Swara was sitting in the bench parallel to laksh’s bench. She was bewildered and surprised to see him in the college. It was irritating to her that she had to see him every day. she had totally forgotten abt the whole incident. It was almost a week that it happened. After she saw it all flashed back like it had happened yesterday!! Ufff! Just seeing him gave her a feel which she did not like to sense.
Laksh could not stop but think about swara. “Why the hell is she in my class??” thought to himself. She could have taken any other group. The images of losing the match flashed in his mind. He was preoccupied with his thoughts.
Omi: lucky, kya hua?? Why do u seem so troubled?”
L: “omi, the new girl, you know, this girl is the one whom I met on the day of the match.”
O: “ohh!! That cycle waali?!”
Omi had said it a little louder in excitement, which caught swara’s attention. She turned to look at laksh. They both stared at each other with stern faces. It was getting interesting for omi.
O: “looks like, finally there is at least one girl in this class who can actually stare at lucky without flirting”. And laughed at his joke, in which sharath too joined.
N mam: “what’s going at the back? Listen the class, guys”.
After an hour, the bell went off signaling break. Mam signaled swara to come to the dais.
N: “swara, don’t forget to get your syllabus paper from laksh. Try to buy the books as soon as possible. It’s all mentioned in that paper. Just buy the important ones and those mentioned in the references will be available in our library.”
S: “thank u mam. I will do as such.”
Mam smiled at her and left the class. Now, she had to go and ask laksh for syllabus paper. She was hesitating but she had to because ragini would be waiting for her.
She went near the bench where laksh and his friends were sitting.
S: “excuse me; can I have a copy of syllabus paper?”
Laksh pretended not to hear. He wanted to take a dig at her. Swara repeated for a second time. At this point, omi nudged him.
L: “oh! Are you speaking to me?”
S: “yes” with a pun.
L: “by the way, my name is not “excuse me”. I do have a name”
Swara was trying to control her anger.
S: “ok! Mr. Laksh can I have a copy of the syllabus paper?”
L: “oh sure!” and took out those bunch of sheets from his folder as slow as he could and handed it to her. He was sitting with one leg inside the bench and the other out.
Swara, after getting it from him stamped on his leg hard knowingly.
S: “oh! Am so sorry, I dint see your leg!” and walked away from there with a satisfactory smile.
Omi and sharath couldn’t control their laughter.
L: “you”! and he banged his fist on the bench.
Ragini was waiting in the 3rd block ground floor. She had been standing there for 10 minutes. Someone was watching her from side. She had an inkling of this. When she turned to look who it was, there was no one. “Why isn’t swara still here?” thought to herself.
S: “di” from her behind.
R: “what took u so much time?”
S: “will tell u”.
IN THE CANTEEN:
S: “How was ur class?”
R: “damn good. The girl next to me is really helpful. Not only her, the whole class seemed friendly. I kinda like it. How was it for u?”
S: “good. The subjects will not be much of a problem I guess. Ah I forgot to tell u the reason why I was late. Di do u remember me saying abt the guy who hit my bicycle the other day?”
R: “ahh, hmmm I remember. But why are you bringing that up now??”
S: “he is in my class.”
R: “what?? Omg! What kind of coincidence is this?”
S: shrugged her shoulders. “and he is the class representative. It is typically bad. I am just getting wrong vibes about the whole thing.”
R: “common swara, don’t talk like an astrologer” and laughed at her.
S: “ I don’t know di. I feel like that. ” and narrated what had happened before break.
R: “swara, why are you being like this? Now he will do something to provoke you! See what all happened, its past! Now you both are classmates… don’t behave like this. You have to see his face for another 2 years. Try to be rational yaar.”
S: “whatever di, have you ever seen me act like this before? No, right. The thing is, we come across a lot of people in our life. We tend to like some of them instantly and hate some of them instantly. This guy belongs to the second criteria. That’s it. I don’t like him. He is an idiot.”
R: “idiot? You have even started scolding him, mmm”
S: “he is not only an idiot; he is stupid and manner less.”
R: “fine let’s end this topic here. Eat fast. The break will get over in another 10 mins.”
After ragini advised her to behave well, swara was trying to follow it. But one thing or other happened; this made swara and laksh to be at loggerheads.
Two weeks later.
It was Friday of that week. This meant it was the last working day of the week. Everyone was happy in the class. The teacher’s announcement dampened their spirits. They were told to submit an assignment on Monday. The next announcement lit up their faces.
N .m (nilasha mam): “students, in another 2 weeks time, the college will be reopened for first years, which means, you guys and your seniors have to throw a fresher’s party for your juniors. Cooperate with the union council members and plan the party well. Have fun too.” “Hmmm… laksh, swara both of you meet me in the staff room after the class.”
Both were wondering what that could be. After the class, two of them were noticing whether the other one would go first. Finally laksh left the class first. Swara thought she would go after he comes.
IN THE STAFF ROOM:
L: “excuse me mam. May I come in?”
N .m: “yes come in laksh. Hmmm where is swara?”
L: “May be she will come, after I go. What is it mam?”
n.m: “laksh, bring her also, I need to talk to both of you.”
L: “okay mam” said reluctantly.
IN THE CLASSROOM:
L: “swara, mam wants to see both of us together.”
S: “but why?”
L: “how would I know? She asked me to bring u. that’s it.”
Swara stood up to leave. Her skirt got stuck in the edge of bench. “Ohh! I should have waited till I altered it, y did I wear it today?!” cursed herself under breath. The skirt she was wearing today an inch longer so she had to lift it slightly while walking to avoid herself from tripping and falling.
The staff room was in the 3rd floor. She went in the front and laksh came at the back. While climbing stairs, she accidentally stepped on the hem of the skirt which made her skid. Fortunately laksh caught her and prevented her from falling down the stairs. In a fear she also gripped his hand tightly. He helped her to get back on foot after which both of them let go of each other. It was slightly awkward.
L: “why do you wear a dress like this, when you can’t even walk properly with it?”
S: “stop it laksh. Why do you care?”
L: “oh hello, if it hadn’t been for me, you would have broken your nose for sure”.
S: “oh really! Thank u so much for your help. Now if you are finished with praising yourself, shall we go and meet mam?”
L: “ufff”, rolled his eyes and followed her.
IN THE STAFF ROOM:
N: “I wanted to meet you both regarding the upcoming fresher’s party event. Being the class teacher, I have chosen you both as the representatives of our class for this.”
S: “but mam, I am new to this place. I don’t think I will be able to do this.”
Laksh was also not happy with this. But if he was going to say something, like not willing to work with swara, he would have answer unnecessary questions. So he chose to keep quiet. “Just two weeks” he thought to himself.
N: “swara, that’s why I am involving you in this, so that you will get opportunity to mingle and interact with others. It will be really helpful for you. Trust me. Laksh, do you have any problem?”
L: “no mam, not at all”
Swara rolled her eyes at him.
N: “so I guess this is settled. Your seniors will guide you guys. Laksh, you know karthik right?, meet him in the secondary auditorium after college. Take swara also with you to the meeting.”
So that was it. The pep talk was over. They both acted like they were okay with the situation, but once out of the staff room, they were glaring at each other. They had no other go but to put up with each other for the next 2 weeks.
S: “di I don’t think I can come with you today eve after college. I have been selected as one of the representatives for the fresher’s party event. So have to go and attend the meeting.”
R: “okay swara. No problem. I will leave now… papa and I can have to take Eddie to vet. Come home soon okay. Take care.”
S: “okay di. Go safe. After u reach just ping me that you have reached. Bye.”
S: “where is this laksh? His practice should have been over by now” thought to herself.
Laksh reached there at that moment.
“Think of the devil and the devil comes before u” thought to herself and smirked.
L: “shall we? I have to leave soon today.” and gestured to move forward.
Swara nodded her head.
The auditorium was minimally decorated. It was more of a seminar hall than auditorium. It was big. It could seat 500 to 600 people. The best thing about this college was it contained students from various states, so swara never felt outcast here. So Hindi and English were also spoken here other than the regional language. She never felt the difference of being in a new city in college. She liked this environment.
They went and met the union member named karthik. He was a senior in their department. He gestured them to sit. Almost like 25 students had assembled there. The instructions were simple. The tasks were to decorate the main auditorium, prepare the necessary props, and scout volunteers for the event, managing the cultural events. The most difficult one was to choreograph a song. This was compulsory for each group i.e. one dance per group. Since 3rd years were the order givers, 2nd years were given this responsibility. Group or solo it doesn’t matter, but they have to prepare for a dance number. The meeting was over. They were asked to come again on Monday.
S: “will they kinda assign work on Monday?”
L: “hmmm yea… I guess they will be giving us the work of scouting volunteers.”
S: “shall we move? It’s getting late for me!”
And they parted ways.
At home, after dinner:
S: “what did the doctor say? What is the reason that our Eddie is being this way?”
R: “it’s because of heat stress that he is not eating properly. Doctor has given some advice to help him cool off when he gets heated up. Have to go again tom. Doctor said it would be better to give him an injection so that he doesn’t develop any infection” and patted Eddie lovingly.
Eddie is their 1 year old Labrador. He was a 2 month old puppy when he had joined their family. Swara gifted him to ragini for her last birthday. Ragini was too attached to him. She always made sure to accompany him whenever he was taken to vet. He was a like a brother to both of them. Shifting from their old place has not gone well with him. Chennai’s climate is the biggest problem. He was not able to adjust to the weather. The time they arrived in Chennai, summer had started. Even though the city had occasional showers, it was not enough to cool down the temperature.
Sk: “ragini are u sure that u can go alone tom? Will u be okay beta? If I didn’t had this meeting in the morning I would have come with u”
Sm: “Take swara also with you.”
R: “no papa I ll be fine. I have gone there for more than 3 times. I know the way. I can manage. By the way, ma swara has to complete her assignment.”
S: “di, no problem, I can finish it the day after tom also. I will also come with you.”
R: “am telling you right, I can manage alone. I want to. That’s it. Don’t worry papa I ll get an auto from our area. Okay problem solved.”
Sm: “hmmm this is good”.
Swara nodded her head and fell silent. Okay let her try going alone. J and went to play with Eddie. Ragini followed her.
R: “swara, I want to talk to you about something. Can we go to terrace?”
S: “what’s up di? Is anything wrong?”
R: “just come with me. I ll tell u. eddie, my darlo come lets go to terrace to get some fresh air. Ma, papa, we both are going to terrace with eddie okay.” And dragged swara along with her.
S: “okay tell me now. What it is it? Why are being so hushed up?”
R: “swara, I don’t how to say this. May be its just my intuition.”
S: “okay tell me.”
R: “I don’t know why but I get this feeling that someone is following me. I feel like someone is watching me from somewhere but when I look in that direction no one is there. And it is happening only when am alone.”
S: “di, do u mean at the college?”
R: “not only at the college, but it started in the college. I don’t know swara if this is true or not. If someone is really following me around, why are they doing so?”
S: “di, may be just a misconception. Don’t worry. May be someone interested in you is following you. But y is that person stalking you?.”
R: “yes that’s what is concerning me!! And let this be between us. Okay?”
S: “okay di. But are u sure you can go alone tomorrow? When you strongly feel like somebody is following you around! I will also come with you.”
R: “no swara. May be I ll find out who that person is tomorrow.” With a definite tone.
S: “I don’t feel easy about sending you alone. Go in the auto and come back in that okay. Di, u have become so ziddi nowadays.”
R: “don’t worry swara, I will inform you if something happens.”
S: “that’s it. I don’t think I ll be able to sit in home tom till u come back!!” and let out a sigh.
R: “eddie, tell ur sister that ragini is bold” swooping him in her hands and caressed his head. He loved it when ragini did that.
R: “just chill, I will take the pepper spray with me.”
S: “hmmmm okay.”
At the airport:
L: “bhai, this side.”
He was overwhelmed to see his elder brother after such a long time. His elder brother sanskaar has completed his management studies in London and was returning Chennai.
[Author’s note: sanskaar and laksh are blood brothers. No chacha, chachi in this story guys.]
S: “finally am in Chennai” with a wide grin and hugged his brother.
L: “how are you bhai? “ Examining his brother “You seem well in shape” and winked at him.
S: “chal” and slapped him playfully in his shoulder.
Both of them got into the car.
I hour later:
Annapurna and Durga Prasad were very happy to see their son. Sanskaar got blessings from both of them.
Ap: “am really happy that your studies are over. I am not sending you anywhere here after” and hugged her son.
Dp: “did u take good care of u?” and patted his son. Sanskaar smiled at his father and nodded, hugged him.
They all had dinner together after a long time.
Sanskaar and laksh in their bedroom:
L: “did u bring whatever I had asked you?”
S: “hmmmmmmm” and winked at him.
L: “so bhai, what’s your next plan? Thinking about looking after dad’s business ah?”
S: “hmmm what to say? Am actually thinking about going back to London”
L: “what??? Have you not returned back for good?”
S: “no laksh. I am still thinking. I have given interviews. Let’s see.”
L: “bhai, but mom is thinking that you are not going back to London? You did not mention this thing abt the interview when we talked via Skype last time.”
S: “it all happened after that. Don’t worry abt ma, I will manage her! Okay, let’s think abt it after sometime. “
They both then talked the whole night catching up on the events happened in each other’s life.