' she rolled her eyes in mock annoyance and let go of the collar she was playing with - she got the gist.
Checking out the now not-so-sportive look on her face, it was his turn to be amused 'What happened?'
'Nothing' she muttered
He surveyed her tight-lipped stance with awe. Such a naturally enticing package of emotions she was just then - fiery, witty, angry, flirty and haughty. Damn, he loved it. Only, her smile had gone amiss!
So, he came up with something - a few words that should help bring her 'proud' grins back. Drifting closer to her ears, he whispered into them what was meant for her alone 'I've realized it's pointless getting worked up over some idiot's fantasies...no one's fault that my girlfriend's so irresistible...' sensing the hot flush beginning to radiate on her cheeks, he waited silently - before continuing with a husky tone 'That pervert can dream-on all he wants...I don't care... at the end of the day, it's to my arms that she comes running ...and it's me that she kisses...' he paused again - she was positively blushing now 'So, I'm the lucky guy here...'
Having concluded his flattering message, he returned to meet eyes with her.
Well, what could she say? He knew how to tantalize and he knew how to compliment too. So, she took in the praise and wisely stayed quiet. Of course, her bashful smiles were a dead give away of what was going on in her mind.
A few moments later, Jodha sensed him come closer to her lips. She shut her eyes in a serene daze - unable to deny that she felt a sweetly nervous anticipation for what was to come her way.
However, many moments on and only stillness ensued.
She opened her eyes thereon - only to catch him gazing at her. Their lips were barely apart, but they hadn't met yet. He was waiting. He had been holding himself back. For some reason, he wanted to know if she had it in her to inch forth and finish the move - if she had it in her to kiss him of her own accord 'It's me that she kisses'
She could feel the excitement in his racing beats. After all, it was fresh love. They'd met after a week - and the dangerously close proximity was killing him. Yet, he'd stopped himself just so he could tease her - just so he could challenge their self-restraint.
She blushed some more as she watched him watching her. He knew her pulse. He knew that she was attracted to him. He was aware of what excited her. Yet - and a big yet - there was no way she was going to give in to his ruse there. She wasn't going to take the bait and be the first to budge. Since he was being a tease, she was going to be one too!
With him not moving and her not budging, the smitten couple froze as they were. Their unceasing gazes did not go any further, but the duo weren't bothered since it was the thrill of the game that they enjoyed more. She loved how he kept her guessing. He loved how she kept him on his toes. They could sense the frenzy in one another's warm breath. They could feel the burning desire when their lips brushed past every now and again. Still, they didn't kiss, because they didn't want the games to end. Their enthrallment during that spell was unparalleled. The chemistry they shared was electric and they wanted it to go on forever...
'DAMN!' Jalal exclaimed as the pair were crudely shaken out of their reverie - Renu had just traipsed into the classroom with no warning whatsoever!
Stepping away from one another with embarrassed frowns, the pair tried to get a hold on themselves. Gosh! The entire spectacle was suddenly so awkward. Everyone stood transfixed. It was more-than-obvious to Renu what had just been going on - and for a while the trio just darted each other questioning frowns, not knowing what to say.
'Why did you spring up on us like that?' Jalal eventually asked, on a light-hearted note
'Maybe I should come back later?' Renu suggested, not-too-apologetically
'Nahi yaar...' he hurled his friend a boyish grin, his face still deep red 'I...'
'Obviously, this could have been avoided if you'd just picked your phone!' came Renu's curt retort. Her tone was enough to dispel any friendliness in the ambience 'I sent you texts... called twice...you should've checked...' she shrugged 'Anyway, I'll leave...just wanted to know if you both are coming to the picnic...we need to book the farmhouse ...weekend dates nahi mil rahe hain...'
'Well...' Jalal came back hesitantly 'I don't know...' apart from Renu's attitude, there was another problem he had. The proposed date fell exactly a month after Robbie's passing away - and he didn't know if he wanted to be picnicking then.
'You?' Renu turned to Jodha 'You're not coming too, then?'
'I...I'll have to ask...' she replied unsurely. Apart from Renu's attitude, she had another problem too. After the interrogation that morning, she didn't know if disappearing with her friends for a weekend picnic was something that would materialize!
Hope you enjoyed it
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Joined: 14 February 2005
OSR PART 321st June
ENROUTE THE FARMHOUSE
'How much longer to go?'
Jalal darted the car clock a casual glance 'Errr...I'm guessing another half an hour'
'Arre' came the sullen voice from the back of the eight-seater 'Please change the songs on the radio na...some Hindi cd maybe...'
'One sec...' letting out a sigh, he cast another look at the semi-familiar controls in front - unfortunately, the song-change requests from the ladies squashed at the back of the car were getting whinier. Now, how was it his fault if the dashboard on this hired Toyota Innova was so different to the controls on his flashy Audi?
'Wait...let me try...' came the gentle offer from the passenger seat, a second later 'You keep your eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel, mister...'
'Thanks love...' Jalal whispered with a brief wink
- and THOSE exchanges were enough to spark the next 'tease-session' amongst the lively picnicking group.
Clearing his throat, Maan suddenly called out to his friend on the driver's seat 'Oh Mahapurush...YOU taking so long to figure out how to work a cd player is unbelievable...' indicating to the beautiful Jodha sitting beside him, he remarked casually 'Getting distracted today, are you Jalal?'
'No doubt' Meera chipped in
'Distracted while driving?' Abdul acted all horrified 'God, that's dangerous for us poor people yaar...'
'Just keep your eyes on the road for our sakes Jalal...' Renu remarked on a flat note
Shrugging his shoulders, Maan corrected Renu mischievously 'Well...as long as THEY BOTH manage to keep their eyes on the road... we're safe...'
'Eyes on road AND hands on the steering wheel too, remember? That's important for our safety...no hanky panky...'
'Ohooo...well said Abdul...' Salim whistled 'We're watching you both closely, ok?'
'Not again' Jodha hid her flushed cheeks in embarrassment
'Guysss tum log na...' having caught their freshly devilish expressions through the rear-view mirror, Jalal turned to his girl thereupon and smirked aloud 'Jo...I have a good mind to string this guy up on stage as the college jester during the Annual day function! You game?'
'I'm game Jalal' Jodha voiced her support
Bah! Like that was going to stop them. In fact, the comments only grew increasingly naughty - now topped up with rounds of boyish wolf whistles and girlish giggles too. The couple at the front could do little but sit tight and deal with their own abashed frowns - there was just no winning against such a bunch of pranksters, was there?
'Waise Jalal...' Meera spoke up once all the laughter had died down 'This reminded me...'
'What?' Jalal asked, glimpsing at her inquisitive expressions via the rear-view mirror - he was preparing himself for another bout of jesting!
'MAHAPURUSH...' she folded her palms as she cited the term Maan had used a minute ago 'Aapne tho kamaal hi kar diyaa...'
'What Kamaal?' he blinked innocently
She rolled her eyes 'Your exam waalaa kamaal...like you didn't guess...'
Oh, he'd guessed, but he was just being typical 'Jalal'. Nevertheless, he repaid her compliment with a graceful nod thereon 'Hmmm...thanks...'
'But seriously' Payal joined in on a more serious note - revealing her earnest amazement along with Meera 'How did you manage it? Jodha told me you'd done no revisions...no studies...nothing...and within a few days, you caught up with the curriculum and topped the mark lists too! Not fair...'
Leaning against the headrest, Jodha observed Jalal and his refined responses to the ongoing praise - the subtle contentment in her eyes giving away what she truly felt. Witnessing how her friends were going ga-ga over her boyfriend's intellectual abilities, the soft smiles on her face gradually morphed into something more blissful.
No doubt; her 'initial' reactions when the first and third semester results had actually come out a few days ago, had differed slightly. No doubt that she'd been rendered momentarily speechless - and maybe even the tiniest bit jealous - when she'd viewed the exceptional percentages he'd got. No doubt that the 'Competitor Jodha' had been spontaneously provoked - she'd challenged him with a 'Wait and watch...I'll outshine you in the next semester!' remark, which he'd graciously accepted with a 'Let's see!' reply.
Yet; she knew the very instant she'd made that 'Wait and watch' challenge, that attaining it was not going to be easy - beating Jalal Muhammed at academics was no walk in the park! While she'd prayed for him, stood by him and spurred him on throughout his testing times - what he'd achieved was of his own accord. Coping with bereavement to catch up on six subjects within a couple of days AND excelling in them was no mean feat. Jalal wasn't just a go-getter - the talented man had a natural flair for the field of management. Now, THAT was nothing short of praiseworthy - and THAT was something the 'Girlfriend Jodha' was extremely proud of!
'So how did you do it?' they prodded on
'Some secret formula maybe?' Payal suggested
'Something like that' he confessed just then, stealthily giving Jodha a mischievous look.
She grinned back. She knew what he was thinking about. He knew that she knew what he was thinking about. In a way, it was her cute formula - the 'MY well-being = Sum total of YOUR (health + happiness + love + success) / timescales...' that'd magically resurrected his spirits!
'Arre yaar...' came the abrupt interruption in the form of Renu's gripes 'We're here for a picnic now... forget about college...annual day...and EXAMSSS... we've just finished with our exams 6 weeks ago...lets enjoy now!'
'You're right!' the girls agreed in unison
'Three cheers for our group...we finally made this happen...'
'WHAT!' Renu sat up in a flash, a surprised frown now marking her face 'You mean 'I' finally made it happen!'
'Yeah...' Payal promptly admitted with a sheepish shrug
The car fell silent for a while there. No one else had anything to add to that comment. Well, Renu was undoubtedly a cranky fusspot. However, in this instance she wasn't wrong. Had it not been for Renu's efforts, this trip would never have materialized.
Getting a picnic coordinated between 8 passive people had turned out to be a nightmare of sorts for her. For starters, the initially proposed date had to be postponed since Jalal was reluctant to party on a date that coincided with Robbie's 1st month memorial. Then, Jodha's family had taken forever to give her permission - putting everyone else's plans on hold too. Following that; Payal and Sana hadn't given their confirmations till she'd literally threatened them into submission! Phew! No wonder then that Renu was so fiercely defensive of HER hand in having arranged the outing.
Thankfully; apart from the date and venue everything else about the trip had been more smooth-sailing! Well, the ladies had organized the food and the tambola, leaving the men to take care of transport, music, drinks and everything else!
AT THE FARMHOUSE
Girls and guys, pranks and masti, food and drink, dance and music, fun and games - this mini crowd had all possible ingredients required to make this the most enjoyable of picnics. However, what amplified the appeal of the entire experience was the setting itself.
Set in between acres of rolling fields; the fully-furnished 3000 Sqft farmhouse they were spending the day at, had every probable luxury needed to cater for a merry group of college students - and more!
Italian marble tiles running across an entirely air-conditioned ground floor, a large projector to play movies, a sparkling kitchen, comfy rugs on the floor, plush sofas and marble statuettes gracing the corners. Why, its exclusive large rear-garden even had the mini waterfalls for added effect. Basically, the farmhouse was P-O-S-H!
Of course, HIS affluent gang had frequented such places many-a-time - but, the sights and the splendorous interiors were nothing short of a revelation for Jodha and her pals.
'You like it?' Jalal had asked her softly, when he'd caught her admiring the view of the lush gardens from the portico
'It's not bad!' she'd part-admitted with a twinkle
'Wanna come back every year then?'
'I'll think about it' she'd chuckled
It wasn't very long before everyone had managed to make themselves at home. After all, everyone was eager to get the party rolling - and my, what a party it was turning out to be! By midday, they'd fooled around as much as they could, feasted far more than they should have and laughed till their sides could take it no more. So, they decided to plonk on the sofas to give it a rest and squander the lazy noon away with a few calmer forms of amusement - 'Antakshari', for instance.
'Tujh bin suraj mein aag nahi re
Tujh bin koyal mein raag nahi re
Chaandaniya to barse
Phir kyun mere haath andhere lagde ne
Adhoori adhoori adhoori kahaani, adhoora alvida
Yunhi yunhi reh na jaaye adhoore sadaa
Adhoori adhoori adhoori kahaani, adhoora alvida
Yunhi yunhi reh na jaaye adhoore sadaa - aaa'
'Yayyy that was really good!'
'You are a pro...'
'Jodha... kyaa gaati ho yaar!'
'Thanks guys' she gushed at the ongoing rave reviews her melodious rendition was receiving - before darting him a quiet look to see what he had to say.
Still lost in the beauty of her song, he broke out into an elusive grin 'Amazing as usual' he hadn't yet gotten over how dreamy she'd appeared throughout, creasing those eyebrows with her eyes shut tight as she'd hit those high notes!
'Ok now YOUR chance to sing...a song that begins with 'A'' Payal prodded the other team
'Nooo' came all the retaliatory voices in unison
'I've already finished singing...no more...' Maan groaned 'I can't remember any Hindi song now with A...Salim you sing yaar...'
'No way!' Salim stretched his arms out lethargically 'Jalal hasn't opened his mouth yet...let him sing now...'
'What! Me?' he cocked his head in shock 'Not me...you all know I can't sing...'
'Kuch bhi... like we are all Sonu Nigams!'
'I'm not singing...' Jalal shook his head
'Ok we give up...'
The ladies were obviously winning the Antakshari match by a long way - and the men were acting like typical bored players in a game they had little interest to begin with!
Following nearly five minutes of nothing but 'You sing' 'Jalal will sing' and 'I wouldn't sing', Jodha grew tired. She decided to take matters into her own hands - albeit, covertly. After all, the helpless men had put up with their tantrums for so long now and they could do with a bit of help! That AND the important fact that she was just as desperate as the rest of the lot to hear HIM sing a Hindi song - something even SHE hadn't had the opportunity of listening to, so far! So, taking advantage of the ongoing hungama, Jodha stealthily put her hand out and signalled to him.
It took Jalal a few seconds to realize she was beckoning him - but when he did, he promptly understood the real reason behind her underhanded tactics!
'I'm not singing' he shook his head at her firmly
'Sing once na...' she silently pleaded, before mouthing out a song to him - while ensuring no one from the raucous gathering was watching them 'Apni karam ki kar adaayen...'
'Oh nooo' he crinkled his forehead in pain 'Not THAT song...' like her listening to it on his car radio every two days wasn't enough!
'Stop the fuss and sing once...' she stared long and hard - and when even that didn't work, she glanced away unhappily 'Fine...your wish...'
Studying Jodha's mock-frustration with a defeated smile, the poor boyfriend had no other go but to give in. Letting out a weary sigh, he eventually turned to his mates 'Ok guys... I have a Hindi song with Aaa...'
Taking a deep breath, he stared down at the rings on his finger and went on to hum the song she'd suggested - his awkwardness plain for all to see
'Apne karam ki kar adaayein..
Yaaraa.. Yaaraa.. Yaaraa..
Mujhko hi raah dede Kasme de waade de
Meri duaaon ke something something ko sahare de
Dil ko thikaanein de Naye something de
Khawaabon ki something ko Mausam ke paimane de'
By the the end of the first para, Jodha was literally biting into her lip so she didn't break out into a bout of sniggers. When Salim had said they were no Sonu Nigams, he was not being modest. None of them could carry a single musical note properly. However, Jalal's rendition had to win the prize for being the 'Worst' of an already bad lot!
Yet there she was; sitting back and thoroughly enjoying it with a wide grin. So what if it was her favourite song that was being butchered so mercilessly? After all, there was something so cute about the nervousness in his voice as he robotically went about screwing-up the lyrics. There was something so innocent in the fact that he was twirling his finger rings and not looking up because he knew he'd be braving many 'amused' faces if he did so. Most importantly, there was something so comforting in knowing that her adorable Mr.Know-it-all wasn't really Mr.Know-it-all. He couldn't cook, dance, draw and now as she heard him out, he couldn't sing - even if his life depended upon it. Phew, the scales felt more balanced now!
Unaware of the mischievously vindictive thoughts going on in his girl's mind, Jalal arrived at the finals bits of his song
'Apne karam ki kar adaayein
Kar de idher bhi tu nigaahein
Sun raha hai na tu
Ro raha hu mai'
'That's it.. I'm done' he abruptly stopped and looked up at his silent audience and especially her, sporting a part-abashed frown'Ro raha hu mai? Perfect lyrics...' came their comments
'Abbe ro hi rahaa thaa... gaa nahin rahaa thaa!'
Everyone's chuckles that had been suppressed so long ultimately gave way
'Well...I did warn you all...' Jalal shrugged
'Hmmm...' Abdul interrupted the revelry out of the blue, suspicions now clouding his features 'I know Jalal...and there's NO way he would have thought of a Hindi song by himself and all... I smell something fishy here...'
'You mean someone's helped him out?'
'Yes...someone from the other team, I think...'
Sensing the impending trouble coming their way, the horrified Jalal and Jodha hurled each other 'Oh nooo...not again...' stares.
Then in a flash, Jalal leapt across to playfully muffle Abdul's mouth with his hand - unable to think up no alternative form of damage control for then 'Abbe...chup... I'm from your team...'
'See I told you guys...' Abdul wrestled his way out of his bestie's grasp 'Jodha helped him out! This is Love, Songs and Dhoka!'
Following a deafening round of laughter from all quarters; thus started the Jodha-Jalal tease session No. 32! With Maan singing a hundred different tuneless versions of 'Sun rahaa hai re tu', Salim and Abdul completed the drama by enacting highly theatrical Romeo-Julietized scenes to it!
The hapless couple could do little but grit their teeth and bear the 32nd onslaught with embarrassed grins. After all, there was no winning against such a bunch of pranksters, was there?
THE REAR GARDEN OF THE FARMHOUSE
'Hey' she eventually called out, after having observed how he'd been so immersed in studying the beautiful landscape for some time now 'Stepped out to escape all that teasing, haan?'
'Nah' he broke out into a smile, without even turning back 'I'm used to it...have been putting up with Abdul for 15 years now, remember?'
'Yes' she sniggered and then quickly got down the portico steps to join her boyfriend on the lawn 'God, I've never had such fun in my life...' she paused 'By the way, what are you doing here?'
'Nothing really...everyone's busy lounging and chatting...so thought of stretching my legs for a bit...' he indicated to the gardens 'It's sultry...but it's superb na!'
'Same here... thought of stepping out of that AC hall to catch some fresh evening air!'
'Was planning to read a book' he showed her the Isaac Asimov sci-fi novel in his hand
'Wow' she beamed and showed him the Nora Roberts romantic-thriller in hers 'Same here!'
'Chalo...let's sit down in the shade somewhere...'
No sooner than she nodded in agreement, Jalal gently took her palm in his and the duo began a casual stroll around the expansive well-manicured gardens. Hand-in-hand; the pair made their way through the dainty pathways - surveying the rockeries, mature shrubs and flowering beds perfectly dotted on both sides.
A few minutes on and a fresh surge of enthusiasm suddenly crept into her voice 'Hey look there' pointing to a secluded enclosure a short distance away, she asked on an inquisitive note 'Is that a garden swing?'
'Looks like it'
'Come on...lets go'
'WOW!' she nearly squealed in glee as they approached the spot 'Never sat in such a swing before ...that too in a private garden...'
'It's very dusty' Jalal let out a semi-convinced sigh on visually examining it 'And a bit rusty too!'
'Arre so what?' Jodha nimbly launched off to remove the leaves and the grime from the seat 'See...it seems better already'
Beholding his girlfriend's excited antics for a short while, Jalal erupted into a warm chuckle as he ultimately chose to yield to her whims. He started helping her out thereafter and before long, the dusty-rusty swing was in a more usable condition - thanks to their combined efforts!
There was still one issue though - the piercing sunlight falling upon the seat was not totally conducive to a calm eve of book-reading.
Shielding his eyes with his hand from the strong rays, Jalal glimpsed at the shady trees nearby - he got an idea. If he could pull this off, the setting would be the 'perfect' reader's getaway!
Swiftly guessing what was going on in his mind, Jodha grew alarmed. The mighty three seater iron swing had to weigh a ton and pushing it through all that muddy ground was going to be back-breaking 'No...Jalal...don't...it's not...worth' she spoke up, but stopped her sentence midway when he'd darted her a 'Just gimme a sec, please?' glance'Fine!' folding her arms, she stood back and watched him with a disapproving grimace - she was not one to be impressed by unnecessary herogiri - especially not when it could cause him injury. However a few seconds later and those displeased frowns on her charming features gradually resembled something else - something more along the lines of awe. Much to her surprise, he was accomplishing what he'd set his heart out to - well, he'd managed to shove the hefty damn thing halfway already!
'OKAY!' she surrendered begrudgingly. So maybe, she'd marginally underestimated how tough he was. So maybe, all those taut muscles weren't just for show.
'There' the breathless man exhaled in relief, once the swing had reached its shady destination a few minutes later. Looking up at Jodha with a victorious grin, he dusted his palms brusquely and gave her a spirited wink 'My ma'am...all your wishes fulfilled ...wanna sit now?'
'You bet' she giggled, snapping out of her stunned gazes
Comfortably proceeding to take his seat on one corner, Jalal leaned against the backrest and opened his book - waiting for her to join him.
Contrary to what he was expecting, Jodha didn't sit beside him. Nah! Such lovely ambience. Such lovely company. Such a lovely book in hand - she was going to read her novel her 'preferred' way. Flicking away her heels, she set her mobile down and went on to lay on the long plank - daintily resting her head on his lap.
'Wow' he thought when he studied that riveting face of hers now reposing on him.
He hadn't expect her to do that. Nevertheless, he LOVED it - especially, the fact that his girl now had no qualms exercising her rights over him - especially, the manner with which she'd snugly made him her home.
'Now stop staring at me...' she tried not to blush 'And start reading your book...'
'I'll try...' he grinned, slowly beginning to run his fingers from her forehead all the way through her long wavy hair that cascaded across the swing. Pursuing with his mischief; Jalal continued to check out her enticing features with unbroken gazes, while she attempted very hard to concentrate on her story. Sometime later and she had to give up
'Jalal' she protested softly, closing his eyes with her hand 'Stop staring at me and READ your book!'
'Ok...' he conceded with a hearty laugh thereafter and moved her palm away to return to the pages in his novel
Thus, they went about swaying on that swing for a long spell - a spell that was equally delightful for both - a spell of tranquillity with nothing but the sounds of the creaking swing and the chirping birds around. She dug into her Nora Roberts, seeking comfort in the presence of his lap as she did so. He perused through his Isaac Asimov, deriving his pleasure in playing with her locks as he did so.
After making it through a few pages in this fashion, Jodha subsequently spoke up on a mild note 'Jalal...what you're doing to my hair is undoubtedly A-M-A-Z-I-N-G...but, anymore of this and I'm just going to fall off asleep on you...'
'So?' he questioned - his eyes still transfixed on the chapter he was reading 'Sleep na...we've come here to relax after all...' he paused 'By the way, I love playing with your hair...you know that?'
'Same here' she snickered
'Same here ka kyaa matlab?' he enquired slyly, glancing down at her crafty expressions 'You love ME playing with your hair or YOU love playing with mine?'
'Keep guessing' she teased him, flipping another page as she did so
Smirking at her canny responses, he returned to the interesting chapter he was at
'By the way' she resumed once again I meant to tell you...there's another thing I LOVE...'
He waited patiently - something already told him there had to be a twist to this
'I LOVE your version of Sun rahaa hai' she halted 'Even more than Arijit Singh's..'
'Oh nooo' he rolled his eyes - he knew it! It HAD to be something like this!
'Sing it again for me na...'
'What!' he glared down at her in shock 'You've gotta be kidding...no way...'
'Pleasee eee eee' she put on the girliest charms she could
Shaking his head in the negative, Jalal decided to keep his eyes on the book for then 'You don't LUURRVVEE me singing and all Jo...you just find the whole spectacle entertaining...'
Some time later, he caught the sulky frowns on her brow from the corner of his eyes 'You're more tantrumy today than usual, aren't you?' he sighed not-too-happily 'We're in such a peaceful setting...why do you want to hear me bray now?'
Glimpsing away from her book, she gazed up at him 'Because when you sang that song, you had an innocent look on your face...and that's the sweetest expression I've seen on you...ever!'
What! She couldn't be serious! He examined her eyes carefully for a while - there had to be a catch somewhere! Anywhere? Surprisingly, despite a thorough investigation he found none. So, she wasn't joking? She genuinely loved to watch him sing? Wow!
Kneading his forehead with his fingers, he exhaled awkwardly 'Hmmm...but promise me you're not gonna making a habit of this...'
'I'll try...' she giggled
Overcoming his reservations, Jalal cleared his throat - about to restart the song he'd sung not so long ago. Just then, the pair were interrupted when a music of another kind started reverberating - it was the ringtone on her phone
'Oh...one sec' she stretched her hand out to grab the instrument from the lawn below - it was a number she couldn't recognize
'Hello' she attended the call soon after
For the following few seconds there was no response whatsoever
'Hello' she pressed on 'Who's this?'
'Jodha Singh...' came a man's unfamiliar voice ultimately 'It's me...'
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THE REAR GARDEN OF THE FARMHOUSE
Alarmed, she sat up in an instant - letting the Nora Roberts slip off on the swing.
Taken aback by her sudden reactions following the call, Jalal watched her closely
'Who is this?' came Jodha's subsequent query - but, what ensued was another spell of nothingness. Puzzled, she glimpsed at Jalal worriedly. With his expressions mirroring hers, it was obvious that both shared the same line of thoughts
'Is it the stalker?'
Just as she was about to give it one last go, a brief crackle sounded - after which, the man's voice was finally heard again
'Hello... yes... I'm sorry that the line's so bad...I can barely hear you...' he paused 'Can't you hear me?'
'It's me... Rishabh...our parents have been in touch...'
'RISHABH?' she muttered to herself, in surprise. She couldn't believe she'd done so, but she'd actually breathed a mini sigh-of-relief on hearing the identity of the caller. Well, ANYONE would do as long as it wasn't the 'freak' again!
Needless to say, that 'sigh of relief' was only short-lived!
'Can't hear you again' he prompted
'Please wait a sec...' she exhaled 'I'm outside the city...so the reception's bad...'
Turning to her anxious boyfriend with a reassuring 'Don't worry...it's not the stalker' look, she got off the swing to walk around on the soft lawn - in search of better reception.
'Hi...so we finally get to talk' he started off, once he could hear her better I'd sent you an email quite a while ago...but, didn't get any response...I guess the mail must have bounced off ...'
'Or maybe I deliberately didn't respond cos I just wasn't interested?' she mentally corrected him - but, of course she couldn't say it aloud. So, she just remained Miss Diplomatic 'Oh...how unfortunate...'
'I must confess...' Rishabh continued 'When I heard your name at first...I...thought it was a bit... err... different...ermm...not something I've heard before...'
'You found my name odd, you mean...' she helped him out
'But...' Rishabh quickly made amends, sensing the sarcasm in her tone 'I quite like it now...and I would really like to get to know you personally...' he didn't waste much time on frilly talk 'I've heard so much about you from our rishtedaars...I've seen your photo...and I must say, I'm really impressed!'
'Oh!' Jodha uttered - this was getting quite uncomfortable, what with her boyfriend on one side and the rishta-dude going all frisky on the other!
'I don't know if anyone's told you this...' he marched on, not awaiting a response from her 'But you're very very beautiful!'
'Gosssh!' she frowned 'Yes someone special tells me this everyday and I prefer hearing it from HIM' was the prompt response that popped up in her head, but she decided to keep her answer in check 'Thanks'
No sooner than she dismissed his flattery with a lacklustre reply, Jodha instinctively turned around - half-expecting Jalal to be studying her flummoxed expressions warily.
Nope, he wasn't. Instead; there he was swinging by himself - his eyes intently scanning the pages of his sci-fi novel. Her gazes immediately mellowed as she went on to observe her engrossed guy - the one who'd taken her single 'Don't worry...it's not the stalker' look as assurance and backed-off. The one who wasn't prying into the 'Whos' or 'Whys' of the call she'd just received because he knew when to give her her privacy and just let her be. If THAT was the kind of confidence he had in her - his feelings deserved THAT much respect from her too!
'Why are you so silent?' Rishabh's question resurfaced - it was difficult for him to interpret if it was the reception that was so bad or she that was so tight-lipped. So, he tried again 'You know Jodha... I've received many proposals ever since my parents have been pursuing a rishtaa... but, your picture just...'
'Rishabh...' she eventually spoke up, intending to bring their conversation to an end 'I know our parents are eager for us to get to know each other...but, the truth is that...currently, I'm not ready for this...I'm pursuing my MBA and I want to concentrate on my education first...I'm sorry...'
Not surprisingly, the parting words that followed in the next two minutes - were awkward, quick and curt!
'Hey...' Jalal welcomed his girlfriend with a smile, before noticing the subtle creases on her forehead 'What happened...you seem a bit pareshaan...'
'Hmmm' she walked towards him, liking the feel of the plush lawn under her bare-feet I't was the rishta-dude!'
'Oh!' he grimaced wryly
'I told him I'm not interested...'
'Hmmm...pehle Shareef...then stalker...now rishta-waala?' sneering at the expanding list of culprits, Jalal glanced up at Jodha to gauge her reactions when he spotted a 'different' look in her eyes - as though she was holding something back 'Kuch hai... that you want to tell me?'
'Well...er...' she hesitated, as she resumed her seat beside him on the swing 'Nothing really... just that he saw my photo... and...you know...' her voice trailed off
'Ahaa...' Jalal nodded his head slowly - he could guess the sort of compliments rishta-dude would have paid his girl. Repressing his displeasure thereon, Jalal let out a long sigh and went about repeating the mantra - the only solution he had to keep his 'possessive' emotions in check for then 'My girlfriend's irresistible...my girlfriend's irresistible...' he did a few rounds of breathing exercises 'Deep breath in...deep breath out... relax... Jalal!'
'Jalaaal' she broke out into a fit of giggles, observing the adorably humorous manner in which he was dealing with the annoying situation. Sliding her arm around his, she tried to make light of the issue 'So says Mr. Popular himself... have you seen what I have to put up with... like you haven't noticed the 'flirty' gazes girls sport around you...even now when they KNOW you're with ME!' she jabbed his shoulder playfully 'And what about your phone contacts list...30 guys and 200 girls?'
Nope, diverting the issue with some light-hearted exaggeration wouldn't do the trick. He turned to his fascinating girlfriend who was leaning against his arm - his brows now knotted into an incredibly crafty frown 'And let any of those 200 girls send me scented cards...or call me to describe how I look...I'd like to see your reactions then...'
'God!' she covered her mouth in amusement 'Poor you!' the harder he was trying not to get worked-up the more it was turning out to be a day of unending frustrations for him - first the group's tease-a-thons, then the Antakshari debacle and now this! Melting at his plight, she reigned-in her chuckles and thought up another distraction 'Ok...ok...ok forget about this...by the way, you still haven't sung me the song...'
What! Where did that come from? 'Nooo' he buried his face in his palm 'Not again!'
'But whyyy?' he glimpsed up with childlike grievance
'I told you na...I just LOVED those innocent expressions of yours...'
'Jo...' his smiles appeared almost mildly-offended now 'You do realize THIS ploy of yours is not making me feel any better, either? You wanting me to sing cos of the expressions on my face rather than my voice...errr... sounds more like a jibe and less like a compliment...'
'Oh yeah...you're right...' she burst out laughing - she couldn't stifle it this time around. He had a point there. Wiping the funny tears off, she tried composing herself in a minute. She better do something to placate her already-irked boyfriend, before she ended up exasperating him anymore 'Arre baba' she resumed with newfound enthusiasm - throwing in a bribe too 'I LOVE to SEE you sing...so, sing now...and I'll tell you about a surprise I have in store for you...'
WOW! Interesting! Now, THAT was more like it 'Really?' a wicked lop-sided grin made its way on his lips
'Chup badmaash!' she thwarted his expectations at once - realizing the kind of naughty thoughts that must have flashed by his mind 'Not the kind of surprise you're thinking about...' her demeanour steadily became gentler 'It's something I've been making for months now...' she looked up at him - his lop-sided grins had softened down
'A painting?' he inferred
'Yeah... it's a painting...' she confessed, impressed by his clever guesswork
'Then...I'll sing for you when you've given me the painting...'
'You know Jalal...' she sighed unhappily 'Even Arijit Singh wouldn't throw this much attitude around...'
'Fine... then I have a request of my own...' he bartered 'Make THAT happen and I'll fulfill your wishes too...'
'What?' she asked with growing suspicion
Wasting no further time; Jalal got off the swing, turned around and held his hand out for her to accept 'I'll sing the song... and you dance with me...let's finish what we hadn't...on that New Year's eve, in that dingy store room!'
'Oh!' she wondered, as it all came back to her - now, that didn't sound like too bad a bargain 'Fine...' she leapt away from the plank and joined him...I'm in!'
No sooner than she'd placed her hand in his, Jalal's glances intensified as he proceeded to wrap his fingers around her palm. Taking the lead thereafter, he pulled her close and assertively rested her arms upon his shoulders. Hypnotized in the presence of one another, they silently continued reading the evolving saga of romance in each other's eyes. Both their gazes had the same stories to tell - parallel memories from THAT fateful New Year's night - the first milestone in a beautiful relationship that was meant to happen!
A few seconds later; he went ahead to wholly envelope her dainty form within his broad arms. The two then began gently swaying in anticipation of the absurd concert that was to be inaugurated
'Apne karam ki kar adaayein..' he kicked-off with a shaky voice
Just then, the tuneless rendition was brought to an abrupt standstill - her mobile ringtone had started playing - once again!
'Oops...I am sooo sorry...' Jodha appealed sheepishly 'Ek sec...I'll just check who it is...'
'Go ahead...' he sighed and freed his arms, letting her grab her phone from the swing
'Mamma' her eyes widened when she checked the caller - she HAD to attend this one. She looked up at her guy. What she noted thence tugged at her heart strings - though he didn't want to show it, hints of disappointment had started seeping into his soft frowns once more. Today was just not his day, was it?
In an attempt to make him feel better, she hastily approached him and re-wrapped a hand around his neck - while still clinging onto the phone with the other. Earnestly touched by her sweet gesture, Jalal flashed her a tender smile and went ahead to complete the pose by reinstating her within his embrace.
The couple thus resumed their soft dance - only, the background sounds were to be Jodha's conversation and not Jalal's Sun rahaa hai re tu for then!
1 minute later...
'What mamma? Yes I'm TOTALLY enjoying myself...beautiful place...amazing company...' she darted her boyfriend an impish look - and he winked back in agreement
2 minutes later...
'Mamma!' a sour gloom suddenly eclipsed her features 'YOU asked Rishabh to call? But, why?'
Jalal raised his brow at the irony of his situation - not only was he contending with the interruption, he was putting up with the mother-daughter duo discussing rishta-waala right under his nose too!
3 minutes later...
'Mamma...' she whined in near-defeat
'Jodha' reverberated the mom's irked voice via the speaker 'Why can't we discuss this now? It's the first time you've spoken to Rishabh, so we're all excited to know the details ... picnic pe hi gayi ho...exam thodi likh rahi ho...'
'Shall I leave?' a semi-bored Jalal visually enquired of his girl at that point - it didn't look like the call was going to end anytime soon. He indicated to his abandoned Isaac Asimov 'I'll go and read my book na...'
'No no...just a sec more...I'm done' she pleaded with her eyes and held on to his shoulders tightly, before reverting to her mom 'Haan mamma...yeah...I'm here...I AM listening...'
5 minutes later...
'Mamma...please...please...' her tone that'd been listless so long immediately transformed into one of dread 'I'll talk to bhaiyya later...not now...baad mein...' oops, she was too late - the phone had already been passed around
'Yayyy...the more, the merrier...' Jalal wryly cheered when he learnt of the latest update - after all, bhaiyya was the only one missing in their slow-dance so long!
8 minutes later...
'Bhaiyya...' she protested 'I told him I'm not interested...'
'Urgh' the silent boyfriend gave up and wearily leaned his head against her soft shoulder - there were just too many people who seemed to take pleasure in spoiling his few available moments with his girl. His patience was wearing thin. He'd had enough!
'I'm going inside' Jalal signalled in the direction of the farmhouse with a long stare
'NO! NO!' she insisted loudly, giving her man another apologetic glance 'Ho gaya...just a sec more...'
'Kyaa? NO?' came bhaiyya's surprised voice from the other end 'You mean you don't want us to cancel the rishta? I KNEW it... I knew you'd like Rishabh...'
'What!' she yelled at the confusion that'd just been caused by her loud 'NO's to Jalal 'No bhaiyya I didn't mean NO to THAT...'
10 minutes later...
'Yes...' she sighed 'Don't worry...we'll return home safely bhaiyya...'
'Safe?' Jalal smirked and leaned forward to whisper into her other ear 'Tell bhaiyya not to worry... that you're with YOUR guy... it's as safe as it gets!'
'Yeah bhaiyya...' she droned, blindly repeating Jalal's instructions 'I'm with my guy...and it's as safe as it...'
'What?' echoed the brother's confused question through the speaker 'WHO?'
DAMN! She woke up, suddenly realizing what she'd just done. The simultaneous conversations on two sides had muddled her up 'Oh no...nothing bhaiyya...I'm with my guys... my friends...I meant...ok... I'll go now... mamma ko bhi bol deejiye...'
Having swiftly managed to make amends, she glared at the now amused Jalal 'Its not funny...I could have been caught!'
'Ok...ok' he laughed to himself - but, he couldn't deny that the mix-up was the first 'fun' thing that'd happened to him in the past 10 minutes! Actually, it was the only thing that'd managed to draw him out of the ongoing boredom.
Boredom? Now THAT gave him an idea - the devil in him had just struck upon a brilliant ruse to while his time, while she remained so embroiled with family!
Within a matter of seconds, the characteristic Jalal grins were back!
11 minutes later...
'Kasme de waade de...meri duaaon ke something something ko sahare de...'
'Ufff Jalal...' she hissed - the song he'd begun humming in one ear was muffling the chatter going on at the other end. She hastily motioned to the farmhouse with a semi-guilty look 'Ok.. ok..tum ab chalo...I'll join you soon...'
'What?' he stared in disbelief 'You ask me to stay - I stay... you ask me to go - I go...' the defiant man shook his head 'No ma'am...I don't work that way!'
12 minutes later...
'Jalal' she squirmed - what he was doing tingled so much 'Kyaa mamma? No, I'm not laughing. Nothing happened!'
13 minutes later...
'Nooo...' she shuddered for the nth time as she'd felt his warm profile playing touch-me touch-me-not with the delicate areas in her neck yet again 'God' she openly swore at that point - this was sooo distracting and for a variety of reasons!
'Kya hua beta? Why are you shouting?'
'Nothing mamma...' she shot Jalal a cautionary scowl, while actively trying to balance the slippery mobile on the other shoulder 'My friend...I mean friends.. are having a great deal of fun at my expense right now!'
14 minutes later...
Just then, his gruff jawline drifted past the base of her neck and onto the exposed stretches of her shoulder
'Huh' she suddenly stopped a sentence midway to let out an unexpected audible gasp - now THAT sensation had taken even her by surprise!
'What's happening beta?'
'Oops sorry...' he hushly giggled beside her ear - unable to decide if that act had been incidental or intentional 'Did that only tickle? Ya fir kuch aur bhi hua...'
'Ok bye mamma' she abruptly decided to end it there 'My friend...friends...are really troubling me now...so, I better go'
Switching off the phone at once, she stepped back from his clasp and folded her arms in light-hearted contempt. Of course, her beats were still thumping and her face was still cherry-red - but THAT wasn't the point! 'What do you think you're doing mister?'
He shrugged his shoulders innocently 'I was only keeping up my word Jodha...and singing my song...' he paused 'Do you know how difficult it was to sing that entire para...I kept my voice low, so your family didn't hear...' he put on an unhappy grimace 'And you didn't even compliment my song yet...'
'What?' Jodha became wide-eyed, trying very hard not to cave in to his 'Cute-look' theatrics or the hilarity of the crisis. How efficiently he'd ended up twisting everything in his favour!
'You devil...' she scolded him a moment later 'Bichaari meee...trying to manage Rishabh on one side... then mamma...bhaiyya...and YOU...' she scoffed playfully 'Did you even think for a second what I was putting up with?'
What! 'Hello?' he raised his brow teasingly, before correcting her 'Bichaaraa ME, you mean Jo!' he adjusted his voice so it'd sound vaguely like hers and then put up his fingers so he could start counting - he had a long series of arguments in his favour in case she'd forgotten -
'Jalal...please don't call me at home any more cos mamma's getting suspicious...' he started off, by impersonating her
'Jalal...only formal emails, haan?'
'Jalal...please don't send me any flirty texts incase someone checks...'
'Ok...' Jodha shut her eyes and looked away, biting her lip in growing amusement. God, this guy was impossible. Then again, she couldn't deny it altogether - all their meetings DID come with a few conditions from her end. Damn! All her fault - why did she even have to joke about the bichaari part?
'Jalal... weekend mein date pe aanaa mushkil hai...' he pursued with the counting
'Jalal ...exams...I have to get home early...'
'Ok...ok...' she kneaded her forehead with a repressed chuckle 'I understand baba...I'm sorry...'
'Jalal...from next month I'll be busy...I'm part of the Annual Day organizing committee...' he was running out of fingers to count on now
'Jalal...no gifts, flowers or cards from you, haan?'
'OKAY now chup...I'm warning you...' she'd cut him there, but she was undeniably enjoying his comical mimicry of hers. After all, she couldn't refute the fact that his frustrations were somehow justified - he'd been sportively putting up with quite a bit for her sake!
'Jalal...I have to attend this call to discuss about my rishta...'
'Stop now...I'm WARNING YOU!'
'Jalal...I ' he couldn't complete that statement.
What had stopped him in his tracks so efficiently was something he hadn't foreseen. A culmination of emotions that took him a few seconds to come to terms with - a shocker that'd rendered him speechless - LITERALLY!
Cupping his face in her tender hands, she continued sealing his lips with hers as tightly as she could, her eyes securely closed since she couldn't face him as she carried out so bold a move. Well, she could think up no other urgent tactic to permanently stop her boyfriend's delightful gripes for then!
After a short stunned spell of stillness between the two, she faltered for a bit - not knowing how to proceed. Well, she was a novice at this and he was the one who took the lead every time they made out. So, she followed her instincts and gave him a gentle peck. Still revelling in the heat of the moment, a euphoric smile emerged on his face. Sensing her hesitance, Jalal scooped her up in his hold - not letting Jodha break 'her' precious first kiss. Guiding her along, he went on to make sensual love to her lips like a skilful lover would.
After a long interval ablaze with such ecstasy, the pair parted to take a breather. Anxiously opening her eyes thence, the exhausted girlfriend sought his reactions. He was yet to reel from the daze of it all
'Wow! Just WOW!' he gasped with an incredibly mischievous look 'I LOVE bade bhaiyya now...' he winked 'It FINALLY happened... thanks to him...'
'Chup badmaash!' she turned his face away so she didn't have to watch him chuckling at her crimson cheeks 'You take such pleasure in troubling me...'
'Just like you do to me, Jo...'
'And that's why I love you so much' she confessed
'Me too!' he tapped the edge of her nose
Just then; she spotted a few distant figures from the corner of her eye. Their friends were stepping out onto the portico, from inside the farmhouse
'We should get going Jalal' she reminded him
Regrouping themselves; she slipped back into her heels while he picked up their books from the swing. Their spirits lively and their smiles zesty, the couple returned to their mates - hand-in-hand - just as when they'd made their way to 'Reader's paradise'.
'Wow!' Renu clapped her hands, no sooner than Jodha and Jalal had joined them 'What I'd booked for was meant to be a GROUP picnic...' she held the balustrades at the edge of the portico to stop her from losing gait 'But here you both have sought your own escape...away from the rest of us!'
Darting each other a quick stare, Jodha and Jalal let go of each other's palms and turned to face the group - their discomfort evident.
'Ever since SHE's come into your life...' Renu vehemently pointed to Jodha, before having to support herself against the balustrade yet again 'You've changed SO MUCH...you've totally forgotten about the rest of us Jalal...do you have any idea what WE must be feeling...'
Hope you enjoyed it and if you did please leave behind a comment/like since it really encourages the writer in me to keep going
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OSR PART 34
THE PORTICO - AT THE BACK OF THE FARMHOUSE
Abruptly thrown into an eddy of unpleasantry, the couple scanned everyone's stunned expressions and then glimpsed away. This confrontation definitely didn't make for a very nice spectacle!
'Please stop yaar...' came the group's well intended protests soon after
'But Renu...' Jalal finally joined them, seeking justification 'We spent the whole morning and noon together as a group...it's only now that...'
'Morning, noon, evening, night...' Renu interrupted hysterically 'We ALWAYS hung out as a group before... but not any more...and because of you...'
'Kyaa?' Jalal refuted - his tone modest, but his glances stern 'I don't think others feels that way...'
'He's right...' Abdul voiced his support - he'd obviously had enough by that point 'As a group, we do spend time at classes together...we have our lunches together...we all still hang out as a gang...but, you're always fussing...'
'What?' Renu clumsily blinked in alarm 'Haven't you felt bad that he...'
'NO!' Abdul retorted - aware of what she was trying to do 'Jalal returns calls if he misses them...he catches up whenever he can...he knows how to give everyone their priorities...'
'You're just acting like his f**king fan or something' Renu cackled
'What!' Abdul became wide-eyed 'Stop using such language...'
'Ha ha ha Abdul' she stumbled around for a moment -the boisterous laughter throwing her off her center of balance
Taken aback, Jalal and Jodha instantly darted each other a troubled stare. Yes, Renu was quite unpredictable but this behaviour was very strange - even for her standards!
'She's not in her senses...' Jodha frowned
'No...she's had TOO much to drink...' Jalal let out a long sigh, before attempting to quell the rising tempers 'Hey guys...let's discuss this later'
'Jalal...does she have to start her tamasha here too?' Salim overrode him
'And Renu...' Maan queried, adding to the confusion 'Why are you always picking on Jodha?'
With her name being mentioned again, Jodha darted her more docile gang a tense look. Not surprisingly, Meera, Payal and even Sana - were just as flummoxed about the incidents.
Noticing how queasy his gang's showdown was making the ladies, Jalal ran his thumb on his temple in vexation 'Hey...please calm down...come on...'
'Jalal' Abdul replied back 'Why don't you ask HER to shut it first? She was the one who started it...'
'Yeah Jalal...waise bhi, I have to ask her why she's always treating us like slaves...'
'Shut up everyone...' Renu yelled aloud, out-of-the-blue 'Just SHUT THE f**k UP...'
'You shut it bitch!' echoed Salim's shocking retaliation, a second later. As it is, everyone had grown tired of her neverending whining - this tirade was the final straw. That and the fact that everyone was a bit drunk!
'Salim's right' Abdul added thereon 'Why don't you shut the f**k up, first?'
Appalled by the deteriorating situation, Jodha turned to Jalal to perceive his reactions. He was obviously unhappy - the childish display going on in front was turning out to be both, embarrassing and offensive!
'Jalal' she whispered, trying to get him to share his thoughts
'Yeah...' his jaw tightened, his stares still fixed upon the squabbling group. While he surely didn't like the manner in which Renu had spoken to them, he also didn't like the manner in which the group were ganging upon a lone woman - especially one who wasn't in her senses! 'Jodha...please give us a sec na...' he sighed 'I need to have a word with both, Renu and the guys...'
'Haan...' she nodded in accordance with his judicious advice 'We'll wait inside the house...' just as he'd starting making his way towards the hostile gathering, she called out to him softly - there was something in her mind she'd been meaning to share 'Jalal...please don't be too hard on Renu...I think she's just very very insecure...'
Steadily bringing his pace to a halt, he turned around in silence. It was only for a second - but, even amidst all that turmoil - her words had managed to erase the worry lines on his forehead. God, what a woman she was - capable of depicting earnest concern for someone who'd always shown her nothing but bitterness. No wonder then, that her virtues set her apart from most others he knew!
'You're amazing Jo...' he smiled tenderly 'Never a bad word.. for anyone...'
'I know' she smiled back - observing the 'proud boyfriend' look reflecting in his gazes 'But don't speak too soon...' she giggled mildly 'You have no idea the kind of words I used to call YOU by...'
'You think I haven't guessed?' Jalal laughed to himself, before reverting his glances to his rowing mates 'Anyway, I better go'
Concluding their 'moment' with a sweet wink, the man resumed his trek towards the other end of the portico - the sticky issue had shown no signs of abating yet!
'I understand Abdul...' he placed a firm hand on his bestie's shoulder 'SHE is not in her senses...SHE is rude...but, how does it make sense for us to behave in the same manner sabke saamne?' he glanced at Salim 'And what happened to you today, mister...zyaadaa pee liya kya?'
'I didn't like how she was creating misunderstandings...using our names to exaggerate HER issues...' Abdul explained after a minute or so 'But, you're right...I overreacted...stupid of me!'
There was a long spell of stillness amidst the four following that admittance - after all, dealing with 'emotions' weren't one of men's specialties. However, by the time Jalal thought up some sane words to dispel the touchy matter, Maan spoke up for the sorry-ish batch 'You're right...things DID get out of hand...'
'Haan yaar...' Salim nodded
'Hey...' Abdul spoke up, a fresh gusto seeping into his manner 'Forget about all this...I'm grabbing some Nimboo Paani to sober-up us silly drunkards...' he raised his voice - so the sulking Renu could hear it too 'Does SOMEONE else want Nimboo Paani too?'
'Leave her alone...' Jalal chuckled, beginning to nudge his mates into the farmhouse 'I'll have a word with her...'
Before long; the guys had exchanged a few clumsy grins and parted ways - gladly letting Jalal have the difficult job of tackling the problem-maker!
'Hey pagal' he greeted her as he approached her spot
Renu was still looking the other way - she couldn't afford to let him catch her tearful eyes. She'd always boasted of how much she hated girlie tears - and it had to remain that way 'I'm sure you have something mean to say too...' she grumbled
'Renu' he exhaled deeply, leaning against the balustrade beside her 'Yahaan dekho...' he patiently waited for his downcast pal to turn to him, before he could broach the subject 'I'm not going to mince my words ... please tell me... why this constant animosity towards Jodha and I?' he observed how she was continuing to avert his gazes, so he arched down - and jovially peeked into her angry eyes 'I always make it a point to return your calls or texts...like Abdul said, we're still very much the same gang as before...then, WHERE am I going wrong?' he waited for a response once again - but, she didn't seem to be able to give him one - even after a few minutes. Gradually losing the willingness to endure her muted stance, Jalal shrugged his shoulders in disappointment 'Why are you constantly DEMANDING attention from me? What HAS happened to that independent confident tomboyish friend I knew of...what has gotten over you?'
'I admit I never liked her gang much Jalal...and especially HER!' ultimately came Renu's curt declaration
His sceptical frowns deepened - he knew that a few more discomforting confessions were to make their way, but he had to listen her out. At least, if this would help her deal with the permanent angst she had against Jodha and her friends!
'Yeah I'm VERY jealous that she's pretty and smart and spunky...' she cribbed 'Yeah, I'm VERY unhappy that our classy outings...our clubbing...our discos have now turned into garden picnics and antaksharis! Yeah, I am VERY sad that everyone else has found a partner ... even Abdul and Meera have grown close...but, that's NOT my main problem...'
Jalal folded his arms unhappily - waiting to hear what more venom she had to spit out. Something told him he wasn't going to like what was to come 'What's your problem then?'
'My main problem is that I'm scared... insecure... lonely ' she burst out into a volley of emotions, forcefully jabbing his shoulder as she did so 'I've lost MY BEST FRIEND forever... and THIS was something I feared the very moment I saw you gazing at her, the first week at uni...you're a different man now...'
'People change when they meet someone they love, Renu...'
'But you've changed for someone who cannot give you happiness Jalal!'
'That's enough, Renu!' he didn't like her tone
'I genuinely care for you...and my instincts have been telling me from the very beginning...' she threw her arms in the air 'Jodha is going to be the cause of so much hurt in your life...of your downfall...get away from her!' she repeatedly shouted out in a tipsy-fit 'GET AWAY when you can... she's bad luck...'
'THAT'S ENOUGH Renu...' the agitated man quashed her loud cries 'We will NOT have this pointless conversation again...' he rubbed his forehead in escalating annoyance 'You need to sober-up...if you want, I'll get you some water...' he suggested, eager to shift the topic.
Well, the friend didn't know what else to do to counter the unproductive statements and drunken drivel she was coming up with then. The only respite he had following that futile conversation was that Jodha hadn't been around to listen to something so hurtful!
- or so he'd thought!
THE FARMHOUSE KITCHEN
'She is going to be the cause of so much hurt in your life...of your downfall...get away from her when you can... she's bad luck...'
Jodha stared-on blankly as the sentences kept replaying in her mind - sincerely hoping that she could undo everything that had happened in the past two minutes. If only she hadn't heard those ominous words. If only she'd remained as ignorant of this statement, as she was about the remaining conversation between the two friends. If only she hadn't been near the kitchen window, making herself a hot cup of tea - just when Renu had spewed all that. If only - but, fate had willed otherwise!
'Hurt and downfall' - exactly the terms used by the anonymous texter in one of his messages too!
Nope, she wasn't suspecting Renu of being the texter. In fact, on following Jalal's advice - she wasn't pointing fingers at any of their friends till they could garner proof. Besides, she'd been receiving the lovey-dovey texts even BEFORE she was acquainted with his group and it made no sense for Renu to send her such flattery smses from then.
Why her heart had become so restless was because of the eerily dismal forewarnings in both. She couldn't understand why so many were out to jinx so beautiful a relationship they had - a relationship that was unimaginably precious to her now!
Why did Renu feel that Jalal would go through such pain because of her? How would she be the cause of Jalal's downfall? After all, there could be no one who wished greater happiness upon him than she did!
'NOOO' the fighting voices in her head retaliated simultaneously 'I WILL NOT let such things happen...' she paused, battling to renew her confidence 'I will not let any harm come upon him...'
She HAD to resurrect her morale. She HAD to perk-up her spirits. She could not let the fighter in her cower in fright. She could not let a few baseless dilemmas and drunken babble cloud her mind. She HAD to forget about this!
Jodha continued gazing through the large window, her mind still waging a hundred battles. Her attention had been fixed upon the distant end of the lawn for a while now - at the 'Reader's paradise', to be precise.
How happy and content she'd been till a few minutes ago - till Renu had made those worrying allegations. Damn, did insecurity have to be such a contagious malady?
THE FOLLOWING MONTH...
July; the month that followed, was an 'Uber-busy' period for the couple - the busiest of days they'd known so far.
For him, the calendar marked the Holy month of Ramadan - the month of fasting. Group meetings at the canteen had stopped altogether and even end-of-the-day catch-ups at college had become a rarity. His household was playing host to numerous family engagements. Special prayers featured his evening routine, weekends were taken up by visiting kin and any available spare time was devoted to Amal old age home. Basically; Jalal's diary was full!
For her, it was a month loaded with tasks of all sorts. The 2nd semester had brought with it fresh subjects and assignments. To top it, she'd been designated duties aplenty as part of the Annual Day organization team. Committee meetings and rigorous dance practice sessions had been added to an already packed daily schedule. Basically; Jodha's diary was full too!
Yes, the couple did manage to squeeze in a mini rendezvous once a day - but, bearing in mind their commitments, it rarely lasted for more than a few minutes. Nevertheless; they'd decided that for however long they met, they'd live those few minutes to the fullest and that is exactly what they did - recreating two hours of magic within a spell of two minutes!
THE SRI AUDITORIUM BACKSTAGE
'Ouch...these props weigh a ton' she winced in pain as she'd finish dropping the third of seven cartons in the holding area, backstage 'Phew... four more to go...and then a few bits to put away...' she counted in dread. She didn't know if it was the trek from the dais to the holding area that was getting longer or if it were the cartons that were getting heavier. All she knew was that the job was getting tougher.
Lectures, library stopovers, Annual Day responsibilities, a 45 minute gruelling dance practice - her day had had it all. Worse, she was enduring the bane of nearly every woman's life then - the first day of her period. Needless to say, the chaos had taken a toll on her back. She felt KNACKERED!
'Ouch' she grimaced again as she tried stretching her waist and back in every angle.
Anyhow, there was no avoiding this. She had promised the senior committee members that she'd get the stage organized by next morning. So, she better shake off her fatigue if she wanted it done quickly. Mustering any remaining strength left, Jodha stepped-up her speed as she sought the next carton.
'If only Jalal could be here now...' the enticing idea came from nowhere 'Kitnaa masti kartaa...he would...'
Just then, her thoughts were brought to a pause. She could hear a noise in the background - someone was in the main hall. She listened intently - the footsteps seemed to be approaching the backstage entrance.
'Wh...what!' a slow smile emerged on her lips - was it who she thought it was? Well, it had to be. She wouldn't mistake his gait.
When the steps reached the backstage doorway, she mischievously repeated her thoughts - 'aloud' 'If only Jalal were here...then he would...'
'Then he would...' echoed the husky voice at the back.
Before she could react, she found herself wrapped within the fervent enfolds of two tough arms, enclosing her all the way from behind 'Hug you this way...' he completed the sentence for her 'And do this...' he gave her a few gentle nuzzles on the soft corners of her neck
'Jalal' she giggled in delight, spurred-on by the tempting feel of his lips on her sensitized skin. God, this felt sooo good!
Nearly sweeping her off her feet, he spun her around so she'd face him. Bringing her giggles to a halt, she gave him a long sweet kiss on his handsome lips - knowing how much he loved it when she welcomed him that way
'Hi boyfriend' her eyes twinkled 'You HERE...now?'
'Hey sexy' he grinned back 'Aise hi...missed your smiles...' breaking away from the lure of her presence he scanned the organized spaces around him 'So you've been doing THIS till now? All alone?' he glimpsed at his watch It's nearly 6:15!'
'Errr' she stuttered, sheepishly 'I did have a few helping hands till sometime ago...'
'And you haven't had anything since lunch, right?'
Unable to recall when her last meal was, she swiftly slapped her forehead with exaggerated dramatics 'You're right Mr.Muhammed...I don't think I have!'
'And you skipped breakfast too?'
She looked east and west and up and down - like a little girl would - before meeting eyes with him 'Do biscuits count?'
The grim boyfriend glared, unimpressed!
Studying his 'Oh-so-cute' anger, she held her ears apologetically 'I'm sorry! You know how it's been...'
Observing her ongoing playfulness, Jalal realized that she wasn't going to take him seriously. So, hastily plonking his bag on the floor, he decided to take matters into his own hands - he knew his girlfriend well enough and nothing else would work 'Not only do you overload yourself ... you have to do everything PERFECTLY...' he groaned, rolling his navy blue sleeves up 'Sit in the main hall...have the cheese sandwhich I got for you, before it gets soggy...it's there in my bag...I'll move these cartons, finish up and join you...'
Her peppy frowns vanished at once 'Jalal...you HAVE to get home...to say your prayers and break your fast...'
'You break your fast first...' he got down on the floor in order to get his hands dirty 'Then, I can break mine peacefully...'
'Fine, I'll eat...' she jested, as she saw him beginning to push a box into place 'But, AFTER we finish this together'
Jalal looked up with a disapproving stare - his girl had already grabbed the other end of the box!
'Ten minutes is all we get to ourselves these days...' she explained 'And you think I'm going to just disappear... eat by myself...leaving you here alone...'
He glanced down for a moment - a vain attempt to hide the slightest smile that'd escaped his lips. Well, with such an adorable statement from her, how could he hold on to his serious frowns for any longer?
THE SRI AUDITORIUM - MAIN HALL
Having stretched out his hands for a second, Jalal slumped back on the joint row of vacant chairs they were occupying 'YOU used to scold me for my wrong food habits...' his voice echoed in the empty hall 'Do you realize...how patli you've become...'
OKAY! She wasn't even going to ask him how he knew that because he'd just counter her with something naughty - so she shrugged him off coolly instead 'Not MY fault...YOU'VE spoilt me laad pyaar se...'
She turned to study the guy relaxing beside her - his 'stern' look was still on 'Arre...' she put-on a 'puppy-dog' frown 'Ok baba...from tomorrow, paratha for breakfast, rice for lunch and phulkas for dinner... happy?'
'You know Jalal...mamma would be so proud of you if she heard this...'
'Your MAMMA' he stressed on the word, just like she had 'Would be very proud of me even otherwise... dekhna, one day I'll become her favourite...'
'YES way!' he teased
'Dream on' she teased back as she nonchalantly shifted closer to him - till her back was leaning against his warm physique.
Observing her antics, Jalal broke out into an amused grin. He knew exactly what that gesture of hers meant. A second later and he was gently running his fingers through her hair strands - knowing how much she loved it when he caressed her that way.
Cuddled within his comforting grasp, indulged by his soothing finger-play and feasting on a simple snack he'd got her - Jodha was nearly on her way to paradise. However, her journey was rudely interrupted when she was jolted by an unexpected strong wave of period spasms cramping her hip muscles.
'Owww' she grit her teeth and tried bearing it silently - but, after a point of time it became too much to take 'Ouch...my back' she cringed
'Kya hua?' the anxious boyfriend immediately leaned forward 'What happened to your back?'
'No...nothing' she quickly shook her head, trying to dismiss the issue - while still clenching her tummy hard
He observed her agonized expressions and actions. Even her limbs were starting to quiver. For a short while he wondered if he should say something - and then decided to ask anyway 'Jo...if it'll make you any better, I can get you a pain killer or something...'
'Oh!' she darted him a confounded glimpse - he'd guessed what her problem was? 'No Jalal...' she muttered in a low tone 'I don't take tablets...'
'Fine... eat your sandwich...' he suggested tenderly 'I'll rub your back to help you feel better... you look shattered...'
'Err...no...it's ok...' she refused, finding herself abashed by the notion - till another cramp took over that is 'Ouuuch!'
'It's ok Jodha...' he whispered, trying to put her at ease
Honestly speaking, that calming voice alone was enough to relieve half her worries - but, her simple self was embarrassed nevertheless. So she was about to protest again, but too late - he'd already started working his miracles on her tired muscles.
Thereafter, she just wisely shut up.
'Wow' Jodha thought to herself after he'd gone on for a while - no one had ever done that for her before. The whole back-rub was beginning to feel more relaxing than any wonder-cure she'd tried till date!
Taking another bite of her sandwich, Jodha continued to enjoy the ongoing massage, her eyes now shut. She couldn't deny that in a very strange way, the entire 'awkward' situation between them was beginning to have a 'cute and homely' - a 'husband-wifey' ring to it. Especially the earnest manner in which he was pampering her on an 'Off-day'
'Gosssh' she abruptly stopped, when she realized how far she was getting carried away 'I used to get irked by the very mention of marriage ...and now...I'm visualizing us as a couple?' she paused, thanking the Lord he couldn't see her scorching cheeks 'All YOUR fault Jalal...you've successfully turned Jodha Singh into the very Bollywoodized Simrans and Priyas that I could never relate to...'
Suddenly, her dreamy thoughts were brought to a standstill - she'd just heard a 'hungry' rumble go off in his empty belly.
'God...' she remembered. The poor chap hadn't had a sip of water from dawn and was deliberately staying behind out of his concern for her. However, she also knew he wouldn't budge till she ate up her dinner - so, she gobbled up the rest of the sandwich - within 1 minute flat!
'Thanks for the LOVELY massage boyfriend... I wish we could stay for longer but, we have to leave...I miss our long chats ...' she confessed, as she sat up 'Anyway, Eid's nearly here...and the Annual Day function too gets over in four weeks...then, we'll be free again...'
'Did it strike you...' he interrupted her premature celebrations with a thoughtful sigh 'That after Annual Day...'
The glee on her face disappeared within a second. After Annual Day was exam time! That meant that it would be the end of his MBA fourth semester. That indicated that it would be the end of her boyfriend's college life! That signified the end of a lot of other 'good' things they were currently enjoying. That also meant that the logistics of meeting up everyday would pose more problems for both.
'Nooo' she rebelliously whined soon after 'I don't like sad countdowns...only happy countdowns...I want to go to bed with a big smile on my lips today...so don't remind me of all this now...' turning around, she picked up his palm and assertively put it against her cheek 'I'm just going to enjoy the time we have together now Jalal...we'll deal with it when it comes...'
'Ok' he laughed softly, admiring her positivity
'I'm going to have such fun this Annual Day...' she vowed, gazing at his eyes 'I'm gonna freak out with you like never before...'
'And I'll make sure you do!' he rewrapped his lovely girl in a delightfully firm hug
Oh yes, the ecstatic duo's hopes weren't unjustified. After all, 'The Annual Day' brought plenty of fun and frolic into any college student's life. It was meant to be a joyous time!
What this besotted couple were blissfully unaware of, was the fact that 'The Day' was also going to bring about an encounter of another kind into their young lives - an encounter of a more sinister nature! The fateful day was to bring them a devastating chance-meet with a few grotesque realities - realities that would threaten the very foundations of their perfect relationship!
Coming up - The Annual Day
Hope you enjoyed it and if you did please leave me a like/comment so it encourages the writer in me to keep going
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OSR PART 35
THE SRI RAMAKRISHNA INSTITUTE - MAIN AUDITORIUM
'I take great pride in being presented with the opportunity of welcoming so august a gathering on the Forty First Annual Day celebrations of Sri Rama Krishna Institute of Business.
Before going ahead to announce the order of programmes we have listed out for today, I would like to take a moment to thank all those who've helped shape this momentous event into a successful one - our tutors, our committee volunteers, the participants and last but not the least, our Honorary Chief Guest.'
With that mention; the vibrant junior looked up from her mike on stage - and at the majestic VIP seated in the front row. However, just after she'd greeted the Chief Guest - her glances incidentally fell upon the welcome committee members in the row behind him - a 'special' face amongst those members, to be precise. No doubt, that exceptionally striking profile would have been difficult to miss even in the largest of crowds. Nevertheless; how surreal that despite the glaring spotlights and the sea of faces staring at her, she was meant to see HIM!
A mellow haze took over her features as she caught him intently watching her with a knowing smile. At that instant, Jodha knew what was going on in his mind - he was reliving their first encounter, from nearly a year ago. It was only for a second, but that second was enough to bring to mind the 'invocation song' incident - she on stage, struggling without a mike - he enjoying the scenes from the audience after having sabotaged her performance. My, what a 'fun' journey they'd had ever since.
Anyhow; the last thing her man wanted to do NOW was to sabotage her efforts. So before anything adverse could happen, he swiftly looked away - and she back at her papers, hoping that the brief pause wasn't too noticeable.
'And on that grateful note...' she continued, stifling a grin just in time 'Let us all take delight in the variety of programmes that are about to unfold on this illustrious evening. Let us all embark on this beautiful journey together - a journey that will unravel talent and creativity through splendid cultural displays of music, dance and drama. A beautiful journey that shall be a testament to the fact that our Institute does not limit its achievements to academic excellence alone.
The first in the series of performances we have outlined for today is ...'
'Do you know?' Abdul nudged the guy sitting beside him - interrupting Jalal's reverie with a low whisper 'Since Maan and Salim are part of the catering committee... they're helping themselves to a bonda every fifteen minutes...Maan's texted me now...not fair!'
Jalal broke out into a smile. Leaning towards Abdul, he murmured quietly 'Tho jaao... join them na...slip out slowly...no one will notice...'
'Hmmm' Abdul nodded 'I would have gone...but Meera's participating in the play ...and I promised her I'll be here to watch...waise bhi Maan and Salim are in the canteen...and the rest missing somewhere...' he shrugged 'Tho at least WE should stay back yaar...'
'Ok' Jalal slowly nodded, a very sly frown taking over his brows 'That's VERY thoughtful of you, dost!'
'Shut up' Abdul murmured, thwarting his bestie's jovial hints on the 'Meera' topic 'Waise bhi' he quickly shifted the discussion 'I met a few other girls in her play' his eyes gleamed 'They are HOTTT yaar...'
'Best of luck' the charming friend laughed quietly
'I need luck yaar...ten years se I've been trying...' rolling his eyes with mock-sadness, he nudged his mate again 'Waise, some guys have nothing to complain about...' he indicated towards the stage and at the stunning junior who was coming to the end of her announcements 'She looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G dude!'
Breaking out into an even wider grin and a 'vindictive' one at that, Jalal stealthily reposed back - making doubly sure that what he said could be heard by Abdul alone 'I know she looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G dude, but she is M-I-N-E dude...so...'
'Haan...haan...Mahapurush...she is all YOURS!' Abdul giggled in rapid retreat, without any jests or jokes to follow.
Well, Abdul would have had something to tease him back, had he known the kind of thoughts running amok in that handsome head of his friend's. Fortunately for Jalal Abdul was no psychic, because the notions in his head - the ones that'd started from the very first moment he'd set sight upon HER that eve - were quite scandalous, even by typical 'Jalal' standards.
'Stunned' would be a very mild term to use to describe Jalal's first reactions as Jodha made her grand entry on stage. The man was practically blown-away! At that very second, he thanked the Lord that his responsibilities as a welcome committee member were restricted to ushering the Chief Guest in - anything more substantial and a big chance he would've messed up! Well, his girl's beauty was something he always admired - but today was something on a different level altogether - a visual onslaught on his senses on many fronts!
The folds of her sheer saree delicately moulded around that effeminate form, the deep red embroidered zardosi fabric perfectly setting off that dusky skin, the salon-styled hair that glided all the way from shoulder to waist, the petite choli, the sleek hip chain dangling around those sexy curves, the henna, the flower strands on her hair, the deep kohl, new golden heels, sparkling anklets, the swaying jhumkas - he was floored! Yes, he knew the elaborate get-up was all a part of her upcoming 'Diya Dance' act - but still, he was floored!
He'd NEVER seen his generally 'Simple-styled' Jodha this way. In fact, he'd never seen her in anything but salwars before, but he had no complaints - the urban boy in him was a big believer of casual-clothes and comfort-dressing.
However, TODAY had managed to amend that notion of his slightly. He'd fallen in love with this 'traditional' avtaar of hers - leaving him wanting for more.
As part of the evening's audience he sat back and took it all in with silent admiration - be it, the tenacity with which she coordinated the events, the flair with which she made the announcements or the impeccable grace with which she performed her 'Diya Dance' later. Furthermore, her confidence that reflected through all of it was remarkable. She had faith in her talents, she was proud of her accomplishments and she was pretty well aware of how many heads she turned as she walked by!
However; what completed this unparalleled picture for the poised young man, was how all that 'praise' and 'head-turning' meant little to his girlfriend. The person she valued the most was him and the only reactions she truly cared for were his! Under that proud persona of 'Jodha Singh' prevailed his beautiful 'Jo' who could love him like no other! Now THAT was what he loved most about his girl!
MAIN AUDITORIUM - GREEN ROOM
'Arre...' the engrossed junior turned away from the mess-of-a-room she was sorting out - and towards the door 'Hiii' a bright wide smile instantly lit up her features
'Finally we meet... Ms.Singh!' he stepped in and shut the door behind him
For a few minutes, there was nothing but absolute silence thereafter. He marvelled - and marvelled some more at her beauty from close quarters; till it reached a point that the embarrassed girlfriend could take it no longer
'Jalal...kyaa huaa?' she gushed and took a step back, trying to bring an end to his uninterrupted gazes. True, she'd expected those responses from him. Yet, Jalal's devilish grins were a formidable force to be reckoned with when they did arrive!
'I don't know where to start...' he shrugged 'I mean I can say that you look so unbelievably sexy in a saree that I have been able to concentrate on little else for the past four hours...but then, I think you already know that!'
'Achaa?' she giggled 'Waise...you seem quite handsome yourself boyfriend' she signalled towards the formal dress he was sporting - the form-fitting maroon kurta elegantly appointed with black embroidery and diamond neck buttons 'Never seen you in a Kurta either...' she concluded 'I like it...!' like it? Liar! She LOVED it - and far more than she was letting-on
Trying to compose himself a while later, Jalal proceeded towards her - closing-in on the gap between them 'By the way, Jo...you're pretty much dressed like a bride today...what's with the henna and all...'
'Arre' she took another bashful step back 'I told you na...yesterday was Teej...so the mehendi waala had come over...' she halted there. The very mention brought back such beautiful memories from the previous day. It'd been the most special Teej for her so far. Well, in a festival that Rajasthani women fasted for the long-lives of their better halves, it'd been the first time she actually KNEW the face of the man she was praying for!
'Oh yeah...you told me about it...' he muttered 'So you really fasted then?'
'Obviously...' she rolled her eyes
Woah! He was tongue-tied there for a few seconds. When she'd mentioned about observing a fast for him, a couple of days ago - he didn't think she was being serious about it. Now that he realized it was otherwise, he didn't know what to say. Nevertheless, what he did know was that he was very touched
'You know Jo...' the metro-bred modern college-goer fumbled for the right words to acknowledge such a traditional gesture 'I used to consider these filmy Karva Chauth-type movie scenes as yawn-fests...but now, when I hear you've done something like this... for ME...I...I...I'm finding it really really sweet...' moving towards her, he picked her hand with a mildly-emotional smile 'So, I guess I was on your mind yesterday...'
'Are you kidding?' she jested, though elated by his warm response 'Jalal, I HAD to recall your face throughout the day...no other go' saying so, she slipped her palm out of his clasp
Noting her repeated retreat, he frowned in surprise - that was the third time she'd stepped back from him in ten minutes. Intrigued by the strange 'touch-me-not' policy she'd taken on, he observed her curiously. Where were her enthusiastic welcome hugs? How come no assertive kisses she used to shower him with? Then suddenly, it struck him. It was the saree! Or rather, the risky consequences of wearing one in the vicinity of a wicked boyfriend!
'Hey Jo...I've been thinking' he said - tweaking up the number on his mischief-meter and advancing towards her. Just as she attempted to pull back once more, he swiftly held her wrist 'Arre wait...'
'Jalal' she chuckled, trying to wriggle her hand off. Obviously, she was well aware of his intentions 'I...er...er...'
'Kyaa?' he smirked, while reeling her in towards him
'Errr...' she signalled to the clutter 'Let me finish here first...' she jerked her wrist harder - and even managed to free herself, but alas! He was fast enough to catch the other one.
'I have a better idea...' he firmly drew her towards him 'Jo...why don't I finish first...and then we can sort out the mess together...'
'J...Jalal...' resisting his charms, she looked away nervously - but, that only meant he could observe how deep the scarlet on her cheeks were!
After another minute thus, he decided to bring their spirited tug-of-war session to an end! Hauling her towards him with an unyielding grip, he trapped her within his arms
'God' she averted his gazes and glanced down, bracing herself for what was to come
Deriving immense pleasure from her reactions, he deliberately took a long pause - before taking his hands to her hips and slipping them inside her saree, holding her by her bare waist.
No sooner that she felt his touch there, she shut her eyes and snuggled her forehead onto his chest. That was the only means by which she could hide her expressions from the devil. She knew she was acting like a demure village belle, but not her fault. The never-before sensations were crazy - the phenomenon felt more intimate than a kiss - and far more rousing than a nuzzle!
Unfortunately; much to her dismay - it wasn't going to end there. Well, it was 'Jalal' she was dealing with - so not surprisingly, he raised the intensity further. He took his own sweet time. His fingers took their own skillful course trailing over every inch of her soft waist, high and low - discovering every possible pleasure point there was!
'Gosh!' Jodha swore under her breath many times over - her forehead still stuck to his chest. She was sensing a fresh twinge of ardour with every new move of his. If he didn't stop this anytime soon, he'd just end up driving her insane. Funnily enough, all she needed to do to safeguard her sanity was to move back from him - but the whole frenzy was like a charge of current that'd caught her - where she knew she had to recoil, but she just couldn't! Maybe she should just smack the heartless brute on his head for showing her no pity - for driving her so wild - for making her experience such forms to thrill that she never even knew existed!
'Jalal' she ultimately found her voice, which had evidently become parched by now 'This is...'
'Nice?' he teased
'No' she argued with mock-anger, mustering the guts to meet eyes with him thence 'This is ticklish...'
'And nice!' he teased back
'Shut up!' she removed his hand forcefully and put it at a safer place - her shoulders, to be precise. Her poor heartbeats had galloped uncontrollably for so long that they needed a break for now! 'Tho haan..Jalal...where were we?' she stuttered
He didn't help her out with a reply. Well, she was quite capable of coming out of her stupor herself. The delighted boyfriend had more important things to do - like studying her flustered expressions for then!
'Oh yes' she recovered quickly enough 'The Teej pooja...where I had to recall your face all day...' she paused to observe his grins and promptly realized she had to come up with a diversion to prevent the likelihood of further pranks 'By the way Jalal...do you recall or imagine stuff about us too?' though she'd randomly come up with this typical 'girlie' question, she found herself quite curious to hear his answer on this one
'Are you kidding?' he utilized the same tone she'd used upon him 'Of course, I imagine stuff about us...'
Wow! She became wide-eyed. She had no idea guys did that too 'Like?' she asked with a spurt of curiosity
'Like today for example...' he paused 'I imagined us...' bending close, he whispered the rest into her ears
For the next few seconds all she could decipher was a vague string of risque words
'Oh my God!' she gasped, coming to her senses 'It's ok Jalal' the blushing junior instantly covered his mouth with her hand 'I got the gist...' what the hell was she thinking, asking him such queries? Once a badmaash always a badmaash!
Chuckling at her plight, he friskily removed her hand from his lips 'But Jo...I've only just started...'
Following a frustrated giggle, she put BOTH her hands on his mouth again - making sure she sealed it shut 'Oh I know exactly the kind of fantasies you've imagined, mister...'
'Not fair...' the humoured guy struggled to speak 'I listen to everything you have to say...but, when its my turn you don't return the favour...'
'No...no...it's ok...you keep it to yourself...'
'But.. I just...' at this point, he had to literally strive hard to move the hands off 'Ok...just... one...more...to say...'
'Nahiii...' erupting into a loud laugh, she tightened her hold on his face 'I don't want to hear about your wild imaginations...'
'Things eventually got so tough that the amused senior had to wait for her to bring her wrestling match to a halt - otherwise, there was no way he could complete what he had to say. After a short spell of stillness, she removed her hand with caution - still suspicious of his intentions.
Having watched her closely for a while, Jalal tucked his hand into her hair and gently pulled her face close to his 'I am dating the loveliest lady on this planet...' his lips touched hers 'Then why would I be imagining about reading poetry to her under a tree?' he went on to give her a long firm kiss 'Be thankful your boyfriend's normal!' he started ardently making out, breaking away from her lips only for a moment to conclude his confession 'And I DO envision us as a couple Jo...sometime down the line..once I've settled down and all...I envision us as the happily-ever-after types...'
Wow! That felt like the best thing anyone had ever said to her! This man knew exactly how to make her feel so special! Feverishly running her hands behind his neck, she joined him in the kiss. She was at such a happy place in her life just then. This whole scene could have gone on forever and she wouldn't tire of it!
'You look so cheerful...' he studied the sunny glow on her features once they'd parted lips 'No one can say you've been on your feet since this morning...'
'Because I AM so cheerful' she admitted, while still in his arms 'We had such fun with our friends this morning ...then masti with the girls backstage...the Annual Day was a success...my lecturers LOVE me... and now, I'm coming to the best part of the day...'
'Well...' he beamed 'You deserve all this happiness...and more Jo!'
'I haven't finished!' she spoke up 'I'm allowed to stay out till 11pm tonight, do you know?'
His cocked his head in surprise 'Wow! How did that come to happen?'
'Looong story...' she let out a heavy sigh 'Yesterday Teej na... relatives came home... same discussions again... ristha...shaadi...Rishabh...achaa ladka...God...' she watched how the joy on his face began dulling down, so she decided to conclude the annoying news swiftly 'Anyway, after they left a big argument broke out at home...my whole family literally ganged upon me for continuing to refuse the ladka...' she rolled her eyes in vexation 'Finally...bhaiyya felt sorry for me...so, after a few tantrums...I got my way...yayyy...' she winked, at the conclusion of her success story 'I'm allowed to stay out till late to enjoy my Annual Day!'
'They seem to be really determined...' he frowned 'Both your family...and Rishabh's!'
'Yeah...whatever' she exhaled, before making another hasty attempt to move away from the subject 'Jalal tell me what shall we do now...it's 8:30 na...we have more than two hours to ourselves...' her eyes suddenly twinkled in glee 'How about a long drive?'
'What?' he grimaced 'Drive around in this poky kurta? No way!' he stared-on, deep in thought - till he hit upon a more feasible and yet interesting plan 'Let's go to my place...Ammi's in Mumbai na...Shantamma's on leave too...we have the whole house to ourselves...we'll grab a DVD on the way, order pizza in...chill out...what say?' he ended it with a reminder 'Waise bhi your scooty's parked at my house...'
'Oh yeah...' she grinned in slow realization. The whole proposal sounded more practical - and like a whole load of fun too 'Sounds good boyfriend!'
'One more thing...' his tone hushed down 'I have something to give you today...and it's at my place'
'Jalaaal' she glared
'Well' he assumed a playful look - and mock-coughed 'Someone was supposed to give me something' he coughed 'A painting' he coughed 'So long ago...' he coughed 'No one remembers how long ago...' he coughed 'So I bought this to remind her of my gift gone amiss!'
'Hey Bhagwan' she chuckled at his silly 'coughing' drama 'I've been so busy na...so it's taking longer...' a serene trance replaced the amusement in her eyes 'I want it to be perfect...so I'm going slow...' she started toying with the diamond buttons on his Kurta, a subtle guilt now seeping into her tone 'Jalal...you do realize I wouldn't be able to do any justice to your gift, right? I'll have to hide it away...'
He smiled understandingly, caressing her cheek with a finger 'I don't care even if you don't take it home Jo... I just wanted to get it for you...'
Awww! She was touched 'I'm sure I'll love it boyfriend...' gradually snapping out of the blissful aura that'd taken over them, Jodha indicated to the clutter they were swamped in 'Now let me finish sorting...'
'You gotta be kidding me...' he interrupted. It was the first time in the past fifteen minutes she'd said something he wasn't too happy about 'Jo, all our plans will come to nothing... poora time yaheen nikal jaayegaa...why not let the rest of the volunteers do it?'
'Jalal, they have worked very hard too...and it'll only take me fifteen minutes!'
She tried placating him by stepping up her feminine charms. However, even that didn't work. He turned away, mildly displeased.
Seizing him by his cheeks thereafter, she turned him around so he'd have to face her 'Ok Mr. Angry Young Man... let's save some time...you go to the car park...' she bent down to pick up all of her personal belongings 'Please put these in the car boot...start your car...wait at the entrance...and I'll join you...'
He frowned grimly 'I know you're not going to come in fifteen, Jo!'
'I WILL...' she promised with an innocent stare 'If you stay here, we'll just be fooling around...that's why I'm asking you to wait in the car...then, impatient ME will finish here quickly to join you soon...'
He didn't respond - for some reason he wasn't too happy about this entire arrangement - him going off, she staying behind - he didn't know why, but he just wasn't!
'I promise you Jalal...only fifteen minutes!' she pleaded 'There are some expensive stuff lying about which I need to put away...and I'm responsible for that!'
'Ok...' he sighed finally, relieving her of the bags. He was still not-too-happy about this - but, there was no point in acting unreasonable. She had to do what she had to do! 'I'll take these to the car...and if you don't get there in fifteen minutes na...' he sneered playfully 'You wait and watch what I do to you later...'
'Ok ok baba...I'll accept any punishment of yours then...' she giggled and brusquely nudged him out of the room.
'Hmmm' the amused junior straightened herself, soon after he'd left 'I better finish this ASAP!'
Rushing back into the messy room, she wasted no time in getting started with her chores. She began with sorting the stuff into two cartons - when from nowhere, an odd feeling unexpectedly crept upon her. It felt like someone was standing behind her. Watching her. It made the hair on her neck stand on end. Baffled, she cast a hasty glance at the door, but there was no one. So, she reverted to her tasks.
Out of the blue, the lights in the green room blew a fuse just then.
'Ar...arre!' she glimpsed at the dysfunctional ceiling-bulb, her eyes still struggling to cope with the abrupt black-out. How annoying! Worse, there was no source of light in the room - not even a window!
'My mobile' it struck her. Exhaling in vexation, she began running her hand on the table nearby. However, despite a thorough search she couldn't locate her phone in the pitch black confines
'Strange' she thought 'I'd definitely kept it here!'
Just then, she heard a weird creaking at the room's doorway - and immediately after, a CLICK of the latch.
Alarmed, Jodha swung around in the darkness to investigate - but, what she saw left her aghast. There was someone standing there. She could only see an obscure outline of the unfamiliar intruder, mummified in a scarf - but his two cruel eyes glaring back at her were unmissable. It instantly sucked out the colour from her face. Her heart began racing in fright!
'W...what! H...hel...' she started screaming for help - but alas! She could utter not a word more. The man had startled her by suddenly lunging forth, grabbing her by her face and prying an old rag into her mouth. He'd stuffed the large cloth in so harshly it'd nearly choked her throat, causing her eyes to water.
'Stoppp...' she tried screaming, struggling to push the man away - but he was too strong! Cornered ruthlessly, she continued to put on a brave fight, unwilling to yield. She tried kicking him. She tried running away. She fought him. She scratched him, but everything turned futile. It took the monster less than a few seconds to curb her efforts and tie her hands behind her back. Once he'd fastened the rope tightly, making her wrists sore - the crude man spun her around and pushed her against the wall - so hard that her cheeks were painfully squashed against it.
'Nooo...' she felt a severe lump in her throat 'Who are you...don't do this ...' of course - neither could he hear her pleas, nor would it have made any difference even if he could!
Yet, she battled to spur her spirits on 'Don't give up Jodha...think of something...DO something...' - but, what could the lone lady DO? She couldn't even let out a sound, forget scream. She didn't have the means to alert anyone. Jalal was far away. Her ongoing fights were only resulting in more frustration. So, what could she do? 'Can you recognize him?' she desperately tried working it out - but, in vain. Nothing gave him away - nothing about the medium-built black-eyed jeans-sporting criminal stood out! Besides, it was too dark and everything had happened too quickly!
'Ouch...nooo...' she grimaced in pain as he rammed her against the wall once again. By that point, the ogre well and truly had every advantage over her. She was left facing the wall - her face sandwiched by the force, both her hands shackled behind, his chest ramming against her spine and her legs trapped by his thighs.
'Hello beautiful...' he started digging his face into her hair - sending a shiver of disgust through her limbs 'Missed me? I'm your fan...your anonymous texter...'
Hope you enjoyed and if you did please leave me a like/comment as it really helps the writer in me to keep going
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Joined: 14 February 2005
OSR PART 36
SRI AUDITORIUM, BACKSTAGE - THE GREEN ROOM
'Goddd it's the stalker!' she lamented when he'd just confirmed her worst fears 'What does the horrid creep want?' For the first time since her ordeal began, she felt her fingers tremble - a blatant sign of her growing dread 'No...no...don't give up Jodha...' she tried to regroup herself 'Maybe you can recognize his voice...'
Unfortunately; even those hopes of the lone junior weren't meant to be!
When he dug his face into her hair once again, his ensuing eerily hoarse words seemed to be muffled by his scarf, masking his original voice -
'Hmmm...just as I thought...just as I thought...' he constantly chanted to himself 'Heavenly...just as I thought..' he went on and on!
Sickened by his revolting actions, Jodha repeatedly tried jerking him off her back - but to no avail. He appeared to be lost in some bizarre trance, delving deeper and deeper into every strand of hair - till the outline of his face reached the rear of her neck.
'Nooo...stop...' she fidgeted in distress when he callously plunged-on, stroking the sides of her neck and her throat with his glove-covered-hand and scarf-covered-face 'Stop...pleaseee...'
In another ensuing frantic attempt to save herself, she tried to stomp his feet with her heels. Alas, he'd predicted those intentions of hers too - and firmly straddled his thighs around hers just in time. She could do nothing now. She was unable to elbow him. She was unable to shove him aside. She was unable to even dodge his creepy touch. She'd tried every maneuver she'd seen in movies and read in stories that made such 'escape' scenes look so easy - the reality was anything but!
Left with no other options thereon, Jodha bit down on her shivering teeth and scrunched-up her eyes in terror every instance that she was subjected to a lewd advance on her neck.
'No I can't give up...' her plunging morale abruptly bounced back when she realized that the tremors in her hands had become uncontrollable now 'Think...think of Jalal... think of bhaiyya...everyone admires you for your resolute...don't give up!' continuing to squirm in his clutches, she fought and fought and fought on to resurrect her dying grit 'This psycho calls himself your fan...so maybe he wouldn't hurt you... maybe... maybe...' she suddenly stopped
Her eyes started welling up. A heightened spurt of panic took over her being 'Nooo... no... no... no... please...' she rebelliously jolted in her stifling confinement, utilizing all reserves of energy she could - she'd just guessed his upcoming moves - and the very thought was unbearable.
Removing the fastener of her necklace, he let the heavy jewellery drop to the floor to be able to access her bare shoulders
'Just as I thought' he persevered, touching the soft skin near her collar-bone - before moving on to her saree pin 'You are pure...you are divine... you are virginal... you are mine!'
'No... no... no... no ...no...' she persisted, defiantly thrashing around to free herself from his hold. However, her assailant was more determined and more powerful than her - worse, he had no qualms using brute force if needed. The violent moments that followed only led to further misfortune for the hapless prisoner - not only did the skirmish cause the saree folds on her shoulder to rip. The pin gave way, letting its sharp end scratch her deeply
'Aaa aa aa' she screamed in agony as the pin came off - in agony of physical pain, in agony of humiliation and in agony brought about by an unparalleled feeling of helplessness. She swiftly tried the only resort she had left, turning her face around to view the attacker - so she could plead him with her grief-stricken eyes 'Please...please...please...don't do this...I beg you...'
'It's ok...it's ok...' he tenderly forced her face back against the wall, scolding her on a mild note as he did so 'Tch tch tch...now look what you've done...but, don't worry...I'll make it better!' moving her long locks to one side, he began petting her injured shoulder - with his hand - and then his face
'Nooo' she broke down, as his rough contours commenced scraping against her wound - causing the skin on her body to crawl 'Jalal please come back...please come looking for me...someone... SOMEONEEE... please...come...' she sobbed her heart out - though her pleas and cries were inaudible to anyone for the time being, even to God himself it seemed 'What have I done to deserve this...'
SRI - NEAR THE UNIVERSITY ENTRANCE
'Hmmm' he leaned forward to switch off the radio - none of the channels were interesting enough. Peeking at the time on his Tag Heuer, Jalal glanced back at the clock on his dashboard and then back again on his Tag Heuer - like that was going to help in any way. Through his car window, he made another sweeping scan of the dark near-barren university grounds. Nope! There was no sign of her - why, it appeared like she hadn't even left the Main Auditorium building yet!'Jo...your 15 minutes...er...' checking with his car clock, he corrected himself 'No...SEVENTEEN minutes are up!' tapping the steering wheel impatiently, he let out a flustered sigh 'So there goes our movie plans for tonight...rarely do we get such occasions together these days... after September, I wouldn't even be around in the campus... still, you'd rather spend OUR time cleaning up the green room?' his subsequent glances incidentally fell upon his image in the rear-view mirror - and thus upon the profound frowns on his face 'Woah Jalal...you're crankier than usual, aren't you?' pausing to re-evaluate his rising ire, he joked with his reflection 'Hey... there have been a couple of instances when you've become engrossed in work - and lost track of time too...she'll come Jalal...stop being a nag!'
That was obviously his mind trying to play Mr.Sensible - his heart hadn't settled down yet. Far from it. Those unfamiliar twinges of restlessness that'd surfaced ever since he'd left the auditorium - didn't go away. If anything, they were only getting more prominent!
SRI AUDITORIUM, BACKSTAGE - THE GREEN ROOM'What have I done to deserve this? Whom have I ever wronged?'
Now reduced to a hapless victim, Jodha was inconsolable. She was compelled to bear the brunt of her stalker's offensive overtures with no means to even uphold the basic resistance she had been putting up so long. While the cornered lady struggled to balance her loosened pallu with her chin to preserve her modesty, he plundered on mercilessly. The macabre feeling of his nasty hands on her shoulders and back was churning her stomach inside out. Her limbs were becoming exhausted from the unstoppable jitters. Her face had turned frigid in fear 'Nooo...please...' another silent scream resounded in her head a second later, just as he took the viciousness a step further by slithering his coarse profile along the designed backline of her choli. When his nose reached the blouse hooks, he stopped
'Nahiii...' she writhed in anguish 'Stop... no... no... Ambe Ma help me...why...why...why... ' she wailed under her breath, repeatedly reprimanding the Gods for her state 'Why are you doing this to me? Why did you make men physically stronger than women? And if you did...then, why make some such demons? How could you sit back quietly, watching them prey on women? Please help me... '
'My dear' he swiftly ceased the silence in the room by whispering near her ear, his accent still masked 'Stop crying...I never meant to hurt you...' he wiped the tears from her ghostly-pale cheeks 'Enough of all the sobbing and fighting...you must understand, it's not my fault...I was a very normal man going about my life reasonably well, till I met you ...then, everything changed overnight...I had everything under control, but YOU had to resurface this buried side of mine...' he gave her hair a long smooch - continuing to be lost in his absurd trance as he did so 'I would NEVER have sought you out today, if it had not been for you looking like my apsara...' he paused to run his fingers on her saree This red saree...' he touched the flowers in her hair 'These flowers...' he tinkered with her bangles 'These glass bangles...you're meant to be MINE... MINE ALONE! Only, you don't know it yet...' smothering the uncooperative hostage into near suffocation with a crushing hug, he fondled her face 'Now now... my doll... don't tremble... I will protect you from everyone ... especially from that swine...that womanizer, Jalal...'
'Jalal' the very mention - even by so callous a person - seemed to breathe some life into her semi-paralyzed body. Despite her ghastly situation - despite her silent tears - it somehow reignited the cold embers of her dead spirit. The hatred in her manner renewed, she turned towards her attacker with defiance. Though one part of her knew that she would be better off if she didn't challenge him, her subconscious started rebelling again. The escalating furor in her quickening breath and the arrogance in her ablaze eyes spoke volumes of her resurrected attitude 'As Jalal always says...' she mentally mocked the words that'd turned out to be a source of dark humour for her 'Even NOW you have to malign him to express yourself...namard kahin ka! When he comes here in search of me... you wait and watch what a REAL man is made of!'
Observing the re-emerging 'spark' in her will from the very second he'd mentioned his enemy's name, the stalker grew livid with rage. How DARE she fearlessly show such contempt for him - even when trapped in so deadly a crisis? How DARE she openly favour his rival 'Jalal' - even when her honour was at stake? Yielding to the crude wake-up call, the tyrant snapped out of the trance he'd been immersed in so long - an excessively inhuman streak materializing in his vicious frowns. Seizing her by her hair, he began shouting into her ears - his voice still unrecognizable 'I WARNED YOU TO STAY AWAY FROM HIM, BUT YOU DIDN'T LISTEN...' he ground his teeth in fury, grating on her already frayed nerves 'YOU WEEP AND WINCE IF I TOUCH YOU, BUT YOU HAVE NO QUALMS IF HE DOES SO? Promise me you're mine...PROMISE ME you'll leave him... and then I'll let you go now!' he anxiously awaited a positive answer Tell me...tell me... you'll leave him...NOD YOUR HEAD...' he helped her nod her head - and she mechanically gave-in, for the sake of pretense
However, he could see through her ruse - he could perceive that she was faking it to keep him at bay. The fury that'd been lidded for a moment returned with a vengeance 'You're LYING!' he roared menacingly 'You wouldn't leave him!'
Possessed; the psycho suddenly crawled his fingers inside her pallu grabbing her by her bare hips. He held her so hard there - his fingers dug into her skin so deep, that she found it difficult to even breathe!
'Nooo...STOPPP!' she howled and tossed in torment as a fresh volley of tears cascaded down her cheeks. The unforeseen turn of events left her feeling mortified. The disgrace of being violated in this manner shattered her from within. The rising pangs of physical pain gnawing at her waist, were insufferable. Even a brave soul like hers could take it no more. She felt debased. She was broken. She was crushed
'Jalaaal...' she bemoaned her doom 'SOMEONE...please... help me' she mentally screamed, simultaneously biting down on her tongue through the rag - so hard that she could taste the blood. She was desperate - she would do anything to become numb to the shame brought about by the physical abuse - she would do anything to nullify the misery of being manhandled this way
'Well...' he clutched her with all his might 'A short while ago, you didn't seem to have ANY issues when HE held you like this...then, why are you acting crazy now?'
Her head commencing to spin, Jodha ruefully strived to stay awake. Yet, his last sentence didn't miss it's mark 'You... didn't...have...issues ...when HE held you like this...' she whimpered in near-defeat as it reminded her of how cruel and twisted the many plays of destiny were.
Her instincts had been right all along - someone HAD been watching them. Regrettably, she'd refused to pay heed to her gut and stayed back at the green room, suffering this fate as a consequence. It was barely fifteen minutes ago that she'd considered herself the luckiest lady to walk this Earth - and now she was standing at the worst juncture in her life! It was on that very evening that she'd shared the most blissful moments of her relationship with Jalal - only for them to be deliberately defiled, one after another - by the madman.
SRI - NEAR THE AUDITORIUM ENTRANCE
'Twenty minutes...now THAT'S IT!'
Having re-parked the car near the auditorium entrance, Jalal swiftly turned the ignition off and got down from the driver's seat in a huff. Shutting the door harder than usual, he nodded his head unhappily as he beeped his vehicle into lock-mode 'Timekeeping is NOT one of your strong skills, is it? If I find you still busy dusting cobwebs there, I'll just put you on my shoulders and carry you back here...fir chaahe you smack me on my head for this!'
The cute visual of carrying-her-on-his-shoulders did manage to bring a momentary smile on his face, but that was nowhere enough to counter the growing unease he'd been experiencing during all of that wait in the car. Yes, he'd speculated that her mobile must be 'switched-off' due to low battery. Yes, he'd tried to reason that the delay in her return must be due to her losing track of time. Yet, the 'Something's wrong' feeling was becoming too potent to dismiss.
Nevertheless, he'd elected to be sane about this weird agitation in his psyche so he didn't lose his cool over it. After all, his decision to take matters into his own hands and revisit the green room himself should help with both - putting his mind at rest AND quickening the return of his workaholic girlfriend to him!
SRI AUDITORIUM, BACKSTAGE - THE GREEN ROOM
He watched her - both, awed and maddened. There she was - quivering in fright - and yet, standing on her two feet despite the harrowing strains on her mind and body. Her will was still battling it out despite his threats and abuse. He understood that she wasn't going to let go so easily. The pain or the humiliation he'd meted her hadn't forced her to succumb to him because she was deriving her strength from hope - deriving her confidence from her 'notions' of True love!
Then; it also went to say to that any harm upon her supposed 'True Love' would be her biggest weakness! Maybe, it was time she learnt some truths she knew not of - some hard truths that would show her he meant business - truths that would depict how depraved he really was capable of being!
'Fine...' he sneered, following the brief lull 'If you wouldn't leave him, I'll MAKE you DO it! You saw the extent I went to with you - and I LOVE you INSANELY...fir soch, what I can do to a man I HATEEE like Jalal!'
That message brought her ongoing struggles to a steady halt - his ominous tone was making her increasingly queasy 'No...don't believe him Jodha...don't believe him...don't believe him' she kept steeling herself'I can bring unimaginable harm upon him!' he paused, before making his ultimate revelation 'And I have!'
'What? C...can't be...what is he trying to say?' she tried not to concede to his mind-games, but she was unable to dismiss her soaring anxiety. She didn't want to show him her face - she didn't want to reveal her insecurities - but, she couldn't help it. Daunted by his intentions, she turned towards him to hear what more he was going to spew. After all, the man was deranged - who knew what extent he could go to?'His lovely pet...' he laughed maniacally 'Was the first to go!'
She froze in shock, for a second - before reminding herself that his theories made absolutely no sense 'Shut up you delusional moron! At least get your facts right...Robbie died of cancer!'
'It died of cancer...tch tch...' he mocked, his voice still cautiously disguised 'Well, YOU overlooked my texts and became his girlfriend...' the rascal explained 'So, I was consumed by anger...I had to vent...I wanted to vandalize... sabotage...his house...his family... something...so, I researched...and came upon this idea...one day as I drove by, I poured toxic pesticide on his front lawn... dumped it where his pet always lounged on... bichaaraa...within three weeks, he was gone!'
'No no no no no...' the devastated Jodha wept to herself 'He is misleading you...his theories are too far-fetched!'
'Robbie has been acting a bit strange lately... they've given him two weeks at the max...I should have seen the signs earlier...'
'I poured toxic pesticide on his front lawn where his pet always lounged...'
'He was in too much pain...the medicines and the check ups were not helping him in anyway...'
As she unintentionally went back and forth from Jalal's tragic words to the stalker's unthinkable disclosure, her determination was waging a losing battle 'He wants to terrorize you Jodha...no...don't believe him..'
'Hey' he snapped her out of her trauma by forcefully tugging her hair 'You still don't believe me, right? Maybe I should start taking more severe measures...' he shrugged nonchalantly 'Last time chemicals...maybe next, a fire magically breaks out on his porch... in his house...last time it was his pet, maybe next time other members in his household...'
'No no no...' she literally begged with her tired damp eyes, emotionally vanquished by his tyranny 'Please don't do this...what has HE done to you...what have WE done to you...'
'Till one day...' the oppressor prodded on cruelly, unmoved by her pitiable state 'I finally get my chance to corner HIM this way...and when I do...' he scoffed 'It'll give me such pleasure to drive the shining blade of a knife into his flesh...ensuring that he dies slowly... and then, I'll let the helpless swine watch, while I make you mine... in front of his very eyes...'
'Enough please' the demoralized prisoner slowly thumped her forehead against the wall in overpowering grief. She could take it no longer. No amount of resolve could prepare her for the distress she felt when she had to listen to such sadistic messages about the man she loved!
Watching her responses, he curtly punched the wall beside her 'That is EXACTLY what I HAVE been feeling for so long when I see HIM...' his shrieks were abruptly interrupted
The distant echoes came from the corridor outside the green room.
'Jalal' a drained smile, made its long last appearance on her tearful face 'Ummm ummm ummm' she tried to protest aloud at once, but was soon muffled-up by the attacker - and even more atrociously than before. He'd pressed her nose now - giving her no chance to even breathe, forget shout!
'You better keep your mouth shut' he snarled into her ears as she continued to gasp for breath 'If you want me NOT to DESTROY him, you better not breathe a word about anything that went on here...to him, to the authorities or to the police...get it?'
'Jodha' the call came again from the pitch-dark corridors, this time a bit louder 'Arre yaar, where are you?' there was a brief pause, followed by a few puzzled self-comments 'The lights are off... and the door shut? Where's she gone? JODHAAA...'
Thence; the footsteps that could be clearly heard from the verrandah, started becoming less audible once again - Jalal was leaving!
'Do something...quick' the weakened junior frantically strained to resurface for some air using every last ounce of stamina she had left 'Ummm ummm ummm' she tried making noises, but they weren't loud enough. She tried banging a nearby metal table with her knee but that wasn't working either. She tried clinking her bangles and anklets but that was very difficult too 'Nooo don't go...please...hear me Jalal...' she felt faint
There was nothing but stillness for a whole minute...
'Jo, are you there?' his voice echoed once more - much to her surprise - and that too from just outside the green room door 'Who's in there? I heard some noises...'
'Yesss' she cried in utter relief - she'd nearly given up, but her ploys had worked! He'd returned! 'Ummm ummm ummm' she exerted to make herself heard once more, despite the savage treatments she was receiving in retaliation from the lunatic.
'JODHAAA! What's happening?' her boyfriend thundered in response, his tone now evidently distraught. A second later, the latched wooden door was rattling like it'd been struck by an earthquake - what with Jalal smashing against it with all his might.
Visibly stunned the developments, the stalker loosened his hostile grip from her limbs for the first time in twenty minutes. Before Jodha could make further sense of the situation, he brutally pushed her away onto the floor and grabbed an abandoned window-grill rod from a corner.
A second later, and there was a loud BANGGG! The door had crashed open. The aggressor had unlocked the latch himself and let the door swing - confounding the couple by his actions.
'What the hell!' Jalal exclaimed, as he tried to identify the seemingly disturbing scenes in the unlit room. However, within the moment that he took to come to terms with it, his unknown enemy had chosen to make his move - stepping out of the shadows, the scoundrel confronted his not-wholly-prepared visitor by hurriedly beating him with the rod.
'Arggghhh!' the alarmed senior fell on his knees, grimacing in the pain now pulsating across his left arm - thankfully, he'd managed to raise his other arm up in time to firmly grip the rod and stop an ensuing hit.
Unfortunately; by the time he could recover from the unanticipated attacks and seize the bully, he was furiously kicked down - allowing the man to find his escape route in the meanwhile.
'Jodha' Jalal immediately stumbled towards his girl's slouched figure thereafter, shocked by whatever he could make out in the poor lighting 'W...what happened...' he rushed to remove the rag from her mouth 'Who...what did that bas***d do to you...' the ropes came loose in a frenzy 'J..Jo...'
'Jalal...' the lifeless lady wheezed soon after she could breathe again - and pointed in the direction that the assailant had dashed out 'The stalker...'
'WHAT!' His eyes instantly widened in horror, trailing towards the green room exit 'That f**ker he...' applying a momentary brake on his exploding rage, the emotionally-driven boyfriend turned back to his love for a moment. He touched the outlines of her face to feel her pain. In the darkness, he couldn't see anything clearly - neither her pallor, nor her expressions, or her injuries. He had no idea of what had transpired. So, he needed to know she was alright first 'Jo...a...are...you... fine...c...can you stand up?'
'I'm fine Jalal...' she lied, nodding faintly 'Now go...get him, if you can...'
'I will...' his eyes flashed like live coal, as he let the anger take over. The blasted beast had dared to lay a finger on his girl and he deserved every bit of suffering that was coming his way 'I'll go now...you wait in the car and lock yourself in...' he tossed her his keys 'I'll be back...'
Waiting for her man to sprint out of the door, Jodha succumbed to her plight and slumped on the floor in absolute misery.
Sadly, her ordeal hadn't ended - au contraire, it'd only begun!
SRI AUDITORIUM - THE CORRIDORS
He strained to hear the sounds - to doubly ensure he was hearing it right. It'd taken him a testing short while of staying absolutely still. It'd taken him a tense few seconds of staying put and doing nothing - but, the patience had paid off - it'd saved him invaluable 'search' time and given him a candid advantage over the fugitive. From his spot behind the corridor doors, he could finally hear the fleeting light-steps of the stalker in the main hall.
The young man cautiously stepped out of hiding and into the hall to confirm his suspicions. He was right - a dim shadow lurking low amidst the rows of chairs was making its stealthy way across the large auditorium.
His blood boiled at the sight.
Gearing up for the chase like a provoked predator, Jalal rolled his fist into a rock and bolted through the rows in a flash. His heart pounding fiercely and the 'rush' burning the skin on his face, he skipped over every other row to gain footing. He was determined - he wouldn't let the escapee get away!
Abruptly alerted by the sudden pursuit, the stalker accelerated his long strides in response. He had an obvious edge over his pursuant in that he was leaps and bounds ahead - and if he managed to exit the hall in time, there would be no catching him. He was determined - he wouldn't let the chaser get him!
In an attempt to safeguard his retreat, the cunning stalker played hard thereafter - toppling chairs along the way and even slinging random objects in the direction of the man behind him. However, Jalal was no less - pre-guessing the vile tactics, he managed a timely duck-and-dodge every instance that something came blitzing towards him.
Slowly but steadily, the distance between the enemies lessened...
and lessened some more!
His desperation pushed the stalker to run as fast as he could, but it was becoming evident that the chaser had the distinct advantage of being the better athlete of the two...
By one point, Jalal was barely an arm's breadth behind the man. Reaching his hand out to catch the fugitive's shirt, Jalal battled to close-in on the last few inches for a few moments - till another burst of adrenaline surging through his throbbing veins pushed him, making up for the gap
'Aaarrrgh' a loud scream echoed in the hall as Jalal's fingers furiously clawed into the rogue's flesh - imprinting five deep gashes on his back as he'd tried to clench the shirt in a fit of outrage.
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