Joined: 17 January 2013
"But...Zoya, what exactly are you planning to do with the dark lord?" Tanya hurried across the corridor, trying to match pace with Zoya.
"You'll get to know that in...ummm..." Zoya checked her watch "half an hour. So till then, keep guessing." She had a mysterious smirk on her face.
"Oh come on, Zoya! Who're you playing with? I think I already know what your plan is." Tanveer's eyebrows danced mischievously as Tanya stared at her, apparently clueless of what was going on.
"You think so sweety? well, I am sorry to burst your bubble, but I don't think it's something your pea-sized brain can think of, specially when it's already overstuffed with 'Mills & Boons' type ideas." Zoya pinched Tanveer's cheek and smiled.
"Hey, Miss Z, what's up?" it was the familiar falsely sweet tone of Shanaya Srivastava.
"Shanaya, ah, what a pleasant surprise!" Zoya rolled her eyes in mock admiration. "Where's your dance partner? I thought you two are going to take part in 'India's next dancing superstar' or something like that!"
"Oh, cut the crap, Zoya! Just because he's not interested in you doesn't mean nobody else can have him! Wait a minute, do I smell insecurities?" Shanaya narrowed her eyes "Maybe Queen Z is losing her charm on boys! tch, tch!" her lips twisted in a lopsided smirk.
"You can have him as much as you want, Shanaya, 'cause it's the other way round. It's ME who doesn't give a damn about that Edward Cullen 'wannabe'...and talking about boys, well, you see, I can have them parade in front of me in their undies! So please, don't feel sorry for me, otherwise I am gonna make you sorry for real." Zoya hissed. Her eyes darkened with fury. Shanaya involuntarily took a step backward, looking a little unnerved by this sudden eruption of anger from Zoya.
"Prove it, then." Shanaya was eyeing her cautiously. "You see the boy there, the tall one in blue shirt? Can you make him drop his pants for you?" she pointed to a group of boys at the other end of the corridor.
"What are you talking about, Shanaya?" Tanya protested feebly. "If this is your idea of a joke, then I must say you've a very bad sense of humour. Zoya, please don't listen to her. Let's get out of here." she tugged at Zoya's sleeve, but Zoya stubbornly shook her hand off.
"If I manage to do that, promise me you will stay away from me and my business. I don't wanna see you cross my path ever again." Zoya stretched her palm in front of Shanaya.
"I promise. Not that you are on my BFF list or something, anyway." Shanaya lightly brushed her hands with Zoya's outstretched arm.
"Superb! Now you guys go there..." Zoya pointed to an empty classroom "and watch me in action."
The boy in the blue shirt was busy chatting with his other two friends. As soon as they saw Zoya walking towards them, they abruptly stopped talking and waited for her anxiously. Obviously, it's not every day the most popular girl in college comes waving at you, with a dazzling smile on her face! Their facial expression said it all!
"Hi guys, do you mind if I take five minutes of your time?" Her voice was subtly seductive. The three guys nodded in unison.
"I am Zoya Farooqui, by the way." she flashed her dimples again.
"We know, we know." the bulky guy with spectacles, who was friend of blue shirt, spoke with a weak voice. He was already sweating a lot.
"I am Varun." said the blue-shirt "and these are my friends, Diggy and Atul."
"Nice to meet you, guys." Zoya took turns to shake hand with all of them. "Now listen, I know it's gonna sound crazy, even offensive, I am afraid, but I want you to answer my question." she said apologetically.
"Don't worry. We love crazy stuff. We do a lot of crazy stuff in our hostel, hai na Diggy?" spoke Atul, the skinny friend of Varun. His jaw seemed to have unhinged itself and was hanging permanently open.
"Oh, that's so sweet. Actually, I had a bet with my friends that I will go on a date...like spending a cozy day beside the Kollar dam, candle-light dinner...stuff like that." Zoya was playing with a strand of her hair, biting her lower lip.
"And you want to go with us! I mean... all three of us?" Diggy was hyperventilating already.
"Nope, here's the tricky part. I will go out with the guy...the ONE LUCKY GUY..." Zoya's eyes shifted from one face to another "whose boxer is of a colour matching my dress!" Zoya glanced at her dark scarlet top.
The boys' eyes widened to the size of tennis balls. They stared at her for a few moments, then all of them shouted in sync "Mine! Mine! Mine."
"As much as I would like to believe you all..." Zoya shrugged "but sorry boys, I need some proof of that."
"Proof! I mean, HERE?" Varun sounded a little hesitant. He glanced around the corridor. It appeared to be deserted.
"Oh come on now! Don't be a sissy! Aur waise sharmana toh mujhe chahiye. But I dunno why I am feeling a karmic connection with you guys...as if I know you for ages." Zoya wiped a drop of sweat from Varun's forehead with her pink silk hankerchief.
"Haan yaar Varun! Akhir Zoya se kya sharmana. Aapna hi hai." Atul started taking off his belt. The other two followed suit and started unbuttoning their denims.
"That's it! Fantastic! Hurry up, boys!" Zoya encouraged.
Three of them lowered their trousers to reveal three pairs of identical red boxers underneath. Zoya bit her lips to stop herself from giggling. The boys' faces had turned the deepest shade of crimson, perfectly matching the colour of their innerwear now.
"Looks like we have a tie here." Zoya nodded thoughtfully as the three of them hurriedly zipped up their trousers.
"Toh ab kya kare?" Varun asked anxiously.
"Let's have a tie-breaker, okay? All of you have to run three circles around the college building, starting from here. Whoever returns first will be declared winner. Now, hop along." Before Zoya could finish, the three guys started dashing as if they were being chased by a wild boar.
Zoya entered the classroom to find her friends with various kinds of shocked expression ranging from the wide-eyed disbelief exhibited by Tanya to the anger-ridden incredulity of Shanaya. On the contrary, it was Tanveer who looked visibly amused, with her lips curled into a I-knew-it' smile.
"You are a real b*tch! I mean it." Whispered Shanaya.
"Then don't mess with me. I bite real hard!" Zoya stepped forward, standing dangerously close to her. "F*ck off! Shanaya." she mouthed silently "and GET A LIFE!"
"Kuch bhi bol Zoya, had it been Sher Khan in place of these boys, he would've made you cry by now! Uska toh baat hi kuch alag hai! Hayyeee." Tanya fanned herself, going dreamy eyed over an imaginary Asad's antics. The three of them were walking towards the main gate of college.
"That guy...well, that guy is a challenge! And I love challenges." Zoya's inherent charm was back.
"You mean you'd love to see him in his boxer one day!" Tanveer dodged her head just in time to avoid a smack from Zoya, missing her narrowly by only a few inches.
"Who wouldn't?" exclaimed Tanya. "He has the perfect blend of charm and mystery. He has that aura about him...that 'Cullen-esque' aura..." she could have go on and on, but Zoya's angry stomping on the ground silenced her.
"Ab aap log meherbani karke yahan se chalengi, please!" she pleaded. "Unless you want me to go on a blind date with the 3 idiots!"
"I don't mind sharing." Murmured Tanya under her breath, careful enough to avoid being heard.
About half an hour later, the three girls assembled in Zoya's room. Outside, the chilly night wind rattled the windowpane. Inside, only a candle was burning. The city of Bhopal was experiencing an extensive power cut, and the UPS in Zoya's room was malfunctioning. However, the semi-darkness inside the room was going well with the tense atmosphere and an air of conspiracy inside the room. Their shadows danced in the wall in the flickering candle light.
"Tell us Zoya, what it is?" Tanya was unable to hold the excitement any longer.
"I think I know." Tanveer interrupted. "You are going to make him fall for you and then break his heart so badly that he remains miserable for the rest of his life." She stated matter-of-factly.
"Wrong! Only you could come up with such a clichd, hackneyed plot though. Think, guys. Be creative." Zoya sounded a little disappointed.
Everybody remained silent for a few minutes. Tanya opened her mouth once to say something, but closed it again thinking better of it.
Zoya finally broke the silence. "Do you guys remember what our games teacher, Mr. Mathews announced today in the class room?" she looked at the other two's faces.
"Ya off course! He said we are going to have a winter trip to Manali. Trekking, rock climbing, visiting ancient monasteries and stuff like that." Tanya replied animatedly.
"And guess who's going to take part in the trip this year?" Zoya raised her eyebrows quizzically.
"Asad Ahmed Khan!" Tanya's eyes lit up with realization. "So you're gonna use this trip to make him fall in love with you!"
"No, deary! I won't make it that personal. Revenge should never be mixed up with Love." For the first time, Zoya's voice lacked the spunk that came so naturally to her, as if she was a little unsure of herself.
"Ek minute! You're not planning to blame him for misbehaving with you, like fake molestation charges or sexual harassment, right?" Tanveer spoke after a long pause.
"Are you crazy? Zoya Farooqui mar jayegi, par apne dignity par anch kabhi nahi aane degi." Zoya dismissed her with a gesture of her hand. Tanya and Tanveer looked at each other in confusion.
"Tanya, tell me something. Kis cheez se tujhe sabse zyada darr laagti hai? What's your greatest fear?" Zoya walked up to the window, staring unmindfully into the darkness outside.
"Mr. Joseph aur unke Business Management classes!" Tanya was a little perplexed with the sudden change of topic. "Lemme think...ummm...spiders, cockroaches, ghosts, vampires, exams, subah subah uthna, chipkali, rats..." she counted on her fingers.
"Arre arre stop it! Stop it. Zoya, yeh teri galati hai. You should've asked her what she is NOT afraid of! Puri duniya se darr lagti hai isse." Tanveer chuckled.
Zoya didn't reply. She was still lost in her thoughts. A gust of cold breeze floated through the crack of the window, making them shiver to the bone. The flame danced unsteadily in the wind, then abruptly went out, drowning everything in thick, impenetrable darkness.
"Zoya! ZOYA! Tanveer! What the hell!" Tanya shouted. Her voice was trembling. "Someone get the light please." She was panting.
Nobody answered her, except her own voice echoing in the room.
"Zoya! Zoya, kahan ho tum sab?" Tanya's voice cracked.
Suddenly, a gentle cracking noise of match-stick and a bluish orange flame sprang up to life! To her immense relief, Tanya found Zoya and Tanveer standing next to her, observing her intently. Tanya felt a little fluttering in her heart, feeling extremely self conscious under their piercing gaze.
"What's it, guys? What's the matter with you?" she shifted awkwardly in her feet.
"Tanya, you just answered my question! Your greatest fear is not those silly management classes, or exams; it's fear of the dark... and loneliness." Zoya's eyes twinkled with excitement.
"Don't worry! You're not the only one who fears solitude. Even the strongest minds can buckle in darkness." Said Tanveer. Her face was glowing eerily in the orange flame.
"This is what I am going to do with Asad Ahmed Khan. Now listen carfully." Zoya began. Tanya still looked deeply disturbed, but she listened anyway.
"Our trip includes trekking from Kothi to Rohtang pass, and then climbing a mountain peak, ironically called the Devil's peak which stands a staggering 13000 ft high! On the fourth day of our trip, we are scheduled to reach Rohtang pass. Then we will be divided into smaller groups and start our journey to the Devil's peak. " Zoya explained.
"Zoya, why the mountain is called Devil's peak, yaar? It sounds so sinister!" exclaimed Tanya.
"Oh, it is sinister. A lot of mountaineers have lost their lives, that too under inexplicable circumstances while scaling the peak. Some of them were frozen to death; some of them got buried alive under the snow. Even the geotechnical survey revealed some mysterious zones on the mountain bed where the temperature is far lower than the surrounding areas, often reaching the sub-zero level."
Tanya inhaled sharply. "Looks like this is one tour I will be happy to skip!" she looked terrified.
"You are not going anywhere. You are coming with us." Zoya's concluded with such a finality that hardly left any scope for Tanya to protest.
"I will make sure that our group includes the three of us and the dark lord. Mr. Mathews will hand every group a route map marking the sites of our camping. You, Tanya..." Zoya looked at her "you will give Asad the map, but not the right one. It will be a fake map leading to false trails."
"ME! WHAT! IMPOSSIBLE." Tanya yelled, looking mortally terrified now.
"Just listen to me." Zoya snapped. "You and Tanveer will start ahead of me and Asad. You two will reach the first base and inform others that I had to cancel the trip due to ill health, and Asad has stayed back to accompany me safely to Bhopal. Meanwhile, I will have the correct map with me, about which Asad will have no clue whatsoever. On our way, I will make some excuses and dissociate myself from him. Then I will come back to Bhopal, leaving him alone..." she paused "to enjoy his solitary confinement up there in the land of snow. After two days, I will inform the rescue team about him being missing. But those two days will surely be the worst days of his life."
"You call this a plan!" Tanya couldn't believe her ears. "What if the rescue team fails to rescue him?"
"They won't. I will secretly plant a GPS tracker to trace his whereabouts. Do you really think I can kill someone just like that?" Zoya frowned.
"This sounds like a disaster! What if something goes wrong, and he gets hurt by accident, or worse, what if he DIES, alone there, with not a single soul in sight." Tanya's voice trailed off.
"I don't think so. He already looks like the devil's twin brother. It will take more than that to kill him." Zoya emphasized her words a little more than necessary.
"I am sorry Zoya, but I can't do this. That guy has a family. A loving mother. A little sister. At least you should think of his family." Tanya was scared but defiant.
"I've heard from Robbie that Asad's family will be attending a wedding ceremony in Hyderabad. They will be out of town for two weeks. Asad decided to stay back and join the trip instead, since this is his last year in college. Isn't that convenient?" Zoya's voice was brimming with excitement. "As if luck would have it..."
"But why me? Why not Robbie or Zain? In fact they are much closer to Asad. On the other hand, I barely know him." Tanya's voice had the desperation of a person who could already smell defeat.
"Are you crazy? Arre duffer, if Robbie or Zain get a whiff of our plan, they will run straight to Asad and reveal everything. You see, I trust only you guys with my secret. You should never ever discuss it with anybody." Zoya squeezed Tanya's hand urgently. "Tani, please. Promise me."
"Zoya, I..don't know..I" Tanya stuttered.
Zoya dragged Tanya to her table and pulled out a picture from one of the cupboard. It was an old group photo, with a tall, skinny guy with unkempt hair, standing in the middle, surrounded by four young girls.
"Haider Bhai jaan's personal e-mail address. That's all I have with me." Zoya forced Tanya's chin up to look into her eyes. "Dekh Tani, mujhse chupane ki koshish mat kar. Aaj bhi tu bhai jaan ko yaad karti hai na? Look, iss address se akhri baar mujhe bhai jaan ki message mili. Agar tu chahe toh tu bhi unse baat kar sakti hai. Please, Tani, na mat karna"
"I will do it." Tanya silenced her with a hand gesture. "but if anything goes wrong, toh tujhe apni iss dost ko alvida kehni padhegi." She spoke clearly, with astounding conviction. "Pehli baar. Aakhri baar." She returned the pressure on Zoya's hand.
"Kuch galat nahi hoga, Tani. I know you have every reason to be resentful of me, par mujhe sirf apni thappad ka jawab chahiye. Sometimes, you have to be evil to destroy evil...and when you are confronting the devil's double, you need to up your game a little." Zoya's words were drowned in the chilly evening wind howling outside. A storm was about to begin.
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GORGEOUS ASYA ASYA ASYA PICTURES <3
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