Radhika – The Mystery Girl (Chapter 3)
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Chapter 3 – Meet the narrator
The first meeting wasn’t the last meeting. Since Radhika and Kabir knew nobody else, they hung out together. Kabir shifted to the boys’ hostel because he didn’t want to get advantage of being the founder’s son. Every evening, he went to the Desai Haveli where they would study together, have dinner and then Radhika’s driver Narayan would drop Kabir to the hostel. At the hostel, Kabir made friends with his roommate, Neil, who introduced them to Naina, his childhood friend. Neil and Naina joined the pair to make a group of 4.
Since Radhika would often feel lonely in the large Haveli, she invited Naina to stay with her after getting Shekhar’s permission. Being excellent students, the 4 were quite popular. They would often visit the Cafe my father owned, The Lake View Cafe near Radhika and Kabir’s favourite Moti Talao and discuss various topics and solve each other’s academic doubts. They made a wonderful sight. Any person with an intellectual mind set would be naturally drawn to them, just the way I did. While Radhika and Neil had a calm stature, Kabir and Naina would often animatedly use their hands to describe stuff.
I first got a chance to talk to them when I took charge of The Lake View Cafe after my father decided to retire to our distant farmhouse and my mother accompanied him. They obviously knew me, since we studied in the same class and they also knew that I had no friends. That’s because I joined the college a month late. [It took me 4 weeks more than I had planned to complete the internship at an NGO.] By the time I joined college, everybody had their own groups formed and looked upon me as an outsider. Naina invited me to sit with them. I willingly accepted the invitation. By the end of that evening, they knew everything about me just as I knew everything about them. A change in the schedule was planned. Every day, after college, we would end up at my Cafe, They would take up the table closest to the cash counter, from where I managed the Cafe. We would study together. At night, we would go to Radhika’s place for dinner and then Narayan would drop me and the boys home.
It was no wonder that we scored very well in the exams at the end of the first year. But I was starting to worry. Fate had always been cruel to me – Snatched away my parents when I was 6, Sent me to my uncle and aunt who had just lost a child. My Uncle and Aunt were lovely people. I started calling them Mom and Dad since age 10. Then a lost my parents again when they decide to retire to the distant farmhouse. My friends were acting like lucky charms for me. I prayed to God that nothing should go around. But I didn’t know that trouble was just around the corner.